Former Paya Lebar Police Station

The premises of the former Paya Lebar Police Station is located at the junction of Upper Paya Lebar Road and Upper Serangoon Road, but its formal address is 11 Lorong Lew Lian. Built in the 1930s, the distinctive colonial houses were prominent landmarks at the Upper Serangoon district.

The original Paya Lebar Police Station existed as early as the start of the 20th century, beginning its operation in an old “wooden hut”. In the 1930s, the British colonial government invested large sum of money to rebuild the old police stations in Singapore. Paya Lebar Police Station was upgraded to a “fine solid concrete building” with modern quarters.

Other police stations such as Kandang Kerbau Police Station (present-day MICA Building at the junction of Hill Street and River Valley Road) and Joo Chiat Police Station were also given facelifts. But the biggest project was the $500,000 construction of a new headquarters of the Police Detective Branch at Robinson Road. Equipped with modern photographic studio, criminal records library and crime detection department, the impressive structure was dubbed as Singapore’s “Scotland Yard”.

In the early days, the region of Upper Serangoon was dominated by large farms and plantations, which gave rise to the naming of the arterial roads after the fruits or vegetable cultivated in the farms. Thus, the likes of Lorong Lew Lian (罗弄榴莲), Lorong Ong Lye (罗弄黄梨) and Lorong How Sun (罗弄禾山) are some of the roads in Singapore with interesting origins. Formerly, there was also a Lorong Koo Chye (罗弄韮菜) along Upper Paya Lebar Road, but it became defunct due to the development of Tai Seng-Ubi area into industrial estates. The only remnant of the vanished lorong is the Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple Association (韭菜芭城隍庙) located at Arumugan Road.

In 1988, the former Paya Lebar Police Station was taken over by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), who used the premises as its 3rd Division Headquarters to provide operational coverage for the northern parts of Singapore. It was not until more than a decade later before SCDF relocated the 3rd Division HQ to Yishun.

The compound was then handed to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), and was allowed to be leased to companies or organisations for $10,000 per month. Since 2006, many foreign educational institutions, such as Westminster UniCampus Private Limited, Harbridge Educollege, Cornell Education Group Private Limited and Lincoln Collegiate Of Business And Technology have established their courses here.

For other old former police stations in Singapore, read Mata.Mata and the History of Singapore’s Police.

The squarish shophouses at Lorong Lew Lian used to provide services, food and beverages to the personnel of the former Paya Lebar Police Station and the residents of Lorong Lew Lian.

An old beauty parlour with a vintage signboard gives a little hint of what the yesteryears were like here at Lorong Lew Lian.

With Lorong Lew Lian being developed into a small bustling self-sufficient housing estate completed with kopitiam and provision shops, the businesses at the shophouses became badly affected. Most of the shops had shut down, and it is unsure whether these old shophouses, together with the large compound of the former Paya Lebar Police Station, will be demolished in the future for private residential usage.

Published: 29 July 2012

Updated: 12 September 2013

8 Responses to Former Paya Lebar Police Station

  1. Tan Lai Hock says:

    I was serving my service in the 80’s at this defunct Paya Lebar Police Station. It brings back fond memories when my younger days serving here. I still recalled the old barber that used to trim the haircuts for those officers that caught with keeping long hair at 50cents a cut and later increased to $1.50 as inflation goes up. Hope that it could be preserved as conservation site.

  2. Oummar Ipoh says:

    I watched a film title “Menyerah (1955)”. I saw a footage of Payar Lebar Police Station on that movie.

  3. Andreas says:

    I used to stay across the road with my parents until i moved out recently. Used to take buses to school at the bus stop right beside the compound, never fail to slow down and admire the beauty of the colonial buildings. Hope we can keep this. :)

  4. rufino1995 says:

    In the 60’s there was a huge banyan tree at the front of the police station on Upper Serangoon road.. there was a small hut built into it , which people said was haunted and during the road widening process the rumour was that the workers were “prevented” by the spirit living in it from cutting it down .. as the tree would bleed etc when cut …. really love the “ougang” area..

    • Adam Kh says:

      You bring back old memories behind tne ouaters an old banglo at night sometims we hear japenese soldier marching, that placre really scary ,thanks 1961

  5. Shiwaigaoren says:

    I used to lived in the quarters with my policeman father in the mid 1970s. Was very young then but can remember 3 things very clearly –
    1. We had a lot of very friendly neighbours. Gatherings was very common. Fathers will drink, mothers eat and children play.
    2. Guavas. There are many guava trees and we used to eat the fruits. The guavas are very different from the ones we eat today. They were a lot smaller. I can’t seem to find them anymore.
    3. The iconic “1929” coffee shop that is opposite. My father will bring me there for kopi and char siew bao. Was told it was a conservation building but still got torn down!

  6. KBCR says:

    kandang Kerbau Police Station was not at the MICA building. The MICA building housed the Hill Street Police Station. Kandang Kerbau P S was at the site of the present Tekka Market

    • Gary says:

      Yes, @KBCR is correct. MICA Building was Hill Street Police Station. After the the SPF vacated the premises, for a short time I think it was used by the SAF Provost Unit. Kandang Kerbau P S is where Tekka Market is now. My SAF unit used to be attached here during the annual internal security exercise with the police called ‘Exercise Harmony’. This was an anti-riot combined exercise.

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