Monday 16 December 2013

Schools in Tiong Bahru, Bukit Ho Swee and Outram

As I was writing this post, I was reminded by a television serial which I had watched in 2002 when I was in secondary one. Named 河水山, or Bukit Ho Swee in mandarin, the backdrop of the serial was set in the kampongs around Bukit Ho Swee in the 1950s prior to the infamous 1961 fire which destroyed more than 2200 attap houses and put 16000 people homeless. Till this day, I could still remember the lyrics and melody of the serial, which was produced at a time when Channel 8 was producing local dramas which I loved to watch.


Bukit Ho Swee was named after Tay Ho Swee, a prominent figure in the Chinese community in the 19th century. In the early days, Bukit Ho Swee was the site of a disused Chinese cemetary and a large number of squatter huts, which gradually turned into a crowded attap slum as the poorest of the population, including labourers, hawkers and secret societies, moved into the area. (Source: Blog to Express) After the 1961 fire, a big national development plan was undertaken by the newly formed Housing and Development Board. Victims of the fire were housed in the recently built flats in Queenstown and St Michael's, while land in the Bukit Ho Swee area was acquired to facilitate the building of over 8000 flats. It was also after the fire when Jalan Bukit Ho Swee, the key road in the area, was built, where more than 10 schools where built in its vicinity. This included Bukit Ho Swee East Primary, Bukit Ho Swee West Government Chinese Primary, Bukit Ho Swee Secondary, Tiong Bahru Primary, Tiong Bahru Secondary, Delta Circus Primary, Delta Secondary and Seng Poh Government Chinese Primary School.

To the south of Jalan Bukit Ho Swee lies the estate of Tiong Bahru built in the 1930s. Interestingly, most of the streets within the estate are named after the early Chinese pioneers in Singapore, such as Seah Eu Chin, Tan Chay Yan, See Eng Watt and Tan Seng Poh. (Source: Remember Singapore). In fact, the word 'Tiong' means 'to die' in hokkien and 'Bahru' means 'new' in malay as the area was previously used as a burial ground for the Hokkien community. (Source: Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail)

Moving southeast from Tiong Bahru lies the Outram district. Commonly known as 'si pai por' , or Sepoy Plains in Hokkien, Outram and Pearls' Hill was the site of the Sepoy barracks housing the Indian soldiers who were employed by the British to maintain law and order in the British settlements. The key roads in the area, namely Outram and Havelock Roads, were also named after the 2 Generals who led the English army in the 1857 Indian Mutiny. Due to its proximity to the nearby Chinatown, Tiong Bahru, Bukit Ho Swee and Kampong Bahru districts, Outram was also home to numerous schools, including Outram Primary, Outram Secondary, The Chinese Industrial & Commercial Continuation School (later Gong Shang Primary), Pearl Park School (Pearl Bank School and Park Road School amalgamated), Pearls' Hill School (Pearls' Hill School and Pearl Park School amalgamated), Silat Primary School and Chiang Teck Public School (later Zhangde Primary).
Schools in Tiong Bahru, Bukit Ho Swee and Outram (Click to enlarge)
SN School  Motto
1 Tiong Bahru Primary School  (Formerly Kai Min Public School/Jiemin Pri) 立达小学 Modest & Self-Reliant
2 Chuen Min Public School (Quan Min) 公立全民学校
3 Kai Kok Public School (Jie Gu) 公立介榖学校
4 Bukit Ho Swee East Primary School 河水山东小学 Kema Juan-Progress
5 Bukit Ho Swee West Government Chinese Primary School 河水山西政府华文小学
6 Bukit Ho Swee Primary School 河水山小学
7 The Chinese Industrial & Commercial Continuation  School (Gongshang Pri) 南洋工商补习学校 勤俭诚敬 / Perseverance, Thrift, Integrity and Respect
8 Sepoy Line Malay School
9 Pearl's Hill School 珍珠山学校 Perseverence, Honour, Success
10 Pearl Bank School
11 Park Road School Truth & Honesty
12 Pearl Park Primary School
13 Outram Primary School 欧南小学 Stribe & Perservere
14 Silat Primary School 石叻小学 Pelajaran Asaskemajuan
15 Chiang Teck Public School (Zhangde Pri) 公立彰德学校
16 Delta Circus School 立道学校 Determination, Consideration, Progress, Success
17 Seng Poh Government Chinese Primary School 成保政府华文小学
18 Bukit Ho Swee Secondary School 立达中学 Belajar Dan Berkhidmat / Learn & Serve
19 Delta Secondary School 德才中学 Towards Knowledge & Virtue
20 Tiong Bahru Secondary School 立道中学 Maju & Jaya
21 Outram Secondary School 欧南中学 Labour Omnia Vincit
22 University of Singapore  新加坡大学

Schools in Tiong Bahru, Bukit Ho Swee and Outram


  1. Thanks for this post which brought back memories of my passage through Park Road School from 1961. I had no idea what happened to it and with all the developments in Singapore, am glad to find some traces of it through some posts. Thank you.

  2. Hello! Thank you for these insightful information. May I know the sources of these information, are they from NLB or are they part of your collection? I am currently doing a FYP topic related to this and I might need the information. Would really appreciate if you can let me know! Thank you :) -Jia Ying

  3. Thank you for these.. I am a former student from Delta Circus Primary and Delta Secondary School..Both buildings still there.Standing strong!