Queenstown heritage walk turns 10

Ms May Hui, 64, a volunteer guide from My Community, leading a group on the heritage walk at the rooftop of Skyville@Dawson yesterday. My Community has a pool of about 150 volunteers who lead participants on the tours.
Ms May Hui, 64, a volunteer guide from My Community, leading a group on the heritage walk at the rooftop of Skyville@Dawson yesterday. My Community has a pool of about 150 volunteers who lead participants on the tours.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

For the past 10 years, dozens of residents have been showing up in Queenstown on Sunday mornings to walk around the neighbourhood, with volunteer guides pointing out where Singapore's second driving centre, first branch library and first polyclinic used to be.

Yesterday, heritage organisation My Community, which holds these walks, celebrated the 10th anniversary of these trails. It also launched a new series of walks incorporating Mandarin, sketching and photography.

My Community president Kwek Li Yong said: "Every community has a story to tell. Through heritage walks, we wish to narrate the endearing story of the common man, celebrate the little things that make the neighbourhood special and reconnect individuals to the social networks in the community."

The guide leading the first sketch walk yesterday was Mr Tan Chwee Seng, 65, a professional artist.

He said: "This combines art, heritage and culture... I want people to find artistic value in the things they see. It's not something that only artists can do, because art is everywhere and anyone can make art."

The heritage walks were started in 2008 to celebrate Queenstown's rich history as Singapore's first satellite town. The walks cover Queenstown, Bukit Merah and Tiong Bahru.

The first tour had four participants. Last year, My Community organised 55 public tours, which attracted over 2,500 participants.

My Community has a pool of about 150 volunteers who lead participants on the tours.

One of the volunteers is Ms Morni Mohamed, a 53-year-old library officer, who has been a guide since 2015. "I wanted to share what I know, but also to learn from others," she said.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, and Culture, Community and Youth, Mr Baey Yam Keng, said at the event yesterday: "This is one of the few ground-up, resident-led heritage walks and it's something we want to encourage.

"I'm happy to see this group grow and mature after I saw its beginning 10 years ago."

Mr Jim Teng, 44, who works in finance, was on the walk yesterday with his wife and 10-year-old daughter.

"I grew up in Queenstown but moved away, before coming back in 2005. I'm most excited to hear the stories related to each location. I'm learning about my home town."

Those who want to join the tours can register at www.myqueenstown.eventbrite.sg

Sue-Ann Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2018, with the headline 'Queenstown heritage walk turns 10'. Print Edition | Subscribe