The Lowdown on Mount Vernon

Choa Chu Kang Crematorium

The soothing chirping of birds was a pleasant sound to my ears. The hilly Mount Vernon region, which borders Bidadari to the west and north of Potong Pasir and MacPherson estates, is considered a haven for animals since it is home to a large number of migratory birds on their way south from as far as Europe.

Bidadari housing estate. Source (The Straits Times)
Death knell for Mount Vernon Columbarium Complex’s funeral parlours? Source (The Straits Times)
Funeral parlours at Mount Vernon Columbarium granted lease extensions. Source (TODAYonline)

Although traffic noise from the area is almost inaudible, Mount Vernon is close to the city and yet it is virtually silent owing to traffic noise from its surroundings. It is also a resting place for the dead, which features more than 20,000 niches at Mount Vernon’s Columbarium. The Mount Vernon Crematorium and Columbarium has ceased its cremation services since 2004, but its columbarium is still operational.

The first government-operated crematorium in Singapore is at Mount Vernon Crematorium. It first opened its doors in 1962, with one funeral service hall capable of holding four cremations each week. The columbarium was constructed in a series of phases. The first columbarium was completed in 1976, with just 161 niches filled in the first year. The niches were positioned in numbered blocks with Chinese-style green roofs or within a unique-looking pagoda structure.

A Different Sanctuary at Mount Vernon. Source (Remember Singapore)
The Late former President Ong Teng Cheong’s sons, Ong Tze Guan (with portrait) and Tze Boon (centre) leading the procession for the funeral service at Mount Vernon Crematorium. Source (Archives Online)

Mount Vernon Crematorium was built as a result of the government’s efforts to encourage cremation instead of burial to make room for development and housing. In Singapore, numerous housing communities are built on burial grounds that formerly were utilized for burials.

On June 30, 2004, the Mount Vernon Crematorium shut its doors for good. Since July 1, 2004, cremation services have been provided at the new Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium Complex on 300 Mandai Road.

A Different Sanctuary at Mount Vernon. Source (Remember Singapore)
Since 2004, all cremation services have been transferred from Mount Vernon to the new Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium. Source (The Straits Times)

According to information on the National Environment Agency website: “The niches at the Mount Vernon Columbarium will be relocated to the other three government-managed columbaria in Choa Chu Kang, Mandai, and Yishun, subject to vacancies at the time of booking in these columbaria, with the Bidadari Redevelopment Project announced in August 2013.”

Because of our space scarcity, the living and the dead frequently compete for territory in Singapore.

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