Thursday, March 09, 2017

'Tour of Former Command House'

Signed up for some of the National Heritage Board (NHB) annual 'Battle for Singapore' Tours. Went for 'Tour of Former Command House' at 17 Kheam Hock Road.

Built around 1938 and designed by Frank W. Brewer, the Former Command House was originally known as Flagstaff House for the British General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Malaya, with the surrounding area becoming Sime Road Camp as World War II loomed. The entire camp was vacated in February 1942 and re-established for the bunker at Fort Canning, two days before Singapore fell to the Japanese Imperial Army. Since then, it has seen peace. Now, the UBS Business University occupies the 11.5-acre premises.

It was a grey morning. But this tour is conducted indoors and the rain was of no concern. Heh. It must be the most comfortable tour since it involved air-conditioning and plenty of seats, and easy access to the restrooms. The other tours are done outdoors. Since the building is on a corporate lease now, the rooms all effectively look like seminar rooms.

Our (volunteer) guide was earnest, and came prepared. But we thought she focused too much on the former occupants of the House. We'd have liked her to narrate more about what went on during the years of Japanese Occupation, how the House was used or preserved later on. We already knew as much as the guide had chosen to share that morning. We did our research prior, gleaned from the internet and thumbing through reference books at the library, and even read up on the portion about architecture and bricklay. Yup. We're thorough that way. Oh well. Not everyone can be as dynamic as Jon Cooper. It was still very nice to check out the premises. We lingered for a little and security had to drive by on a buggy to remind us that it was time to leave. :P

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