History of Upper Bukit Timah Road
Upper Bukit Timah, is a small estate situated at the foot of Bukit Timah Hill and sits next to a railway truss bridge and the Rail Mall. The estate owes its origin to Rubber and Pineapple King “, Mr Lee Kong Chian; Mr Lee from Southeast Asia and is a famous businessman and philanthropist. Mr S R Nathan, a former presidential aspirant of Singapore used to live here.
Today, Bukit Timah has undergone massive transformations that have changed its face entirely. An area used to be packed with factories on the hills and characterised by blasts and rumble sounds from the trains passing nearby, and the quarry is now less rowdy. The rows of houses next to the main road that featured business premised in the mid-1990s have been cleared to pave the way for the prominent Rail Mall.
The 9th – the 10th milestone of Bukit Timah is one of the areas that has been on the change constantly. This area has long been linked to the old railway, being among the two locations with overhead truss bride in Bukit Timah. The could easily be seen running along the road. Ever since the railway terminal moved to Woodlands Train Checkpoint in 2011, the railway is now abandoned as its operations came to an end. However, the bridge remains as a reminder of the railway. The two single storey houses that face the Upper Bukit Timah (now Rail Mall), named after the railway preserves the memory of this area.
Down from Hillview Road, the two remaining landmarks which have survived have had to pave the way to the recent developments that will see the expansion of roads along the Upper Bukit Timah Road. The railway bridge that acted as a gateway to a hidden area with factories and a housing estate built in the 1950s and 1960s has been dismantled. The removal followed the abandon of the railway and paved the way for the widening of the road. This will also permit the development of private residential houses in the unoccupied plot of land that used to be occupied by former Princess Elizabeth Estate. According to newspaper reports dating back to the 1950s, the land was donated by Credit Foncier for development of public houses by the Singapore Improvement Trust in 1950s.
Apart from the bridge, a building that has been a landmark at the corner of Upper Bukit Timah ad Hillview Roads has been marked for demolition. The building was completed in 1957. The Standard Charted Bank branch has been standing in the area for more than 56 years. With the underway developments, it will take some years before the constructions are completed. When the developments are done, it’s no doubt that little will be left about what used to be a familiar spot.