The industrialisation programme took off in Queenstown when the Tanglin Halt Industrial Estate was established to generate employment in the neighbourhood. Initially, the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) planned a small industrial estate at Tanglin Halt to provide employment for the new residents. Measuring some 20 acres of land consisting of 38 factories lots for cottage industries, Tanglin Halt was chosen for its proximity to the railway tracks. Tanglin Halt Industrial Estate quickly established itself as one of the key driving forces in Singapore’ industrialisation programme in the early 1960s.
Tanglin Halt Industrial Estate was developed to house light and medium industries. Managed by Jurong Town Corporation, the estate was planned to help small industrialists establish their businesses on land leased to them on easy repayment terms.
In its heydays during the 1960s to mid 1980s, Tanglin Halt Industrial Estate was home to a smorgasbord of factories. Chocolate-making factories such as Van Houten and Sheng Huo; Electronic industries such as Setron and Roxy; textile factories and merchantile house such as Sime Dary were some of the big names filling the lots and providing employment.
One of the more memorable factories was Setron (Singapore Electronics). Before it was demolished in the 1980s, the unique roof dominated the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Commonwealth Drive, where Haw Par now stands, and served as a navigational landmark for vehicles entering Tanglin Halt. Singapore’s first black-and-white television set was rolled out of Setron’s assembly line in 1964.