Hillview (山景) is a private residential enclave nestled in the northwest of Singapore, overlooking Bukit Timah and the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The word Bukit means hill in the Malay language.
Hillview is naturally endowed with lush greenery as it is encircled by the woodlands of Bukit Gombak in the North West, Bukit Batok in the South and Bukit Timah in the East.
Since the 19th century, Bukit Timah and its surrounding area, which are away from the hustle and bustle of the city, have been regarded as the perfect sanctuary and getaway for many in Singapore.
The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve was established in 1883 and is the last primary rainforest in Singapore. In 2014, a new eco-link bridge connected both the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, previously separated by a motorway. Environmentalist are hopeful that this will generate greater bio-diversity.
Besides the Nature Reserve, there are several Nature Parks here. A new 80-hectare (200-acre) Chestnut Nature Park will be completed by early 2015. It will feature a 30 kilometres (19 mi) cycling loop along the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and a seven-storey Observation Tower for visitors to enjoy panoramic views of the Nature Reserve.
From the early 1940s to the late 80s, Hillview was an industrial precinct with facilities such as Old Ford Motor Factory (built in 1941), Castrol Oil Company and Cycle & Carriage Daimler-Benz car assembly plant (built in 1965). Hume Avenue was probably named after Walter R Hume, an inventor turned entrepreneur who founded Hume Pipe Company (Australia). Today, the old Ford Motor factory (which was gazetted as a national monument) still remains as others made way for new private residential developments.
Bukit Timah was also once an active granite quarrying site in the mid-20th century.
Hindhede Quarry, named after the Danish civil engineer, Jens Hindhede, once operated a granite quarry until it ceased operations around the late 1980s. It has since been converted into Hindhede Nature Park and is a popular spot where visitors come to enjoy its scenic beauty.
In 1929, Scottish's Jardine Matheson owned Cold Storage Company bought a 24-hectare (59-acre) stretch of forested land across Hillview. This area became known as Dairy Farm, named after the Group's subsidiary Dairy Farm International Holdings, which supplied the supermarket company with locally produced fresh milk. It has now been converted into Dairy Farm Nature Park. At the southern end of the park lies the disused Singapore Quarry, where visitors can relax and enjoy its picturesque view.
The KTM Malayan Railway used to operate passenger and freight services that ply through Hillview, from Malaysia in the north to Tanjong Pagar station in the south. Of significance are two overhead railway truss bridges spanning across the roads near Hillview. Under a bilateral agreement signed between Singapore and Malaysia on 24 May 2010, the railway land has been handed back to Singapore. There are now plans to redevelop the railway land running along Hillview into a Rail Corridor. Ideas include preserving it as a green belt, a venue for sports (biking & trekking), historical trail, transport museum and horticulture.
In 1956, the Old Bukit Timah Fire Station, one of the oldest fire stations of Singapore, was built here. Other colonial fire stations can also be found at Hill Street (Central Fire Station), Geylang and Alexandra
The War Years
Located just beside Bukit Timah, the area witnessed one of the fiercest military encounters in Singapore during World War II as Bukit Timah held strategic and tactical importance to both the Japanese and the British. The Ford Motor Factory most notably served as the venue on 15 February 1942 for the formal surrender of the Malayan Peninsula by the British Commanding Officer, Lt-Gen. Arthur Ernest Percival, to the Japanese Commander of the 25th Army, Gen. Yamashita Tomoyuki.
Princess Elizabeth Estate, which was previously located along Hillview Avenue's Elizabeth Drive, was built around 1951 to commemorate the wedding of Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) to Prince Philip (the Duke of Edinburgh) in 1947.
There were also public housing built by the Housing Development Board (HDB) around 1979 at the north end of Hillview, with a community centre, a wet market, a hawker centre and some neighbourhood shops. In 1999, the government announced that the HDB estate would be relocated to Bukit Gombak via the largest Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS). The residents started the relocation in 2003-2005. By late 2005, the last HDB estate was demolished.
Today, as one of the affluent residential areas in Singapore, Hillview boast several private condominiums and landed properties. It is served by restaurants and a delicatessen, watering holes, cafes, and convenience stores at The Rail Mall. A new commercial shopping mall, hillv2, located at the beginning of Hillview Avenue is due to be completed by mid-2014. It will house Dean & DeLuca, Market Place Cold Storage, and Cold Stone Creamery.