Bukit Merah SAFRA Clubhouse

SAFRA (Singapore Armed Forces Reservist Association) was formed as early as 1972 to provide recreational, educational and sports facilities for reservists or NSmen (Operational Ready National Servicemen) and their families, so as to improve morale and cohesiveness among the members.

Former Defence Minister of Singapore Dr Goh Keng Swee was the first chairman, and the first SAFRA clubhouse was temporarily situated at Prince Edward Lane, using the former premise of a Scandinavian religious place known as the Norwegian Seamen’s Mission Home.

SAFRA welcomed its first permanent clubhouse in 1975 with the completion of the $2 million building at Toa Payoh. In 1982, the second clubhouse was officially opened at Bukit Merah.

Perhaps the most iconic feature of the Bukit Merah SAFRA was the dummy soldier doing rappelling at the top of the building.

In 2004, after 23 years of services, the clubhouse was closed down and replaced by the nearby Mount Faber SAFRA. It has since been left abandoned with no concrete redevelopment plans.

Today, there are six SAFRA clubs located at Toa Payoh, Jurong, Mount Faber, Yishun, Tampines and Carpenter Street, serving some 200,000 members.

Published: 28 July 2011

21 Responses to Bukit Merah SAFRA Clubhouse

  1. CK in Clementi says:

    Well, it turns out that the entire piece of land on which the old SAFRA Bukit Merah has been sitting on will be developed into a hotel.

    Not feeling really nostalgic as I was never a SAFRA member (despite coaxing from friends and cold calls from the SAFRA marketing department), but I understand the emotions involved.

    Now, only Queensway Shopping Centre remains as the relic that bears testament to the older Queensway.

  2. Diyana says:

    I remember going there when I was in my sec sch days in the 90s for wall climbing lessons. It was fun. Then a few years ago when I started working at Bukit Merah, my bus would pass by there. I was saddened to see that building has closed down. A notice on the gate saying that the building is suitable for hotel redevelopment. I don’t think up til now anybody bothers to buy it. 😦

  3. Yukari says:

    Hi, i just passed by this place today, and apparently its being demolished already >: the part of the building in the 2nd picture is already…knocked away T_T

  4. Tan jianfa says:

    it’s being tear down recently … only went the arcade there b4 …

  5. mamayalow says:

    went there for jackpot machine and win big big big :P,,,,good old dude…

  6. yt says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing your insights on this blog.

    This SAFRA clubhouse(or what used to be) was the first thing I’d see every morning on my way to work. Although the demolition works were already in progress when I started working here, it’s still sad to say that this iconic infrastructure was bulldozed to make way for yet another retail complex… I have some photos of the demolition process here: http://y-t.tumblr.com/ 😥

    I may not stay in the bukit merah/queenstown area, but I’ve grown very fond of this little old neighbourhood that’s full of character. I surely hope queensway shopping centre or any other old, iconic architecture in this area doesn’t suffer the same fate!

  7. Vin @ JW says:

    Few year back when it is still in operation , used to go there to play Billard with friends as well as their sports hall .. kind of miss the place … well , guess we have to move on … By the way , any idea what will this place turn into ?

  8. Bukit Merah SAFRA Clubhouse in 1982 when it was officially opened

  9. Ken says:

    It has been confirmed. CEL Development has just appointed Park Hotel Group to manage the 16 storey hotel development. There will be 3 storeys of retail space for sale to private individual investors. Check out this Park Hotel Alexandra Shops here…

  10. EMF says:

    The Building is fully demolished.
    Passed by the place in a bus

  11. Stephen says:

    In the early 80s, I serve my national service there for about a month. There was a training centre of sort to teach the usage of PC, maybe to Mindef or civil servants. We carried about 50 PCs from the carpark to the 3rd or 4th floor and help to set up the place. A IBM PC/XT without a hard disk and only a green monochrome monitor cost about $9,500 each.

  12. Lim Dah Kwan says:

    I am really sadden to see an iconic building goes… Had many fond memories playing squash, badminton in the 80s with my cousins and friends. There was a famous restaurant serving good tim sum. This restaurant used to be at the old Magaret Drive, and incidentally my parents held their wedding dinner there in the early 70s. To my parents, it was good memories. We had tim sum a few times and was really good. I grew up in the 70s and 80s seeing the Anchorage factory torn down, they occupy a really huge area at that time, building of Safra Bukit Merah and now torn down again. I remember vividly Safra Bukit Merah used to be the Anchorage’s Railway Godown, and next to it, the railway line that stretches to join the mainline, next to the present Ayer Rajah Expressway. My dad used to bring me to watch the train movements, in and out of the godown in the 70s. It was really memorable. We live at the iconic “Butterfly” block along Queensway, and my mum and sister still lives there. Well if anyone can remember, the junction of Queensway, Bukit Merah and Alexandra Road, used to be a circles. And right at the corner of Safra Bukit Merah used to be tinned roof shop houses…. Very sad to see my memories of that place gone, again and again…

  13. Ah yes.. the Anchor Brewery at the other side of Alexandra Road.

    The conserved standalone house in front of the brewery is now a Chinese restaurant called Zhou’s Kitchen, whereas the plant itself was replaced by Anchorpoint and The Anchorage condominium today
    (check out http://www.ura.gov.sg/conservation/alex.htm for its history)

  14. Mike says:

    This location is being used for the new Alexandra Central retail mall that also has a hotel in it.

    • Gerald Lim Vernon says:

      Next to go (I’d presumed): Queensway Shopping Centre and the former Tiger Brewery Factory (now then Ikea)

      • Queensway Shopping Centre might not be easy to be bought over by any private developers because its shops are strata-titled (just like Katong Shopping Centre and Lucky Plaza)

        Unless the one taking over is the government (like the Pearl’s Centre case), but their reason has to be of national interest

  15. Tan Peng Ann says:

    I was the Financial Secretary of Safra when the building was constructed. I remembered vividly my involvement in Safra when I was in SAF. Sad to see the building go.

  16. Ricky Ng says:

    Dear readers,
    For your information now stands Alexandra Central and Park Hotel which was once SAFRA Bukit Merah clubhouse. What a refreshing new boy on the street. Thank you for your understanding and concurrence on this new development and urban renewal.

  17. Alexandra Central today

  18. Lili says:

    Hi. Just wanted to help out with a wrong word, hope you don’t mind. Regarding the “dummy soldier doing repelling”, I think you mean “rappelling”.
    Thank you for this wonderful website. I read a lot of it, and I really appreciate the valuable information and the great pictures.

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