From a nutmeg plantation to a military camp established in the mid-19th century, the region of Tanglin has transformed much throughout its history.
Intended for accommodation for the European troops, Colonel George Chancellor Collyer gave the approval for the construction of Tanglin Barracks in 1861.
The military camp consists of three main blocks (71 to 73) along Loewen Road. The design of the military barracks contains a mixture of colonial and local flavours, with huge roofs that provide good ventilation during hot and humid weather.
The government renovated and strengthened the structure of the large military barracks in 1934, but preserved the square pillars and their French roof tilings.
The Ministry of Defence and the Central Manpower Base were located here from 1972 to 1989. The camp has also previously housed important military facilities such as The Medical Classification Centre, Officers’ Personnel Centre, Naval Training Department and SAF Careers Centre.
By the early nineties, Tanglin Camp was decommissioned and handed over to the former Land Office before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took over in 2001.
After the former Land Office took over the camp, some parts of Tanglin were leased out to the private sector. Sensing a great potential in this region in 2006, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) came up with a lifestyle theme for this site, where wine, fine dining, education and arts businesses flourished together. It is now known as the Tanglin Village, which also includes the Dempsey Cluster and the Minden Cluster.
One of the exhibition sites of the Singapore Biennale 2006 was held at Tanglin Camp. Several art items, such as painting and artistic furniture, were displayed at the 71st to 73rd blocks of the military barracks.
Most of the roads in Tanglin were named after the military barracks’ commanding officers of the pre-independence era. Ridout, Lewin, Harding, Sherwood, Dempsey and Malcolm are some of the examples.
Like Seletar, Sembawang and Portsdown, there are also many black and white colonial houses in Tanglin, especially in the Dempsey region. These houses were built in the 1920s mostly for the accommodation of the military officers and their families.
Published: 31 January 2011
Updated: 08 August 2013