Neo Tiew Estate

In Lim Chu Kang, there is a small public housing area known as Neo Tiew Estate (or Lim Chu Kang Rural Centre). The whole area was en-bloc in 2002, with the residents shifted to Jurong West. The estate was vacated since then, and is currently used for FIBUA (Fighting in Built-Up Areas) trainings by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

Neo Tiew (1883-1975), who had the estate and road named after him, was a pioneer in the development of Lim Chu Kang. He was heavily involved in developing roads and setting up schools, power stations and clinics in the area.

neo tiew estate8

Neo Tiew set up the first mini-mart called Nan He Mini-Mart at Nan He Village, Lim Chu Kang, to supply daily necessities to the families of the farmers and fishermen in the vicinity. He also established a school named Qi Hua in order to provide lower and upper Primary education for their children. For his effort and contributions, Neo Tiew received the Order of the British Empire from the colonial government.

During World War II, Neo Tiew mobilised his fellow patriots to assist the British in the defense of Lim Chu Kang and Kranji. Sadly, 35 members of his family, including a 2-month-old baby, were massacred by the Japanese in 1942.

neo tiew estate9

Built in 1979, there are three 3-storey flats in the estate, numbered 3 to 5. The abandoned flats are accompanied by a wet market and a playground. Lacking maintenance, the flats are left with dirty walls with paint peeling off and rusty windows. Overgrown bushes nearly cover the entire neighbourhood.

Note: Visitors must exercise caution not to venture into the compound during a military drill.

One of the oldest playgrounds in Singapore can be found at Neo Tiew Estate. The ordinary-looking arc-shaped concrete structure was once used by kids as a platform for running with momentum or skateboarding. The center of the structure was previously covered with sand.

Elsewhere in Singapore, there is also a similar small housing estate at Seletar West Farmway 4 known as Jalan Kayu Rural Centre or Seletar Flats. It was built in the mid-seventies together with its more popular cousin at Seletar Road, the famous Seletar Hills Market, less than a kilometer away.

This small estate was en-bloc in 2005 and is currently used to house foreign workers. The blocks at Seletar Road was torn down in 2002, while the Seletar Hills Market was demolished three years later to make way for the new low-rise condominium Greenwich.

Also read Searching for the Remnants of Ama Keng.

Published: 09 November 2010

Updated: 21 May 2014

74 Responses to Neo Tiew Estate

  1. Benjamin Ng says:

    ohhh i pass by here on my way to the goat farm quite creepy when i saw it at first

  2. Dominic says:

    I remembered having a plate of char kuay teow there when I was a kid. Now it’s all gone. There is no place for the old in Singapore.

    • Richard Neo says:

      I just got this website from a old school freind living in AMA KENG. I live in Sungei Gedong road, NEO TIEW village, just opposite the Chinese school. And yes….I still remember the great Char Kway Teow stall at the junction of Lim Chu Kang Road and Sungei Gedong Road. I often wondered what happened to him. He used to have a sort of cart as his stall. Is that the same one as you know it ? Let me know if you know what happened to him . BTW, I am related to Neo Tiew, about 3rd generation from him, now living in the UK since 1975.

      • ST says:

        The village you mentioned is called Thong Hoe Village. There is also another open-air cinema which was also operated by your family together with another petrol pump, both are the only one for Lim Chu Kang, if I remember correctly. There were also 3 coffee shops located at each corner of the traffic junction towards Sungei Gedong.

      • Jasmine Neo says:

        Hi,
        I came to know a little about Mr Neo Tiew 10yrs ago when I was reading a short article (of him) to my grandmother. She shared some memories of him but were rather brief as she was then recuperating from an op. My interest was piqued then but didn’t managed to get much info about him until I came across this website. I would be grateful if anyone would be able to share info pertaining to Mr Neo Tiew. Thank you.

  3. JZ says:

    Sipped teh from a saucer in the coffeeshop here as a little boy..and played in the huge bowl-shaped sandpit..

  4. yong says:

    the wanton noodle there is nice ! haha

  5. Jay says:

    there was a hawker centre directly opposite a mosque and the main gate of Tengah Airbase until 1999.

    • Devil says:

      oh yes i missed the yuchakueh daughter !!! haha, saw her grow up from a kid till late teens, really chio, too bad it closed down in 1999, haiz

  6. Ben says:

    Hi, is it possible to enter the compound or is it fenced up?

    • Enter at your own risk!
      The compound is only partially fenced up.. so the abandoned flats, shophouses and market are accessible
      It’s occupied by SAF on some of the days
      Please take care

      • eddy says:

        i used to nicked this place “the forgotten estate” when im doing my ns at armour camp. Some others from internet nicked this place “kranji ghost town”. its fascinating. I myslef would love to go in and look around. But u cant do exploring although its not fenced up. there is a sign tat says trespassers will be prosecuted. so its kinda like a criminal act.

  7. Muthu says:

    The Neo Tiew village I know in the 1960s has no flats but just zinc roofed shophouses and other houses made of planks,attap and zinc.It was a serene village of farmers and a school called Kay Wah Chinese school Br 2.I could order a plate of char siew png for just 50 cents and it tasted heavenly.It brings back old memories everytime I pass this place.
    Incidently as a teacher I taught 3 of Towkay Neo Tiew’s grandsons at Ama Keng School.

    • Richard Neo says:

      Hope you get this as I noticed your post was sometime back and I just got this link from a old friend who used to live in Ama Keng. I can’t remember the name of the school. But was that Chinese school along Sungei Gedong Road ? My mom used to teach there also and we live just across the road from the school. The headmaster, Mr Guan just passed away recently.

      If you got this message, hope you will get back. Thanks.

      • Neo Boon Sian says:

        The English school at Ama Keng is Ama Keng school. The one that mum was in was Kay wah school branch one. The one at Sungei Gedong was Kay Wah school main branch. The one in Neo tiew road was Kay Wah school branch two. The flats were built at the junction of lim chu Kang road and neo tiew road. Aunty ah kor used to live there. There was a hawker centre there. The char kuay teow that you mentioned is not the same one there. You are right, that was and still is, the best char kuay teow. I just told Kim about a week back that I have not been able to find a better char kuay teow than that. Jun wei’s nanny will probably be able to tell you what happened to the guy who ran the stall.

    • Eddy Quek says:

      I study at Ama Keng School from 1966 to 1970. At first the school building is single storey and long in design later they added mutli storeys wing. I think the building are still there.

  8. Hidden says:

    Still possible to enter the area ? Do we need any permission to enter.?

  9. Lin Da an says:

    Is there many wild dogs? i heard from my dad that there are even wild boars! Is it safe to go alone?

  10. zhiping says:

    I remembered drinking a can of coke in the coffeeshop in the 90′s. At that time the coffeeshop was still using the traditional blue colour metallic plates to cover the front of the shop when they are closed.

    Could still recall ridiculously huge pigeons walking around the compound, and a large fly which landed straight into my cup of coke. Those were the days.

  11. marshall chua says:

    is there any nearest bus stop goes there?

  12. elroygoh02 says:

    Where is New Tiew Estate? I searched Google Maps and Google Street View all over Lim Chu Kang but I cannot find it.

  13. elroygoh02 says:

    I wonder whats inside the abandoned units. Will I encounter a ghost at night? (as the place looks spooky)

    • duddexz says:

      empty, and extremely dusty. seems like a peaceful estate when it was bustling with civilians and i’ve slept there before so it’s probably not haunted

  14. zeamybro says:

    I was serving my NS at Sg Gedong Camp in the late 90s … the place was already very run down but the hawker centre was still in operation, and the flats still occupied. I remember my OC brought us out for a morning jog and after our work-out, we settled down at the hawker centre for bkfast. I remember vividly eating the very delicious fried carrot cakes at $1.50/plate and a can of coke at 80cents (in 1998!!!) There was also a POSB ATM nearby ( i think) and a clinic ….

  15. sia says:

    served ns in ratc, sungei gedong, from 1993-1995. went to neo teow village once to eat, but never knew about the histroy of Neo Tiew. There were alot of flies then in the coffeeshop or hawker centre, i cant remember. big fat flies, haha! i have never seen so many flies in my life!

    anyway, i wonder what happened to the old Reservist Armour Training Centre. look like some old primary school. ratc was renamed in 1993/1994 by Lt Col Ralph Patterson as Armour Training Centre. He was the CO back then. He took over from Maj Seng. had to walk the 20mins route from the bus time each time we book in. i still can remember the sianz feeling walking back to camp. now atc got a brand new building.

  16. pkisme says:

    my late grandfather used to bring me here on Sunday afternoons before it’s totally empty..
    in fact my family had been living around the area until the late 80s

  17. Yong Kong says:

    Thong Hoe village is the small town near by the Lim Chu Kang Estate. I was attached with the PPD Office of Jalan Bahtera off Lim Chu Kang 24KM from 1971 to 1984. The Chu-Char stall of the coffee shop run by Tua-bui (fatty) brothers was best in preparing the pig-leg stew. Can you remember this?

  18. Peter Dunlop author "Street names of Singapore" says:

    A good time to go to these out of bounds places is early on one of the major public holidays

  19. Devil says:

    only been there once in 1993 days b4 ROD, when back couple of years back had a hard time looking for it, now heard b’com military training ground ?

  20. Ade says:

    During World War II, Neo Tiew mobilised his fellow patriots to assist the British in the defense of Lim Chu Kang and Kranji. Sadly, his entire family of 35 was killed by the Japanese in 1942, with only Neo Tiew and his fourth son managed to escape.

    My Great Gandfather and 4th Grandfather were not the only survivors.

  21. Vin @ JW says:

    Was posted to do my NS near Lim Chu Kang , and often passed by Neo Tiew Village during morning jog .. after reading this article i understands more about its past … thanks !

    Keep sharing a keep this blog alive, although Singapore is not a huge place, there is many places that we have never (or have the chance) been to.

  22. EMF says:

    I just passed the estate not too long ago. The whole block of flats have been painted. Is the government doing something about the estate?

  23. Debra says:

    I watched Ah Boys To Men recently and was wondering if they had used this as one of the ‘war’ scenes at the start of the movie. Do you reckon? :) Wish to go down soon to snap some pictures, but if it is true that they used this estate for the scene and have repainted it, then it won’t look rundown and rustic already I guess.

    • cardelo says:

      yup they repainted the place and filmed the war scene there. they actually did a CGI multi-storey market to replace the single-storey market in the middle.

      the place is fully fenced up now btw

  24. Sky says:

    I remembered playing at the arc-shaped concrete structure when my parents brought me to the market on weekends.

    The place still looks the same, just run down and overgrown with weeds.

    Thanks for preserving our memories.

  25. Little Pixie says:

    Hubby was a HDB technical officer there in e 90s and he introduced me to this place after 1 of our visits to e Muslim cemetry. I was lost beyond words, and i felt lost in time! A whole new meaning of “ghost town” for me. Haha. Singapore is really interesting.

  26. Baxman says:

    I remembered the delicious chicken rice for $1.50

  27. Eileen Ang says:

    hey, we have some great photos and groups of AMK friends there. Come & join us in FB – Look for Ama Keng Primary School 1981 to 1986. We started to search for friends btw this period but today we have many other AMK friends joining from diff era…hehe..You might some old friends there as well.

  28. Haruki says:

    Hi there. The address of the place is “1 Lim Chu Kang Rd, Singapore 710001″

  29. Michael Neo says:

    HI!!! Just come across this.. I study in Ama Kheng school from 1988 to 1989(last year of operation) My brother from 1985 to 1989 also in Ama Kheng… I used to live in 36 Neo Tiew Lane. Anyone still remember there a fishing farm in Neo Tiew Lane which operate by my Uncle?

    • Lua Chew Meng says:

      Hi Michael, I stayed at 2A Neo Tiew Lane till 1988. Yes, I knew there were some fish farm some where there and a Neo family operating it. Remember fishing there once with my father.

  30. Koh Teck Beng says:

    Hello, I was there from 1973 to 1979. The compound is now a work dormitory.

  31. Wilson says:

    I met a girl from AMA Keng primary school whose elder brother happened to study in Lim Chu Kang primary school as i was. i met her once and have fond memory of her since then. The last time i saw her was 32 years ago when i was riding my bike along Neo Tiew road. I often wonder how she is doing now. The place we met the first time was at Tong Ho market depicted in the pictures above. We were very young playing a game of hide and seek. Now that I see these pictures, I can still remember the places we hid together.

  32. Joseph Soh says:

    I drove past Neo Tiew Estate at around 9pm the past week and saw a group of professional looking ghost hunters on the second and third floors! Such an amazing place with great history which brings back memories of escaping church camp at the nearby Sarimbun Scout Camp for supper to have roti prata and char kway teow! This was back in ’99 but a pity i was only 12 and couldn’t appreciate the history. I would love to go back during the day to take photos!

  33. Xin Li says:

    my mum used to sell hor fun at the coffeeshop in Neo Tiew and my aunt and uncle used to sell drinks there. I remember there is a circular shaped sand pit where there used to be many pigeons. It was kind of weird when I revisited the place as a FIBUA ground and people were calling the place I spent part of my childhood as a haunted place.

  34. Ho KC says:

    Wow!! Memory flashed back to the 80s when I took bus 172 to junction of Jalan Bahtera near NEo Tiew Road, to walk to the old Sarimbun scout camp…..

  35. Ken Lim says:

    I first learned of Neo Tiew Road in 1988 when I was posted to 5 SIR as a combat medic.It was the unit’s operational parade on my day of posting and the itinerary was a 24km route march which passed through Neo Tiew Road.
    We seemed to march for hours and we were still on Neo Tiew Road!

  36. fuqiang says:

    My place was at Lorong Jerun, further up the HDB Estate and directly opposite Lim Chu Kang Primary School where i studied from 1984 – 87 (until school closed) and later Qihua Primary school 1988 – 89 in Woodlands (formerly Kay Wah Pri Branch 1 at Ama Keng Village, further up Jalan Puyoh after the Chinese Temple opposite where Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s clinic used to be).

    I still remember on early sunday mornings myself and younger bro would follow mum in the car to do marketing at the always fully packed wet market and we would beg for afew cents to buy sweets at Mong Lee’s provision shop and run on the huge circular slide’s slope to see who can run from beginning to end without falling into the sand, and later buy soya milk drink from the drink stall (at 20 cents) and walk along atop the high brick wall surrounded by the hawker centre, row of shows and the slide.

  37. Who previously lived in Ama Keng Village (a short distance from Neo Tiew) and studied at Ama Keng School?

    Ama Keng School was established in 1951, and became South View Primary School (at Choa Chu Kang) in 1990 after merging with Nam San School







    (Photo Credit: http://www.southviewpri.moe.edu.sg/)

  38. Neo Tiew (1883-1975)


    (Source: Newspaper Archives of Singapore)

  39. Another Neo says:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/41793037369/

    Face book for Ama Keng Primary School Of 1981 – 1986 but we welcome all those that study in AMK before, Our Members had gone up to 101 members now

  40. PL says:

    I studied at AMA Keng Primary School from 1983-1988 and used to stay in Lim Chu Kang HDB flat 4th floor till 1992. These photos remind me of my childhood days.

  41. Bilson says:

    Is the place still open? How can we access the place? Which road or junction is it close to now?

  42. G Chen says:

    Yeah Kinda miss the old Neo Tiew Road (although I do not stay there) cause my dad was a sch principle of Kay Wah Sch Br 2. Would follow him to sch during sch holidays and the people in the village were very nice and friendly. There was a provision shop opp my dad’s sch which we would purchase our drinks from. Whenever I was there, I just loved the smell of the farm air and also a sense of tranquillity. Time Flies.

  43. Muhd Yasir says:

    interesting history yet scary

  44. Jeslyn says:

    I’m born in 1990. I was still a baby when I’m staying in kampong for a while. I remember my grandpa used to bring me to this place when I was young. I’m too young at that time I only find it familiar and a fish farm. Anyone knows more history about this place history? I would like to know more about it. I’m somehow related to Neo tiew. I would want to know more about our family history too.

  45. Lemuel says:

    Hi guys just an update, went there a few days ago. The place has been given a proper paint job as well as a bit of a cleanup, as well as many signs of it used as a soldier’s training grounds- Camo paint tubes, several maps, etc. The whole place is fenced up as well, only managed to get in via someone leaving the side gate (head up neo tiew rd) unlocked. Otherwise, almost impossible to enter. However, the whole place has lost its “abandoned” feel.

  46. Royson says:

    If i’m not wrong this place is seriously haunted please do not go alone to visit this place.\

  47. lua hock keong says:

    The housing estate with the wet market n 2 hawker centres were the centre of Thong Hoe village’s activities during its heyday in the 1980s. I had friend and relatives who lived there n I stayed over occasionally during the school holidays too, never experienced anything out of the ordinary. The dark quiet kampung roads in the surrounding area (my place was 15min walk along the now-expunged Lorong Jerun) were probably more scary at night. Maybe the estate became creepier only after the residents were resettled.

    • Lua Chew Meng says:

      Hi Hock Keong, your family name is “Lua”, same as me. Was wondering if we are related in any way?

  48. Lua Chew Meng says:

    Before the housing estate was built, there was a big drain (longkang) and lots of rambutan trees there. There was also a row of shop houses at the junction between Lim Chu Kang Rd and Neo Tiew Road. I stayed in Neo Tiew Lane off Neo Tiew Rd for 27 years (my childhood). I did my primary schooling at Lim Chu Kang Integrated Primary School further up the housing estate which was build later. There was a petrol kiosk & an open air cinema near the Sungei Gedong Camp area. I remember my first show there was “Bruce Lee – Chang Sang Ta Siong”. Can’t remember how much was we had to pay. The first SBS bus service came later – No. 172, later 179 & 206 came around. Bicycle was a common means of transport then. Along the 2 sides on the road at Thong Hoe are the shops and stores and marketing are done there. There was also a private bus plying from Thong Hoe to Nam Hoe operated by the Neos. Those were the days.

  49. lua hock keong says:

    Hi Chew Meng, not sure if I know your family. There aren’t many Lua families in Lim Chu Kang. My mum remembers a Lua family who stayed near Neo Tiew Rd who later moved to Bt Panjang around Petir Rd. Will have to check with dad for more info.

    • Lua Chew Meng says:

      Hi Hock Keong, yes my whole family moved to Petir Rd (Bukit Panjang) when the Govt. resettled us. My 2 uncles passed away before the resettlement and one of my cousin also shifted to Bukit Panjang. My dad’s was known as “Ah Khoon”. He is no more around. My brothers and myself are all in our early 50s already.

  50. lua hock keong says:

    Hi Chew Meng, then there might b a chance my parents may know your family. My uncle who used to run Supmar poultry at Neo Tiew Rd is Kim Hai, but passed away before moving around 1990. My family stayed at Lor Jerun and dad is Kim Kok who used to run a cng tank supply business and we moved in 1992. I’m still in my thirties but siblings r older.

    • Lua Chew Meng says:

      Oh! So you are Kim Hai’s nephew. Your grandmum (used to stay with Kim Hai) was my grandmum neighbour (at Neo Tiew Rd). I know your Cousins (Kim Hai’s sons from his first & second wife) – Kah Hock & Ee Chong, Johnny and his younger brothers & sisters (can’t remember their actual name, I think one was called Ah Wah, Johnny also have a older brother). My uncles are Chwee Tee & Bok Seng (no more around). I did attend the wake when your Uncle Kim Hai passed away, later also Kim Hai’s first wife’s wake at clementi (Kah Hock’s mum). I am still in contact with Kah Hock. Last week we just had a gathering with our 2 old primary school teachers. In fact Ee Chong (Kah Hock’s younger brother) was my primary school classmate. I know Kim Hai got a younger brother (that’s your father) – had seen him when I was very small. We used to go to my grandmum’s house then which is just next to Kim Hai’s place. We stay further in (at Neo Tiew Lane). Your parents surely know my family. My father (Ah Khoon) is the youngest, He has 4 sons and I am the third son. Send my regards to your parents.

  51. lua hock keong says:

    Yes it really is a small world. I don’t know my cousins from my uncle’s first wife very well, except the eldest Yi Fa, and Xiong Hui. I know better those from the second wife.as they r mostly my siblings age, such as Ah Dong, Ah Wah n their 3 sisters. I also went to the wake at Clementi. Yes I believe my family knew your family. Will let my parents know and pass on your regards when I’m back from overseas in august.

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