Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nostalgia at Queenstown Library and Queenstown Bowl

There are a lot of places around Singapore that hold lots of memories for Singaporeans. These places hold their childhood memories, memories of them having a great time and memories with their familes. As Singapore starts to grow in a rapid pace, more and more old places are starting to disappear. Thankfully, there are certain old places in Singapore that are still in existence right now so it's still not too late to check them out. However, we may never know if these buildings will still be available in the next few decades so we must try to appreciate these kind of places as much as we can right now. In this article, I will be talking about my trip to one of the oldest estates in Singapore, Queenstown. Specifically, I will be checking out the historical Queenstown Library and the abandoned Queenstown Bowl entertainment centre. Scroll down to find out more about these two amazing places.

Visiting the Queenstown Library

Unfortunately, I do not have access to old photos of Queenstown. The only photos I have of Queenstown are the ones that I have taken during my trip in early March 2013 which are also the ones that I will be showing you here in this article. If you want to check out old photos of the Queenstown Estate, do check them out through the various history blogs of Singapore on the internet. The first place that I have visited in the Queenstown area is this, the Queenstown Library. It's located in the quiet neighbourhood that is part of Queenstown called Margaret Drive.

Queenstown Library is currently the oldest library in Singapore. Before that, the old National Library at Stamford Road (where the Fort Canning Tunnel and Singapore Management University are currently located) used to be Singapore's oldest library. There's not a lot of traffic along Margaret Drive and there is only one bus service passing by the library which is bus service 32. What I did was that I took the MRT to Commonwealth and transferred to service 32 and alighted at the bus stop that's just a few meters from the library building.

Nostalgic Architecture

The Queenstown Library's architecture is still pretty much the same since its opening in the 1970s. On the inside, it looks no different from other public libraries in Singapore. Some of the Singapore history blogs described how the library looked liked on the inside back in the days including a big spiral staircase that can be seen once you enter. As of right now, there is no more spiral staircase in the middle although a lift and a regular staircase were located on the side of the interior. I guess it went through lots of renovations and refurbishment works through the years which explains why the interior of the library looks completely different from last time. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of people visiting the library although most of them arrive here by car.

The Same Architectural Features

Like what I have mentioned earlier, some of the exterior features still exist since its opening. That includes these concrete fixtures which looks somewhat like a short concrete fence to me. You can actually see that it has aged quite a lot although repainting and refurbishments have regularly been made. Still, I was pretty impressed that on the outside, the library still looks the same as when it was first opened except for some minor differences. Oh and if you're asking, no I have not seen the library when it was first opened in the 1970s in real life. I have only seen it through photos found in Singapore history blogs.

Library Interior (Level 1)

Much can't really be said on the interior though. Like what I have said earlier on, the library went through lots of refurbishments and renovations through the years. It looks like a typical library on the inside and you may find it similar to the library that's located nearest to you. It has all the usual things like magazines, children's corner, fiction, non-fiction, Singapore works and so much more. There is even a library cafe if you want to quench your thirst while reading a book in peace.

Library Interior (Level 2)

This is the second level of the Queenstown Library. As usual, it still looks like a typical public library with the bookshelves, catalogue and the likes. Right over here, you can find all sorts of books ranging from fiction to non-fiction, guidebooks, travel books and so much more. The library itself is wheelchair accessible thanks to the lift that can be accessed near the staircase.

Nostalgia at its best

The Queenstown Library is certainly a very nostalgic place for a lot of people that live around the Queenstown area. It still exists since its opening in the 1970s and the exterior still remained largely the same. If you have visited the Queenstown Library back in its heyday, this can definitely bring lots of memories back although the interior looks totally different. For those of you who miss coming here, just board bus service 32 to Margaret Drive (more information below) and the bus stop can be found very near to the library. I'm not sure if this library will go soon but it's always worth visiting the place now because you may never know. Do you have any memories of Queenstown Library back in its heydays? Share them in the comments below.

Checking out the Queenstown Bowl

This is another place that's worth checking out if you want to savour some of the nostalgia. It's called Queenstown Bowl although some people call the place differently. Some people call it Queenstown Queensway, Queenstown Theatre and so much more. Basically, it's an abandoned entertainment complex that has been closed since the 1990s. Yeah, it's that long. On the inside, there used to be a bowling alley, movie theatre, KTV Lounge, KFC fast food restaurant and LAN gaming facility. Pretty cool, right? The building was first opened around the 1960s and it was a place for Queenstown residents to get some entertainment. The amount of visitors eventually declined which explains it closure in the 1990s. Since closing, the building has been decaying and you can see the building is pretty dirty. Despite all that, the architecture looks very interesting and it has that old school nostalgia look to it.

Abandoned Ticket Booth

This is the ticket booth of the Queenstown Bowl building. Obviously, it has been abandoned and covered up with lots of bricks. Right over here, if I am not wrong, you can purchase tickets to watch movies here. I'm not entirely sure if you have to come here to pay for the other facilities like the KTV Lounge and the bowling alley because I wasn't around when this place existed. Surprisingly, despite the dirty appearance of the building's exterior, it was rather clean right here at the ticket booth. It seems that some repainting was done quite recently if you notice the yellow and blue bricks carefully.

No Entry

Right over here, you can see that these doors, along with the other entrances, have been shut. Which means no entry to the public, obviously. It would be great if I have the chance to actually enter the building to see how run down it is on the inside. However, some lucky people over at another blog got access to the building's interior. They even posted lots of pictures of the interior in their blog post. I can guarantee you that they are slightly creepy because it's dark but it's still pretty cool to look at. If you have actually entered the building back when it was still operating, it may even provide you with some memories. The link to the blog post will be featured below.

KTV Lounge and Movie Theatre

Here are some pictures of the exterior that advertises the KTV Lounge and the movie theatre. You can see the dirt and grime surrounding the signage. It's pretty sad to see it in such a stage. For the exterior of the movie theatre, I have a feeling that the black area is where they put up the movie poster. If you think it's for another reason, do let me know what is it for. Come to think of it, I wonder where the official entrance was located at? I don't think it's the door that I have shown you earlier on. It's looks too small. Maybe it's at the back beside the ticket booth if I can recall.

Memories of Margaret Drive

As of March 2013, when I last visited the Queenstown Library and Queenstown Bowl, Margaret Drive, is mainly surrounded by large grass fields with the exception of these two buidlings. When I saw photos of Margaret Drive in Singapore history blogs and on Google's Street View (with the year being 2009), the whole Margaret Drive used to be an estate on its own. There used to be lots of HDB flats surrounding Queenstown Bowl, an NTUC Fairprice supermarket that has been operating for more than 30 years, the Commonwealth Cooked Food Centre, Queenstown Polyclinic and so much more. It's quite sad to see that the whole estate was torn down in about a few years. I'm sure the residents that used to live here felt very sad about seeing the estate that they live in for such a long period time torn down in just a short amount of time. Not only that, it's been heard on the news recently that the Queenstown Bowl entertainment centre has been hoarded up. Most likely, it may be torn down very soon and replaced by new developments.

Terrace Houses with Block Numbers???

If you live in a HDB flat, you will find this very surprising. Usually, when we think of HDB flats, it's always high rise flats. However, the ones over here are actually not high rise and they are in the shape of terrace houses which are usually private buildings. Well, if you don't know they are actually public houses that were built by the government statutory board, Singapore Improvement Trust or SIT for short. SIT used to build affordable houses for the general public when more and more residents started to move to a more modern house from their traditional kampong (village) houses. The houses above are examples of a houses built by the SIT. Eventually, the HDB or Housing Development Board replaced SIT as the new statutory board for public houses and they started building high rise flats to keep up with the Singapore population. Basically, these terrace houses can actually be considered as HDB flats except that this is just one level. Other than that, the first few high rise HDB flats that were built in the 1960s were also located around this part of the Queenstown Estate also known as the Stirling Road area.


Overall, these two structures are very interesting and nostalgic buildings. The Queenstown Library is currently Singapore's oldest library with most of the exterior still unchanged. The Queenstown Bowl entertainment centre is a really old building that has been abandoned for more than 20 years after closing in the 1990s. I may not have grown up in the Margaret Drive area but I can see the reason why Singapore history buffs are really interested in these two places. These places hold special nostalgic memories of former residents of the Margaret Drive area and not only that, the architecture is old school which contrasts with the modern architecture of other public libraries and entertainment centres. Margaret Drive used to be an estate on its own with several HDB flats and amenities nearby but now, it's pretty much a ghost town unfortunately. Everything is eerily quiet.

As of June 2013, I have heard from several news reports and history blogs that the Queenstown Bowl entertainment centre has been hoarded up. I'm not 100% sure what will eventually happen to the building although I can come up with a few possible outcomes. One is that it may eventually be refurbished. Maybe they will repaint the building, refurbish the exterior and the interior and re-opening it again to the public. Possible but most likely will not happen.

Another is that it may eventually be torn down completely and will be replaced with other commercial developments or a new condominium will be built. This possibility may happen most likely. Whatever it is, I hope that if you still have the chance to take a last peek of the building, do it right now. It may be hoarded up right now but at least it's better than seeing it completely torn down. This reminds all of us that nothing is forever and that we should appreciate everything around us as much as we can before it will forever be gone right in front of our eyes.

Getting Here (Queenstown Library)

Bus services available: 32 (Bus stop outside Queenstown Lib along Margaret Drive)

Nearest MRT Station: EW20 Commonwealth MRT Station (East West Line)


Getting Here (Queenstown Bowl)

Bus services available: 51, 111, 145, 186, 195, 970, NR5 (Bus Stop After Ch Of Our Saviour along Commonwealth Avenue)

Nearest MRT Station: EW19 Queenstown MRT Station (East West Line)


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