Saturday, May 23, 2009

haw par swimming pool

the site of the former haw par swimming pool

according to my 80-year old walking kaki, haw par swimming pool which was located near 5 ms pasir panjang road was a private swimming pool which was open to the public. it also had a pagar out in the sea like the former chinese swimming club. today that site, near jalan pelepah, is used by ava as the centre for animal welfare and control.

in this 1969 road map, the location of the former haw par swimming pool should be close to the end of jalan pelepah and near batu berlayar school.

it had its beginning as the private swimming pool of the aw boon har/aw boon par family. after it was opened to the public, it became so popular that they added another pool to it. this addition, which was 40 yards by 20 yards in dimension, was used as the training pool for water-polo. the pool had two shallow ends with a deeper trough in the middle. the tiger (haw) swimming club's polo team trained in this pool.

this is the public car-park behind the ava centre for animal welfare and control

it was very crowded on weekends and there were a few cases of drowning in the pool. the swimming pool had no filtration system. the water was pumped in from the sea and after a few days of use, the water would be discharged (back) into the sea. the pump attendant had to work at odd hours because the timing of the tides would decide the pumping of water, either in or out.

another friend who had swum at the haw par pool could only remember that he paid 10 cents to swim at the pool. at that time, in the 50s, the other pool opened to the public was the mount emily swimming pool. however, at mt emily, because the pool was usually so packed, those who were still in the queue were sometimes denied admission.

i believe that what used to be where the pagar was located could now be the site of the pasir panjang distripark.


stanley said...

Your mention of Har Par Swimming Pool brought back fond memories to me. I recall as a young kid I together with a few classmate friends went and enjoyed frolicking in the pool. The pools were located very near the beach and the water in the pools was a mixture of fresh and sea water. The entrance fee was only 10 cents per person.

yg said...

stanley, yes, those days in the 50s, admission charge was 10 cents, the same amount for the mt emily pool.

Victor said...

I used to go to Mt Emily swimming pool with my elder brother when I was young. I remember the tiring climb up to the swimming pool location which was on top of 2 "mountains" - Mt Emily and Mt Sophia. I also remember the long queues at the swimming pool.

The swimming pool had very distinctive sloping sides. It was fun to slide down into the pool from the slope. Mt Emily swimming pool brings back memories for me because it was where I learnt how to swim (self-taught).

peter said...

Tiger Swimming Club is the pubic carpark area (behind AVA office) and the private estate behind Jalan Pelepah. The AVA there was the former Malay school.

Other notable landmarks (must take photos before they are pulled down) are 1) the former Mitsui oil storage tanks which were used to feed Pasir Panjang Power Station and 2) the block of flats next to the power station for senior staff of the power station. We used to hang out in this area when my friend's father worked at the power station in the 1960s. There was also a BP oil storage farm between the canal and Port Road.

yg said...

peter, so, i am a little off the mark. but, how would you know? you were a baby then.

peter said...

My late father was a member of the club. When the pool was abandoned in the early 1960s, he used to take me for "jalan-jalan" and explained to me the place(s) he used to go as a lad before WW2 and when he dated my late mother after post-war. The entrance to the club was jalan pelepah - I recognise the corner building facing Pasir Panjang Road and Boon Leat Terrace.

BY the way do you know where was Anson Stadium before WW2? This was before Jalan Besar Stadium was built. In those days the South China FC used to play against Singapore Chinese FC. Some of our Singapore players were selected to play for China in 1948. Later my father told me it became the Singapore Conference Hall.

Lam Chun See said...

I have a 1948 photo (here)of my father and my eldest brother which wss taken at the Tiger Swimming Pool. I have always wanted to know more about this place. Thanks for the info from YG and the others.

yg said...

peter, according to my source, there were two huge bungalows at jalan pelepah belonging to some tan brothers. when you visited in the 60s, were the bungalows still around?

peter said...

I dont' really know Pasir Panjang Road that well. I know I went "Kai Kai" very often up to where a bridge crossed some river on West Coast Road.

I think I got a photo somewhere on from my father's album. There was a balustrade-type fence in front of the club facing the sea.

In my mind, there was a small hotel on a piece of land opposite to the present row of 2-storey shops at the junction of South Buona Vista Road and Pasir Panajng Road/West Coast Highway. I think the land became a part of the West Coast Highway now.

There was a WW2 bunker (like the one in front of Science Park 2 today) opposite Haw Par Villa (I think 88 Restaurant site was there in 2002???).

Opposite the present Mobil Station after South Buona Vista Road was a huge bungalow which was used by the Japanese Navy senior officers during WW2 (now a church I think). That bungalow house was some rich Chinese towkay who was forcibly required to part his property. I think MM Lee's wife side of the relatives has (or had) a big summer retreat seafront bungalow next to the former Pasir Panajng Police Station. I remember up to 2002 it was an empty piece of land with an abandoned old house on it (at the corner of Pasir Panjang Road and West Coast Highway facing the container port.

There was once the Alexandra Brick Works factory facing the Pasir Panajng Power Station.

There was a Pasir Panjang Park which I suspect could be the Currentcy House today.

If I am not wrong there was a government flower nursery selling plants on the side of Boon Leat Terrace or Alexandra Terrace.

yg said...

peter, i think you are referring to the paradise nite club at west coast point. i had seen couples 'lamsing' at the open air dance floor.

yg said...

chun see, thanks for highlighting the photo. now, i have some idea how the pool was like. i had not known that there was this private public swimming pool back in 40s and 50s until an elderly friend mentioned it.
when i met my regular walking kaki at bukit batok park, i got him to tell me more about this place. he grew up in the pasir panjang and he has very good and fond memories of that area.
i feel like i am a proxy blogger for a few senior citizens who are in their 70s and 80s.

peter said...


I am not sure which is the Tan bungalow or where it could be located. But I do know after picking on my memory bank again, there was a large 2 storey bungalow at the carpark behind the AVA.

You see when you drive into Jalan Pelepah from Pasir Panjang Road, you travel to the end of the road (which is approximately the entrance to the present public carpark) and when you turn slightly right you get into the entrance of TIGER Swimming Club (There was a 2/3 storey building which I think was the clubhouse). I remembered the old bungalow was on my right side which should now be the public carpark. In fact I recall seeing the TIGER Swimming Club which was abandoned in the early 60s when I was already in primary 2 or 3 (club no longer in operation). There was an enclosure built into the sea (like a concrete jetty) when we walked inside the old swimming club compound. That is why I recollect seeing the balustrade fence. Today the accurate location for the old swimming club is the row of semi-D houses and the small road that serves that estate all the way to where there is now a container port.

I hope some old-timers tell me whether my memory about the place is accurate or not.

peter said...

Westpoint Garden you mention, was a restaurant cum night club. It was not a hotel. I forgot where it is located now (must be some condo) because the last time I saw it again was in 2002, it was an empty piece of land. I can recognize the place because there was a red brick wall as the fence facing Pasir Panjang Road.

There was also a Paradise Restaurant in that area - went there for seafood in 1969 (I got the receipt still). It was at #195 Pasir Panjang Road. #181 I think was Westpoint Garden

peter said...

Now I just remember why we know so much about Pasir Panjang Road. We went to Cheong Hock Hai's house at Guok Avenue. Cheong was the director of education in the MOE then. His son was our classmate.

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annie said...

Hi all,

There was single multi-storey building near the old Pasir Panjang Power Station. Is it the staff quarters?

yg said...

hi annie, i will check it out and let you know.

yg said...

the haw par swimming pool was closed to the public at the end of october 1959. the owners - the aw brothers - cited heavy maintenance cost as the reason for its closure.

FL said...

Hi,yg, you mentioned that the Haw Par swimming pool was closed in Oct 1959. However, I remembered as a kid my late cousin brought us to swim at a public pool in Pasir Panjang Rd. I think it's around 1960 or 1961. I'm not sure whether it was this pool that you mentioned or there was another one at Pasir Panjang Rd then. I couldn't recall much as I was very young. Later, I was told that the pool was closed down due a number of drowning cases. I hope someone enlighten me. Thanks.

Long Sand said...

In my memory, there was a sea front bungalow along Pasir Panjang. Out in the sea, there was a concrete enclosure. It may be the same one that Peter has mentioned above, unless such structure was common along that coast in those days. I believed it was painted white. It did not appear to be a jetty, maybe it served as a man-made lagoon.

This place is so vague in the memory that it's like a dream now, until I read this post.

garettos said...

Correct, there was an old bungalow near the swimming pool, and the bungalow was demolished around the mid 80's. I never got to see the swimming pool as I was born in the late 70's.

At the end of the road where AVA is, there's a carpark on the left. But if you look straight ahead, you will see 2 pillars which used to be the gate along the road leading to the bungalow.

If you can remember the swimming pool, I'm sure you can remember the cinema nearby, and the 4½ miles market.

Frank said...

Came across this blog by chance and thought I leave whatever memories I have of the old Pasir Panjang road.
I lived in kampong Sultan which is 51/2 mile, near junction is south bound vista rd. from a post above, Peter might be referring to Seaside a Hotel which was located there.
I remember West Point in the 70s as it was no longer a night club but a place where boats were stored. It was located opposite the 146 bus terminal.
Those flats next to power station in the seventies were staff quarters as my relatives stayed there. There was a very small beach down the slope.
paradise restaurant as I can recalled was at 5 mile. They moved to the bowling alley location and if I am not mistaken was renamed seafood 88.
This blog does bring back fond memories.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thank you for the post and comments. I used to go to Batu Berlayer Primary from 1970 to 1976 and Pasir Panjang Secondary till 1979. All through those years, the site was in ruins with rubble, collapsed structures, brown stagnant water in the pool with lots of rusted trash. It was creepy and I never knew the history of that place till now! Behind Pasir Panjang Secondary was a little Chinese temple. I remember the tortoises with red lettering on the backs in the pond. We used to run through the temple site, along the rocky beach, through Labrador round back to PPSS. There was a restaurant there called Manhill restaurant which served wonderful paper wrapped chicken. It's still there but the food is not as I remember. I'm planning to go back to Pepys Road and walk around. Used to live in the foothills of Bukit Chandu. Thank you once again for this wonderful blog.

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