Sunday, 22 October 2017

Former NPF and View Rd "Mental' Hospital

View of former NB Police Qrts/View Rd Hospital
Most everybody knows about Woodbridge Hospital, but little is known about View Road Hospital which I used to call it - 'Mental Hospital', situated at the end of View Road, off Admiralty Road West. It's the kind of isolated place that you would easily miss. Yes, I had been there, visited one of my relatives who had mental illness and my dad's brother since 1980s - early 1990s. The most closest patient of mine is my dad's brother who was a patient almost 2 decades till his mother (paternal grandma) brought him home and stayed with her who lived at Ghim Moh estate (demolished) before it closed in 2001. I remember I visited him once every month due to my hectic work, only my paternal grandma often visited him. At one time, she told me that her son almost jumped down from the building. I do not want to talk about it as it saddened me to think of how sick he is and he is very quiet, stared at the wall.
View Road to the former hospital
View Road connected by another roads - Hawkins Road and Rimau Lane in 1970s to 1980s which were defunct now. It is understood that in Hawkins road, there was Refugees' camp to house Vietnamese people (boat people) who escaped from their countries after the Vietnam Wars.
Former View Road Hospital (1975-2001)
View Road Hospital (used to be Police Quarters at that time) was located at View Road junction of Admiralty Road West. It used to be a medical complex in Singapore specialising in the treatment of patients with mental illnesses. The view road hospital used to be a subsidiary of Woodbridge Hospital (1951) also formerly Mental Hospital (1928-1951) now known as the Institute of Mental Health (1993 to present) and was closed down in 2001. In later year, the premise was converted into a foreign workers dormitory known as View Road Lodge in late 2000s. Previously known as "Batu Rimau Gurkha", the building was allotted by the British Bases Conversion Unit to the Ministry of Health around the late 1960s to early 1970s.
Floor plan of what looks like 'E' shaped
We arrived before 10am by cab from Admiralty Station it's because the North-South Line we took from Circle line, travelled so slow and it stopped abruptly a few times in between each station that took us longer time to reach our destination. Oh..gosh...we still have 15 mins more before we decided to alight at Admiralty station instead of Woodlands station as it's not far from there in less than 10 mins by cab.
Posed a selfie with them from left (front) - Roszelan's daughter, Kamal, me and Harry. Behind  - Juneta and Roszelan (former resident at 10 view road)
 Quickie Selfie before the tour
As we reached, I saw lots of participants already there before us...So I quickie selfie with some of them before the tour, organised by Jerome, supported by SLA. Look how happy we were...
Encik Baharudin and Encik Roszelan
Two of the special guests, Encik Baharudin and Encik Roszelan were children who lived at 10 View Road with their fathers who were with Naval Base Police Force in late 1950s to around 1972, shared their childhood experience with participants at former NB Police Quarters.
Encik Baharudin's old passport
Former resident Encik Baharudin's old passport shows the address at View Road unit room 50, Police Quarters.
Encik Rozselan (Leqiu) pointed at his former home
Former resident, Encik Roszelan (Hang Leqiu) pointed at his former unit at level 3, unit room 55 while Encik Baharudin who also stayed at level 3, unit room 50.
Photo Group before touring
Spotted Hang Leqiu's hand pointing at!
Behind him is the Bomb shelter that built above the ground in 1940s during British rule. Once a Naval Base Police Force quarters in late 1950s to around 1971/72 where Asian policemen and their families lived. The Naval Base Police Force comprised of SIkhs, Punjabi Musalmans and Malays. During the time, there was a Sikhs temple - Naval Police Sikh Temple located within the compound. The Gurdwara Sahib Naval Police, was registered in 1960 by the Sikhs of the Naval Police Force. This Gurdwara later merged with Guru Khalsa Sabha in 1971, when the Naval Police Force was disbanded with the withdrawal of British military forces.
2 Floor unit room
Former NBP officers and its families lived each units
Former residents like Encik Rozselan and his families lived in the unit
In 1971, the British transferred the Naval Base at Sembawang to the Singapore Government. The Naval Police Force was also disbanded at this time.
Children played sports at badminton court
The badminton court (foreground)where the former NBP officers' children who played sports within the compound. 
The drain (far right) where the children played
On raining days, the children would play at the drain which stretched all the way to the main road. Well, I would think of the tadpoles showed up at the pond drain or the wet 'pond' fields where I used to collect tadpoles in my younger days.
Front entrance
In 1969, as Woodbridge Hospital reached a peak of 2,654 average daily occupancy and there was a need to relieve overcrowding at the hospital and the location of the serene surroundings of the building made it ideal for the Ministry of Health to set up a secondary 
institution there.

Used to be counter for Enquiries
When I stepped into the main building, the window grille I saw, used to be counter for Énquiries if I could remember and there is a door next to the counter that used to be "Ádmission".
Anti-suicide Stair Protection
I have seen many stairwell with anti-suicide stair protection in other places/countries, be it restaurants at old buildings, hospitals, lunatic Asylum building, old folks homes...etc.
Closeup: Anti-suicide netting
Anti-suicide stair netting protection was installed after the incidents over the years at the hospital.
Grilled gate locked for prevention
The grilled gate installed to prevent patients ruining up to the rooftop/watchtower, similar to one of my oldest uncles' 3-storey bungalow's spiral staircase on the 3rd level.
The watchtower
Selfie posed at the watchtower
At the watchtower, again I took a 'quick' selfie with these beautiful ladies - Louise and Catherine before going to bomb shelter which is on the ground below.
The empty field once the site of the old Swing
At the watchtower, I spotted the small 'empty' plot of field that used to be the site of '7' wooden board swings where the 'sick' patients seat on the wooden board if I could
remember. The '7' wooden board swings just next to the 'long' drain (longkang), located facing the main building (front) as if I could remember.

Lighting Conductor is seen at the top
In June 1972, the building was handed over to Woodbridge Hospital (WH). Concrete plans were then put in place in July 1973 to convert it into a secondary mental hospital, about S$700.000 project (relieved overcrowding at WH) for the rehabilitation of less severely-ill patients on their way to recovery, officially completed on 27 May 1975 and commissioned on 1 August 1975. The first batch of patients were admitted to the hospital on 4 August 1975 - 35 patients set foot in View Road Hospital, a psychiatric facility with 250 beds for the rehabilitation of patients with chronic schizophrenia. Ward 21 of WH was converted into a new psychiatric Outpatient Department while Ward 23 became a medical ward. Patients at the view road hospital would undergo a rehabilitation programme to learn some useful trade such as woodwork, laundry, tailoring, basket-making and toy-making, was expected to help them recover faster and form a pool of semi-skilled workers on their return
to society. It reported stated that the 3-storey building was renovated on the lines of
rehabilitation hospital rather than hospital wards.
In 1990, the hospital began to take in female patients and the following year, the hospital undergoing major renovations. By 1994, there were close to 294 patients housed at the
Psychiatric rehabilitation has been carried out in View Road Hospital since 1975. The training and programmes have been developed over the years and were individualised according to each patient's abilities, handicaps and needs.
Ground floor at the left of the main buidling
There were 2 sick bays - the ground floor of the main building building would accommodate among other things, 9 rooms with 33 beds, 2 sick bays with 12 beds an administrative office, charge nurse/medical officers' office, a treatment room, a staff room, a barber shop and a large dining hall for 125 patients. The 1st floor housed 19 rooms with 89 beds, an area for craft work and a tailoring department, while the 2nd floor had 38 rooms with 128 beds. Recreational faculties would be provided. There was occupational therapy at the workshop connected to the left of the main building.
Used to be Offices
 The spacious hall
 Spacious Kitchen 
The spacious Kitchen which is inside the building at the ground floor.
Another Kitchen outside the building 
Kitchen shelter in the middle (foreground)
There are two sections of kitchen of which one is outside next to it along the kitchen corridor in between. The hospital chefs and cooks had to prepare meals so that the sick patients will get the food intake which they need to help with recovery.
In View Road Hospital was on work rehabilitation and social functioning so that the patient can adapt to outside life. Its success is reflected in the Day Release Scheme. Of the 250 patients in View Road Hospital, 92 patients were on the 'Day Release Scheme' that was happened to be one of my relatives who developed mental problem after his wife passed on. The 'Day Release Scheme' was to identify factors that contributed to the chronic patient's quality of life from both the patients' and staff's point of view. This included in any lack of congruence between staff and patient perception as these could have significant implications for planning long-term care. In 1997, 50 of the patients under the Day Release Scheme at View Road Hospital and the staff were given a modified questionnaire concerning the patients' quality of life.
View Road Lodge (2008)
This former view road 'mental' hospital converted into foreign workers' dormitory called 'View Road Lodge' in 2008 which I heard from an old friend (happened to be my primary school classmate) whose friend who was a lodge manager, in charge of view road lodge. There was some incidents like fighting among workers are very common...Here it went like this...."Most workers' dormitories have at least two burly, specially trained guards on duty at any one time. They will conduct spot checks every hour when there are workers around. Said his friend, lodge manager at View Road Lodge in View Road: 'You cannot employ any normal general worker to be a security guard at a workers' dormitory. You need someone who is fierce and can take control of difficult situations." But before that it was called "View Road Worker Dormitory" at that time after the hospital ceased in 2001. This former hospital has been managed by different operators and rented out for the workers' accommodation thru MOM.
former NB Police unit became Workers' room
The fighting among the workers are When fights break out and cannot be stopped, the guards will first threaten to call the workers' employers. This tactic is usually successful as workers are most afraid of being repatriated. But if the fight continues, the police will be called in. Normally....the dormitory, which houses 3,000 workers, has never had a fight since it started operating years ago. Other dormitories prefer a simpler method of keeping peace: providing more space and better facilities.
Washing bay
The View Road Lodge managed by Tonga Engineering Pte Ltd (incorporated in Mar 2008 till July 2017).Tonga Engineering was to operate and manage foreign workers dormitory in Singapore for building construction industry, and also in partnership with expertise set-up tower crane leasing. The lodge allowed residents to install their own TV sets in their rooms so that they will not have to share the common set. Gambling, drinking, cooking and bringing girls back are all not allowed there. 
 Hindu Shrine outside at Bomb Shelter
Closeup: Hindu Shrine
They also built shelter for their deity (hindu god) outside at the bomb shelter which we saw it on that day during the tour supported by SLA. At that time, there was no Hindu Deity when it became View Road Hospital.
 An above ground Bomb Shelter (front)
An above ground Bomb Shelter (back)
The bomb shelter (Rimau Bomb-Proof Office 1941) surprisingly built on above ground rather than underground in those times. At the back of the bomb shelter which is toilet door.
 Spotted a spoon inside bomb shelter
Inside the bomb shelter, I spotted a spoon (below foreground) in the drain that was left by foreign workers when they moved out. What it has got to do with foreign workers inside the bomb shelter? Cooking inside the bomb shelter?
Lizard eggs on the wall
Spotted dozens of lizards eggs on the wall inside the bomb shelter.
 Exposed bricks wall
The door to the shelter rooms and toilets
we came in by the door
High ceiling inside bomb shelter
Generator room inside bomb shelter
fluorescent lamps on top of the tank
Spotted the fluorescent lamps on top of the 'red' tank, a table and a vintage Handsaw in the room.
Toilet door inside bomb shelter
Toilet door outside bomb shelter
The toilet door which is outside at the end of the bomb shelter
Sharing a toilet room?
There would possibly sharing a toilet during in crisis or whatever in cramped space. The bomb shelter would accommodate hundreds of people in each hall/rooms.
After walked about an hour and 45 mins, it's time for us to end our tour. My hubby left early before me and went back to his office to check on his foreign workers. As I was walking out of the gate, I took some shot of the gate and then I heard Harry calling out, I turned around....and then....Click!
Hooray! Harry jumped for 'joy' 
Hooray! Harry jumped high for 'Joy' after completed his mission, beside him is JJBB looked on, smiling...
Recent Signage
Trespassers left a mark
As I walking down the road, there is police's signage board that indicated in May 2017, 11 people were arrested for trespassing. That's how trespassers left a '2017' mark on the wall of the stairwell. So don't play play by entering the premise without warning. There is motion sensor CCTV and alarm sound that is monitoring the movements of intruders/trespassers.
The 'former' View Road Hospital is the last two series tour conducted by Jerome with supported by SLA. I am glad to be able to visit the former hospital that I used to visit in the past.


  1. From "TILL THE BREAK OF DAY - A history of mental health services in Singapore 1841 - 1993" - Ng Beng Yeong

    View Road Hospital
    This subsidiary of Woodbridge Hospital consists of a three-storey E-shaped building with 250 beds and space for rehabilitation work. Situated right on the hilltop of View Road, off Admiralty Road West, in Sembawang, it overlooks the Causeway and Johore Bahru Town and is surrounded by lush greenery. The road is thus named as it is on elevated ground, overlooks the dockyard, and from the higher end of it, one can enjoy a good view of the Straits. The idea for a secondary institution arose in 1969 when the inpatient population of Woodbridge Hospital reached a peak of 2,654 average daily occupancy. As Woodbridge Hospital then had a bed capacity for 2,029 patients, there was a dire need to relieve overcrowding at the hospital (WHN, 1981). At that juncture, the British Bases Conversion Unit allotted a three-storey building, then known as ’Batu Rimau Gurkha Barrack’, to the Ministry of Health.

    In June 1972, the building was handed over to Woodbridge Hospital. A project was then drawn up in July 1973 to convert it into a secondary mental hospital. Work on the project started in November 1974 and was completed on 27 May 1975. It was commissioned on 1 August 1975 and three days later, the first batch of 35 patients set foot in the hospital. The main objective was to provide rehabilitation and training for the better long-stay male patients and eventually place them in employment outside the mental hospital (Tan et al., 1979). Rehabilitation then entailed sending patients to work at farms nearby and within the hospital. Farm produce
    was put on sale at Woodbridge Hospital.

    View Road Hospital’s function as a rehabilitation centre gained momentum in the eighties. The initial group sent to the hospital consisted of patients suffering from chronic schizophrenia, mostly in the older age group. With changing role and active rehabilitation, subsequent batches were specially selected for training at the hospital, which emphasised on work rehabilitation and social functioning to facilitate adaptation to life in the community. Through the day-release-scheme implemented in 1984, the residents went out to work in jobs they were trained and selected for, while continuing to live in the hospital which became a hostel to them. This scheme originated as a half-way house concept. Employers worked
    closely with the hospital staff and pre-employment interviews were held for every patient.

    This all-male enclave opened its door to female patients in 1990. The following year saw the hospital undergo major renovations, which consisted of repainting, repairs for the roof, and extensive plumbing and electrical work. In February 1992, there were 230 inpatients, of which 92 patients (40%) had regular jobs outside the hospital (Mahendran, 1993). The other patients remained as maintenance workers for the hospital. The bed complement increased to 290 in 1994.

    Many patients were placed in unskilled jobs in farm environments, which are unpopular amongst the general population. Some were employed to do cleaning contract jobs for large business establishments. There was a need for vocational rehabilitation to move from farming, basketry, rattan work and menial labour to focus on training in production operation, computing and clerical tasks, to prepare patients for and in response to the demand in the job market (WH Souvenir Publication, 1993). However, the limited outlet for rehabilitated patients put a restriction on the efforts of the staff.

  2. Thanks for sharing your memories of the hospital :)

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