Seletar Camp & Old Lamp Posts

Seletar Camp became operationally ready in 1928, as part of the British’s tactical defence of Singapore in the northern part of the island. The swampy lands were filled in the 1920s, with British planner C. E. Wood placed in charge for the construction of an airbase. In 1929, the Seletar Airbase was officially opened, functioning as an airstrip for commercial aircraft as well as a Royal Air Force (RAF) station.

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As more RAF personnel were deployed to station at Seletar, colonial-styled bungalows were built to house their families. Jalan Kayu, the main road leading to Seletar Camp, became prosperous with booming businesses and activities from the patronising British military.

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Seletar Camp and Airbase were captured by the Japanese in 1942, who renamed it as Seretar Hikojo. With the airbase suffered extensive damages from the bombings, the Japanese forces forced the British and Indian prisoners-of-war to build a new airstrip at Changi. After the war, the British reclaimed Seletar Camp, but the military compound was eventually taken over by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in 1971.

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Seletar was then split into East Camp and West Camp, where much of its eastern part remained restricted from public access until the early 2000s, and the western area, named the Seletar Airport, now functions as an aviation facility for commercial aircraft. The Seletar East Camp formerly housed many SAF combat engineer units. Between 1982 and 1995, it was also the home of Command and Staff College, which had shifted from Marina Hill. The former colonial buildings left by the British were utilised by the military units until 2011.

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Seletar Camp had largely enjoyed its rustic surroundings until the kickoff of the Seletar Aerospace Park project in 2006. Many old buildings were torn down, and some of the roads were expunged. Many of the roads, such as Old Birdcage Road, Morrington Crescent, Battersea Road and Piccadilly Circus, were named in heavy colonial flavours.

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The inner roads of the camp still retained the once-familiar orange-top bus stops. SBS feeder bus service 214E used to ply the routes between Jalan Kayu Bus Terminal and Seletar East Camp in the seventies and eighties at just 10c per trip (214W served the West Camp).

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By early 2013, the aerospace hub project finally extended its arm to an older portion of Seletar Camp. Its front gates were dismantled and the walls bulldozed to the ground. The old barracks were left vacated, quietly waiting for its fate to be sealed with eventual demolition.

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Some post-Second World War lamp posts can be found at the boundaries of Seletar Camp (outside Singapore Technologies), which are possibly the oldest functioning lamp posts in Singapore.

For 60 years, they perform their jobs admirably, lighting up the streets inside the Seletar Camp and witnessing the rapid changes of their surrounding environment especially after the mid-2000s.

The designs are simple and elegant, and many modern lamp posts found in Singapore (eg along Holland Road) have similar concepts as compared to these colonial lamp posts.

With the near completion of the new Aerospace Hub, it is reported that these historic artifacts will be relocated to another site inside the camp for preservation.

Elsewhere in Dempsey, there is a similar lamp post located in an old deserted compound (Block 72) at Loewen Cluster of Tanglin Camp.

For abandoned colonial houses at Seletar Camp, refer to Portsdown, Seletar & Sembawang Colonial Houses.

Published: 22 October 2010

Updated: 12 December 2013

24 Responses to Seletar Camp & Old Lamp Posts

  1. Ollie Lim says:

    My parents acquired 3 of such lamp posts in the late 90s when they were replaced with the grey ones in Braddell Heights Estates. I am proud to say that the three lamp posts still stand in my garden!

  2. howard says:

    good old days! i was there serving my national service in 1978 to 1980. then, i was a peaceful place with lots and large green fields. while on duty on a weekend, it was so peaceful and too peaceful at night. today, the place has changed too much. recently, i was there to capture some shots. but, sad to say it has lost its charm.

  3. FL says:

    After my POP, I and my fellow comrades were posted to Seletar East Camp in Feb 1971 until our ROD in Oct 1972. However, we also came back for ICTs until early 80s. Yes, I agree with what Howard had described of the place back then ( greenery, quiet & peaceful), but not now, I think as I did not enter the camp since then. Of course, then, I did not pay attention to the lamp posts as described in your blog. We stayed in the barracks vacated by the British soldiers. When we first came into the camp, the British were still guarding the main entrance to the camp. This place holds many happy memories for me during my NS days.

  4. othman says:

    I served 30 SCE making army bridges at Tekong. We made routine inspection on the bridges by taking a boat from Seletar Camp. We were stranded halfway at Strait of Johore due to engine problem. The boat wash away by strong wind and raining to Johore coastline. We were worried because we carried M16 along. The boat commander managed to repair and continue our journey.

  5. Devil says:

    there are still many such lampost left but mostly in military camps

  6. Ricko says:

    Served in MTTS (Maritime Training Technical School) Selatar West Camp in 1970 after the British Army left. Remember the “Mosquito Bus” that ferry us out of the camp to Jalan Kayu?

  7. Robert Wong Peng Keong. says:

    I was a young 2Lt in 1973 in 35SCE. I went back for 13 years reservist reporting. In 1995, I went back to learn to play golf in SBGC. I love Seletar Base very deeply and used to drive around inside the base for many years just to enjoy the scenery and black and white bungalows. I go back now and all the magic is gone. I am now 61 years old. A part of me has been taken away.

  8. daniel says:

    I remember last time i used to drive past several watch towers in seletar, not sure if they are still around. Its just by the road side, but now the road changes alot…

  9. Seletar has changed a lot in the past 2 years
    Many old colonial buildings in the Seletar Camp were demolished, especially at the East Camp

  10. The entrance to Seletar Camp, 1973


    (Photo credit to Colin Liddel)

  11. geezer466 says:

    I can recall RAF Seletar in the late 1960’s.
    The only military (Brit) seawater swimming pool on the Island and some great Chinese Furniture shops just outside the gate. The family still has some teak and camphor wood furniture purchased from there.

  12. duddexz says:

    some of these lamp posts can still be seen in tengah air base. only thing is that the lamps are modernised as they are still serving the roads…

  13. duddexz says:

    and tengah still has those exact buildings seen in your first few pictures in fantastic condition. they’ve been restored (building repainted, doors windows replaced, the toilet building modernised etc) and looks better than ever. too bad one cant just go in and look at them. they probably aren’t going away anytime soon though.

  14. 100kg war relic that’s over 60 years old found at Seletar construction site

    Tuesday, Sep 03, 2013

    SINGAPORE – Combat engineers and the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team from the SAF have uncovered a 100kg armed war relic that is more than 60 years old at a construction site in Seletar yesterday.

    SAF said on The Singapore Army Facebook page that they were activated yesterday to assess the war relic – an aerial bomb – which had been buried at the construction site.

    “The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team was activated after a 100kg, unexploded war relic was found in a construction site north-east of Singapore earlier today. The team immediately responded to the call of duty and assessed the war relic. The aerial bomb was found to be armed and buried for more than 60 years. Our EOD Team will be disposing it on-site tomorrow,” it said in a Facebook post dated 8.20pm on Sept 2.

    In an update this morning, the SAF said that they are preparing for their EOD Team to carry out a safe and controlled detonation on site.

  15. Denis Williams says:

    I was there 1956-59 with 205/209 Sqdn Sunderlands. A magic place in those days, with The Malcolm Club, swimming pool and cinema.

  16. james says:

    Hangar 72 is in better state than hangar 1072, just discovered the different this morning.

  17. The Oval, RAF Seletar 1968

    Bus stop at Piccadilly Road, RAF Seletar 1968

    A kelong at the Straits of Johor, near Seletar 1969


    (Photo credit: Seletar Dreams group on Flickr: Kit Rabson)

  18. Robin Lewin says:

    I have recently taken over the new website for the RAF Seletar Association. For those interested it is http://www.rafseletar.org you will find plenty of memories of people that have served at Seletar going back to the 1940s

  19. Chris Puxley says:

    Robin Lewin is building a brilliant website for our RAF Seletar Association and I recommend you have good look at the contents if you are interested in the history of the place that is now this new amazing aerospace hub. Whilst I am sorry that many of the old RAF Seletar buildings have had to be demolished, including my old bungalow, No.6 Hyde Park Gate, I am personally pleased that Seletar has a bright new future, still within in the aero industry, for which it was originally built. If you go there, please stop for a few minutes at the old RAF main gate and have a look at the new memorial cairn, commissioned by the RAF Seletar Association to commemorate the period 1926 – 1971 when it was a RAF Station and to all the people, RAF and civilian, who served there and maintained the facility.
    Chris Puxley,
    Chairman,
    RAF Seletar Association

  20. The similarly-designed old lamp post at Bedok Camp

  21. An old photo of the Block 179, used as the former HQ for the RAF Station at Seletar


    (Photo credit: RAF Seletar Association)

  22. Carole duffin says:

    It’s been great to look at these old photos of Jalan kayu. I lived there at jalan tari serempi in 1967/8 and again in 1970&71 when my dad was stationed at RAF Tengah. I went to school at seletar and remember going to the taxi rank every day after school with my 50c to get a taxi to seletar pool where I would meet my mum. Happy days and memories of a great time.

  23. Vincent says:

    I was born in 1957, I lived at 46E Jalan Tari Lilian til 1977. Before 1971 Jalan Kayu and Royal Air Base (RAF) Seletar was a little England in Singapore. All is gone are those days.

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