Thursday, October 11, 2018

Go Local :: Goodbye Normanton Park, My Childhood Home

Exactly 1 week ago, Normanton Park closed for good. Thurs 4 Oct 2018 was the last day for residents' to return their house keys, and to move out of one of the oldest {41 years old!} and biggest housing estate in Singapore.

Sorry for the lack of blog updates on the blog as I have been busy helping my parents to pack and move.

Due to privacy reasons, I never divulged online or shared with followers that Normanton Park was my childhood home. Even after it was sold en bloc, Jerome asked if I was going to write about growing up there but I didn't feel it was the right time as my parents still lived there... but now since they've moved out, I reckon it's ok now to share more about my experience and memories growing up in Normanton Park.

But in due time though, as my heart is still heavy and I'm still processing the fact that I will never be able to step into Normanton Park again....

I'd never play with Lil Pumpkin at the estate playground again, I'd never 拜年 to my parents' at our home there again, I'd never walk to get a late night snack from the supermarket there again, I'd never go lime-picking there again,  I'd never practise my driving there again, I'd never laze by the pool there again...

It's not just a simple house-moving.

Yes, my family have lived there for many years so have strong bonds to it, but I think what makes it even harder leaving Normanton Park is knowing that there isn't even a place for us to go back and visit in the future. There will be no more Normanton Park as we know it.

The current estate will be demolished and a new development will be built there. Maybe they might keep the name, but the community and history of the estate will definitely be different.

For those that are not aware, Normanton Park was developed by the Ministry of Defence in 1977 to provide affordable housing and build esprit de corps among Singapore Armed Forces officers.

Don't quote me on this, but I also heard that it was built so that in case of war, it was easier to protect the family of the military commanders and officers in the self-contained {we had our own supermarket, hairdresser, preschool, canteen, bookshop etc.} 623,000 sq ft gated estate so that they could go fight in peace..

At its early beginnings, if you were not a SAF personnel or had a family member who was, you could not live there.

In 1993, it was privatised and that's when a lot of residents started selling or renting out their apartments to non-SAF personnel. Because of its close proximity to NUS, NUH, and offices at Science Park, Fusionpolis etc, the demographic of Normanton Park residents changed.

There were more foreign students and nurses renting apartments there, as well as expats who worked nearby.

I remember that when we were younger, the community was really tight-knit. Our parents knew one another, and us Normanton Park kids used to go to the same preschool in one bus, then come home and play together until dinner. Sometimes even past that.

Holidays were extravagantly celebrated together and we'd have estate pool parties during festivals like New Year's, go lantern-walking during Mid-Autumn Festival, and one of my fondest memories was sitting the jolly choo-choo train that went around Normanton Park during Christmas.

This was my "kampong".

After the privatisation, a lot of the old residents moved out and the population of SAF officers dwindled. Things changed quite a bit and sadly, the community didn't seem as close...

As of last year, it was said that only one fifth of Normanton Park residents had ties to SAF.

Anyway, my parents were one of the first few residents to move in, and they stayed until the very end.

I'm really glad that Lil Pumpkin had the opportunity to know and form precious memories at Normanton Park too since she spent a considerable time there with my mum while I worked...

I had a final walk-about with her the weekend before Normanton Park was locked down on Sat 29 Sep 2018.

Took many photos and short clips of her which I've compiled in this video above. Have a look and if it's not working well, go watch it on my YouTube channel.

I also posted some memories from the last few weeks of Normanton Park and the gems I found there on my Instagram Highlights Reel. Find "Normanton #1" and "Normanton #2" folders if you'd like to check it out.

Will be sharing more later on once I've finally let it all sink it, and of course, after Lil Pumpkin's busy exam period.. so stay tuned!

Other Singapore heritage places:


Stacy said...

Looks like it was a nice place to grow up in. Hope your parents' new place will be just as good if not better.

An Apel a Day said...

I saw you post about this on Facebook. It's so sad when childhood memories go bye bye. I like when they can restore. It's ideal, but can't always be done.

It's good you went back to get photos!

Anonymous said...

Some genuinely interesting details you have written.Aided me a lot, just what I was looking for :D.

Adrine said...

Sounds like you had an amazing childhood!

It must be really difficult with this huge change. My parents stayed in the same house for 30 years and it was tough to move! (and it was just a house, not an entire community area).

Theresa Mahoney said...

How sad that your parents had to move. I am sure you will treasure the memories you made growing up there. It looked like a lovely place to spend your childhood.

Indah Nuria Savitri said...

It must be an emotional period of time for you and your family. All those memories and good times...Hope your parents find better place to stay. Cheers from Jakarta.

Susan said...

Must have brought back lots of previous childhood memories for you as you helped your parents to pack. Nice that Lil Pumpkin got to have those precious memories too. It's sad that a part of our nation's history goes as the country develops... The price we pay for being a developed country.