The Colonial Bungalows of Seletar

Built to serve the residential needs of military personnel from the British Royal Air Force (RAF) upon the completion of Seletar Airport in 1928, are a total of 378 colonial bungalows located around an area that up till today, is still synonymous with the military defence of Singapore.

Nature reaches out

Nature reaches out

Neatly hidden behind nature

Neatly hidden behind nature

The weathered windowpanes and slated doors

The weathered windowpanes and slated doors

Of these 378 colonial bungalows, 178 have been unfortunately set aside for demolition due to the impending arrival of the Seletar Aerospace Park come 2018, to help meet the need of growing aviation facilities in Singapore. Most of these are located around the roads of Hyde Park Gate, Old Birdcage Walk and The Oval.

Like the colonial bungalows in enclaves like Wessex Estate and former British Naval Base in Sembawang, the distinctly black-and-white buildings were built with high ceilings and numerous windows to ensure good air circulation within the house, a particular necessity in our warm tropical climate.

A wide view of the expanse of land that the bungalows had

A wide view of the expanse of land that the bungalows had

A bright sunny day in the abandoned bungalows

A bright sunny day in the abandoned bungalows

Someone forgot to knock

Someone forgot to knock

While entrance to the bungalows along Hyde Park Gate are now prohibited by the Singapore Land Authority(SLA), there is still a small cluster of abandoned colonial bungalows just down the over at Old Birdcage Walk that remains very much intact.

The colours of nature here provide a picturesque contrast to the pristine black-and-white buildings, while walking around the finely weathered door panels, window panes, and even unique chimney-like structures make you wonder what living here would have been like.

A giant tree of life stands smack in the middle of all the abandoned bungalows

A giant tree of life stands smack in the middle of all the abandoned bungalows

A couple of unique 'chimneys' pop up from the colonial bungalows

A couple of unique ‘chimneys’ pop up from the colonial bungalows

IMG_6262

Nothing much lies inside  the buildings

Nothing much lies inside the buildings

Fortunately, just across the road lies Oxford Street and Mornington Crescent, that are home to the remaining colonial bungalows that are used for residential purposes.

Just recently, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) have stated that the 32 bungalows along Hyde Park and The Oval have  been slated for conservational redevelopment into a series of restaurants, spas and other leisure activity areaswith the aim of bringing back the vibrancy and charm back to the Seletar area.

If you want to explore this area of Seletar, take a bike ride around the area as the many twists and turns often make vehicle travelling a hassle. You can enter either from Seletar West Link or Jalan Kayu though I would prefer the former as you can cycle out for lunch at Jalan Kayu thereafter.

A domestic workers washes a vehicle on a Saturday morning

A domestic worker washes a vehicle on a Saturday morning

Residents along Brompton Road take pride in their one-of-a-kind home

Residents along Brompton Road take pride in their one-of-a-kind home

The bungalows have weather our weather pretty well

The bungalows have weathered our weather pretty well

21 comments

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 25 Feb 2014 | The Singapore Daily

  2. If you visit the RAF Seletar association website http://www.rafseletar.org you will find lots of info about RAF Seletar, including memories from people that served there

  3. Dd

    Thanks for writing this article. Im currently living in one of these Seletar black and whites and its really a beautiful estate to live in, especially on weekends and during festive periods like Christmas and Halloween when the neighbourhood kids go around the estate trick or treatin’ . Granted there have been changes to the area in the name of economic progress, but thankfully some of the old Seletar charm still stays. We have had visits from wild boars, loud owls, cheeky squirrels trying to topple shower foam bottles, wild parakeets and even cobras in our backyard last week. Im thankful for the news that they are preserving the big houses at Park Lane and the Oval, those are some of the nicest and biggest houses in the estate.

    • nickyeo

      Yes i’ve heard some stories before of how Christmas and Halloween parties are thrown at the area, it was really peaceful and quiet when i went there over a weekend morning and was nice to see how much care everyone seemed to put into maintaining their own houses.Great that so many animals (minus the cobra) pop-up in your area, and i’m looking forward to see what they’ll do with the houses along Park Lane and the Oval 🙂

  4. Shona Trench

    Hi, My father was in the RAF in the early sixties, and we lived at 13 Oxford Street at Seletar Camp. I am British, but was born in Singapore in 1961, and now live here with my husband and two teenagers. My father who is now 84 yrs old, has visited us four times, and we have gone out to Seletar to see the changes. I was also able to find an old colleague of his, who is a local man, and they have met up on several occasions.

    • nickyeo

      Hi Shona, that’s really interesting to hear, have seen some forums and articles talking about how former veterans or staff at the Seletar Camp have met up. Seletar is really an amazing oasis to go out an explore!

      • Shona Trench

        I’m now trying to trace my Amah, her name was Margaret (Chew Joo Keng) but I have no idea how to go about it? It would be lovely to meet her after all these years,(50) I was only 3 years old when we left Singapore to return to the UK.

  5. Dd

    Hi Shona 13 Oxford is in beautiful condition and even has a swimming pool. I’m just a couple doors up on Oxford too 🙂 I pass number 13 every night when I walk my dogs and sometimes try to picture how the immediate surroundings looked like back in the 60s. I’m a huge fan of historical Singapore (hence my love for Lionraw.com) and would love to see any pics you may have of Oxford street back then.
    Warmest regards to your father and family.

    • nickyeo

      Hi Dd, thanks for the love. Do share any photos of even your lovely walks with your dogs as well, i’m sure the colonial bungalows around look really different at well, different times of the day 🙂

    • Shona Trench

      Hi, yes I’ve been up a few times with my Dad, and two sisters when they’ve visited Singapore on holiday. I don’t have any old photos here with me in SG, but my Dad was a photographer in the RAF, so I reckon he’ll have some at home 🙂 I’ll need to try and get my hands on them!

  6. Julia brown

    I lived at no 1 park lane from 1966 until 1969 when my father was CO Seletar Group Captain TWA Hutton. I have many happy memories. Julia brown

  7. Dd

    Hi Shona, thanks for your reply, looking forward to the photos of the base.
    Hi Julia i believe your father’s name as CO of Seletar is mentioned in that excellent book “Seletar – Crowning Glory”.
    No. 1 Park Lane I read somewhere was only for the Commanders of the base back then? Gosh you grew up in a massive house.., probably the biggest one on base. Thankfully the authorities recently decided not to demolish it;
    http://www.straitstimes.com/breaking-news/singapore/story/black-and-whites-old-seletar-airbase-get-new-lease-life-20140211

  8. Hi, this is a very interesting post, it makes me feel like going there to visit. Just checking if you have any kind tips of visiting there? Is it better to ride a bicycle there or just by foot and by bus? (i only saw one bus 103) Is the bungalows between Seletar country club and Seletar air base? Hope you can reply and many thanks in advance. 🙂

    • nickyeo

      Hi Florea,

      My recommendations will be definitely to cycle around the area (or drive if you can) as the bus 103 is quite infrequent from what I know. Cycling around also gives you an opportunity to explore the surrounding areas including some currently occupied bungalows just opposite the abandoned ones.

      However I do live quite near the area so am pretty familiar with it, but the remoteness may be a bit hard for someone to navigate if they aren’t too familiar with it. 🙂

      Anyway nice photos on your blog!

      • Hi Nick, thank you for your reply. Much appreciated! By the way, nice photos in your blog too plus interesting topics! 🙂

  9. Penelope Jackson

    Hi,

    Can anyone tell me if 12 The Oval is still standing please? Looking at Google earth it looks to be there but others have said that all the houses in The Oval have been demolished. I lived there in the early 70s when my father, RNZAF was based there. I visited in 2006 and the house was still standing.

    Penelope Jackson (nee Dickie)

  10. Penelope Jackson

    Thanks Robin, you’ve answered my question.
    Penelope

  11. Pat Watkins

    Dear Penelope
    My name is Pat Watkins and I, too lived in Seletar in the early 70’s at 4 The Oval. My late first husband was Captain Mac Jenks, he was housing officer for the three Anzuk forces. I am visiting Singapore for a week, arriving Saturday 10 June. My daughter will be there also and we would like to go to Seletar to revive old and very good memories. I do not recall anyone called Dickie and can’t even be certain where number 12 is because the house numbers were illogical. No 4 backed on to a reserve looking out to Hyde Park Gate.

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