Guided tours of best kept secrets in S'pore

Above: Visitors can sign up for guided tours of places like the "A" power station in Pasir Panjang, which was built in the 1950s. Left: The now empty turbine hall.
Visitors can sign up for guided tours of places like the "A" power station in Pasir Panjang, which was built in the 1950s. PHOTOS: JEROME LIM
Above: Visitors can sign up for guided tours of places like the "A" power station in Pasir Panjang, which was built in the 1950s. Left: The now empty turbine hall.
The now empty turbine hall.PHOTOS: JEROME LIM

A red-brick building reminiscent of the old National Library Building, stands abandoned in Pasir Panjang.

Known as the "A" power station, it was decommissioned in the early 1980s. Its interior is a mystery to most Singaporeans.

Now, a tour led by heritage blogger Jerome Lim, in collaboration with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), will allow 30 participants to walk through Singapore's second power station, which was completed between 1952 and 1953. The first was national monument St James Power Station at 3, Sentosa Gateway, built in the 1920s.

Mr Lim's two-hour tour will highlight the history and architectural features of the structure as well as the broader history of electricity usage in Singapore.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Mr Lim said: "The scale of the building is even more impressive from within, accentuated by the natural light that streams in."

The visit to the power station is part of a series of eight tours, called Discovering Singapore's Best Kept Secrets. The power station is one of about 5,000 properties, including black-and-white bungalows and conserved and heritage buildings, which are managed by SLA.

SLA has been facilitating requests for short-term use of vacant properties for events but this series of guided visits is the "first of its kind", noted its deputy director of business planning and development Yap Eai-Sy.

Mr Lim said it will be a unique experience for participants to walk through the former power station. He said its wide spanned steel frame structure is similar to that of a hangar. "This steel infrastructure is strong yet lightweight and allows space to be maximised. The building's focal point was its turbine and boiler halls which each used to lie across a long hallway."

Opened by governor Sir John Nicoll in July 1953, the power station helped to address an "acute shortage" of electricity supply in Singapore. "Once it was built, it helped to power Singapore's industrialisation programme of the early 1960s in Jurong," added Mr Lim.

The tours, set to take place every fortnight from Saturday till November, also include visits to heritage sites such as the Old Kallang Airport, the former Central Police Station, Adam Park Estate and the restored former Kinloss House at 3, Lady Hill Road, off Orchard Road.

The former Kinloss House was built in the 1900s as the private residence of colonial engineer Alexander Murray. Over the years, it had several occupants.

For instance, it was used as the residence of the Japanese consul, then it became a British officers' mess, and eventually a boarding house for children of British military personnel. Its most recent occupant - AXA University, which restored the building - has since vacated.

Slots for the tour are limited and are on a first come, first served basis. A link to register will be posted two weeks before each visit. Find out more at www.facebook.com/thelongnwindingroad/

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 23, 2017, with the headline 'Guided tours of best kept secrets in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe