Opened in 1952, Yan Kit Swimming Complex was the second public swimming facility in Singapore, after Mount Emily Swimming Complex at Upper Wilkie Road, which was opened in 1931 and closed some time after 1982.
Located at Yan Kit Road and opposite Tanjong Pagar Community Club, the swimming complex as well as the road were named after Chinese pioneer and dentist Look Yan Kit (1849-1931).
The complex, owned by Singapore Sports Council (SSC), was closed in 2001 after a spike in maintenance fees due to a dramatic decline in the attendance of swimmers.
The once-popular swimming complex has three pools in a row, namely the adult pool, the children pool and the diving pool. There are also a single-storey clubhouse and three small blocks for changing rooms and bathrooms.
When it was opened in the fifties, the entry price was 15c, and it got so popular that swimmers were given a time limit of two hours in the pools.
The lifeguard on duty watched over the swimmers at the tower between the children pool and the diving pool. There are three diving platforms at the end of the diving pool, where the water measured 3m deep.
In the past when the society was still relatively conservative, Yan Kit Swimming Complex was opened to only female swimmers on Tuesdays.
The building at the end of the adult pool has its wall painted with maritime designs, such as fishes, mermaid, sea turtle, octopus and seahorses.
After abandoned for a decade, there are some debates recently on whether the complex should be renovated and reopened to the public. Most residents living in Tanjong Pagar support the reopening of the complex in a conducted survey, but the high costs may put off some of the private developers.
Another old swimming pool that was demolished recently was River Valley Swimming Complex. It was built by the Singapore City Council at a cost of $520,000, and was completed in 1959. As River Valley developed into a commercial belt with offices and shopping malls, the swimming pool became under-utilised, resulting in its closure in April 2003. It was eventually torn down to make way for a carpark in 2011.
Elsewhere in Changi, there is also an abandoned sports complex. It was formerly owned by the Singapore International Airlines (SIA) and the complex was known as SIA Group Sports Club.
Located at a quiet Turnhouse Road, the sports complex was opened in 1982, and was SIA Group Sports Club’s third location, having shifted from St Wilfred Road and Paya Lebar Airport in the seventies. Its unique dome shaped lobby even won a prize for architecture design.
In 2006, SIA Group Sports Club shifted to their fourth and latest location at Upper Changi Road East, opposite SIA Training Center. This 24-year-old sports complex was thus handed over to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), and with no plans in mind, it was left vacant for years.
Read about other old swimming complexes in Singapore at Swimming in the Summer Sun of Singapore.
Published: 30 April 2011
Updated: 11 January 2013