A postcard from the past: a view over the Killiney Road area in the 1970s

22 06 2017

Another postcard from the past: a view over the Killiney Road and River Valley area in the early 1970s. What can quite clearly be made out is Killiney Road, Dublin Road, Lloyd Road, Tiverton Lane and Devonshire Road at the bottom of the picture. Some of the buildings that are identifiable in the foreground include the old Killiney Road Market (from its roof), Mitre Hotel, and if you look hard enough, the roof of 38 Oxley Road!

What this postcard brings to mind is in fact 38 Oxley Road, which has been very much in the news of late. I was first made aware of it being the house of the then Prime Minister from the backseat of the car of a neighbour, Uncle Singh. We were in the vicinity one evening and Uncle Singh decided to drive through the short stretch of Oxley Road (that was before entry to the stretch was restricted to residents) just to show his son and me where the Prime Minister lived, pointing the Gurkha guards manning the sentry posts out as he drove past. This would have been sometime in 1969 or 1970 as I was in kindergarten then. What I don’t recall was why we were in the area (we were living in Toa Payoh), or what I was doing in his car. I do remember the car, an old and rather beat up Austin Cambridge, which had a corroded floorboard and torn PVC upholstery on its backseat – so much so that the coconut husk used for the filling of its cushion was showing through.



2 responses

22 06 2017
N Narayanan

22nd June 2017

Thanks again, Mr Jerome Lim, for this post, which recalled memories ot my early days soon after arriving here and getting my first job in 1949.
My immediate superior, a family friend, acted ‘in loco parentis’, taking me under his wing and we boarded in a spacious room in an old bungalow, 52 Lloyd Road, where I continued to stay for the next ten years. The bungalow was flanked on one side by a boarding house, ‘The Atomic’ No 64, and on the other by the Cycle & Carriage Chua family. From our first-(and only other) floor window, we had a fairly good view of their bungalow despite filtering by a large and leafy tree. A line of shrubs marked the boundary between the bungalows, as was common practice in those times.

The daily trek to and from the bus-stop at Orchard Rod was usually down Killiney Road, and occasionally by the ‘less-trafficked’ Oxley Road. Our bus-fare to the Finlayson Green bus-stop/terminus cost 30 cents combined – 15 cents each. As the elderly gentleman was entrusted with opening and closing of the office, on occasion, he would hail a cab, and the trip eventually through Chulia Street and Raffles Place down to the doorstep of the office at Collyer Quay was – sometimes after a short haggle – all of 40 cents, or 20 cents each. A Malay cabby would often make it a point to hang around our residence about the time we were setting out, and as the gentleman was already in his 60s, the convenience was irresistible.

In its time.the Ai Hou Kee was a well-patronised watering-hole at Killiney Road, on the left just after the railings over the canal. Further up was a ‘Java Provision Store’ I think at No.117, whose proprietor would occasionally come to our office. Between these on the right was housed the ‘Kadayanallur Muslim League’. Further up after the turn into Lloyd Road was the rambling ‘Mitre Hotel’ to which I went on office work on a couple of occasions. The manager, &/or perhaps a partner, was an Indian with a limp. And on an expanse at Exeter Road was where a Tamil dhoby had ‘set up shop’. He came regularly on Sunday mornings to take our laundry of the week toting them over his shoulder, and returning them the following Sunday. If my memory is not wrong, for $5 pm all-in, irrespective of quantity

As for ’38 Oxley Road’, in all those years of my residence in the area, there was nothing striking about the particular bungalow, or its similar secluded neighbours for that matter, to catch my attention, although strangely the small row of terrace-houses nearer Orchard Road did, perhaps because I happened to know of a couple of tenants there.

To end my comments, I hope you will not take offence that I find it difficult to go along with the statement that ‘Some of the buildings that are identifiable in the foreground include the old Killiney Road Market (from its roof), Mitre Hotel, and if you look hard enough, the roof of 38 Oxley Road’

Try as I did, and believe me, despite my utmost, I was unable to identify any of them in the maze of concrete jungle depicted. My eyesight is now admittedly nowhere near 20/20, and I can only hope that more eagle-eyed visitors will have better luck – and of course, vision as well.

N Narayanan

P.S Just recollected that in that quiet and staid residential area, we were shocked to read one day that a woman had been killed/murdered in one of the houses at Lloyd Road, and of all places, the row directly opposite ours. This would have been in the mid-1950s, and I cannot recall that the crime was ever solved. Also, btw, there are still a few others who were fellow lodgers at 52 Lloyd Road with me, and are still around. I am not sure however, if they too are subscribed to ‘The Long & Winding Road’ !

2 09 2017

Here’s nearly the same postcard view from the 23rd floor of my condo on 55 Devonshire Road. You can see some buildings from the 1970s still exist today. Notice the intersection of Killiney and Devonshire at the bottom right corner of both postcards.


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