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 old properties and compound were then handed to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), and were subsequently made available for lease by companies or organisations for $10,000 per month. Between 2006 and 2016, many foreign educational institutions, such as Westminster UniCampus Private Limited, Harbridge Educollege, Cornell Education Group Private Limited and Lincoln Collegiate Of Business And Technology, had established their courses here.
For other old former police stations in Singapore, read Mata.Mata and the History of Singapore’s Police.
The squarish three-storey 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. In 2016, the shophouses were closed and their premises sold to real estate developer City Development. The business of the beauty parlour ended and its vintage signboard was bought by local filmmaker Royston Tan.
In the past few decades, Lorong Lew Lian has been developed into a small bustling self-sufficient public housing estate completed with kopitiams and provision shops. The quiet neighbourhood will see a major change, though, in 2017, when the former Paya Lebar Police Station and the Lorong Lew Lian shophouses undergoing demolition and their site redeveloped into a new private condominium called the Forest Woods Residences.
Published: 29 July 2012
Updated: 02 October 2016
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.
I watched a film title “Menyerah (1955)”. I saw a footage of Payar Lebar Police Station on that movie.
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. 🙂
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..
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
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!
In 1974 when I was studying in my final PSLE year at Elling South Primary school, 2 schoolmates who are Chinese brothers joined my school But the elder brother is named Robert and the younger Henry. We used to walk home after school every evening around 6pm. I lived at 311 B Upper Paya Lebar road. Henry & Robert lived at the Paya Lebar Police station because their dad was posted there that year. Not sure if these 2 names ring a bell to you.
These 2 brothers were the first thing that sprang to my mind when I read about this article. It had been almost a good half century ago or 46 years to be exact. But Paya Lebar Police station still hold these memories for me
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
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.
Sold to CDL for yet another condo http://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/lorong-lew-lian-site-attracts-11-bids-city-developments-joint-venture-top-bidder
I passed by recently and saw workers clearing the area. Hoardings and billboards signs are erected. The new condo development to be developed is call Forest Woods and looks like it’s going to be launched soon http://forestwoodshomes.com
Just pass by there and is all blocked and I think they are building condo. Sad …..
Yes, City Development will be developing a condominium called Forest Woods Residences there.
Oh dear, what does this mean? Will the buildings be demolished?
Been there this afternoon, the camp itself, a kindergarden school and the barber shop block has been cordon off, but you can enter the compound along the back ally of the barber shop block along Lorong Lew Lian(do it quick, time is running out!)
Forest Woods Residence info:
Developer: Serangoon Green Pte Ptd (A joint venture between CDL, Hong Leong Holdings and TID Pte Ltd)
Project Name: Forest Woods
Location/Address: Lorong Lew Lian
Tenure of Land: 99 years from 05 February 2016
Site Area: Approx. 14,001.50 sqm / 150,712 sqft
Expected Vacant Possession: 10 May 2021
No. of Blocks: 7
No. of Storeys: 12