BSG 2023: a rare opportunity to visit the ruins of Connaught Battery

7 02 2023

The remains of Connaught’s No 3 Gun emplacement

Among the highlights of National Heritage Board’s (NHB) Battle for Singapore (BSG 2023) programme, which runs from 10 February to 5 March 2023 and will feature 30 unique programmes and offer 100 tour runs, will be the rare chance to visit one of the lesser known ruins of Sentosa’s coastal defence batteries, Connaught Battery (Fort Connaught Rediscovery Tour). Normally a restricted site due to reasons of public safety, the site has been opened up to guided visits conducted during BSG 2023. Participants will be able to visit the battery’s badly damaged No 3 gun emplacement, see a Battery Observation Post (BOP) and have a glimpse of the entrance to an underground magazine, a retaining wall of the underground structure, as well as ventilation openings.

The pockmarked BOP

Established in the 1930s on the site of the former Fort Connaught (established in 1878-1879), the battery comprised three 9.2 inch guns that protected the harbour against naval attack from its eastern approaches. Contrary to popular belief, the guns did turn north, firing in the direction of the Causeway, Jurong, Tengah and Bukit Timah at the advancing Imperial Japanese Army during the Battle for Singapore. The guns were spiked and destroyed on 14 February 1942 — the day before Singapore capitulated, but not before all ammunition was used. The guns had little impact on the enemy’s ground forces however as most of the ammunition they had been supplied with were of the armour piercing type. More information on Connaught Battery can be found at: The hidden remains of Sentosa’s big WW2 guns.

The Fort Connaught Rediscovery Tour, which is being held from 9am to 11.30am and 1 pm to 3 pm over three weekends on 11 and 12 Feb, 18 and 19 Feb and 25 and 26 Feb 2023, is priced ar $20 per participant and is recommended for ages 13 and up (minor below the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult/guardian). Tickets will be released on 8 Feb 2023 at 10 am at

I would be personally involved in two programmes, one of which will be a twinned tour of Changi Chapel and Museum (CCM) and Changi Point (two tours on 12 Feb 2023). I will be conducting the outdoor segment of this tour at Changi Point, where I shall be touching on the history of Changi, the reasons for its military sites, why it was chosen as a site to house POWs and touch on some of the documented experiences of POWs in Changi and site that may have been associated with them. Information on this can be found at the CCM website. As with the main BSG 2023 programmes, tickets (priced at $20) will be released on 8 feb 2023 at 10 am.

The second programme that I am involved in is Sembawang, Gibraltar of the East, which will involved a virtual visit on 16 Feb 2023 to some of the sites associated with the former British naval base in Sembawang, an important component of the set up that gave Singapore its reputation as being the “Gibraltar of the East” prior to its inglorious fall. Admission to this, which is being hosted on MS Teams, is free.

Information on the full series of programmes for BSG 2023 can be found at

A sneak peek at the Fort Connaught Rediscovery Tour for BSG 2023 (featuring Saifullah of SDC)

Discovering Singapore’s Best Kept Secrets is back for SG Heritage Fest

5 03 2019

There will be three Discovering Singapore’s Best Kept Secrets guided visits to look forward to this March. Being held as part of Singapore Heritage Festival 2019, the visits will focus on sites used by former hospitals: View Road – former Rimau Offices / View Road Hospital (16 March), Kadayanallur Street – former St. Andrew’s Mission Hospital (23 March) and Halton Road – old Changi Hospital (30 Mar). Places are limited and registration would be necessary.

In addition to the visits, I will also be taking a walk “Down the Middle” in search of the markers that the various communities that have flavoured Middle Road over the years have left behind. The walk will be held at 4 pm on 16 Mar 2019. More information on this can be found at:

At 5 Kadayanallur Street : a 1929 vintage Smith, Major and Stevens lift, .

Information on the Singapore Heritage Festival can be found at the festival’s site. Information related to the Discovering Singapore’s Best Kept Secrets sites being visited can be found at these links:

Discovering Singapore’s Best Kept Secrets is a collaboration with the Singapore Land Authority that allows members of the public to visit to sites and properties managed by the authority that are normally closed to the public.

News on the Discovering Singapore’s Best Kept Secrets series of guided visits:


Discovering Singapore’s Best Kept Secrets: Beach Road Police Station and Barracks

22 09 2017

The barracks have since been demolished to make way for Guoco Midtown. Only the former police station, a conserved building which is being incorporated into the mixed-use development, now stands.

Update 22 September 2017

Registrations have close as all available slots have been taken up as of 10.05 am. Do look out for the next visit in the series (location to be advised) on 21 October 2017.

More on the series:

The sixth in the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) supported series of guided State Property visits, “Discovering Singapore’s Best Kept Secrets“, takes us to the former Beach Road Police Station.

The details of the visit are as follows:
Date : 7 October 2017
Time : 10 am to 12 noon
Address: 99 Beach Road Singapore 189701

The size of the group for the visit is limited to 30 and registrations will be required. To register, kindly fill this form in:

Background to the station and barracks:

The station and two barrack buildings were completed in 1934 at the tail end of a decade of reorganisation for the police force. The efforts also saw the establishment of a Police Training School at Thomson – the old Police Academy, as well as the construction of new stations and living quarters across Singapore, in the face of a relative state of disorder that had prompted comparisons between the “cesspool of iniquity” that was Singapore, a.k.a. Sin-galore, and Chicago.

The complex was a replacement for an earlier station, which had been located further east along Beach Road at Clyde Terrace and was built at a cost of $319,743. The barracks provided quarters for 64 married man in one of its three storey blocks. 80 single men and NCOs were also accommodated in another three storey singlemen’s block in which a mess and recreation room was also arranged on the ground floor. The three storey main station building, described at the point of its construction as being of a “pretentious type”, also had quarters  – for two European and two “Asiatic” Inspectors – on its second and third levels. Its ground floor contained offices, a guard room, an armoury and a number of stores. A cell block – the lock-up – was also arranged “behind the guardroom”, “approached from it by a covered way”.

The station would play a part in a series of tumultuous events that followed its completion. A hundred or so Japanese “aliens” were held in it at the outbreak of war on 8 December, before they were moved to Changi Prison. This was a scene would repeat itself after Singapore’s fall. The station was used as a holding facility for different ethnic groups of civilians including Jews, individuals of various European backgrounds and nationalities, and also members of the Chinese and Indian community, before internment in Changi.

Beach Road Police Station also found itself in the thick of action during the Maria Hertogh riots in 1950, when policemen from the station were sent to quell disturbances in nearby Kampong Glam – only to have the men involved retreat into the station, along with scores of civilians, for safety.

The station served as the Police ‘C’ Division headquarters until May 1988, when that moved into new premises at Geylang Police Station on Paya Lebar Road. The Central Police Division headquarters moved in to the station in November 1992 and used it until 2001 when that moved into the newly completed Cantonment Police Complex. The decommissioned former station was also used by the Raffles Design Institute for some six years. Two sets of quarters, added on an adjoining piece of land – two four storey blocks in the 1950s and a 12 storey block in 1970 – have since been demolished.

The station complex sits on a 2 hectare reserve site that is now the subject of a Government land sales tender exercise and as the successful developer will have the option of demolishing the two barrack blocks as part of the redevelopment, this may be a last opportunity to see the complex as it is. The main station building itself has been conserved since 2002 and will be retained.


Love is very much in the air at i Light Marina Bay 2012

19 03 2012

Love is literally very much in the air around Marina Bay. Visitors to the i Light Marina Bay 2012’s Night Carnival on the Waterfront Promenade just by the Promontory @ Marina Bay would have chanced upon many creating light messages and sketches next to the activity marquee – painted in the air. The activity is one of the more popular ones at the Night Carnival which involves “light painting” – moving hand-held lights through the air to spell words or sketch symbols which is captured using a long enough exposure setting on a camera. Subjects being “light painted” range from expressions of love and smiley faces to birthday greetings and on the evidence of what I observed – expressions of love seem to be the most frequently chosen subject.

LOVE is very much in the air at i Light Marina Bay 2012! Free Light Painting by LUMIX allows participants to paint light messages and sketches which are captured by a camera and emailed to participants.

The activity, Light Painting by LUMIX, is one of several festival fringe activities and events that the weekend crowd can participate in around Marina Bay – images will be sent by email to participants. Visitors to the festival can also catch LED light performers along the Waterfront Promenade, free movie screenings, a Night Carnival at the Promontory, as well as participate in various workshops that are suitable for both the young and the old.

Activity guide for i Light Marina Bay 2012 (click to enlarge).

Performers that roam the Waterfront Promenade include LED Twirlers who colour the night with performances best captured by a camera on a long exposure. In addition to the LED Twirlers, there are also LED Stilt Walkers, junk percussion jammers, story-telling sessions and synchronous lighted kite flying displays to catch on the two more weekends left to do so!

A 30 second exposure of LED Twirlers in action at the Promontory @ Marina Bay over the weekend.

More long exposures of LED Twirlers.

The cluster of marquees by the Promontory where the free light painting activity by LUMIX is held – the location of the festival’s Night Carnival, is also where free coffee by Nescafe is available (given out on a first-come-first-served basis). Two workshops which are held in the area would appeal especially to the kids. One, the Light Catcher Creation Workshop, involves transforming commonly used materials into simple to make, yet gorgeous light catchers. This workshop which is held in the comfortable environment of a Breeze Shelter, takes approximately 45 minutes to complete and costs $6 per participant. The second workshop, “Switch-It” Painting Workshop and Competition, involves the painting of light switches in which one’s creativity can be rewarded – participants are asked to paint the switches with a sustainability message which can be entered into a competition in which the top 3 designs stand to win fabulous prizes (entries should be submitted by 27 March 2012). Do allow for 30 minutes to complete the switch painting which costs $5 per participant. The workshops are held on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 to 9 pm.

The night carnival during the weekends feature activity marquees at which participants can sign-up for free light painting by LUMIX and also the Light Catcher Creation Workshop and the "Switch-It" light switch Painting Workshop and Competition.

The workshops are conducted under the very comfortable Breeze Shelters along the Waterfront Promenade by the Promontory @ Marina Bay.

Materials used everyday go into the making of light catchers. Participate in a Light Catcher Creation Workshop - fun especially for the young, on Saturdays and Sundays from 7.30pm to 9 pm up until 1 April 2012.

Arranging the reflectors.

Finishing up ...

And voilà! A beautiful light catcher that can be easily re-created at home.

Another light catcher.

Besides light catchers, the public can also participate in other activities, including a "Switch-It" light switch painting workshop and competition. The competition offers attractive prizes - submissions should be made by 27 Mar 2012.

Some of the painted light switches on the competition wall.

During the festival, visitors are also able to get on free guided tours which take place on Fridays to Sundays at 7.30pm, 8.30pm, and 9.30pm. Registration is required and closes one day prior to the event on the festival’s website or 30 minutes prior to the specific tour at the festival’s information kiosk. Visitors will have two routes to choose from: Tour 1 starts at Event Square and Tour 2 starts at the Info Kiosk at the ArtScience Museum. For a full list of and a calendar of activities and events, do refer to the activity guide (click here).

More expressions of love ...

A smiley face ...

All photographs in this post have been taken with a LUMIX GF-3.

About i Light Marina Bay 2012:

i Light Marina Bay 2012, the second edition of Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival, will be held from 9 March to 1 April 2012. Themed “Light Meets Asia”, i Light Marina Bay 2012 features innovative and environmentally sustainable light art installations by 31 multi-disciplinary artists, with a strong focus on works from Asia. The festival is organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in collaboration with Smart Light Singapore. i Light Marina Bay will be on nightly from 7.30pm to 11.00pm from 9 March to 1 April 2012. For more information, please visit In conjunction with the festival, LUMIX is running a photography competition for which participants who can capture the magical atmosphere created by the light art installations around Marina Bay stand to win attractive prizes. More information can be found at the festival website.