Before the 1960s, Jurong was largely a swampy and forested area where plantations were common.
Pineapple, pepper, gambier and nutmeg were some of the crops being harvested that provided people with a decent livelihood. Gambier, in particular, was the main produce for export at the time and was significantly more profitable due to its practical and medicinal uses.
Aside from the profitable agriculture business, fishing was also a major source of income for the locals of Jurong. Numerous prawn farms were set up along the rivers of Sungei Jurong and Sungei Pandan. By the 1950s, the land in Jurong designated for prawn-farming had grown to 500 acres.
Before the period of rapid industrialisation that happened in Jurong through the 1960s,
there were several businesses in the heavy industry that took root there.
Aside from brickwork manufacturers, it was home to other eathernware-production businesses.
During the 1940s to 1970s, there were more than 20 active dragon kilns in Singapore but now, only 2 remain. Indigenous Chinese called them the sleeping dragons.
On top of these kilns and businesses, manufacturing factories in the area were also mass producing canned goods that ranged from kaya to curry, and peanut butter.
The 1960’s saw the initiation of Singapore’s industrialisation programme. Low hills were levelled, and the swamplands were filled to prepare Jurong for industrial and urban developments.
Jurong Industrial Estate project was kick started in September 1962 with the construction of the National Iron and Steel Mills (known today as NatSteel). Since the 1970s, residential and recreational amenities were constructed by the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC). The estate was developed into a self-sufficient town with a transportation network, housing and other amenities, such as wet markets, sports complexes, schools and a library.
At the same time, the estate was also home to a couple of tourist attractions: the Jurong Bird Park and Science Centre Singapore. The idea of a permanent aviary was first conceived by the late Dr Goh Keng Swee. He set out to ensure that Singaporeans would have a place where they could escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life, and relax with nature.
Another notable project that came out of the 70s was the Singapore Science Centre. It opened its doors to the public on 10 December 1977 with the objective of promoting interest and learning in science and technology to students and the general public. Through the years, the Science Centre went through major expansions that included the opening of an observatory in 1989 and Snowcity in 2000. On 7 December 2007, in its 30th anniversary year, the centre rebranded itself as the Science Centre Singapore.
Arts in Your Neighbourhood (AYN), an initiative by the National Arts Council, brings enriching arts experiences right to your doorstep every March and November! Enjoy immersive and engaging arts programmes by established artists and arts groups held at various spaces across the island and online. Find out more at https://artsforall.gov.sg/AYN.