Somewhere near Bouna Vista lies a peaceful and greenery-filled neigbourhood known as Wessex Estate. The old colonial-styled estate houses a total of 26 white and black low-lying blocks that were built more than 50 years ago.
These distinctive colonial apartments used to be the homes of British soldiers and their families from the fifties to the early seventies.
Today, with the government keen in developing this area as a focus for arts and design, some of the buildings are leased out to local and foreign artists, architects and creative designers.
Opposite of Portsdown, separated by the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE), is another similar estate with many colonial houses, mostly for residential uses. The estate is situated beside the Hort Park.
There is a famous eating house in Portsdown known as Colbar (short form for Colonial Bar).
It was first built in 1953 at nearby Jalan Hang Jebat, and started off as a canteen to serve the British military soldiers who lived in Wessex Estate. The canteen has survived over the decades, and expatriates have gradually become its main customers after the British withdrew from Singapore in the late sixties.
In 2003, Colbar shifted to Whitchurch Road to continue serving the masses with its signature dishes in chicken chop and curry chicken.
Other similar estates in Singapore include Dempsey, Rochester Park and Seletar Camp. Dempsey and Rochester Park have transformed into high end food and beverage heavens whereas part of Seletar Camp is being reserved for the new Aerospace Hub.
Seletar Camp, popular for its peaceful and bucolic feel, currently has dozens of similar black-and-white colonial-styled bungalows leased to locals as well as expatriates.
The camp was completed by the British in 1928, as a means of air travel and air defense for the Royal Air Force (RAF). The name “Seletar” refers to the aboriginal tribes who lived along the coastal regions near the Johor Straits.
Between the fifties and seventies, the community living at Seletar Camp, made up of more than 2,000 RAF employees and their families, became better known as the Seletarville. It was visited by George Ward, the then-British Secretary of State for Air in 1957.
After 2006, the camp became increasingly affected by the rapid development of the Aerospace Hub, where almost half of the 378 original colonial houses have been identified to be demolished to give way to the new facilities.
Many of the houses bounded by Park Lane and Hyde Park Gate, now under Jurong Town Corporation (JTC), are left empty and awaiting for demolition. The conditions of these beautiful black and white houses are still in good shape.
There are also three huge mansions at Park Lane, one of which was the clubhouse. The clubhouse had many facilities, including a large swimming pool. It is unknown whether the other two mansions were formerly of residential use or other purposes. The designs of these mansions look to be a mixture of colonial and Malay flavours, with many pillars added to the first level of the buildings, much like a Malay attap house standing on stilts.
Fortunately for now, the houses at Mornington Crescent, Lambeth Walk and Maida Vale are spared from the modernisation. However, it remains unsure whether these occupied houses will be demolished after their leases expire in a few years’ time. The Aerospace Hub is expected to be completed in 2018.
The Seletar Base Golf Course was built as a golf club for the British personnel in 1930. The National Sports Promotion Board (NSPB) took over the course in 1971 after the British Forces withdrew from Singapore, renamed it as Seletar Country Club. When the club moved to Lower Pierce Reservoir in 1995, the course became one of the few golf courses open to public. It had also shut down due to the development of the area.
Like the former British Air Base at Seletar, there are also many classic black and white colonial houses at the former British Naval Base at Sembawang (now Sembawang Shipyard). More than two dozens of the houses are scattered on both sides of Admiralty Road East and West.
There is a network of minor roads in the Sembawang vicinity that used to be restricted to public access in the past. The roads were mostly named after the Commonwealth countries and former British colonies, such as Canada, Kenya, Pakistan and Sudan. Some, like Auckland Road, Durban Road, Lagos Road and Wellington Road, were named after their cities. The rest had their names taken after the overseas territories of Britain. Bermudas, Falkland and Gibraltar are some of the examples.
While most of the houses are occupied and well-maintained, some are in poor conditions. Just a short distance away from the century-old Beaulieu House (now a restaurant) and the Sembawang Jetty, it is a serene and quiet environment for the current residents here.
Also read about the colonial houses at Wessex Estate.
Published: 13 December 2010
Updated: 22 February 2020
Sadly most of these houses are not under conservation…And the high rent is chasing the earlier tenants – the families, singles and artists – out and replaced by regular folks with loads of money
Was living at Warwick road during the late 90s. Love the tranquillity, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Walking along the railway towards Hang Jebat mosque, just for a bowl of yummy chicken curry. Any idea are those colonial houses at Portsdown and Warwick still exist?
Yep, they are still around.. Many artists and designers rent the houses as home+offices
yes warwick still exist i just went around there
I didn’t know my wife (Jesse) also subscribe to this wonderful blog! Hi Jc?
Yes, beautiful memories of Warwick Road, love the place…
Wonder where Gopi and Smoggy is now..
I lived at 1 Lancaster Gate fron 1968/1971 and have happy memopries of the camp. I went back on 2007 and saw the bungalow which had been modernised but didn’;t have the courage to knock on the door and speak to the occupants. Went back again 2009 and sadly much of the camp as I knew it was being demolished.
Hope to make one more visit during 2012 as have friends who were and still are trading in Jalan Kayu.
Sadly,what was the home and community for thousands of serviceman and their families is almost beyond recognition.
A little off topic here but, does anyone know anything about the bungalow on top of bukit timah hill?
Hi Nick, I went up to the summit of Bukit Timah Hill but I did not notice any bungalow there.
I saw a old house on the summit but was use by the telco for communication but I’m not sure if it is the bungalow you are referring to.
This telecom building is located near the summit
it looks really interesting, would love to visit somedays.
HI, What a lovely lot of nostalgic pictures to look at. I lived at RAF Seletar in 1960-62 and we moved on to the camp to live at 8, The Oval. I revisited there about four years ago, the year of the 1st grand prix, and it was lovely to be able to see our lovely bungalow. Very happy childhood memories. My Dad was a teacher at the RAF Seletar junior school.
I was an RAF Sgt.’s daughter at School in 1960/61 . We lived at 52 Regent’s St. RAF Seletar. I would love to revisit when I come to Singapore on 6-9th June 1914. Currently living in Australia on route back to UK> Do the houses still exist.
hi, Sandra, how are you?
I lived at Seletar from 1959-1963 and had the most marvelous few years. I don’t know how old you were at the time but I had a few friends who were of school age (mid teens) that were doing their GCE’s while they were there. I think, from memory, that they actually were bused to Changi to the school there but after all this time I’m not sure.
I have managed to re-contact a couple of them since accessing this site and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
I write novels nowadays if you are a reader – see the website
All the best,
Mike Hume in beautiful Tasmania
Nice to read your post. I was there with my family from 1955 to 1957 – my Father was posted there. I went to the base school.
Trying to remember which road we lived in but cant find a map that covers the south-west corner of the married quarters, to jog my memory. It was a row of bungalows, facing some open ground which went up to the perimeter security fence.
I roamed the whole island, alone or with pals, in the 17th Singapore (Eastern) scouts. The most magical experience of my life.
My partner was there from 1951-1956 he is the son of Squadron Leader Thomas.
We are going back there this year to 2 Park Lane as David celebrates his 70th birthday and lived there as a child.
i was there 55-57 (I was 12 to 14 years old) and went to the base school! My maiden name was Allan. Just been back to Singapore for the first time since then and had a simply wonderful time. Jalan Kayu was only partly changed and there was still much to recognise at Seletar; we never got into a black and white but stayed in the tiny house in Jalan Kayu. Had a Coke at The Canteen, where we kids used to rot our teeth on Cokeafter school. The present owner has been here for 50 years – he has just two teeth! Did you know Janet Hunter? She was my best friend but, sadly, I’ve lost touch with her. Pam
I was at Seletar from 1960-63. Loved the place and the people.
Are you the same Rob who was asking after Dusty Miller?
If so, send me a mail on email@example.com
i was serving my national service at school of manpower training in seletar camp. this was where we were trained to type using manual typewriters. there was a encik(warrant officer) who shouted at trainees(like myself) as “baboons”. he has since retired and is now a grassroot leader in sembawang/nee soon grc.
I went to school of Manpower in 1979. Was it still at seletar then? Can’t recall. A 3-tonne truck would pick up a few of us trainees at bedok n other locations n bring us to the school.
I’m lucky enough to be the current resident of the house pictured above as Sembawang house 3. It is indeed a wonderful, serene area of Singapore – I appreciate the beauty every single day. There are also many more of the black and white bungalows on and around Canada Road across the main Admiralty Road East from the shipyard. Interestingly enough the house opposite mine is known as the old Khatib mess, see:
Thank you for your lovely website and I must get to the hot spring – it’s been on my to-do-list forever!
I once came acrossed the petrol car and officers petrolling the area, the petrol car and the uniforms they wore do not look like the normal police officers we usually see. Just out of curiosity, are they under different forces? or they are a special unit for the area?
Occupant of 14 Knights Bridge here from 1970s to 1994. 🙂 I loved my childhood life. Sadly the house has been demolished. 😦
My parents lived at 18 Knights Bridge in 1950/51 and I’d love to be able to identify which house it was on old aerial photos or plans. We do have photographs but they are too close-up to work out its position with respect to other houses. If you could help us to pin down its location in Knights Bridge, that would be much appreciated.
Not sure if this will help
Thank you for the links which are very interesting, but what I’m trying to do is work out which of the houses shown on plans is number 18 Knights Bridge where my parents lived. If you could indicate which was 14 where you lived, then I could probably work out where 18 was – I hope that makes sense!
This comes to you a few years after your message. We lived at 21 Knightsbridge so you were about three doors to the right of us looking away from our bungalow to the road. I can pinpoint where you were but you have probably found out already. I’m thinking of creating a collage with as many of the scenes down the roads on West Camp as possible.
Steve: thank you so much for your reply. I never did manage to pinpoint exactly which house was No. 18 (sadly I never lived there myself as I wasn’t born until after my parents had returned to the UK) so if you can help me to identify its position, I’ll be really pleased.
Apologies Patricia, I didn’t read your preceding message regarding your parents. I’m also not sure how to go about sending you a map or photographs which might help you. Do I contact the webmaster? I’m on a Seletar group on Facebook if that helps. Just out of curiosity, besides pictures of your parent’s house, do you have any images showing away from their house out the front garden? I can remember the street (road) as though it was yesterday but of course memory is no substitute for reality.
Steve, many thanks. I’ve asked to join the Facebook Group and if we can connect up there, we should be able to message each other directly and exchange images, etc. I’m afraid that I won’t have access to my parents’ photo albums until we can travel freely around the country again, but, off hand, I don’t recall any views away from their house.
Please do not call the concrete and brick houses “Black & White” The black paint was only added after they were transferred to Singapore civilian ownership in the ’70s and were then let to the public. Strictly, the term black and white should only apply to those house with significant timber in their construction. The timber was painted black to help resist termites
most of the colonial houses at Seletar, Sembawang and Portsdown are built in concrete and bricks, which means there aren’t many Black and White houses left in Singapore
Friends of ours lived in an old black and white house in the 80’s. It was used as a Japanese brothel during the war! It is sadly long gone now, along with the flats we lived in, in Ratus Road.
I would welcome debate on the term “Black & White”.
In my recollection, none of the brick and concrete houses such as at Portsdown Road, Rochester Park, Medway Park and so on had any black paint when they were British military quarters. I believe that the black paint was an addition, a marketing ploy, of the various government agencies entrusted with these properties and their immensely valuable land bank, since independence. At first the rents were very low but in time some of them became popular with Singaporeans and the rents began to rise.
I believe that the term “Black & White” should apply strictly to houses with a significant amount of timber in their construction. Such houses are to be found in Alexandra, Tanglin, off Scotts Road and behind Dunearn Road and elsewhere. Many were built as quarters for military and administrative officers of the colonial government
Peter Dunlop, that’s very interesting and pertinent info! Thanks a lot! Now i understand why there are so many so called “Black and White Bungalows” in unexpected areas of Singapore – it’s cos they aren’t REALLY colonial B&W houses!!! And yes, what you say about it being a marketing ploy is sooooooooooo true!! Thanks for opening my eyes!
I’ve been living in a colonial bungalow in seletar camp since 1994 to 2008. Had a wonderful time there. Can anyone tell me when were the houses at Warwick road built? Were they built the same time as Ports down road colonial houses?
We lived in Montreal Rd a the Naval Base (Woodlands) from 1971-1974. Dad was with the RAF.
We had also lived at Changi, on the Chip Bee estate and Krangi.
There is a colonial-styled house along Alexandra Road, left vacant for several years… Anyone has info of this abandoned house?
some of the old colonial houses are very visually interesting and I’m looking for an abandoned one for filming of a short film. Anyone has good suggestions and how do I go about applying for the permission to shoot the short film at the place?
Hi, I just lived in 202 Lagos Circle at Sembawang after a stint working with the MoD.
Hi Chris. How funny, I will be staying there in a few weeks time. Is there a picture on this blog that looks similar to 202 Lagos Circle?
Hi, my parents lived in 202 Lagos Circle c. 1951-52. My father worked for the Admiralty and I think the house may have been part of the Naval Base at that time. I know that they really liked their time there.
Hello there! Just wondering if you know any infomartion about this bungalow at Thomson Rd. It is visible from PIE toward Changi entering from Thomson. It has a driveway uphill leading to the main building. When i was walking pass, i could see there were some birds, not sure if its a hen, along with 3 or 4 of its chicks at following foraging near d grassy area. I really had that old school kampong feeling. Really curious about the current owner and what it used to be. I saw a sign “Europa Country Club” but the guard said that its a private property and there is no entry.
My husband and I were both serving members of the RAF and were posted together to RAF Seletar in 1967. We stayed at the Pasir Ris hotel for a week before finding a house in Jalan Tari Zapin off Jalan Kayu, this was only for another few weeks as we were then allocated a small bungalow on Seletar camp in Edgware Road. We are going to Australia for a holiday in the New Year and stopping three nights in Singapore We would love to see if any of our old haunts still exist and have a trawl down memory lane as we have such fond memories of Singapore and Seletar. I was demobbed in late 1969 and we came home with our baby daughter in 1970.
Can anyone advise whether it would be worth going to visit Jalan Kayu or has it all gone now?
Hi Joyce, I feel a need to answer to your post as there are some coincidence of your time spent in Singapore as with me living here. My husband and I moved into hay market in seletar camp in 1994 and stayed right up to 1st January 2009 when the government took back most of the rented black and white houses in the camp for air hub development. We then bought a house at Jalan Tari Zapin. And stayed there for 4 years till end of last year. We missed the lay back and close to nature living of a black and white house that we moved into Normanton estate ( portsdown black and white) where we are also closer to our boys school.
Edgware has still half a street intact but the camp has changed alot, Jalan Kayu miracly survive through the years, most of the houses along the road have retained its old look but alot of food places have popped up too. It has still a very old charm about it with the roti prata shop still there. Overall I think though the camp has changed alot, it is still worth a walk down memory lane. Hope you have a good time should you decide to visit Singapore and Seletar Camp.
Sent from Samsung Mobile
Hi Joyce, you can check out “A Walk Through the Old Neighbourhood – Jalan Kayu” on how Jalan Kayu looks like today… There is also a couple of old photos of Jalan Kayu in the 1970s and 80s
Jalan Kayu still very much remains the same as before, but Seletar Camp, as what Katena has described, has changed a lot in recent years
I have only just found this site. My husband was stationed at RAF Seletar 1964/67 & initially we lived just outside the RAF base in Jalan Kayu but I do not remember the name of the road – it was off the main road from the camp on the right hand side. The accommodation was just terraced bungalows all linked together. We then moved to an RAF hiring in Serangoon & my daughter was born at Changi hospital in 1965
I would love to see any photos of the of the housing running behind the main Jalan Kayu road leading up to RAF Seletar.
I loved my time in Singapore & have never had the chance to return & maybe I don’t want to as it has changed so much & I have wonderful memories of the quaint & colourfull place
Not sure if I am repying to Joyce, or the page creator – who has done a brilliant job. Lots of nostalgia here, although I just read one mail where the guy said he would have loved to have been this peaceful place – Seletar – during Christmas. I’m afraid not. This period was often reffered to by both the officers and airmen as a “Four Day Drunk”. Lots going on, none of it exactly peaceful!
I see many people on here that should become members of the RAF Seletar Association. Our newsletter and website feature lots of stories about the old days, we even organise trips back to Singapore and Seletar, the next one – probably the last – is due to depart in March 2015 and there are still places available.
Dave Taylor, Assn Vice President & Membership Secretary
Hi Joyce, my name is Peter Clay and I was stationed at RAF Seletar from 1966 to 1970 with 52 Sqdn. My family and I lived first in Jalan Tari Zapin but after 4 months we moved to Seletar Hills but this was only to last for 3 months as the RAF then moved us into 23 Birdcage Walk on the base and there we stayed until we left Singapore in February 1970. I moved across to work out of RAF Changi when Seletar became the first air base handed over to the Singapore Armed Forces in February 1969. I then travelled to and from Seletar to Changi every day for a year before sadly leaving Singapore at the end of February 1970. I am returning to Singapore in October 2014 and look forward to seeing all of the changes that have taken place.
Old Birdcage Walk is still around, but Seletar has changed so much that it is almost unrecognisable now
Hi Joyce Many thanks for your rapid reply to my comments on Seletar. I thought it might have changed beyond all recognition but it seems some is still recognisable. Is it still a military base or is access open to the general public? If not I suppose I will have to write to the Commanding Officer to request permission to enter so that I can show my son and daughter in law who will be with me where we used to live.
Hi Peter, That was weird, I have just got home and read your messages and then to find that you thanked me for my reply was very odd. I am just replying! We have not yet been back to Seletar, we travel in January 2014, so can’t answer your questions. I was hoping for similar answers!. Your spell of service was pretty much the same as ours except that we stayed at Seletar until June 1970, I was a Cpl WRAF on Seletar and the very last member of the WRAF on the station, I worked until November 1969 when I retired to have our first child. My husband was a Sergeant in 6 TSU and he worked on Seletar until we came home in June 1970. I was in Changi hospital having our daughter in February 1970 when you were travelling home. Hope you enjoy your visit next year, if I find out anything useful I will let you know next March. Best Wishes Joyce
Hi Joyce Sorry the reply was not from you but from REM SG my mistake. However I hope you enjoy your trip in March and I look forward to your comments on your return. I think we were there at the same time and I have a daughter who was born in Changi hospital on 19 July 1967.Its hard now looking back to realise that she is 47 years old but then again I am 72, I guess we never think in our minds how old we are. Best wishes Peter
Hi Peter, I’m not Joyce but RemSG, the author of this page. I’m the one who replied you above 😉
There is still a small restricted military camp but much of the Seletar vicinity has been opened to public access since many years ago, so you can just drive/walk in at your own leisure.
As mentioned, Seletar has undergone big changes particularly in the past 2/3 years. Half of the colonial houses there have been vacated and will probably be demolished soon. Some of the old roads were expunged too (I’ll upload the maps later)
Hey Peter, I just thought I would write this reply. Your comment above reminded me so much of what happened when my late father attended my graduation in England in 1995. His situation is somewhat the reverse of yours. He was with the Singapore Army and in the 50s he was sent to England (I think for training). We went to Salisbury and there was one military base he wanted to return to. Unfortunately, we did not write in first so there was no chance for him to visit. He seemed more than happy though, to be able to see it from the outside.
As his daughter, I was so proud of him and was sad he didn’t get to go in. I would imagine, your son and daughter-in-law would also like to see a part of your history… if indeed it is still visible (with the change Singapore has gone through).
I am currently in Canada, but I am sure Singapore would welcome you 🙂
Hi SMG sorry for the mix up. Many thanks for your info and look forward to your map of the present situation.
Hi, these are the maps of Seletar, ten years apart
Map of Seletar 2002
(Source: Singapore Street Directory 2002)
Map of Seletar 2013
Hello everyone, thank you for the really nice replies to my message. Also thanks for the maps, I see that Edgware Road is still there although foreshortened. I think it looks as though our old house, number 30 has dropped off the world! Never mind it will still be good to go back and look at the camp and Jalan Kayu, might even have a wander down Jalan Tari Zapin. It is nice to know that we will be able to go onto the camp area without having to apply for permission. Next we will have to find out how to get from the centre of Singapore City out to Jalan Kayu, still it will be fun to find out. Thanks again Joyce
Hi Joyce, Peter, as per the author of this blog, Seletar Camp has changed alot since the days when you lived here. But some of its charms still remain and I think it is definitely worth a visit, at the very least to stop by at the prata shop outside for a hot (or cold) teh tarik (pulled tea)
The old camp gates are still around, but without any sentries now, you can drive or walk through freely. Nice to note that even the old searchlights at the top of the gates are still intact. And beside the entrance is a cairn that was just unveiled a few months back by the RAF Seletar Association when a few of it’s members flew to Singapore for the ceremony;
That too should be worth a visit to see and take a couple photos. After that it’ll be a trip down memory lane for you as you pass through the gates and see the roundabout and the familiar names; Edgeware, Maida, Lambeth. Take a lovely stroll around (but preferably not in the heat of the Singapore 12 noon sun) these streets that you used to call home. The houses are all still there and very well conserved. You will see some very uniquely done up homes, including one filled with lovely vintage automobiles and motorcycles with it’s own 1950s style garage.
Old Birdcage Walk’s houses are still there too, but most are either empty or leased to aerospace related companies as they are on the other side closer to the aerospace sector. You can definitely walk right up to them nonetheless, no military restrictions.
Need to point out something relating to the above 2013 map; it does not show Oxford street, but trust me, it’s still there, I currently live at Oxford Street
Back to the walkabout; at the end of Oxford Street and before you enter Old Birdcage walk is a lovely old canteen under a big tree, operating since the 1960s till today. Mostly serving tea, coffee and light snacks and opened till 4pm (closed sundays). Another nice place to stop for a break before you head towards Old Birdcage. From there you can continue to explore the other side of the camp before making your way back out to Jalan Kayu.
Getting from downtown to old Seletar airbase -> either just take a taxi direct, or you can take the subway (MRT) to either Sengkang or Punggol station, then take a 5 minutes taxi ride from there. There is also a bus 103 direct from Serangoon bus interchange. This is the only bus that goes into the old airbase estate
Interesting side note reminding us of Seletar’s past; just last week they found a Japanese aerial bomb near St Martin’s Lane while digging. It is a 100kg bomb from WW2 that didnt detonate and stayed lodged in the ground all these years. Imagine; during the time you were living in Old Birdcage Walk this scary device was underground, barely a street from your home 🙂
Thankfully the military has control-detonated the device and all is safe now. Thus as you can see, your old stomping grounds is still a very interesting and beautiful place to visit. Here’s wishing both of you a safe and lovely trip to Singapore and Seletar, take care. – David
Our family was stationed RAF Seletar mid fifties and we used to live in the last house next to the golf course on Old Birdcage Walk. My husband and I are visiting in January 2018 is this house still there please?
Hi Christine Peter Clay here.I lived in 23 Birdcage Walk from 1967 to 1970 and returned in October 2014,all that was left of old birdcage walk was about 3 houses all of which seemed to have been made into flats the rest had been demolished.They were standing on their own as all else had been cleared around them,even they may not be there now but I found it very sad so dont be surprised at what you may see.We still enjoyed the new modern Singapore though so good luck on your visit.
Peter, thanks so much for your reply. Am in a quandry now as to go or remember it how it used to be!
Thanks again Christine
Hi David I live at no 15 oxford st from 1973 to 1976 on selecta camp my husband was in the forces at new soon camp we lived right across from the golf course would it be possible for you to post some pics of my house I stayed at please I would be very grateful thankyou jean
Lunch at the nostalgic Colbar @Whitchurch Road
As a teenager aged 15 we walked along Lagos Circle regularly to get to the Naval Base Club to the Teenagers Room, where, I met my husband, who also lived in the Naval Base, further towards the Gate, you used to get to The Causeway to cross to Jahore B. We did return, 17 years ago, and had a lovely day touring around the Base, visiting our old haunts, including the Dockyard Pool!
Thank you for your information David, we are really looking forward to our visit in February and getting quite excited at the prospect. Joyce
Hello! I was just wondering if anyone knows the location of the house in the last two pictures ?
Thank u!! 🙂
@ Horlicksyey – I think Wellington Road, Sembawang.
So many memories just dance around me this morning and I went back to my 1984, when I was living in 108 Jalan Hang Jebat with my family. I remember my first friend Robin , who lived on 107 top floor with family, they are two brothers & one sister, his father like music. I wish I can get his contact. I miss you my friend, when I went on 1996, it was just like same it was, and I spent my whole day.
Contact Me: Laishrem@gmail.com
An empty colonial house at Dahan Road, off Admiralty Road West. There’s also an old makeshift shelter (bus stop?) outside the house.
We used to get the bus to SIngapore International School from this bus stop in 71-74
We lived round the corner in Ratus Rd. Sadly our flats are gone now, but would love to go see the old neighbourhood again one day…. if its still there that is!
I lived in a block of 6 flats at 321 Ratus road from about 1988 to 1993. Ratus road seems to have gone and been replaced by dahan road. Did you live at 321 ratus road? Do you know what happened to the road?
hi, we are interested to be able to rent a house in seletar camp. our kids will love to live in a house surrounded by nature. my husband and i will love the sound of crickets…
what kind of rent should we be expecting to pay?
Does anyone have any information about Rochester Park?
My father lived there from 1957-1962 and I visited a few weeks ago. The house he lived at – number 18 – and a number of others on the road are boarded up for redevelopment.
I wondered what was going ot happen to the boarded up houses. A number of others in the vicinity have been converted to restuarants.
Thanks in advance!
Black and whites at old Seletar airbase to get new lease of life
The Straits Times
Feb 11, 2014
The black and white bungalows at the former Seletar airbase were built to house officers from Britain’s Royal Air Force before the outbreak of World War II.
Now they could house offices, schools, restaurants, spas and sports facilities under plans being drawn up by the Government, The Straits Times has learnt.
All 32 bungalows, which have been vacant in recent years, and two former military buildings at The Oval and Park Lane will also be gazetted by the Urban Redevelopment Authority for conservation.
Despite the planned makeover, JTC Corporation is intending to maintain the colonial charm of the structures. “This will add vibrancy to the area and the ambience will also be preserved with the decision to zone it as a heritage site,” said JTC’s aerospace director Leow Thiam Seng.
Some empty yet beautiful colonial houses at Rochester area, opposite Star Vista
Do you know what these houses are being redeveloped into? My father lived at number 18 and has many happy memories of the area.
THe RAF Seletar Association have in their ranks members who lived and worked at Seletar from as far back as the thirties up until closure as an RAF Base in 1969. Lots of data in our archives on everything to do with the base from 1928 the the present day. For details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Nostalgic… As a child we lived in a beautiful house on Ratus Road Sembawang, apartment on Admiralty Road and then Durban Road flats (an amazing community there).
It’s sad seeing the empty houses. The stories they could tell. The echoes of laughs and playing through those houses. Sad.
What Fun! Just fell into this blog while looking for names of streets! I’m scanning all my pictures and trying to document them. We moved on the base when it first opened to the public in 1976. Hardly anyone was living there and I had my pick of bungalows…I chose the one on Edgeware right where it faces Knights Bridge. I picked this one because it had a telephone booth right outside. I knew it was going to take months before I could get my own. I was alone most of the with two little boys while my husband was flying in Indonesia. What good memories… most of the families were British (I’m an American)… wonderful Halloween party – trick-or-treating all over the base followed by “tea” / BBQ! I remember my boys’ friends who lived on Knights Bridge – Bryan and Jenny Rebecca…how I learning to play golf on an empty golf course – Sammy was the pro…chasing our little dog home and locking him up so he wouldn’t roll in the sand traps! Matthew was our grocer who came by a couple of times a week.
Thanks for the memories! It was so long ago.
Does anyone know if I can rent any of these colonial houses for a 2day event (wedding)?
I lived on Wessex Estate twice. The first time 1952 – 1954. Cannot remember the name of the court but it was directly opposite the Pasir Panjang Infants school. We watched it being built and then I went there. From 1959 – 1960 we lived further up in Gibraltar Court.
We lived on Birdcage Walk, Seletar from 1958 – 1959.
I lived in singapore from 1961 to 1963, as a teenager.. We stayed at the pasa ris hotel for a short while then moved to a hiring in serangoon garden city, on Chartwell Avenue. we then moved onto the camp at Seleter, to Birdcage Walk, then to a newly built house on Swallow Street. it is great to see the old homes. I went back to Singapore two years ago and went to all the homes I lived in. one only has happy memories! Denise Crossfield.
I lived at 15 Birdcage Walk 1962/1963 – Jean Devoy
Jean, Could you contact me please. One of our memebers (RAF Seletar Assn) living in Australia wishes to get in touch. Just had an e-mail from him this morning, he was at Seletar way back, thinks he knows you.
We lived in Duke Street Seletar 1971-1973 then Durban Road Naval Base 1977-1979. Our black and white in Durban Road was still there four years ago windows glassed in and air conditioning installed. Our Amah of both tours lives in Yishun and we are still in touch. I bought a set of tyres from Ah Soon Tyres Orchard Road in 1972, now he owns a Shell service station and we will catch up with him this month. Leighton Tailors of Jalan Kayu 1970’s now trades from Far East Shopping Centre and still make clothes for me. Great people and many memories.
I lived with my family, father Group Capt TWA Hutton,at No 1 Park Lane, RAF Seletar, 1966/1970
Julia, I would love to get in touch with you. When writing the history of RAF Seletar (Crowning Glory ISBN 1-903953-16-2) I tried to get in touch with your father, but was unsuccessful. I did manage to contact the last CO, Group Capt Alexander Maisner, and we became good friends. I am still in touch with his daughter.
Hi David, Very sorry you didn’t manage to get in touch with my father, I am sure he would have loved to have spoken to you. Unfortunate he died just over five years ago. I was only a teenager and don’t have very much that would have helped you. I just remember really enjoying our time at seletar.
Hi Ramsays, very interesting to hear your story. Unfortunately Duke Street was one of the casualties of Seletar’s aerospace space revamp. Only a handful of streets are left. I live on Oxford and sometimes try to imagine how life was like in the old days when I stroll around the base. Must have been a peaceful and lovely experience, especially during days like Christmas and Easter. Here’s wishing you the very best.
I lived in 8 & 12 Hyde Park Gate between 1966 – 71 I was 9 -14 yrs old then, Dad was a teacher in the (derelict for many years) Junior school on Oxford rd/hampstead gardens (now demolished).
I came back to seletar a few weeks ago at the end of July 2015, bur there’s a new road and everything’s gone, School, Golf club house Oxford rd too. Now only a dual carriageway.
I tried to get to Hyde Pk Gt but could not get through, I could see No1 Park Lane (Station Commanders house) across the road but could not work out how to get there.
Do you know if the bungalows on Hyde Pk Gt and the Oval been demolished or are they being restored?
I wanted to get photos of our old houses but could not manage them.
Have not visited this site for some time Steve but if you contact me I have quite a file on the ex RAF Seletar married quarters.
Hi guys. I am an Australian who lived at Seletar from 1959 to 1963 and worked at the CJ2 “spook station”. I played footy at the base, golf at the golf club, swum at the pool and grew to like a lot of English RAF types during my sojourn there. so much such so that I learned to fly back in OZ and was a pilot for all of my working life. I write novels now about the Arthurian Legends (15at last count) and my e-mail address is email@example.com I’d love to hear from anyone who was there in those marvelous days, not that todays days aren’t marvellous.
My family lived on Hyde Park Gate between 1966-71 I was a boy then 9-14 yrs old my dad was a teacher at Seletar Junior school. My Mum also worked at CK2 as secretary to the then Station Commander. She said there was an Aussie & NZ contingent there during her time (1970-71) I remember She really enjoyed her time at CK 2. great team spirit between all and lots of laughs -, I seem to recall there was also a CK1 which was not functioning then and was only used as a storage facility. ?
I believe that sometime after the Brits left, CK 2 closed and the Aussies and NZ contingent moved to a new facility somewhere around Kranji, I don’t know if they are still there ?
I went back to Seletar 4 weeks ago, much has now changed, lots been demolished to make way for the new aerospace hub.
Have you been back Mike,? of course this your back yard for hols etc.
Hi, Steve, it was nice to hear from you. The spooks as your mum used to know them have closed down in most of our foreign bases. The age of technology meant that the job of monitoring radios was replaced by the age of intercepting phones, especially mobile phones, and this can be done (by all nations) from within their national borders.
Tis a pity because life was great then and we lived the dream. We’re still living it in many ways because those of us who live in “good countries” have a lot to be thankful for.
Your mum was there a little bit after me but I can still picture the office, which would not have changed during those years, and she would have been teased unmercifully by my peers who had a great opinion of you and yours. I’m certain that those who worked there in her years would probably remember her.
I am going to a dinner at the mess at Cabarlah next month and if I run into any of the Singapore Club who were there at that time, I’ll mention your name.
While I travel a lot and I rarely get a chance to read the Remember Singapore blogs, you can get me on firstname.lastname@example.org if your or her feel like a chat.
Mike Hume in glorious Brisbane in the Land of Oz.
Hi Steve, bit of a long shot but any chance you would be willing to share your experience on growing up in Hyde Park for a school project?
My name is Fenella Woodhouse and i’m a third year student studying Film and Television Production at the University of York. For my final year, I am required to produce a documentary portfolio, including a taster tape which lasts no longer than 5 minutes.
Living in Singapore as an expatriate for the last 15 years, I am wanting to produce a documentary about post colonial Singapore, uncovering the richly human nostalgic society of Singapore through exploring the postcolonial behaviour and identities of individuals. I was wondering if anyone could put me in contact with any individuals who might remember Singapore in its colonial days as i’d love to interview them for my documentary (preferably still living in Singapore!)
Just to be clear, the documentary is for an assignment and is thus for internal examination only, it will not be published outside of the University!
Hi Fenella! When you mention post-colonial Singapore, are you referring to the post-1959 self-rule years? In fact, there are many individuals who certainly remember the particular turbulent era.
Hi Fenella please give me a call +65 9103-1201 regards bruce
Hello, Jean. I was at Seletar from from 1960-1963,. I was in the Australian Army and worked at a radio station on yui chu kang road. when i first arrived in singapore i went out for some time with a girl called valerie miller, who, by chance, lived in Chartwell (or a similar name) at Serangoon Gardens. I also saw a girl called Jean who lived at Seletar and I’m almost positive she lived in the street you mentioned. My name is Mike Hume and I would have been about 20 at the time. I had one of those gas-guzzling american cars (a black studebaker from memory), The Jean I knew had a younger sister. I have recently been in contact with one old friend from those days a teenager who lived near you called ROY MCCUBBIN.who now lives in Exeter. I now live in Brisbane australia and and write books about the Arthurian legends that are sold around the world. If you like I can be contacted on email@example.com and I would love to hear from you, especially if you are the Jean I knew. My English website for the books is mkhume.co.uk
I hope that all is well in your world. Mike Hume
Hi Mike, Thanks for the message but I don’t think I am the Jean you are looking for. I was only 11 in 1961 when we were there and I don’t have a younger sister, just a younger brother. Do you have any relations in Tasmania as I know a Greg Hume who lives there. Hope you manage to find the Jean you are looking for. Best wishes, Jean
We’re going back in March 2018, my partner David Thomas is celebrating his 70th birthday on the 27th March at his previous home 2 Park Lane (now Wheelers Estate) ( he is son of Wg Cdr F Thomas)
You will have a wonderful time. Pam
Ehhhe this is nice. Anyone went out to back of Hyde park road houses to view planes land/take off?
Yes, in 1968 I used to watch Andovers, single- and twin-Pioneers take off and land. The Beverley’s were already in the scrap line by then…
I used to take my baby godson to watch the planes take off and land between 1957-1959! I was 14-16yrs; we were living there when Lee Kuan Yew got in and changed everything. And guess what? I’m on my way back to Singapore for a trip down my memory lane next week – 23rd January 2018! I’ll be there with my retired RAF husband (Wg Cdr Roger Payne) for six nights before moving on to Sri Lanka. My father was the Station Warrant Officer, WO David Allan (he died in 2000 and is much missed) and my mum, Dorothy Allan, who sadly died exactly one year ago. I had a wonderful English friend, Janet Hunter, who lived on Mornington Crescent. We lived in one of the little houses in Jalan Kayu for the whole two years, I’m pretty sure it was in Tong Lee Road. Janet and I attended the school on the base and I have photographs of so many old school friends – if any of you read this, do please get in touch. My favourite teacher was Mr Chatsfield, the English teacher; he inspired me and as a result I became a writer/journalist. I happened to meet him one day in a little Arab shop in Aden in 1965. I lost touch with Janet Hunter (I think her married name might have been Elliot) her father was John Hunter – I would love to find her again. I also had a wonderful Chinese friend called Gan Yew Bee (don’t know if the spelling is correct) but I lost touch with her too after she married, we met in the home of Ceylonese friends of my parents, Binnie and Rahim. Her father was a very rich man and they lived in a huge house in the middle of an estate of bungalows, all of which belonged to the family and, I believe, were given to Yew Bee upon her marriage! Again, it would be wonderful to see her again, like me Janet and Yew Bee will be in their mid-70’s. I’m so grateful for this wonderful site, I’ve spent hours reading it all. Many thanks. Pamela Payne (nee Pam Allan).
Hi Jean. I agree. The ages don’t add up. Not to worry, because I have run across six people now that I knew from those days and I’m happy just to renew their acquaintance.
I have a son in Tassie but not the one you mention. My boy has a pub in a little town just outside of Launceston. I don’t see him very often because it’s very cold down in that part of the world..
Have a good 201, Jean, and I hope that all goes well in your world.
I stayed at 31 Lambeth Walk in 2004 as part of my training with SIA. It’s good to see that the building is still there. SIA used to lease many of the houses there. 25, 27, 31, 33 Lambeth Walk, the big bungalow next to the parking lot across 31 Lambeth Walk (ground floor was the canteen), as well as the first house just as you enter Maida Vale and some others at The Oval.
We used to walk to the flying college past the big houses along Old Birdcage Walk, through the golf course and past Hawker Pacific. Our local watering hole was the Kingfisher Club which I believe was at Park Lane. If we felt energetic, we walked over to Sunset Grill. Lots of great food (still available) within walking distance at Jalan Kayu. We used to travel down to Serangoon or Yio Chu Kang using bus 103 from the entrance of Seletar Camp.
I went by the area a year ago. It’s sad that so many of the buildings are gone now. But, unfortunately, that’s the price of progress. Should have taken more photos back then.
My father was in the Navy (fleet air arm) and I went to Seletar Secondary school 1968-1971. One of my very good friends at school was the daughter of Wing Commander Broad at Seletar and lived at 2 Park Lane. I spent a lot of time at that house with my friend and remember having a big joint birthday party under the house as it was built up on pillars. I believe that house has now been demolished.
I used to stay on Duke Street when I was a teenager around 2002, it was so much fun doing teenager stuff like gatherings, house parties when the parents are away, BBQs every weekend, the garage sales, that pack of wild dogs that terrorized seletar camp, I’ll never forget that uncle who was always chasing his chickens as well it was always amusing watching the chickens cross the road… Exploring but it was hella spooky exploring, so many encounters, witnessed cults at the old interchange right behind the old bus stop, that huge widow tree at the roundabout really creeped us out and the bus stop behind the long stretch of road is definitely haunted. Rode bicycles into the ‘forest’ right behind the bus stop where there’s a lake to take a dip. Oh and they tore my house down 😦 but the memories will never be erased 🙂
The colonial houses at Halifax Road… Some are converted into child care centers, others are left abandoned.
In 2013, they were thought to be in danger of being pulled down for the construction of the new North South Expressway, but URA has clarified that they would be safe from demolition.
Does anyone know a family called Miller who lived at Serangoon Gardens in the years 1960 to 1963. The father, “Dusty” was a “muso” who worked at Seletar and the Millers had two daughters, Valeria and Erika. I’d like to catch up with them if at all possible.
Mike Hume, Brisbane, Australia.
And to view the “mountains” across the strait? Yes! (80s- early 90s) there was no fencing but nobody went onto the runway. Good ol’ days
I was posted as a sergeant , to live in Jalan Kayu on the left as you approach camp.to RAF Seletar, to 6TSU at the end of 1969. After 4 days at a hotel (of doubtful reputation, but very friendly to my wife, little daughter & me) we moved into a house at the back of Jalan Kayu’s main street.
In less than 2 months I was promoted to Chief Technician (with loads of housing points) and moved onto camp to a delightful bungalow at the main gate end of Regant Street (it had been the Station Warrant Officer’s dwelling prior to his posting)
It was a happy time, even though I spent a lot of time up in Malayia on exercises and the odd Op.
The Seletar Sergents Mess was terrific and my wife Jackie and I loved it. Taxi trips into town were frequent for our crowd for shopping and eating. I remember 5 trips around the Tiger Brewery ( the last one completed in 45 minutes!!!) Also Robinson’s Apartment store before it burnt down.
After nearly 2 years 6TSU became a Tactical Signals Flight as it moved to Changi Airfield, and quartered in Duxford Road at the AMQ’s a few miles from camp. In October 1971 I closed down the Flight and handed in a vast inventory in to stores. We were operationally capable up to the last day
My son Alun was born in Changi Hospital in Jan 1971 and three years ago visited Changi just before the Hospital was demolished
Hi Brian, At first I thought you were a member of the Seletar Assn, similar name, but has he worked in the Inst Section obviously not the same. Still, interesting letter.
It was amazing to have lunch at 2 Park Lane the home of my partner from 1952-1955.
Hello Jacqualine, Your partner must have been Wing Commader Flying then. Don’t have his name but the CO, in No1 would be Group Captain Marlow, Seymour, or King, depending.
No David is the son of Wg Cdr F Thomas decd and was just a child. He was sent ‘home’ in 1955 to go to Findon College.
I lived in Ratus Rd, in the early to mid 80’s. We were in a 3 story block of 6 flats. We loved it there and its so sad to see that they are no longer there… we were with the RNZN and NZ armed forces.
I grew up in Seletar back in 89-92, best years of my life. I was recently there last Monday to be precise, my heart was very sad to see all the development. It was a very special place for me. Does anyone know how much these house are going for ?
chance upon gilbartar cresc beautiful colonial house, hope they can be preserved.
any1 selling at cyprus road property? keen to puchase
I lived in Seleter Hills during 1962-63-64 returned to Uk 65 Ithink .
My father was Chief ERA young in the Royal Navy he served on H M S Woodbridge Haven ,The Manxmen ,and I believe The Pelu ,during those years .
My sister was born in Changhi Hospital whilst we lived there ,and I have a brother who was just a small boy whenwe went out there .
Weboth attended first the Naval Base School ,then where transfered to the R A F school later .
We lived in a flat over the top of the shops initially ,then moved to a bungalowe further up Seleter Hills .
I was only about 7 when we arrived in Singapore ,and 10 when we left .
I have many memories of our time in Singapore ,especially our Amha and her daughter who made me a lovely batik blouse ,that I had for years .
I remember Robinsons department store,it was a treat to go in the restaurant there for a cold lemonade ,it had lovely air conditioning .
The bungalow we lived in had a monsoon drain outside garden ,and my brother rode his trike into it ,and he was hauled out covered in stinking green slime .
Luckily none the worse for his experience .
My mother and her friend Margaret Shaw placed him and the trike fully clothed into the shower to clean him off .
We stil laugh about that to this day .
If there is anyone who can still remember going to school during that time ,or living in Seleter Hills about the same time I would love to hear from you .
Best wishes Christine Sparks ne Young .
Nice site. Interesting and nostalgic. Although I ain’t Singaporean, I worked in Singapore in the 80’s and at a time in the 80’s and 90’s. half my family were calling Singapore home. We still have strong ties with Singapore so I do feel attached to her in many ways.
I remember Dover Road and all those colonial house. We drove over here often and then onto Gim Moh for dinner or South Buona Vista for boneless duck rice. What a time!
New life for 13 more colonial bungalows at aerospace park
17 October 2018
The Straits Times
Thirteen more conserved colonial bungalows at Seletar Aerospace Park are being refurbished for retail, F&B and office use.
They will join four other bungalows which were renovated as food outlets that opened last year at the park’s food and lifestyle hub, The Oval.
The latest works are expected to be completed next year, and statutory board JTC has launched a request-for-interest for their use.
The move was announced yesterday by JTC, the lead government agency behind the development of Seletar Aerospace Park – a 320ha plot of land housing Seletar Airport and a total of 32 conserved colonial bungalows, the remaining 15 of which are currently vacant.
It is also home to more than 60 multinational and local aerospace companies.
JTC said the second phase of The Oval follows positive reception for the first. Footfall at its existing cluster of food outlets – Wheeler’s Estate, The Summerhouse, Youngs Bar and Restaurant, and Di Wei Teochew Restaurant – can hit 3,000 over a weekend.
The Straits Times understands from one operator that his overheads run up to a six-figure amount, with rent comprising a small fraction of that. He also noted that footfall at his outlet has increased by 80 per cent year on year since it opened in late 2016.
Seletar still houses around 130 other residential colonial bungalows, which are located outside the aerospace park zone.
JTC said that over the next three years, it plans to introduce heritage storyboards and gathering points along the existing Round Island Route of the National Parks Board (NParks) for cyclists and pedestrians which runs around the aerospace park.
This leg of the route starts at Rower’s Bay at Lower Seletar Reservoir Park and ends at Piccadilly along Seletar Aerospace Drive. This will be done in partnership with NParks, the National Heritage Board and Seletar Hills Estate Residents’ Association (Shera).
I lived in Singapore from 1973 to 76 when my dad was in the military there. We started out in Changi, then moved to Seletar and lived in the oval – last house as you went out the oval I think. Then moved to a huge black and white house overlooking the causeway between Singapore and Malaysia. I still have photos of it and memories of a dining table that sat 24 people and being able to play cricket in one wing of the house. Such an amazing place to grow up. Except for the huge snakes and lizards in the gardens!
We lived on Seletar camp from 1962 to 64, firstly at Hampstead Gardens, overlooking the golf course and then at Knightsbridge. I went to the primary school on the camp and have many happy memories of times spent at the swimming pool and fishing from the yacht club slipway. My father was an AQM (later designated loadmaster) on 34 squadron, flying Blackburn Beverleys.
More of the colonial houses at Wessex Estate:
Visited the beautiful colonial houses at Sembawang again:
I wish i have the apportunity t rent colonial
I lived in Brompton Road on camp late 1969 to 1971.. I was gutted we were short toured as the R.A.F handed it over to Singapore…… loved it…Have been to Singapore many times since then….I have a love affair with the country…lovely to see these pictures. I visit the camp again next time I visit Singapore….
We lived at 15 Knightsbridge where we left for the UK in May 1967. This article has provoked so many memories. I have always yearned to go back but the house is not there any more and our Ouse on Rosyth road no longer looks the same i am told.