Thursday, May 29, 2008

Air raid shelters

A five storey block in Guan Chuan Street is where the air raid shelter was located during the World War II.

When the Japanese bombarded Singapore in 1942, residents in this area dashed to the shelters for cover.

(Watch the following YouTube video for more information

The shelter could accommodate between 200 and 300 people.

During the war, bombs were dropped and hit the roof but the shelter was not damaged beyond repair. In fact, repair works were carried out to the shelter soon after it was hit by bombs.

Today, these air raid shelters have been decommissioned. The only shred of usefulness the Tanjong Pagar Town Council could think of was to use them to store their spare rubbish bins.

What a tragedy!

Whoever is sitting at the Tanjong Pagar Town Council or the Bukit Merah Branch Office, here’s a question for you think of during your spare time.

Why not open these air raid shelters to the public? Or turn these air raid shelters into a Tiong Bahru museum to showcase the history of this wonderful housing estate?

Why should this piece of history be allowed to fade into oblivion?

Maybe it is just plain laziness that no one bothers to explore the options. Sigh.


Did you know that these air vents could only be found along Block 78 Guan Chuan Street within the entire Tiong Bahru Estate?

These air vents are only visible from air well of the top most homes located along Blk 78 Guan Chuan Street

These air vents originates from the air shelters below. And since these air-raid shelters are only located under block 78 Guan Chuan Street, no other blocks has such a feature.

Below is a simple illustration to show the difference.

Units with windows that opens to the airwell

Units without windows as they are blocked by the ventilation shaft


Dr Lee Siew Peng said...

On the day I learned that my old irreplaceable (priceless, even), Brownie uniform has been given to Salvation Army I am thrilled to find a site dedicated to Tiong Bahru. I lived in Tiong Poh Road just across from what was an entrance to College Field (the playground of Medical students, now an expressway), a stone's throw from Tiong Bahru Primary School from where I went on to RGS.

I just love the 'curves' in the Tiong Bahru flats. I wonder if someone could help me contact the people who now live in the flat I once did before being moved to Queenstown. I would love my husband and my son to see the place which was my first home. (We now live in London.)

Our own flat overlooked the old community centre. Spiral staircase. Mum used to keep a roof top garden on the ledge overhanging the 'five foot way'. She climbed out of a window to water the plants! It would be illegal to do so now. Grandma and uncles were in Eng Watt Street, and another uncle was in a flat with those semi-circular stairwells at Seng Poh Road. Mum used to buy her provisions from a shop called 'Peng Peng'. Inter-School Christian Fellowship was at Bo Bo Tan Gardens.

I was not amused to find that my old school has been turned into a power station. Is it possible to have a map on your site?

There is something very calming about Tiong Bahru. I hope the authorities would look to as much conservation as possible. A country of civilization needs places of history. We rip up the old and bring in the new all the time and one day we would feel -- like I did this morning -- that a piece of me died, my old well-starched Brownie uniform around which I was going to tell stories to my son is gone.

Thank you so much.

Real Estate Supplies said...

i lived in singapore for a few years and went to the overseas family school on patterson. My dad showed me these where the air raid shelter was located during the World War II. So you brought back some great memories, thank you!


a_135owenrd said...

My family lived in Chay Yan Street, in 21 Jan 1942, my mother took refuge in the Tiong Bahru air-raid shelter, she went into early labour, and I was born quarter past midnight in that shelter. She was attended to by obstetrian gynaecologist Dr English. I am thankful for the Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter.