Post Offices of old

5 02 2010

I just loved the old two storey post office buildings that were found all over Singapore when I was growing up. With a compound where one could park the car, it made it easy to “run in” to the post office for whatever stamps you might need. These were unlike the post offices of today, nestled in an obscure corner of a crowded town centre or on the hard to access upper floor of a shopping complex. I suppose there are those SAM self service machines which does make it convenient to buy a self-adhesive stamp label and post a letter, but nothing actually beats buying a stamp which would come out of a book and wetting it on a damp sponge placed in a little container of water at the counter, or even licking it, before getting it onto the envelope.

Many of the old post office buildings have since disappeared. Of the few that have been left standing – what comes to mind are the ones at Killiney Road and Alexandra Roads are still used as post offices. There is also the former Nee Soon Post Office building, now disused, which still stands along Mandai Road, close to the junction with Sembawang / Upper Thomson Roads.

The old Nee Soon Post Office along Mandai Road.

The disused Post Office building now stands as a reminder of the old Nee Soon Village.

Some of the post office buildings were built with an upper floor to serve a purpose: while the ground floor served as the post office proper, the upper floor given to serve as the Postmaster and his family’s quarters. A childhood friend whose father had been the Postmaster at the Thomson Road Post Office once related a story of how visitors to the post office were sometimes greeted by the strange sight of bean sprouts strewn across the car park. To get quickly through the tedious chore of plucking the roots off the huge bag of bean sprouts, which his mother often had him and his brother do, they would discard a portion of the bean sprouts out of the kitchen window into the car park!

The former Nee Soon Post Office building that still stands provides us with some reminders of a time when it served Nee Soon village, dominated by the rubber factory with a zinc sheet exterior painted in a rusty red, which was once owned by Lim Nee Soon: an orange and white post box of another era, old PO Boxes built into a wall … I am not sure what the future holds for the building, but I do hope it would always be there, to serve as a reminder of the old Post Offices that I so loved.

Evidence of when the Nee Soon Post Office sold its last stamp - an orange and white postbox with the old Telecommunications Authority of Singapore (TAS) logo. The orange and white TAS post boxes were introduced in 1982 and were used until the reconstitution of the TAS in 1992 which saw the TAS split into three entities: TAS, a statutory board serving as a regulatory body, and Singapore Telecom and Singapore Post.

Another view of the former Nee Soon Post Office.

PO Boxes at the disused Post Office.

Looking down Mandai Road to the Sembawang / Upper Thomson Road junction.

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30 responses

20 02 2010
yang^2

Wow, its really interesting that we can still find the old postbox in Singapore, other than at SPM (Singapore Philatelic Museum)! A pity it is’nt still in use though, unlike the red elizabeth design postbox found outside SPM which is still operating.

20 02 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks for your comments yang^2. Yes, it is nice to know there are a few reminders of how things were – glad that you find it interesting. And, yes, it would certainly be nice if it was still in use! :)

20 02 2010
Lee

I stumbled on your blog while I was looking for pictures of pre colonial Singapore for my kid’s project. Just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed reading your ramblings. It’s interesting and eduactional!

20 02 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks Lee – really appreciate your kind feedback :).

20 02 2010
peter

You still can find the man-holes on the road bearing “TAS” when SingTel and SingPost belong to one company. There’s one near my place at Upper East Coast Road

24 03 2010
Rahman Bin Marop

Thanks for ur lovely photo. Its really nice to see some old buildings that still stands. To tell u the truth, I was one of the kampong boys there. I use to live at 159-F Mandai Road S’pore 2677. My house was then opposite Meng Suan Rd. I remember during the 70’s, there was this signage pasted on the wall of the post office. It read, “Male With Long Hair Will Be Attended Last.” During those days, keeping a long hair is a nuisance and some government office. I used to study at Nee Soon Primary School and it’s located some 2km away from my house. Well, the Post Office is one of the buildings that still stands till today. Infact, there were other buildings around Old Nee Soon village but most of them had been torn down………. I hope they won’t tear down the Nee Soon Post Office and perhaps make it like a symbolic monument instead.

24 03 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks Rahman for your comments. It’s great to know that you lived in the area! Wow, I realise that you were actually just up the road from the Post Office and the Maternity Clinic. I certainly remember the sign very well – we couldn’t help but notice it at all the government departments and offices back then. I did mention the sign briefly in another post on Empress Place Building. I also came across a photo of it on the Nostalgic Singapore Facebook page recently. Nee Soon Primary School – was that near the end of Nee Soon Road … much has changed in the area and it is hardly recognisable now! What I can remember very clearly was the rubber factory, the post office and the clinic in the area. Yes, I agree that the building should be preserved as a reminder of the old Nee Soon. :)

2 04 2010
Kwok FS

In 1964, I was very young (5 y.o.) when my family lived in this area. My father worked for the laundry shop at foot of the slope of Meng Suan Rd. There was also an India temple nearby.
I remember the orchid garden next to the post office and an old building that is still there (i think it was a clinic.
The NS soldiers sometimes got lost in Mandai forest during training.

I agree that this few old building should be preserved. At least I can show and tell my children where I spent my childhood.

5 04 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks FS for you valuable input. Yes that was a clinic – I think it started off as a maternal clinic and functioned as a polyclinic … it would certainly be good if some of the remnants of the old Nee Soon could be preserved as a reminder of the history of the area :).

2 04 2010
Kwok FS

I wondered if any of you remembered the rumor going around then about the presence of a crocodile in the stream located just at the junction of the post office?

5 04 2010
The wondering wanderer

I am not sure about this specific rumour, but there seemed to be many others that were being circulated in those days, some even involving the supernatural!

4 07 2010
Lee Lai Heng

wow, this brings back lots of memories. i was an old boy of Nee Soon Primary as well! The plot where it stood can still be recognised until now, an empty fenced up area. still remember the kangkar area just opp this post office, the maternity & dental clinic, also mandai rd track 3 where i spent a lot of weekends with my pals. i also remember a Mr Tie, our teacher at the school who lives at meng suan rd. well, a lot of things have changed and these are now memories left with us :).

5 07 2010
The wondering wanderer

It’s nice to know that it brings back memories – thanks for sharing. The post office, rubber factory and the maternity clinic were landmarks in the area … and yes, so much has changed since then :). It’s great that at least, there are some memories that are left behind.

26 12 2010
Rahman Marop

Hey Lee Lai Heng, your name sounds rather familiar as I was from the same school like you too, the Nee Soon Primary School. I am sure that u could still remember times where hawkers would flock outside the school selling Guppies Fish, Buah Long Long and rambutan including syrup drinks outside the school compound. The officers from the Ministry Of Environment would often stormed in and confiscate their goods in the presence of the school children! I still remember that all and is still fresh in my mind. I still remember Mrs Goh Poh Hong, Mr. Sharshidaran the disicipline teacher who would caned naughty student. Mr Chong the soccer teacher and teaches science as well. Cikgu Marzuki and Cikgu Shamsuddin the Malay language teacher and few others. I still kept the picture of the school teacher that was taken somewhere in the 70’s and is still well taken care of by me in my album. Just to tell you that my name is Rahman Marop student from the year 1971-1976. I then went over to Westlake Secondary which is also being closed down in the late 90s. I am now residing at Bukit Batok and married with 3 kids. You may mail me at rahman_marod@yahoo.com should u wish to communicate with me. Thanks old pal.

9 08 2010
reeve

hi there. Is there any entrance to the mandai post office? Would like to shoot there, but it seems all fenced up.

9 08 2010
The wondering wanderer

Yes Reeve, it is unfortunately all fenced up and the photos I have taken were taken through the fence … :( lovely building isn’t it?

14 08 2010
Jeffery Abdullah

I remember seeing this building on my journey in the bus to my camp in Nee Soon Camp back in 1994 to 1996. I hope the government will preserve this colonial architecture. I love its design. :)

16 08 2010
TK Chia

Anyone remember the Yong Tau Foo coffee shop at the junction in this area?

14 11 2010
Rahman Marop

Hey yes I still do remember. The exact spot is now being reopened by a new owner. I could still remember the auntie that seels sugar cane juice opposite the coffee shop. Ramu’s Clinic was running on its row too. The ESSO petrol station still stands till today despite its newly renovated and looks much better now and oh yes the Community Centre, the building is still the same but is now a karaoke lounge owns by a private club. As for the Nee Soon Primary School, teachers like Mr. Sharshidaran, Mr Tye, Cikgu Marzuki, Mr. Chong, Cikgu Shamsuddin and few others still lingers in my mind. I still do kept the group photo of the school teachers that once taught us to be a more meaningful person in life. My tribute to them coz I missed all of you!

17 01 2011
HL Shaw

Thanks for bringing back memory. Was from Nee Soon Pri from 1969 to 1974. There was a Chinese primary school besides, I think is Seletar Pri- but also gone. Back then we have more subjects- such as history and geography. Our PSLE aggregrate for Eng and 2nd Lang was 200 marks each then, and we need 60%(120) to pass the subject.
The teachers taught me then were:
Pri 1: Mdm Ng (fierce)
Pri 2: Cant remember
Pri 3: Mrs Sharifah
Pri 4: Mrs Khoo
Pri 5. Mr Lien
Pri 6. Mrs Sim
Other teachers are:
Mr Robert Wee
Mr Tye K Hoe
Mr Sharshi
Mr Liew P Chee (principal)
Mr Chong T Kow
There were not many teachers then, but I cannot remember all.

I like most then was the animal corner. They keep a pet monkey in the cage. It is quite a big monkey. They have rabbit, fish pond and dog as well. I was pushed by the Pri 6 boy to the cage and the monkey came and grabbed my hair. Boys that sure scared me, I was in P 3 then.
Back of the field has some big leave where I caught some fighting spiders. Not only did I bought guppies and black mollies from the vendor outside, I also went to her home to get more.
Going to school was 30 mins walk from home, some days after PE lessons really have no more strength to walk- no water to drink as well.
Unfortunately then we do not have school magnazine, therefore I do not have any photo of classmates and teachers to keep for memories, what a loss.

24 01 2011
Rahman Marop

Hi there HL Shaw, it seems that you r then my senior. I was in Nee Soon Primary from 1971 to 1971. I remember Chong T Kow well coz he is the teacher in charge of soccer. He used to smoked in school and quite a heavy one too. I also remember Miss Ng the most fierce teacher during our era. She would jump on student for nothing! I wonder where are those people now ya? I guess some of them is no longer around anymore coz they are around our age now during those days and should they be alive, they might be very old then! I used to live very close to Seletar Reservoir and opposite Meng Suan Rd and my last teacher that taught me in Pri. 6 was Mr. Tye. IN 1977 I studied in Westlake after passing my PSLE and still stayed at Mandai till 1985 and shifted to Yishun. Till date I used to go back to Mandai for a jog and at times I bring along my 2 son and showed them around of places that used to be my playground. Playing ‘ Hentam Bola’ at the school field of Nee Soon Pri was a game that is vanishing. Catching spider was also one of the hoddy that we used to have pal. The old market, the cinema and the old friends……it’s all in the memory that still lingers in my mind. God Blessed All Of You…..

5 02 2011
kim

Mr Rahman Marop,

I was from Nee Soon Primary School, from 1966 to 1971 and Mr Tye KH was my form teacher too. Mr Tye should be around 67 years old this year because he kept mentioning that he was 27 and that was in 1971. Saw him jogging near Serangoon estate near chomp chomp some years back.
Miss Ng was my Primary 2 and Primary 3 form teacher.
I did my secondary education in Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School.
I think my childhood friends and I used to pass by your ‘kampong’ on our way(short cut) to Seletar Reservoir which was our favourite childhood haunt.

HL Shaw,

You were pushed by a Primary 6 boy to the monkey cage when you were in Primary 3 i.e. in 1971. Maybe was my class boy who did that to you because that year I was Primary 6. My class had a lot of naughty boys.

30 08 2011
KS

hi i m fr nee soon pri school too. thanks for sharing the pics and info. hoping to gather more memories of our primary school @ nee soon primary school @ facebook. thank you.

31 08 2011
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

You are most welcome! Hope you gather lots of nice memories of Nee Soon Primary! :)

3 12 2011
ceyda

Hi Jerome,

I tried to reach you via your Facebook by sending message, have you received?

Cheers,
Ceyda

30 06 2012
PREM

HI. I was from Nee Soon Primary and in 1969 was in Pri 6. My form teacher was Mr. Alan Kok. I left school a few days before the year end, so I did not get my class photo. Nearly every year I remember those close friends I bonded with in pri 6. I miss those guys, especially the beautiful Swee Mui and also Suan New, Wee Wah, Mui Kim. I really wish i could see them but dont know how. i google for Nee soon primary and got only this link.

7 03 2013
Lu See

Tks for the memories

22 03 2013
Peter

Hi, I was formerly a student with Nee Soon Pri Schl. Anyone still have a shot of the school of the school field? it’s so hard to locate any of this legacy . . .
Thks a million! ;-)

19 04 2013
M Ang

So glad to find this webpage. I have much memories of Nee Soon Primary school. Still remember the layout and surrounding of our school. Remembered seeing goats outside the school fence behind the canteen block. Loved to pick “saga” seeds(kind of red seeds from a certain type of tree). There were also those yellow flowering spray from a tall tree that produced lather, much like soap do. The canteen menu were simple but tasty. There were mee rebus, mee with clear gravy etc. Bundung was one of the drinks. Many times we tried to get a glass of free drink which otherwise be poured away in the drain beside the canteen after school hours. We would be so thirsty that taking sips from the glass shared, felt like heaven. Needless to say the drink-uncle rarely offer it. Hey, I recalled the “Overtine” van handing out drinks during sports day. So much memories there is to recall. Hope more old pupils would post more sharings. By the way, Lu See which year did you attend school(you may be my classmate). Thank u everyone!!

19 12 2013
Lai Heng

Hello everyone, long forgotten I left a message here. I was from Nee Soon Pri from ’73 – ’78, so looks like I’m the junior here :) I met a younger colleague in office who was from there too, from the ’80s! Small world.

I used to know Hussein Bin Talib (I think that is correct), living around the Mandai Clinic area as well. May be Rahman may know him.

Most of my elder siblings went to Seletar Primary next door. They went on to Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary later. I chose to go there too but was posted to somewhere else (change of policies etc).

I still live in Yishun, and used to go back once in a while to Nee Soon Rd. Wow, now very posh area with all the big bungalows. I had a video of that in my facebook page somewhere.

I’ll try to find the facebook page and catch up with u all.

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