In the late sixties, the Ministry of Health was seeking an alternate location to build a secondary mental institution due to the overcrowding issue at Woodbridge Hospital. The 2,029-capacity main hospital had exceeded its average daily occupancy, hitting a peak of 2,654 in 1969. During this period, the British Bases Conversion Unit handed the three-storey Batu Rimau Gurkha Barrack to the Ministry of Health, and the premises, with its lush surroundings, was deemed ideal for the rehabilitation of the less severely ill psychiatric patients.
View Road Hospital was officially opened in August 1975, and became one of the 13 government hospitals in Singapore in the seventies and eighties (The others were Alexandra Hospital, Changi Hospital, Kandang Kerbau Hospital, Middleton Hospital, Middle Road Hospital, Sembawang Hospital, Singapore General Hospital, St. Andrew’s Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Toa Payoh Hospital, Trafalgar Hospital and Woodbridge Hospital).
With the admission of the first batch of psychiatric patients after its official opening, an intensive rehabilitation program was introduced. The program, consisted of learning of new trades such as laundry, toy-making, farming, woodwork and tailoring, aimed to help the patients in seeking employment after their discharge.
In 1984, another rehabilitation program called the Day Release Scheme was launched to help the patients adapt to the outside life. By the nineties, almost a third of the 250 patients at View Road Hospital was placed under the scheme, which allowed them to leave the hospital during daytime and work in factories, nurseries and gardens. They would then return to the hospital in the evenings.
View Road Hospital was eventually shut down in 2001, and was left abandoned for many years until its conversion into a foreign workers’ dormitory named View Road Lodge in 2008. Its bluish outlook was replaced by a new orange appearance. The occupants, however, would last only four years before the premises became emptied once again. It is now under the charge of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).
Published: 05 November 2013