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The acquired houses, many of which had once been in the hands of Arab property owners, were to be demolished to make way for public housing, but a shift in thinking of our urban planners on high density public housing in the city centre saved them from that fate.
Walking up the incline of the road, there are further examples of the conservation efforts that eventually was to involve a greater part of Chinatown, including several voluntary conservation initiatives.
Several conservation gems can be found along Neil Road, including what would have been the houses of the very wealthy (judging from the enclosed front yards these units at No. The area is certainly one that is worth exploring, not just for the notable clan associations and clubs – one is the Ee Hoe Hean Club, a millionaires’ club dating back to 1895 that is associated with many luminaries including the illustrious Tan Kah Kee, set amongst the many rows of beautifully conserved shophouses.
Running partly along the area’s southern boundary is Neil Road which can perhaps be said to lie at the heart of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) conservation efforts – the pilot shophouse conservation project undertaken by the URA stands at No. Neil Road starts off where South Bridge Road ends at its junction with Maxwell and Tanjong Pagar Roads, rising up towards the Bukit Pasoh area.
It is just up the road from the Jinrikisha Station that No. 9 was where HM Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip had tea at during a visit in 1989.
As many familiar with the area would be aware of, Eng Aun Tong was a name used by the Haw Par brothers and the factory was where the most famous of their products, Tiger Balm, was once made.The factory operated until 1971 when production operations were contracted out and production of the famous ointment was moved to the Jack Chia group’s factories in Jurong.Walking past the former Eng Aun Tong factory, one will notice the blue balustrades of a concrete bridge.The very pretty building, despite being very compact, once housed a school, and was where the Fairfield Girls’ School (which later became Fairfield Methodist School and is now Fairfield Methodist School) had operated at from 1912 to 1983.The building, built with the donation of a Mr Fairfield (hence the name of the school) is now part of the Police complex, although intended originally as a childcare centre for staff at the Police complex, the building will now house a Police recruitment centre. 157 which is probably the jewel in the crown of the conservation efforts along Neil Road.
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The units had contained a mix of businesses and residents including many traditional businesses – one was Chan Pui Kee, an antique dealer and antique furniture restorer which had operated at No.