From iconic playgrounds to famous hawker food, Tampines gets its own heritage trail
Watermelon playground at Tampines Central Park in 1993. (Photo: Ministry of Information and the Arts Collection, National Archives of Singapore)
SINGAPORE: Take a selfie at the iconic watermelon and mangosteen playgrounds at Tampines Central Park. Cycle through the Lorong Halus Wetlands. Stuff yourself silly at one of the famous hawker food stalls at Tampines Round Market.Tampines residents and visitors can now explore the different sides of the bustling estate, courtesy of a new heritage trail launched by the National Heritage Board (NHB).
The former Golden Palace Holiday Resort was built in 1967. Today, what remains is the fishing pond located opposite the White Sands Shopping Centre. (Photo: National Museum of Singapore Collection, National Heritage Board)
Aside from the main trail, which can be followed using an accompanying booklet, there are also three short routes that explore different facets of the bustling estate’s heritage: A town trail, a religious institutions trail, and a “green spaces” cycling trail.
What was once a landfill dumping ground and night soil disposal centre has been transformed into the Lorong Halus Wetlands today. (Photo: National Heritage Board)
The latter takes one to some unique sites such as a converted quarry, former locations of Tampines’ kampongs, and Lorong Halus wetlands, which was once a landfill.
A dragon dance performance during then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s tour of Tampines in 1963. (Photo: Ministry of Information and the Arts Collection, Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore)
Named after the Tempinis trees that were once abundant in the area during the 19th century, Tampines was formerly a rural area with farms, kampongs, swamps, and sand quarries.
A sand quarry in Tampines during the 1970s. (Photo: Tampines GRC Community Sports Clubs)
It was also home to wildlife, as big cats were reportedly sighted in the forested areas of Tampines and Changi. And as recent as 1975, a panther was also spotted by villagers due to wildlife smuggling in the area.In the 1980s, it slowly transformed into a model town that integrated green corridors into the estate, and became the first centre to bring businesses to the suburbs. In 1992, it was conferred the World Habitat Award.
Kampong Teban, located at the 8th milestone of Tampines Road, in 1986. (Photo: National Archives of Singapore)
The new trail is the 17th such heritage trail launched by the NHB. Among the sites included in the trail are the Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity, the former Golden Palace Holiday Resort, the former Keris Film Studio, Masjid Darul Ghufran, Pasir Ris Park’s mangrove reserve, the temple cluster at Tampines Link, and the Tampines Round Market.
At the famous Tampines Round Market and Food Centre, you can still find first-generation hawkers who set up their stalls in 1983. (Photo: National Heritage Board)
“As with all our heritage trails, we hope that the Tampines Heritage Trail will raise Singaporeans’ awareness of the town’s rich heritage and increase their appreciation of the interesting landmarks found in Tampines,” said Alvin Tan, assistant chief executive (policy and community), NHB.
The row of shophouses at Hun Yeang Road are all that's left of the former Hun Yeang Village. (Photo: National Heritage Board)
“In doing so, we hope that the trail will foster a greater sense of belonging amongst residents, and instill a sense of pride in Singaporeans as they learn more about Tampines’ progress and its achievements.”
The iconic watermelon and mangosteen playgrounds are still there at Tampines Central Park. (Photo: National Heritage Board)
Aside from going on the trail, heritage enthusiasts can also drop by Tampines Regional Library, which is exhibiting a community heritage gallery that features interviews with long-time residents as well as other historical trivia.