I remember: Everton Park

Home is a familiar estate once built for port workers

Madam Kalaich Chelvi Perianan and her husband Ganesan Kulandai at a playground in Everton Park. Madam Chelvi had been living in the estate since she was young and decided to make it her home even after she married. The couple bought a three-room resa
Madam Kalaich Chelvi Perianan and her husband Ganesan Kulandai at a playground in Everton Park. Madam Chelvi had been living in the estate since she was young and decided to make it her home even after she married. The couple bought a three-room resale flat there for $60,000 in 1986. Its value has since multiplied but they have not been tempted to move.PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Madam Kalaich Chelvi Perianan, 56, has lived near the port almost her whole life.

She had moved with her parents and younger brother to a two- room flat in Everton Park in the late 1960s, after her father, a driver at the then Port of Singapore Authority (PSA), was housed there by the authority.

The Everton Park housing estate, which was opened on Nov 8, 1965, by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, was built to house port workers. Constructed at a cost of $5.5 million, it provided 12 shops, a number of market stalls and a children's playground, The Straits Times reported. The estate comprised two- and three-room flats then.

But in 1979, the estate was handed over to the Housing Board, which renovated the seven blocks of flats and converted some of them into five-room flats.

Madam Chelvi and her family moved to Seah Im Road briefly before returning to Everton Park in 1980. "HDB redid the place and sold the flats to the public. It reserved 10 per cent to 20 per cent for long-serving PSA workers. Through that, we got the flat," the cargo centre coordinator at Changi Airport told The Sunday Times.

Her family moved into a three- room flat in Everton Park, which they bought for $24,000 then. A corner unit cost more at $27,000, she recalled.

"Previously, my mother worked in Jurong and I worked at the airport. We bought a place that was in the centre," she said.

Madam Chelvi decided to make Everton Park her home even after she got married. In 1986, she and her husband Ganesan Kulandai, who is now 60 and a building executive, bought a three-room resale flat there for $60,000 to take care of her parents.

"Thirty-five years ago, the five- room flats cost $55,000 to $60,000. Now, it's $700,000 to $800,000," said Madam Chelvi with a laugh.

But her family has not been tempted to move.

"The Tanjong Pagar railway station is nearby. It's within walking distance. We could take the train to Malaysia (previously)," she said.

Relatives from Malaysia could also find their way easily to her home once they got off the train, she added.

The railway station may have fallen into disuse, but Madam Chelvi still finds Everton Park very conveniently located, with Chinatown and Little India nearby.

"We are very familiar with the place. Previously, it was under Mr Lee Kuan Yew. We were well taken care of," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 08, 2015, with the headline 'Home is a familiar estate once built for port workers '. Print Edition | Subscribe