Presenting the Past: The Pelican of Ang Mo Kio (Part 4 of 7)

20 May

This picture was originally taken at a public playground in front of Block 304 in Ang Mo Kio Ave 1. And in this picture, stood my grandparents in front of a Pelican structure. 

The Original Picture

The Original Picture

This would have been taken back in the 1970s, some years before I was born. Ang Mo Kio town would have just been a new town, starting out as all new towns do, with many young couples moving in to high-rise flats designed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). This was where I spend my early growing up years.

I remember many childhood days spent frolicking in the sandbox playground, pushing myself to achieve greater heights on the swings, and mostly, climbing up, in and through the Pelican.

It has since been torn down, to make space for development I guess.

I was hopeful to find some… evidence of its existence when I revisited the old neighbourhood for my picture. But was disappointed to find that it was not only gone, but totally replaced by new walkways and landscaped gardens. An unrecognisable space, it has become. I tried to make the most of my trip and finally took this shot. Not perfectly matched .. but in a way, realistic.

Somewhere along Ang Mo Kio Ave 6

Somewhere along Ang Mo Kio Ave 6

Oh, the ever changing face of the Singapore heartlands!

It makes it real hard to hold onto old things and associated memories. Thankfully, I have pictures to remind me that my memories of childhood playtime at the sandbox playground was real.

The playground housed the “Pelican”, one of many such animal-designed playground structures designed by local HDB architect Mr Khor Ean Ghee. That was when HDB still designed their own playgrounds. I would say, these were iconic sculptures of my generation! I bet many Singaporean children of the 1980s would remember playing in at least one of them.

The Remember Singapore website has a brilliant record of all the Playgrounds of yester-years. The Singapore Memory project also captured these playgrounds by way of an interesting visual map  – Mosiac Memories.

For now, back to the Pelican.

I was a little sad when the last Pelican was demolished in 2012 – its residence at Dover was demolished to make way for… yes, you guessed it, “development”.  The Ang Mo Kio Pelican was probably torn down much earlier, which would have been after I moved out of the town, around the mid 1990s (or later?).

Here’s a closer look at the Dover Road Pelican, before it fades from our collective memories – the only place our dear friend the Pelican will henceforth reside –

Dover Road Pelican Playground 

(image from the Remember Singapore website)

Although all the Pelicans are now gone, there is some hope in saving the Dragons – the iconic dragon playground in Toa Payoh was saved from demolition – and a small victory for sentimental Singaporeans. 🙂

Earlier in April, I visited The People’s Collection exhibition over at the National Museum of Singapore. And I was pleased to find that I wasn’t the only one nostalgic about those old playgrounds!

I was surprised to find amongst the exhibits, the design plan for the Pelican.

Design plan of the Pelican playground at The People's Collection at National Museum of Singapore (2014)

Design plan of the Pelican playground at The People’s Collection at National Museum of Singapore (2014)

It made me smile a little to see my old playmate again.

Next up, read about my playtime at the Chinese Gardens. 🙂


yuehann’s notes: Today’s post is the fourth in a series of posts first born in reaction to Looking into the Past. Read the very first blog post here & also Part 1Part 2, Part 3 of the series. And also a related article I wrote for online e-zine Draft (pg 68).


One Response to “Presenting the Past: The Pelican of Ang Mo Kio (Part 4 of 7)”


  1. Presenting the Past: Chinese Gardens Playtime (Part 5 of 7) | Still.Life. - June 30, 2015

    […] to Looking into the Past. Read the very first blog post here & also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of the series. And also a related article I wrote for online e-zine Draft (pg […]

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