Monday, 6 June 2016

Memories Places - Blk 450 Seletar (former 160 Sqn Alpha Blk)

Blk 450 with 2 service blocks attached in the middle
Block 450 was constructed in 1930 as a 2-storey building, with a 3-storey building added in 1936, comprising a main block measuring approximately 90 meters lengthwise with 2 service blocks attached (one served as toilets and bathrooms and one served as armoury) projecting from the middle.
View of Blk 450 from the old parade square
Photo credit: URA
It is located at Seletar East Camp, was the former barracks for RAF personnel, before eventually becoming the base for the anti-aircraft gunners from the RSAF’s 160 Squadron and eventually Seletar East Camp was home for 160 AA gunners (1970 to 2002). 
Close up - Stair Cores at corner end
The building (Blk 450), together with the Block 179 (former RAF HQ) opposite Blk 450 and 32 bungalows, was gazetted for conservation last June 2014 for future re-use and to create a link for Singaporeans to understand the rich history and aviation heritage of the area and of our country.
1930 Plaque on the wall
Singapore's first air defence squadron celebrated 45th anniversary last year 2015. A 1930 plaque on the wall was built by the British.
Blk 450 Seletar East Camp (main blk)
Blk 450 Seletar East Camp formerly known as former 160 Squadron Alpha Block, was one of several substantially large buildings of the same design in the area, used as accommodation for military personnel. It was fondly known as 'Alpha', was once housed the operational flight of 160 Squadron from 1970 to 2002.
G-Block Seletar West Camp
source online: http://www.rafseletar.co.uk
H-Block Seletar West Camp
source online: http://www.rafseletar.co.uk
I heard that there were two sisters blocks (G & H) located at Seletar West Camp that similar to the Blk 450 (Seletar East Camp), were demolished where the present Singapore Youth Flying Club is.
Locked Gate@Blk 450
Thanks to my good friend Jerome Lim for the alert message earlier before I stumbled upon other fb group. I was glad that he still remembers our conversation in the fb message last year 2015 about Blk 450 at Seletar Camp which I had been there couples of times but not to this blk and of course it is fenced up. At times, I go to 398 Canteen for a 'cool' coffee and relax, a nostalgic place.to feel as if I was in the kampong.
Peep thru the gate
On the 5th Jun, I reached at about 10.15am, met the group and others including Jerome and his family. While chatting among the group, still no sign of security guy to open the gate and of course the organiser, a young chap Gabriel Ang from SLA was here earlier, it was hot humid weather, we endured humid weather for an hour and I got time to snapping away while waiting.
Stairway to heaven - Blk 450
Finally, at about 11.15am, a security guy came to open the padlock of the gate leading to the stairway to heaven - Blk 450 Seletar East Camp (former 160 Squadron Alpha Block).
Overview Seletar Airport
The black and white bungalows at the former Seletar airbase were built to house officers from Britain's Royal Air Force before the outbreak of World War II. Seletar Airbase still houses around 130 other residential colonial bungalows, which are located outside the aerospace park zone. You can see the Seletar Control Tower afar from the photo.
I believe it is still under JTC Corporation, is the lead government agency behind the development of Seletar Aerospace Park (SAP), a 300ha plot of land which houses Seletar Airport and the colonial buildings and also maintains the colonial charm of the structures which was started in 2015.

Seletar River area was a swamp land but after WW1, that is, in 1920, the British began to build an Air Base in Seletar for Military and Civilian use. By 1925 RAF were using it for their aircraft. When Kallang Airport was build in 1937, Seletar Airbase remained for military use.
Seletar Aerospace Park centred around the runway
source: www.aviationweek.com
Seletar Airbase has a strange history, having served not only the British, the Japanese and later by Singapore RSAF when it became an independent country. In later years, about half of the Air Base was operated by RSAF and the other half was leased to the various aviation companies operating in the region, mainly from Indonesia and including the Singapore Flying Club and the Junior Flying Club.
Seletar Airport
source: www.aviationweek.com
Seletar Airbase, which vacated in 1971, are facilities such as Seletar Airport, the Singapore Youth Flying Club and Seletar Camp. Most or least of the area was not spared the bulldozers, as an aerospace park, estimated to be completed in 2018. Above photo - Seletar Airport converted from a scruffy, ex-RAF base into thriving Aerospace Industrial center. It also will get new Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) by end 2018 which will begiin its construction in Aug 2016 after tender for the construction has been announced. By 2018, current operations PTB located on the airport's western side will then cease, while turboprop aircraft operations will be shifted from Changi Airport to Seletar Airport.
Rolls-Royce factory
source: www.aviationweek.com
I heard that Rolls-Royce officially opened S$300mil factory for Trent engines at Singapore.s Seletar Aerospace park in Feb 2012.
Oh, yes. I recalled that there was a former Hangar 505 (1960s) at Seletar West Camp when I walked around this area in 2012. There was an event that took place at the old camps, it was at Seletar Air Base that the first RSAF aircraft - a Cessna 172 - landed in 1969.
foreground: used to be the Old Parade Square
The main block, the field space (foreground) was used to be Old Parade Square in its heyday for the RAF servicemen during their training courses at that times.
The colonial bungalows and buildings are conserved. It's important to retain the area's strong historical value especially for younger people and future generations to know its rich history.
Colonial bungalow of the 1950s
Many modern and colonial style homes were rented out to the British servicemen when their fathers stationed in Seletar camp in Singapore in 1950s.
Many of the bungalows were rented out as homes before plans for the aerospace park were unveiled in 2007. At the time, there were about 378 bungalows before the two phases of developments saw industries move in. Among the 378 (Black&White) bungalows in the area, 204 will be retained. Some will be converted into aerospace training schools and food and beverage outlets, while 131 units will be set aside for residential use.
I am more eager to learn about Seletar's rich heritage, and I am hoping that the authorities will consider using one or two of the bungalows as a museum and "armoury" artefacts to showcase the area's rich history within Seletar area in the near future.
I think that many Singaporean today are not aware of the formation and operation of a part-time Air Force in the 12-year war against foreign dominated communists who were operating in the jungles of Malaya. Sadly it was closed. Thus the history of Singapore, MAAF Singapore Wing remains Singapore's Forgotten Air Force.
Toilet@Ground floor of service blk
I walked along the corridor on the ground floor and found one of the toilet on the side of the building known as 'service block' that connected to the main building. There are three levels of each toilet connected to each side of the main building and while the second and third level of the main corridor housed the RAF servicemen.
Reporting Room
Inside Reporting Room
Rectangular hole thru other small room
One of the rooms has now been connected by door cut into the walls between them.
There are boot scrapers mounted on the wall on each side of the "toilet" service block at the ground level. 
Boot Scraper (semi-circular niche)
I noticed the semi-circular niche mounted on the wall of the building and wondered what it is. Suddenly, I realised that it is the boot scraper aka humble boot scraper commonly known as "decrottoir" in French, which implies the need to remove excrement, the cast-iron contraptions feature and it set in semi-circular niches beside the front building at the corner of each side and outside the toilet on the ground floor. The ground-level scrapers have long fascinated to the British who built it before WWII. I saw the boot scraper at my uncle's home in UK in 1989 when my family and I visited him for five weeks stay. So the ubiquitous scraper fixed to houses of the servicemen, by the front door, leading to a change in social habits such as removing one's shoes on going inside.
Armoury Storeroom
The Armoury storeroom (above) is where the military equipments were stored and the security alarm installed to prevent intruders loitering around the storeroom and no permit to enter is allowed for all ranks servicemen, only 'special' military personnel is allowed to access for all equipments. The metal door has two opening (above & below) which armoury equipments were issued out to RAF servicemen at (below) 'opening' door for safety reason. 
Inside a Armoury
Inside the storeroom where all armoury weapons and other components on the rack were yet to have a rack number assigned to RAF servicemen.
Servicemen' Quarter
Unique Art-Deco style motif on the columns capitals
A unique Art-Deco motif on the columns capitals which helps to adorn and differentiate this building from the other air-base. A broken roof is seen that served as a bird's nest home.
 Bird's nest
A bird's nest hanging on a string wire above the building structure but the young one had flew away after it grew into fully mature bird.
Bird perched on a railing 
There are lots of birds roaming the building as if its their home and bird droppings (bird poop) too. Well. birds unlike mammals, do not pee or produce urine, they excrete nitrogenous wastes in the form of uric acid, which emerges as a white paste. This 'lonely' bird thinks it's their hideout and makes home of its own and builds its nest.
Rest and recreation space
This field space was used to be "rest and recreation" space for RAF servicemen on their rest day.
Water Pipe
Water pipe in the building are the source of collecting rainwater to flow out through the pipe from the rooftop of the building.
A plant protruding through openings floor
Flooring stone glass patterns with protruding plant
It is interesting to find a small plant protruding from the 'opening' floor of the corridor at level 2 and another plant protruding at the precast stair cores.with old flooring stone glass patterns (square design).
Precast Stair Cores
Symmetrical corridor all round the building
There are corridors all round and 2 Stair Cores at both ends of the symmetrical building. The 2 Stair cores at both ends are similiar to the old HDB blocks at Tanglin Halt.
Service Block served as bathrooms & armoury
Despite changing of Singapore tropical climate, this block has continuously wide shady verandahs, opening metal and concrete parapets, an inner facade featuring timber louvred windows and doors, metal-concrete vents and roof tiles vents to promote flowing ventilation.
Opening concrete parapets above on the wall
The opening concrete parapets (above) on the wall of the roof wide shady verandah as the building has no air-con at that time. Thus the servicemen had to endure the heat and humid weather all year round during their times in camps.
Armoury at service block@Level 2
Inside armoury storerom@level 2
At level 2, there is one armoury storeroom marked "RM02-13" above the roof door which has no windows (above pic) with two opening metal doors that similar to the ground floor of armoury storeroom, But there was no intruder alarm installed and it would be for signal and other components that were stored, were not costly.
 Service Block attached to main building
Bathroom and toilet on both sides
 Close up - the typical sinks
Closeup - colonial round sink in those days
Using hp to capture the sinks
I was trying to capture the sinks using my Sony mobile phone in a eerie atmosphere as if I was inside the darkest room.
Timber louvred door of AR Room
Timber Louvred door & old style sliding metal gate
It is strange to see timber louvred door on the outside and old style sliding metal gate on the inside of the main building of Blk 450. I remember that my mum's unit has a sliding metal gate on the outside and timber wooden door on the inside that was opposite of the old HDB blocks at that time.
Service block and concrete pattern tile taps
Concrete wall pattern tiles with taps
Apart from the service block that occupied with bathrooms and toilets while on the ground floor is wash-up point after a game or the training ended.
Service block and chin-up (pull-up) bar
The service block that served one armoury storeroom on 2nd level that has no windows while on the ground floor and 3rd floor have windows were bathrooms and toilets.
A chin-up also known as 'pull-up' is an upper-body compound pulling exercise gathered for the servicemen.
Building stands tall with wide verandah 
Giant trees overshadow the 'Alpha' Block
The green shady on the ground with giant trees overshadow the former 'Alpha' block in a lovely and serene, a world of quiet place as if there were no servicemen marching on the old parade square.
Group Photo
Photo credit: Nen Fatah
Again, I would like to thank Jerome Lim for his 'quick' info and was so happy to see you all guys for the wonderful time.
Louvre frosted window
The Louvre window with frosted not only enhances privacy but also adds a touch of finesse to your room. At last, the group left their mark - 'Fresh Juice Tree' on frost written using fingers on the brownish dirt frost on the louvre windows to know that they were here.
Me at Seletar Camp in Jurassic Park frame background
Photo credit: M.Saniroz AZ
Thanks to M Saniroz AR for the Jurassic Park frame background photo taken at Seletar East camp as if I have to run for my dear life after I got shocked from the opening huge door and click!

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