Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lim Tua Tow Market and Teck Chye Terrace

This was a popular market and hawker centre in the 50s and 60s. The Lim Tua Tow market was sited on the left of the picture, while the shop houses along Teck Chye Terrace are on the right.

The place surrounding the market was rather filthy and complaints were made to the government in hope that something could be done. There was no proper refuse disposal and items that were unwanted were dumped into the side drains. (17)

Not only was the place laden with filth, gangs also ply the back lanes. (5)

The market was demolished in the 1980s due to road expansion. The shop houses on he right are still currently there.

Teck Chye Terrace (Postal Code: Singapore 19/ 1954; 5 1/2 milestone Upper Serangoon Road)

Ask anyone about what Teck Chye Terrace is about and they will tell you it's all about food. From the traditional porridge stalls to buffet styled steamboats, this stretch of shophouses have different eating places to whet your appetites. (26) More recently, this row of shophouses made news as "five adjoining two-storey shophouses" were sold at a whopping cost of S$14.63m. (12)

But what was this place like before the advent of these makan places?

One of the first mention of the road name Teck Chye Terrace was seen in a 1930 Straits Times article. Police raided 19 Lim Teck Chye Terrace, Paya Lebar Village and arrested 10 Chinese for gambling. (13). Other vice activities included taking "chandu" or opium. (16) 

Teck Chye Terrace was acquired by the government in 1931 and declared as a public street. (6) The owners of the freehold land was selling buildings No.1 to 17 - Odd numbers. This road was already present in 1929. (7) It was purchased by a Mr Lim Soo Sian for a princely price of $22,000. (14)

After the Japanese occupation, the Christian community from Paya Lebar Methodist Church pumped in money to build a children's playground close to Teck Chye Terrace, adding some joy to these younglings. The area where the playground was to be built was said to be "overgrown with weeds, banana plants, and bushes and is a dumping ground for scrap and timber". (15)

Adding to gang activities, the filthiness of the place and mosquitoes infestations, Teck Chye Terrace was not a place where families would want to make this place their home. (18)

Source: OneMap, 1954

In 1962, one of its residents named Teck Chye Terrace as "one of the filthiest roads in Singapore". The road was totally crowded with "more than 100 stalls illegally constructed obstruct road users". (8) There was even a call to move these stall holders into the existing market and vacant playground. (3)

Companies that used the buildings at Teck Chye Road include:-

a. Hong Huat Timber Merchant in 1974 at 41, Teck Chye Terrace(9)

b. There was a slew of retail and wholesale liquor and beer shop that applied for a joint licence under the Singapore Provision Shop Friendly Association in 1975. These provision shops included 3, 9, 21, 27, 31, 33, 37 Teck Chye Terrace. (19) (20) (21) (22)

c. Hong Lee Goldsmith at 13 Teck Chye Road (11) (23) from 1982-91. The shop was then named Tiara Creation Pte Ltd in 1991. (27)

d. the now defunct Serangoon Sewing Machine Co. at 33, Teck Chye Terrace (10) in 1982-89. The company went on to sell other electrical appliances such as coloured television, video recorder and hi-fi sets. (24) (25)

First written on May 13, 2014.

Updated on May 31, 2015.


1. Left photo: From the Lee Kip Lin Collection. All rights reserved. Lee Kip Lin and National Library Board, Singapore 2009

2. Right photo: Google Map. Retrieved on May 13, 2014.

3. The Straits Times. May 22, 1963. Filth and Dust. P8

4. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. March 16, 1932. P2.

5. The Straits Times. The gangs like the dark. October 11, 1955. P8.

6. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. Declining Property Value. August 17, 1932. P12.

7. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. September 28, 1929. Municipal Commission. P11.

8. The Straits Times. Top prize for squalor. July 21, 1962. P10.

9. The Straits Times. Advertisement. December 9, 1974. P25.

10. Singapore Monitor. November 21, 1984. P3.

11. The Straits Times. Advertisements. June 14, 1983. P23.

12. Rashiwala, K. March 5, 2015. Mortgagee sales lift number of auction properties in Jan-Feb. The Business Times. Retrieved on May 31, 2015.

13. The Straits Times. Caught Gambling. January 30, 1930. P17.

14. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. April 27, 1932. Property Sale. P7.

15. The Straits Times. April 2, 1948. Paya Lebar Plans Centre. P5.

16. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. January 13, 1938. Had two cards: opium smoker fined. P15.

17. The Straits Times. January 29, 1955. Even the city cleaners don't dally here. P12.

18. The Straits Times. August 26, 1957. Back lanes need watching. P6.

19. New Nation. January 8, 1975, Advertisements. P15.

20. New Nation. January 29, 1975, Advertisements. P16.

21. New Nation. February 6, 1975, Advertisements. P21.

22. The Straits Times. January 4, 1975. Advertisements. P18.

23. The Straits Times. November 20, 1982. Goldsmith jailed for cheating another goldsmith of $20,000. P8

24. The Straits Times. July 22, 1984. Advertisements. P6.

25. The Straits Times. August 25, 1985. Advertisements. P23.

26. The Straits Times. December 11, 2005. Mass Market it is. Retrieved on May 31, 2015.

27. The New Paper. June 6, 1991. Advertisements. P29.

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