The “Corner House”

14 05 2010

On the subject of our lost swimming pools, I was reminded of another one that I frequented in my early primary school days. It was one that I referred to as “Corner House” for sometime, before realising that its name was actually pronounced as “Connell House”. Connell House Swimming Pool belonged to Connell House, which, for a better part of half the twentieth century since 1925, a mission to seafarers. Situated conveniently at Anson Road, close to the old port area along Collyer Quay, where seafarers would come ashore and the newer port area of Tanjong Pagar, it offered lodging to seafarers in transit, as well as catering to the other needs of seafarers. The swimming pool was added in 1955, and operated for a few years after the seamen’s mission at Connell House shut in late 1971 as a private pool. It was during that period that my parents took me there on several occasions, accompanying one of my mother’s colleagues who liked to go to the pool as it was relatively quiet. The entrance fee for guest of members if I remember correctly was $2 which wasn’t cheap by standards back then.

The Fuji Xerox Towers (formerly IBM Towers) which I had mistakenly thought was the location of the former Connell House.

Where a 3 metre high diving platform once rose over a swimming pool, the towers of the Fuji Xerox Towers now rises 165m above the ground where the swimming pool and Connell House stood.

When Connell House shut its doors to seafarers in 1971, the building housed several Government departments and Statutory Boards including the Singapore Telephone Board (the original STB), the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS), and the Public Works Department (PWD) , until the colonial building was pulled down in the 1980s, to make way for the site’s present occupant, the Temasek Tower (former Treasury). I can’t quite remember when the pool closed, but I do remember visiting the pool right up to the time when I was in Primary 4 or 5 which was around 1974 to 1975.

Another view of the Fuji Xerox Towers.


I stand corrected on the location of Connell House, which Peter Chan has correctly placed opposite where International Plaza is today. I did remember it as being close to the Singapore Conference Hall, but was probably confused by its address which had it at 1 Anson Road, which is the address of the Fuji Xerox Towers today. It does appear from the photographs on the PICAS site that it was on the site of what was the cylindrical block that was the Treasury which is now the Temasek Building which rises 235 metres above the ground.

Erratum: Temasek Tower stands in place of Connell House.Where a 3 metre high diving platform once rose over a swimming pool, the towers of the Temasek Tower now rises 235m above the ground.



8 responses

14 05 2010
Philip Chew

I remember seeing Cornell House at Anson Road. Thanks for connecting me back in time.

28 05 2010
Francis Lai

I was working at Cornell House during the TAS days in 1972/1973 period. I remember a swimming pool next to Cornell House. One of my colleagues used to swim there during lunch time ! If I am not wrong the swimming pool was then managed by SAFRA (first SAFRA clubhouse).

29 05 2010
The wondering wanderer

That’s wonderful to know Francis! Any memories of Connell House to share? The swimming pool could have been managed by SAFRA – it certainly wan’t one run by the Sports Council and was rather quiet as swimming pools went. 🙂

10 07 2010

During the early 70s, my mum used to bring me swimming there. I always thought it was called Anson Swimming Pool. We used to go swimming every friday at about 5 or 6pm. It was crowded as heck. Yes, there might be some connection to the army because occassionally the swimming coach will get pissed off at the crowd and relocate his class to another pool at Dempsey camp. My elder cousin was in his class so I get to follow them there. I always wondered about the location of the pool at Dempsey. Anyone remember the place ?

10 07 2010
The wondering wanderer

Hmm – I used to go there in the afternoons and it was very quiet! I don’t know much about Dempsey except trudging up the hill on many occasions to get to the Exit Permit Office!

11 11 2010
Jed Mitter

We swam at Connell regularly because my Dad was in the Poly and an ex seaman.
We had a Singaporean coach called -Alan Ng-Great guy. Thanks for the memories.

1 03 2011
John Martin

A bit late on this thread no doubt, but I am writing an article on Connell House, and the famous christmas parties that were held there either on Christmas Eve or shortly before it, specifically the one of 1962 if anyone remembers it.
Any help would be much appreciated.

John Martin

21 08 2011

Like Jed my Dad worked at the poly and was an ex- seaman – we always swam at Connell House Pool – thanks for the memories.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.