Sunday, 27 August 2017

Iconic of Old Kallang Airport

View of Former Kallang Airport
Once the seaplane bases at Sembawang and Royal Air Force Seletar were completed in 1920s,  a final decision was made in 1930s to build a civilian airport at Kallang.
Remnants of Kampong
At Kallang, there were once the kampongs (villages) that were relocated for the construction of the grass runaway and the terminal building.
The former Kallang Airport is sited on reclaimed land of what was once the swampy Kallang Basin, located at 9 Stadium Link and fronting the Nicoll Highway today, The landing strip was a large circular field in front of the Terminal Building. The boundary of the Airport once extended into what is now Old Airport Road. The surrounding land and the runways were redeveloped in the 1950s when the airport facilities were relocated to Paya Lebar Airport.It's been six years I last stepped into an iconic old Kallang Airport during Singapore Biennale 2011 which I have blogged about Old Kallang Airport. But before that, I have been there in early 1990s and am a member of PA since till now. 

View of Link Bridge from Terminal Building
SLA Secret Spaces conducted the tour on 26 Aug 2017 which was yesterday and the meeting point - 9 Stadium Link at 4pm. We reached there by taxi after our late lunch at National Stadium (Kallang Wave Mall). It took us 5 mins to reach our destination. Earlier, we walked to the Link Bridge to the National Stadium to have our lunch there.
Colony Main Gate of Former Kallang Airport

Old Main Gate Structure in 2011

Whitewashed Main Gate Structure

Lion Crest mounted on top of the gate
Closeup - Lion Crest
Original Lamp Post
The gate posts with the lions crest and original lamp posts are also conserved to complete the historic setting of the site.
More recently it has also been used creatively for events like the Singapore Biennale 2011 and even fashion shows by Calvin Klein & Hermes (Apr 2014).
Former Kallang Airport was built by the British Colonial government as Singapore's first civil airport, located in Kallang was completed at a cost of S$8 million which was opened on 12 June 1937, functioning as an airport until it was replaced by Paya Lebar International airport in 1955 till it (Paya Lebar Airport) closed in 1981 and thus replaced by RSAF.

Credit by RSFC
Nevertheless, the Land was chosen as the site of the Airport and in 1931, the 300 arches of swamp was reclaimed and a circular bund was built up above the level of the highest tide commonly known as the foundation of the present airfield. It was started after an announcement to be built Kallang Airport that was made by then Governor Cecil Clementi on 31 August 1931. Six years later upon completion of the airport and was officially opened on June 1937 by Governor Shenton Thomas.
The Royal Singapore Flying Club (RSFC) in 1937 with the opening of Kallang Airport, the Club moved to its new quarters on the airport and that year, with increased activities, flew 542 hours on seaplanes and 1,665 hours on landplanes. By 1937, the RSFC had 9 aircraft including a DH 87 Hornet Moth and a Miles Magister. In 1938, a Miles Withney Straight augmented these 9 aircraft. By 1939, the last seaplane was dismantled and taken into stock as spares.
During WWII, Kallang Airport was used as military airbase and planes carried out bombing missions against the invading Japanese military forces. The Japanese bombed the airport three or four times a day and made fresh bomb craters which made it possible to use only one strip of the runway (700 yards long).
During the Occupation, the Japanese laid down the runway which has been repaired by Dept. of Civil Aviation since the Japanese surrendered. The Airport building are concentrated into a small area to reduce obstructions. Inside the main building were airline offices, and customs offices, medical post and a restaurant.

1954 BOAC Lockheed Constellation crash
Source: NAS
The only air disaster in Singapore occurred on 13 March 1954 when a BOAC Constellation crashed as it struck on seawall on approach to the runway. A total of 32 passengers and 2 crew members died in that disaster. By 1948, the Kallang civil Airport was not adequate for the increased air traffic; the development of the Airport was limited because it was close to the harbour and built-up areas. Decision was taken to build a new airport in Paya Lebar. The new airport was officially opened on 20 August 1955 and the Kallang Airport was closed to air traffic in 1955
In 1952, the taxi track at Kallang Airport was to be resurfaced which cost about $100,000 and work will began in 2 or 3 months and completed in July 1952. And the extension to the main building that housed customs, Immigration and medical officials and office spaces for airline companies.
When Kallang Airport was closed in 1955, the old runway which ran parallel to Mountbatten Road became Old Airport Road, while the surrounding public flats became known as Old Airport Estate or Kallang Airport Estate. I remember.. in 1960s to 1990s, along Mountbatten Road, the field open space used to be the site of Gay World Park and Gay World Stadium (Geylang Indoor Stadium in 1990s). This Mountbatten Road was defunct and changed to new road names - Kallang Airport Drive and Kallang Airport Way in early 2010s
Former Terminal Building
The former Terminal Building of Kallang Airport is an iconic and visually stunning building.
Cylindrical Glass Control Tower
The Modernist language of the former Terminal Building can be interpreted as a metaphor of a contemporary airplane, with its elevated cylindrical glass control tower centrally placed as the cockpit.
 Streamlined Curves along Horizontal Lines
Closeup - Streamlined Curves
The design of the building is accredited to Frank Dorrington Ward, the Chief Architect of the former Public Works Department. The building clearly displayed the new Modern architectural language of functionalism, with exposed concrete, horizontal lines, transparent glazed walls and streamlined curves.
Petite Metal Spiral Stairs

Antique Semicircle Spiral Stairs
The narrowest and smallest Antique Metal Spiral Stairs in the world. Leading up to the control towel and outside the tower corridor which is also narrow walkway in circular path.
A video of a Petite Spiral Stairs leading up to the control tower at Old Kallang Airport taken by me.
 East Block
East Block next to Blk A, B, C side by side
The East Block which is next to Block A, Block B & Block C side by side is seen above pic which is out of bounds.
West Block
West Block corridor leading to the door
Alongside the terminal are the two buildings of East and West block originally built to house the airline offices, are designed simply and built in reinforced concrete. They are similar in appearance to other military buildings found within British military camps, with the regular repetitive columns and windows. Did you see anything unusual at the door of West Block as above?
The Hangar (2011)
The hangar that once housed the various aircrafts, including perhaps even seaplanes that landed on what was once a grass runway. Built with reinforced concrete, the heaviness of the hangars provides a stark contrast but also architectural balance to the lightness of the terminal.
Inside the Hangar (taken in 2011)
The hangar which is out of bounds, only on the 2nd level of West Block for overview of the hangar. Luckily I was there in 2011 and able to view on the grounds of the hangar.
Me@2nd level of West Block
Surprisingly, I didn't know my husband took a shot of me at the open window on the 2nd level of West Block building after the tour ended. I was holding a selfie stick took photos of hangar open space. Anyway, the hangar is out of bounds. Guess how did he do it? Giggles...
 Spacious hangar 
A chair is here waiting ...
The hangar adjacent to the West Block is a lofty and simple column-free structure where planes used to park. The building is a functional piece with large expense of windows to bring light into the space. The hangar is also conserved to complete the aviation history for the site.
Beginning Stage of Kallang Airport to be built
Source:  NAS
Aerial view of terminal building (1955)
Ever wonder what the airport looked like before the runway and taxiways were torn up and removed to build the National Stadium, this is a rare aerial photo of Runway taken in 1955. The terminal building is at the bottom left, and at the basin end of the runway you can see the slipway (where Oasis now stands) originally built to allow flying boats like the Imperial Airways Short S.23 Empire to be served at the same terminal as land planes.
People's Association Headquarter (1970s)
The People's Association was officially inaugurated by the Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew at the old terminal building of the Kallang Civil Airport on 20 August 1960. The headquarters of the People's Association was also to second line of defence against the communists.
The National Stadium, the Kallang Theatre and other sporting facilities new occupy the former runway of the old Kallang Civil Airport. It operations run till 2009, thereafter, the building holds lots of events including fashion show.
Group@OldKallangAirport (OKA)
The group photo taken at Old Kallang Airport (OKA for short) which conducted by SLA and Jerome on series tours.
Old Kallang Airport touted as one of the most modern airports of its time.

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