New Landmark at Beach Road Singapore
The former Straits Settlement Volunteers Force HQ at Beach Road, Singapore
How many Singapore heritage friends overlooked this century-old building at Beach Road?
In fact, the "Civic District Art Trail: Days of Yore" overlooked this heritage building and mentioned only the following places of the colonial era to learn about some of Singapore's significant monuments and memorials. A peek into Singapore's heritage through art.
1. National Museum of Singapore at Stamford Road
2. ASEAN Sculpture Garden at Fort Canning Park
3. The Arts House (old Parliament House)
4. Old Supreme Court, part of the National Gallery Singapore along St. Andrews Road.
5. Asian Civilisations Museum at Empress Place
6. Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall at Empress Place
7. Civilian War Memorial at Beach Road
8. Lim Bo Seng Memorial at Esplanade Park
9. The Cenotaph at Esplanade Park
10. The Fullerton Hotel (for General Post Office, Fullerton Building)
Roughly the area north of the Singapore River and between City Hall and the Dhoby Ghaut MRT stations, the Civic District is where many colonial-era buildings stand. In his original town plan, Sir Stamford Raffles assigned the area north of the river to the British, ordering the building of offices, banks, hotels, churches and clubs there. He also built his house on the top of Fort Canning Hill. The city is today still governed from the colonial nucleus Raffles established, although many of the historical buildings have been restored and adapted for functions that are completely different from those in the past.
SAF's 84-year-old Beach Road Camp, the birthplace of the modern Singapore Armed Forces Camp was where Singapore's first infantry regiment was formed.
In 1957, the first 22 recruits - 11 Chinese, 7 Malays, 3 Eurasian and 1 Sikh - were sworn into the Singapore Infantry Regiment in the camp's Drill Hall, which was then known as the Singapore Military Forces Headquarters.
The camp, built in 1931, first served as the headquarters of the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force.
Built in 1933, the Drill Hall (Block 9) was designed by the Frank Dorrington Ward, an architect in the Public Works Department who was also the chief architect of the former Supreme Court building.
The building was originally used as the drill hall of the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force (SSVF), where soldiers performed military drills (marches). The predecessor to the SSVF had previously used a wood and corrugated iron drill hall in Fort Fullerton that had been built in 1891. This entire building was dismantled and rebuilt at the Beach Road Camp in 1907, which was then the headquarters of the Chinese Company.
The wooden building stood for two decades before it was replaced by the current one. The Drill Hall is an example of art deco modernism adapted for Singapore's tropical climate. The crisp profile and geometric details are mixed with shaded verandahs, ventilation screens and louvred openings.
The drill hall itself is 140 feet long and features a 40-foot-high barrel-vaulted ceiling, which is shaped by reinforced-concrete parabolic arches that spring from the floor.
After conscription was introduced in Singapore in 1954, the building served as a registration centre for recruits and a training camp for national servicemen. The first passing out parade of 400 servicemen was held here on 15 December 1954. Subsequently, the First Singapore Infantry Regiment was sworn in here on 13 March 1957.
Yang Di-Pertuan Negara Yusof Ishak being escorted by Brigadier T Haddon, Commandant Singapore Military Forces (SMF), on his arrival at Beach Road headquarters for the passing-out parade of volunteer recruits on 20 October, 1960.
Yang Di-Pertuan Negara Yusof Ishak taking the salute at passing-out parade of Officer Cadets at Singapore Military Forces' Headquarters at Beach Road on 12 December, 1962.
[Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore]
The outside of the building bears a memorial plaque that was installed in 1950 to commemorate the members of the Singapore Volunteer Corps who died during the invasion of Singapore and the subsequent occupation period. Each year on 15 February, the anniversary of the fall of Singapore, a memorial wreath is placed in remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
IN MEMORY OF ALL RANKS OF THE SINGAPORE VOLUNTEER CORPS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE MALAYAN CAMPAIGN AND AS PRISONERS OF WAR 1941-1945.
THEY FOUGHT NOT IN ENMITY AGAINST MEN BUT AGAINST POWERS OF DARKNESS ENSLAVING SOULS OF MEN.
"OUR LIFE IS BUT A LITTLE HOLDING LENT
TO DO A MIGHTY LABOUR . WE ARE ONE
WITH HEAVEN AND THE STARS WHEN IT IS SPENT
TO SERVE GOD'S AIM: ELSE DIE WE WITH THE SUN"
The building was gazetted for conservation on 9 October 2002 in recognition of its value as a good example of 1930s military architecture and its role as a social and historical landmark in Singapore's military history.
About the Straits Settlement Volunteer Force
The Straits Settlement Volunteer Force (SSVF) traces its history back to 1854 with the formation of the Singapore Volunteer Rifle Corps. Over the years, the unit was reorganized and renamed several times. Following the formation of the pan-Malayan SSVF, the Singapore Volunteer Corps eventually made up the first and second battalion of the force.
During the Japanese invasion of Singapore, corps members were either killed or became prisoners of war. Among those who became POWs, some were sent to Myanmar (then known as Burma) to work on the infamous Death Railway.
The SSVF was officially disbanded following Singapore's separation from the Straits Settlements in 1946. However, in 1949, the Singapore Volunteer Corps was revived to help deal with the communist insurgency known as the Emergency. The SVC continued until independence in 1965 when it was renamed the People's Defence Force.
The building is located at 34, Beach Road, Singapore.
NAAFI Brittania Club
Then (above) and Now (below)
South Beach - the new landmark at Beach Road, Singapore
The construction of South Beach of the South Beach Consortium in 2007. (Photo Credit: Foster and Partners Co.)
The current photo of the South Beach in 2016. The following photos with courtesy of Foster and Partners Co. to share on this blog with Singapore heritage fans.
The South Beach Opens for Business here. The South Beach, one of Asia's most anticipated hotels, opened its doors for business on 3 September, 2015 as part of a preview before fully opening later this year.