Discover more about Singapore's colonial roots and early history with a free guided tour of the historical Dawson and Queenstown areas.
Organised in conjunction with Singapore's bicentennial celebrations this year, the four-hour My Dawson Heritage Tour is a monthly tour run by volunteer group My Community.
To be conducted every first Saturday and Sunday of the month, the first session of the 5.6km tour was held yesterday with 36 participants.
On the tour, volunteers will take participants to areas such as the Tanglin barracks that the British built for soldiers in 1861; the Chatsworth Park Conservation Area, where British and American companies put up their staff in the early 1990s; and the Phoenix Park complex that was constructed by the British in 1949 to house several key institutions.
My Community founder and president Kwek Li Yong said the tour features not just the research his group has done, but also insights from past and present residents in the area.
He said: "Our popular guided tours are heavily curated with sensory cues that evoke the past, layered with personal accounts and experiences which took place on site.
STORIES KEEP PLACES ALIVE
Buildings can age or be demolished, but stories are what keep places alive. By sharing my stories of growing up here, I can help to keep this Queenstown area alive.
MISS LEE HUI FANG, 35, a resident of Strathmore Avenue in Queenstown who joined the tour and told stories about growing up in the area to other tour group members.
"My Dawson Heritage Tour forms a convergence between collective memories and individual biographies, and is essential to how we interpret and negotiate our colonial past through familiarity, sensory recollection and community ownership."
The tour is one of eight that My Community organises, but is the first one it has done to commemorate Singapore's bicentennial.
An MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, Dr Chia Shi-Lu, said: "The bicentennial tour at Dawson comprises landmarks and experiences which serve as visual and experiential reminders of how our colonial past is engaged in embodied meanings."
One of the tour's 12 stops is the site of the 1955 Hock Lee Bus Riots.
The riots, which began as a peaceful demonstration by bus drivers from the Hock Lee Amalgamated Bus Company, turned violent when riot police attempted to break it up.
Two police officers were killed and hundreds of protesters injured.
The historic Phoenix Park complex is another highlight of the tour.
According to My Community, the Ministry of Home Affairs' Internal Security Department used the site to investigate numerous cases.
When The Straits Times joined the tour yesterday, there was a mix of Dawson and Queenstown residents, and people from other neighbourhoods.
Retiree Priscilla Yee, 57, travelled from Bedok for the tour after reading about it online. It allowed her to walk down memory lane as she spent the first 12 years of her life in the area before moving out.
Said Madam Yee: "It is wonderful to revisit the places I used to go to, as there are not many reasons for me to come to this area. The tour is very well done and informative; even though I grew up here, I am learning many things about this place that I never knew."
Miss Lee Hui Fang, 35, a Queenstown resident, joined the tour and told stories about growing up in the area to other tour group members.
The acupressure instructor said she felt compelled to share her experiences after finding out about the work that My Community did.
"When we travel to other countries, we always tell people about the stories from that place, why should it be different from the place we live?" she said.
"Buildings can age or be demolished, but stories are what keeps places alive. By sharing my stories of growing up here, I can help to keep this Queenstown area alive."
Those keen on going for the tour, which can take 50 participants each time, can sign up at www.mycommunity.eventbrite.sg