NHB to document history of 10 towns

TEN towns, including Chai Chee, Pasir Ris and Bishan, will get their time in the heritage spotlight.

The National Heritage Board (NHB) is commissioning a project to document their histories by next June - in time for the nation's golden jubilee.

The aim is to paint a comprehensive picture through photos, oral histories and stories from residents.

This could include exhibition panels detailing early beginnings, developments, iconic buildings and heritage sites, for instance.

The other towns are Bukit Panjang, Woodlands, Yishun, Geylang Serai, Kembangan, Joo Chiat and Kallang. NHB has already done 12 heritage trails in areas such as Toa Payoh, Queenstown and Tiong Bahru.

The Straits Times understands that the towns' boundaries will not necessarily be electoral ones, but will also be drawn out according to the social memories of residents, official records and maps.

Ms Sim Wan Hui, the board's deputy director of community institutions and outreach, said that drawing out the distinct local histories of each town will contribute to the larger Singapore story.

"For a small island nation, Singapore's heritage is actually very rich," she noted, adding that the board had initiated the project due to increased interest from residents.

North West District, where Bukit Panjang is ensconced, is home to about 7,000 residents from the pioneer generation.

Said Bukit Panjang MP and North West District Mayor Teo Ho Pin: "It's good to work with the community to extract their stories so they can be shared with other residents and the younger generation. Bukit Panjang has been around for quite a number of years and there are structures and areas with heritage value such as the 10 mile junction where an open-air cinema, police station and post office used to be."

Woodlands Secondary School teacher I'dil Saladin Alamin, 31, said the 10 towns project will be useful to the school, which is working on enhancing its heritage trail of the neighbourhood.

"There's only so much information we can get from the National Archives of Singapore and the Internet," he said. "NHB's information will be good to help us corroborate information and diversify our information sources."

Ms Sim added that the effort will give such groups easy access to historical data. Apart from exhibition panels, the information will be also be available on the board's website.


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