A landmark soon to vanish

16 06 2012

Long abandoned by an old world that it had once been a part of, the Shell service station at the end of Mandai Road had for many years now looked out of place in the emptiness of its surroundings. It would have once held a strategic position, being placed right at the end of one of the main routes that took vehicular traffic from the east over the top of the catchment reserve to Woodlands Road which connected with the West of the island, as well as to the North where the Causeway brought traffic across to Malaysia.

The end is here for a service station which has been a landmark at the end of Mandai Road at its junction with Woodlands Road for as long as I know.

The station has for me, also long been a marker. It marked not just the point where the then narrow and rural Mandai Road joined the long and equally narrow Woodlands Road, but also when the zoo came to Mandai, as the point where we would see signs showing the way to the zoo. I had on many occasions passed by the station – on the long journeys to and from the Causeway of my childhood and also later when it was along the route of bus service number 171 which I would take from camp while doing my National Service to Sembawang Road where I could connect with a 169 that took me to my home in Ang Mo Kio. The station had then and for long, worn the look of one of the old world it was a part of. Even with the more recent makeovers, it did, when it was still operating, seem set in that old world – the washroom was an ‘outhouse’ – in every sense of the word.

The outhouse see from behind a fence.

It has been a while since I’ve driven by an area that one doesn’t really need to drive through anymore with the new expressways that has taken traffic from both Woodlands and Mandai Roads. I did earlier today and saw what for long I had suspected would happen – the station, already abandoned, was being hoarded up for demolition. Having already driven past it, I decided to turn back to bid an old acquaintance farewell. As I took a final look at what had for so long been a familiar face, it is with sadness that I realise that the last marker of a world that has been all but forgotten will soon itself be erased.

The hoardings coming up around the landmark.

A soon to vanish sight.

Another soon to vanish sight.

Maybe the last remnant of an old world – a shed that seems to be beyond the area enclosed by the hoardings that have come up.


Good news! It seems that the station will be with us for some time to come … thanks to a reader, Mr Francis Ang, an update on what is happening at the station and also a few photographs (one of which I have posted below) have been provided which show that the station is apparently being upgraded. While it will perhaps lose some of that old world appeal it has had – it will still be right there where it seems to always have been!

The station as seen on 18 June 2012 (photo courtesy of Mr Francis Ang).




7 responses

19 06 2012
Francis Ang

Hi Jerome, when I first read your blog on the Shell Mandai station I was actually surprised because I pass-by the station Monday to Friday on my morning drive sending my son to Tengah Airbase en route to work at Jurong. Just last Friday morning, there wasn’t indication that it will be torn down as it was business as usual. This Shell pump would probably be the last of the Shell bastion of that era to go. I believe the station would have been there since the late 60s/early 70s as I recalled seeing it those days when I passed this landmark almost daily taking the bus from Woodlands Checkpoint (where I was then staying) to school (Assumption English School) in Upp Bukit Timah Road. Last evening on the homeward journey after fetching my son from camp, I saw the sign (WE ARE CLOSED FOR IMPROVEMENTS) on the hoardings, and this morning when I passed-by I took a couple of shots to perhaps cheer you up somehow! (Sorry but I dunno how to attach pictures to your blog) The Shell station will not vanished after all as you were lamenting but it will be upgraded. So while Shell Mandai of old will still remain where it is albeit it would be given a facelift to continue serving Shell customers like me! πŸ™‚
P.S.: By the way, I enjoy reading your blogs. I have voted for you! πŸ™‚

19 06 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Hi Francis, wow that’s great news – would have been a shame to see it go as it has always served as a marker for me from the days of long road trips in the car and later from the long road trips on the bus. Thanks for letting us know! Having seen many other Shell stations go over the last few years in a similar manner – thought I was seeing the same for this station. If I may ask, when was it that you were in AES? Have a good friend who used to stay up on Chestnut Drive whose mother taught at the school. And, thanks so much for the feedback and for voting – really appreciate it! πŸ™‚

19 06 2012
Francis Ang

I was there during my secondary years from 1972 – 1974…quite an old bird by now…haha! What’s your friend’s mother’s name…maybe she was one of my teachers if it was during my era. Would like to send you the pics I took this morning so perhaps you can update your blog and inform your fans. πŸ™‚

19 06 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Wow! She should have been there then – Mrs De Souza. Yes, it would be a good idea to update the post with your pics – that would be most appreciated! You can email them to this email address (click here). Thanks a million! πŸ™‚

19 06 2012
Francis Ang

Yes I know her but she don’t me la! She was teaching in the Primary school. My Primary education was in another affiliate school, St. Gabriel, then at 5th mile, Upper Serangoon Road (now the Girls’ Brigade HQ). 😦
P.S.: By the way, pics already in your mailbox.

19 06 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Thanks Francis – information and pic are already up! Have quite a few friends from St. Gabs … my sis also went to school nearby at SJC. Didn’t realise she taught in primary school – another friend’s father also taught there – a Mr Ang … πŸ™‚

24 06 2012
michael davidoes

hey i was in st. gabriels primary in 1982 onwards then secondary yeh old school , which kimisawa was shopping centre we used to go now it is Kovan mrt near there i guess ..

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