Oct 15, 2011
Posted by Icemoon
You never know how much history can be "rediscovered" by walking one station-stop from Marymount to Caldecott. This I had to do at the start of the Circle Line Discovery since there was no train service to Caldecott; it was deliberate and planned, not that I refused to join the old folks in the queue for the shuttle bus service. While the two stations are quite near and connected by Marymount Road, I avoided using this road and instead skirted past Bishan Fire Station to Upper Thomson Road. Thomson Road is historical; it existed before 1850 and connects the town to suburban areas in the north. Halfway in-between the two stations, where Thomson Road meets Lornie and Braddell at the junction, is the start of Upper Thomson Road.
Today the area outside Mount Alvernia Hospital is a very busy, some say messy, junction where one finds a flyover over another flyover built in a different period. The more historical and lower flyover - Marymount Road - was opened in 1979 to alleviate the traffic jam along Upper Thomson Road near Braddell Road junction. Come to think of it, Marymount Road must be one of the solutions to reduce traffic congestion before the days of CTE; like an "expressway" it links Ang Mo Kio to Thomson Road before Toa Payoh Rise, and one could use Thomson Road to travel to town, much like the CTE today. Recently we heard of plans to build an "expressway" cutting through Bukit Brown cemetery that would reduce congestion on Lornie Road, a variation of the same theme.
Upper Thomson Road near junction with Braddell Road (Straits Times, 1977). Note the retaining wall and detached houses on the Westlake Gardens side.
The same retaining wall and detached houses at Westlake Gardens; and a nice lawn where Upper Thomson Road used to be (Oct 2011).
If you chance upon an old map or street directory of this very busy junction, like this 1963 edition, look closely at the angle of Upper Thomson and Lornie Road which is at a less obtuse angle than today. The old realignment of Upper Thomson was actually closer to Westlake Gardens and parallel to the row of detached houses, according to the above 1977 photo. As a result of realignment, which would have happened some time after 1979, the start of Upper Thomson swung away from Westlake side and today it is a triple carriageway with a flyover up Lornie Road, and the original Upper Thomson was preserved much like another old road in my previous post - a green coridor!
Upper Thomson Road near junction with Braddell Road (Straits Times, 1977). The retaining walls are on the left. The road actually bends to be parallel to the wall.
What's historical today are the retaining wall that once had the double-carriageway of Upper Thomson running parallel to it and the row of detached houses above the wall. The houses might even have existed in the 1960s with their antiquated design (you can examine them in Google street view), though I think they look nicer than the more modern houses further down Westlake Ave, what do you think?
The retaining wall where Upper Thomson Road used to run parallel. Do you think the row of trees are the original roadside trees of Upper Thomson?
How the start of Upper Thomson swung away from the retaining wall.