Dover Road Pelican Playground

Dover playground is one of the few sand-based playgrounds left in Singapore. Situated opposite Block 35 of Dover Road, it is built in the eighties. It consists of three structures in shapes of animals, which are the Pelican, the Rabbit and the Tortoise.

These animal-themed playgrounds should not look too unfamiliar to many Singaporeans as they were once found in many parts of Singapore. But unfortunately, the local playground design was stopped in 1993 because of a number of accidents due to safety flaws.

Singaporeans born in the late sixties t0 early eighties would have spend at least part of their childhoods in these types of playgrounds.

Children can climb through a hole to make it to the top of the Pelican’s beak.

The swings have been removed some years ago, some tiles have chipped off and the whole area looks severely under-maintained, covered with algae and fallen leaves.

More information on other types of playgrounds in Singapore.

The little Dover Estate consists of eleven blocks of flats, from Block 29 to Block 39. All the blocks were selected for en-bloc in 2004, and by the end of 2010, almost all the units were vacated.

The flats at Dover Road are made up of three- and four-roomed units except Block 39, which is a point block of five-roomed units.

Being very near to Portsdown, the area of Dover was formerly a British military and residential area. Its name means “The Waters” and refers to the English Channel.

Before its closure, it was a busy neighbourhood with a popular hawker center and wet market at Block 33.

The whole estate, together with the nostalgic playground, is due to be demolished probably by the end of 2011.

Published: 22 October 2010

Updated: 11 November 2011

57 Responses to Dover Road Pelican Playground

  1. Jensen says:

    The area that I will pass by everyday during uni days when I took bus 74 from AMK to science faculty…

  2. Quek Chin Keong says:

    Hi. There is also a unique playground (it is in the form of a dragon) at Toa Payoh. Like the “pelican, rabbit and tortoise” series, the “Dragon” series used to be rather common 20 to 30 years ago but they are a rare sight nowadays. If you drive and you enter Toa Payoh Town from PIE (towards Jurong), you should be able to see the tall HDB Block 28 (approx 20 storeys). The “Dragon” playground is in front of the block.
    Currently, block 28 (and a few nearby ones) are used to house foreign labour (I think). If they are gone, the whole area (including the playground) may be demolished. Perhaps some of your team may want to drop by at the playground to snap a few pictures.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Check this out!
    HDB Block 28 “Dragon” playground is well documented!
    http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/threads/921612-Larger-Format-Photography/page13

  4. Pat says:

    From post: “The little Dover Estate consists of eleven blocks of flats, from Block 29 to Block 39.” Were the flats in Dover Estate (is this name official or colloquial ?) built by JTC — esp. since the estate is located beside Ayer Rajah Industrial Estate ? I wasn’t able to find any info about this in the SG newspapers archive. If the said flats weren’t built by JTC, I wonder if JTC & HDB shared “standard designs” back in the 1980s.

    The 12-storey slab block (consisting of 4-room flats) as shown in your photo is an exact replica of 6 nos. of 2nd-generation blocks (Blk 24, 25, 30, 31, 32, 41) in the little Teban Gardens estate (formerly the largely-mangrove Kampung Java Teban), right down to the letterbox details & green chess table-cum-stools. The only differences are fairly minor — the Teban blocks have bare cement-screed floors at the void-decks, & the central lift-shafts lack the facade-protrusions at the top.

    These Teban blocks were constructed by JTC sometime between 1979 & 1982, & there were frequent news reports at that time about their construction progress, purchase costs (~$20+k) & leasing availability. Eg. See this quaint report ‘Flats for the skilled’ (ST – 25 Feb 1982). The bottom of the article features a photo of the furnished flat-interior as seen in the 2 blocks (Blk 24 & 25) “reserved for skilled executive level [foreign] workers” employed in Jurong.

    Not apparent from the black-&-white photo in the news article … The main door & internal doors were made of rather flimsy wood & painted green. The terrazzo floor in the living room was white. The water pipes were made of cast iron, & had to be completely replaced in the early 1990s, because they were badly-corroded by the industrial water that was used for flushing. (‘Corroding pipes at Teban, Pandan estates to be replaced for free’ (ST – 13 Dec 1992).

    I suppose these 4-room Dover Estate/Rd flats had the same interior as the above-mentioned flats in Teban Gardens ? In addition, the long-defunct sand-based playground in Teban Gardens had play structures whose blue mosiac-tiles are identical to those used at Dover Playground. However, the structures were different & much higher, although I don’t recall any distinctive theme. There was also a concrete-floored playground that had a high white-terrazzo slide, wooden-seat swings, long timber see-saws & an iron merry-go-round.

    On a related note, you might wish to check out ‘Old Singapore Playgrounds’ (29 Aug 11) , which shows night photos of various old-style playgrounds in S’pore — including Dover’s Pelican Playground & Bishan’s Clock Playground.

    • Hi Pat, from what I know, many flats built in the eighties (including the old ones at AMK and Clementi) modeled after the same design:

      Need to find out more on whether HDB and JTC somehow share their “standard designs”, like what you have mentioned…

  5. jm says:

    Thanks for writing up about Dover Estate. You even included a shot of the provision shop (my grandma was on good terms with the uncle and auntie there and I used to buy biscuits from the large tins). used to live at Block 39. Miss the old place really, and I still stop by once in a while. Sad to see it’s got so dilapidated now.

    Is it still scheduled to be demolished? I heard there are other plans but I’m not sure if the sources are correct…

  6. CC says:

    I used to live in Blk 39 too.
    Very good job.
    I feel tears in my eyes just looking at these. I really love those days.

  7. Ryan says:

    I stayed in Blk35 for over 20 years till i moved out in 2008. I would had no doubt be still staying there if it wasn’t en bloc. I misses some of the food, especially the long time wanton mee stall facing the coffeeshop which was still selling $2 a bowl when i moved out. The playground was the best thing, the place where i will wait for my school bus every day, the round fitness corner where we just run round and round again trying to catch each other. There was a merry go round at the playground until it was demolished due to accidents and injuries.

    Are they demolished yet? I haven’t returned for over 2 years, i just felt compelled to go back again to take a few last shot of the place. It really touches my heart to see the pictures.

  8. The Dover wanton mee stall has relocated to the hawker center at Alexandra Village.

  9. Gioia says:

    i stayed at blk 23. dover estate is not just confined to blk 29-39 though these are the blocks near the hawker centre. My grandpa would bring us to the market to buy chicken, chee cheong fun etc in my childhood. of course we also went to ghim moh and holland rd market to get stuff too.

    My brother will always have to visit Dover dispensary to see the Dr there as olther drs can never cure him. Nostalgic!

  10. Gerald says:

    Wow, I remember that Bedok Reservoir Playground, Bedok Reservoir Park and Road used to have several playground and as a kid, I used to have hours of fun moving around different playground on my trusted bicycle, Life was much simpler then. I miss those days.

  11. CSH says:

    I moved in to blk 35 Dover Road with my family back in Feb 1978 when I was only 6 years old … I shifted out when I got my own flat in early 2000 but my parents cont to stay in Dover Road till the en-bloc scheme and moved out in early 2010 to the current new blk 28 4 blocks of 40 storey high HDB flats.

    • Wei Wong says:

      I moved in to Blk 37 with my family in end of 1977 when i was going to Tanlin primary school year4. Live there for many many years with beautiful memories. Have not been back there for a long long time! Miss the Hock Kian Mee and Wan Ton Mee too.
      Wei Wei

  12. The wa dan hor fan (zi char stall) at the hawker centre was one of my favourites…
    Don’t know where it has shifted to

  13. Roy says:

    Hi Dover Vista Park is it near Ayer Rajah Crescent or one-north Circle Line station?

  14. Roy says:

    I just been to this play ground and take a few shots. :)

  15. eeshawn says:

    Lovely and informative article! So glad that I chanced upon this article. :)

    Some of the photos that I have taken during my visit to the estate, enjoy!
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ee_shawn/sets/72157628679919633/

  16. Allie Lim says:

    Though i don’t stay at that area, but i used to study at Dover ITE, which is taken over by SUTD. Places mentioned here are just nearby~ Sad to see the old building go, and old school gone.

    • Henry Tan says:

      Me too. I miss the basketball court.. Used to play soccer during my ITE days.

      • Wei Wong says:

        i used to live in Blk 37, but my granny live in blk 36 and everytime i go there, I can hear people playing basket ball allt he time, n i always look down n wath them play. great memories!
        Wei Wei

  17. LS says:

    I go there often to collect my stupid mail which kept getting sent to my OLD house and because MOE refused to update my address.
    The whole area is like a ghost town, very cool atmosphere like any second will have zombies pop out.

  18. vincent says:

    does this pplayground still around? if still, can anyone tell me where is the exact location?

  19. Hello! I used to stay at this humble Dover Residence, in fact I stayed there for about 12 years since I was a young girl :) I really enjoyed the Pelican old school playground, I feel that playgrounds these days are too “protective”….I used to play around with the sandbox and climb up the Pelican, and went back home with grazes and bruises sometimes. I have since moved, as they wanted to vacate the area for upgrading and transformation into an educational hub (or so they told us) However, I went back recently to capture some last shots before they demolished the area, did a short blog post and would like to share it :) http://petalsandpedals.blogspot.com/2011/05/time-will-be-your-ghost.html

    • Wei Wong says:

      i always climed up on to the pelican n imangine it was my bed, i lay on its beak all the time! I miss my childhood there, 1977.
      Wei Wei

  20. Yanting Chan says:

    Hi everyone! An interesting post here, I stayed at this humble Dover residence for about 12 years :) I have since moved (they told us we had to vacate the area for some educational hub developments), however I brought along unforgettable memories, especially of the Pelican playground. Playgrounds these days tend to be very “overprotective”…..I used to play around in the sandboxes and climb up the Pelican to gaze at the trees or play Marco Polo, and return back home with grazes and bruises sometimes haha. Anyway I went back recently and did a short post about it here: http://petalsandpedals.blogspot.com/2011/05/time-will-be-your-ghost.html Would like to share it :)

  21. coolefxzhar says:

    i lived at the estate opposite this one since i was 3 and recently just moved out after i got married last year. When everyone vacated that estate, i remember it being empty for a while but then last year a block was used i guess to temporary house people in need of a place. i am not sure of the details but i often see people going in and out of the block and by night at least around 65% of the apartments lights in the blocks were switched on.

    The last that i passed by the place which was a month ago, that particular block is now sealed off. A bit weird.. :)

  22. YC says:

    The playground was demolished this afternoon. Sigh, yet another memory…

  23. wendy says:

    Sad. Very Sad.

  24. plasma says:

    sigh, i was too late. I was thinking of going down to take some photos before it is gone forever.

  25. plasma says:

    why dont they just keep just this one? sigh

  26. Sebastian says:

    l recalled, many years ago, of reading a Straits Times article write up on Singapore’s President scholars. It revealed that the a good number of PS lived in Block 39 Dover Road. It also mentioned that the staff of the Ministry (handling the scholarship awards), yearly perceived that the next awardee would be from that Block 39.
    Is it that, there is some sort of divine alien power reside at that block? Rewarding the residents’ children with the island’s highest educational award.

  27. Frances says:

    Thank you for putting this up. I lived at Dover since I was an infant when the estate was newly established. Moved out after I got married but my parents continued living there and have now moved on with the other neighbours to the new estate after the en bloc. Really good memories.

  28. Tim says:

    There is a recent documentary on the old playgrounds in Singapore via ‘Tuesday Report’ They e even interview the designer and architect of these playgrounds when HDB was doing the design inhouse.

    • Wei Wong says:

      Really? How casn I watch this doc film? Love to watch it…. Brings back good childhood memories! Thanks for sharing….

  29. Kraser says:

    Has the area been demolish or being fenced up by HDB? Have the urge to visit this place after reading this post!

  30. There was once a small estate near Dover Road called Kampong O’Carroll Scott, off Ayer Rajah Road (Ayer Rajah Road had since been incorporated into Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) by 1988)

    The estate was made up of about 100 single-roomed terrace houses formerly occupied by the British military personnel. The houses were later taken over by HDB and leased out to the foreign workers.

    Anyone has more info or memories of this place?

  31. The flats along Dover Road are mostly completed in 1975.
    A three-roomed flat cost only $15,000 then, and a five-roomed one cost $35,000 each


    (Source: NewspaperSG)

  32. Ang Family says:

    The Dover Road Estate was not an en bloc issue. HDB could not get sufficient votes for en bloc. So, the Land Acquisition Act was used to ask the residents to vacate. I was very sad to leave that place too. Some blocks were demolished while some were renovated/re whatever and rented out.

  33. as far as i can remember the first part of my life was at Blk 35. My little sister and I played a lot at the “See-saw” which we called the playground collectively. I remembered admiring older children swinging high up, myself climbing up to the top of the pelican skillfully, playing Goli under the tree (on the right of the photo), making the merry go round spin at break neck speed and “playing fire” during lantern festival.

  34. yangwenting says:

    Hello to you! I’m so glad to come across the early Singapore photos that you took. As we are having a production, we think it is most appropriate as one of the backgrounds we may need. hence we would like to sincerely ask for your permission and support for us to use your valued photos in the show. Wish to hear from you soon.

    Sincerely,
    Wenting

  35. Dennis says:

    Hello everyone,
    Appreciate if any of you have any old photo on delta sports complex which use to be call Alexandra Road. iT use to be a kampong house is just opposite Alexandra Post Office.

  36. Memo says:

    Hi would you happen to have photos or collections of the (former) playground at Pandan Gardens? I think it was sorta like an elephant. Used to play there when visiting my late Grandma. It’s now another piece of plastic playground like any other…

  37. Slade says:

    Used to live in Blk 39. That playground has so many memories and the gardens ard it too.
    Anyway thank you for collating this information. Much appreciated.

  38. Paprika says:

    I’ve worked at the nearby institute for 20 over years since the vocational days. Dover is the only best place to go for lunch other than the school’s canteen & staff cafe.

    Chanced upon a friendly football match between a group of ITE & ACS (I) boys at the basketball court once in the evening back in the 90s. Highballs were inevitable and a high fence was soon erected..memories.

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