Parting glances: the “mini cantonment” with a view

25 09 2018

The time has come to bid farewell to Normanton Park, a housing estate with a military past in more ways than one. Built on part of the site of the Admiralty’s former Normanton Oil Depot, the estate initially housed regular military officers and their families in an attempt to build camaraderie.

HDB built private estate with a view – Normanton Park.

Completed in late 1977, Normanton Park offered a total of 488 “low-cost” housing units; 440 of which were in its five 23-storey high point-blocks. Another 48 were found in eight 3-storey walk-up apartment blocks. Prices ranged from $36,500 to $39,500 for the 122 square metre point-block units, which were laid out in the same fashion as HDB 5-room point-block flats of the mid-1970s). The larger 153 square metre walk-up apartments were sold at $65,000. These were offered to regular officers of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) with the thought that a cantonment like environment could be created to foster bonding among military officers in the same way officers’ messes did for the British military and also bring wives and families of military officers together.

Residents are in the midst of moving out (one of the eight 3-storey walk up apartment blocks is seen in the background).

Designed and built by the HDB, the estate was also provided with a community hall, space for a supermarket and kindergarten, a multi-storey car-park and recreational facilities such as a swimming pool and tennis courts. It was privatised in 1993 and that was the point when curbs on the sales of its units to non-military personnel were lifted. What made it an attractive prospect was its location and the wonderful views that the estate’s point-blocks offered of the lush green spaces around Alexandra Park and Kent Ridge.  It was sold under a collective-sale arrangement a year ago. Its residents have begun the exodus out of the estate with some saying goodbye to four decades of memories.

The swimming pool.

Plaque

Plaque unveiled by Dr Goh Keng Swee at the official opening of Normanton Park in April 1978 – being removed for safekeeping (photo: courtesy of a resident).


Parting glances …

Playground with the initials of the Normanton Park Residents Association (N.P.R.A.).

The entrance to Normanton Park.


Goodbye….Normanton Park (1978 – 2018) – a video made by an ex-resident


The Admiralty’s Normanton (Oil Fuel) Depot

The Normanton Oil Depot was set up on the grounds of Normanton Barracks and a rifle range in the 1920s to serve as fleet fuel reserves, just as the Naval Base was being established in the north of the island. The depot was set on fire on 12 February 1942 in the final days before the Fall of Singapore. This was to prevent the oil reserve falling into the hands of the enemy.

The Admiralty’s burning Normanton Fuel Oil Depot. The depot was set on fire on 12 February 1942 in the final days before the Fall of Singapore to prevent the oil reserve falling into the hands of the enemy (photo: Queenstown – My Community).

What could be remnants of the Oil Depot …

What may have been a valve pit belonging to the oil depot. Two can be found on the grounds of Normanton Park and one just beyond the perimeter fence.

 

A peek into the pit.

Another look inside.

 


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6 responses

25 09 2018
allen chong

The fuel depot area stretches from normanton park to somewhere just behind Alexander Hospital with railway tracks passing through the depot then onto Tanjong Pegar railway station then. Nothing could be seen today behind the hospital grounds except the tracks where the railway once been.

On Tue, 25 Sep 2018, 12:31 The Long and Winding Road, wrote:

> Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer posted: “The time has come to bid > farewell to Normanton Park, a housing estate with a military past in more > ways than one. Built on part of the site of the Admiralty’s former > Normanton Oil Depot, the estate initially housed regular military officers > and their fami” >

25 09 2018
allen chong

Some pictures of what remains of yhe railway tracks today.

25 09 2018
张育恩

I grew up in the area – my parents rented a walk-up apartment in former military barracks (I think it was called Gloucester Barracks) behind Normanton Park. We had to go through a military sentry post to get home. After Normanton Park was completed, we moved across Ayer Rajah Rd (now the AYE) to Jalan Hang Jebat. I remember playing close to the disused oil tanks behind JHJ, amidst overgrown foliage and forever on the lookout for snakes. Next to JHB was the Gloucester playing fields where I played soccer with the neighbourhood kids (including the daughters of the then-operator of Colbar). I had friends in Normanton Park too – so I often got invited to swim in the pool there. When I did NS, I realised my childhood friend’s father was BG Colin Theseira.

2 10 2018
2 10 2018
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

The oil depot actually stretched across to where Normanton Park and Kent Ridge Park is today – it was a massive tank farm. You will see that in old maps and aerial photos. Btw BMH was only completed in 1940.

2 10 2018
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

1953 Aerial Photograph showing the area around the Normanton Oil Depot::

Area around Normanton Oil Depot (1953)

Aerial photograph of the Normanton Depot Area in 1953 (source: NAS).

B1 – Block 1 Normanton Park
B2 – Block 2 Normanton Park
B3 – Block 3 Normanton Park

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