The St. Andrew's Church Mission was begun with one catechist at Whitsuntide, 1856. Bishop McDougall of Sarawak had joined with Mr. Humphrey, the Chaplain, in its establishment, and it was carried on by a committee. The Bishop, when in England, recommended the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to assist the local mission by sending out an ordained missionary, and about the beginning of 1862 the Rev. E. S. Venn was sent by the Society to Singapore. On 11 May 1863, at a meeting of the subscribers to the mission held at the Raffles Institution, at which the Governor, Colonel Cavenagh, presided, and Bishop McDougall was present, it was decided that it would be desirable to join the local mission with that of the S. P. G. to bear the name of the St. Andrew's Church Mission to the Heathen in connection with the S. P. G.; the united mission to be under the management of the S. P. G. in communication with the Residency Chaplain. Mr. Venn, of Wadham College, Oxford, was the first missionary of the Society to the Straits. He died in Singapore on 19th September, 1866. After his death there was no resident missionary until 1872, when the Rev. William Henry Gomes was appointed. He was born in Ceylon in 1827, was educated at the Bishop's College, Calcutta, and went to the S. P. G. mission at Sarawak in 1852. He left Sarawak in 1867, and was appointed Acting Colonial Chaplain of Malacca. In 1868 he returned to Ceylon, and after working among the coffee planters there, he came back to the Straits in 1871 as acting Chaplain of Penang. In June, 1872, he became S. P. G. missionary at Singapore. In 1878 the Archbishop of Canterbury bestowed upon Mr. Gomes the decree of a Bachelor of Divinity of Lambeth, in recognition of his missionary and literary services. He translated the Prayer Book and a number of Hymns into native languages, Chinese, Dyak, and Malay, which were printed in Singapore at his own expense, aided by contributions from the congregations.


The “garden city” vision was introduced by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 11 May 1967 to transform Singapore into a city with abundant lush greenery and a clean environment in order to make life more pleasant for the people.




In the same area across the open space from Block 179 is another building which is significant in Toa Payoh’s history – the building that housed Kong Chian Cinema – Toa Payoh’s first ever cinema, which opened on 11 May 1972 with the screening of a Charity Premier ‘The Loner’ for the nearby Chung Hwa Free Hospital. Now called 600@Toa Payoh, the building housed a single screen cinema with two classes of seating, which was very typical of the day – where tickets were printed on coloured pieces of paper on which seat numbers were scribbled onto by a box office clerk with Chinagraph. The cinema screened mainly Chinese films for close to fifteen years until it screened its last movie, ‘The Legend of Wisely’ on 31 January 1987 after which the building was sold to McDonalds.