Sembawang residents to conduct heritage tours of the area

Participants at the heritage trails' launch event riding trishaws at Sembawang Park, on Sept 26, 2021.
ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Sembawang may be better known for its natural hot spring, but the area's naval history and mosaic of cultures will be highlighted in upcoming guided tours of the area.

The tours will be led by residents in partnership with community clubs in the area, said Sembawang GRC at a heritage event at Sembawang Park on Sunday (Sept 26). One hundred residents have volunteered as heritage guides.

The event was attended by the area's five MPs - Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, Dr Lim Wee Kiak, Ms Mariam Jaafar, Ms Poh Li San and Mr Vikram Nair.

Details on the upcoming tours are still being worked out due to the evolving Covid-19 situation, but updates on when they will be held will be posted on the constituency's social media channels and at lift lobbies in housing blocks in the area.

Three heritage trails in Sembawang, spanning a total of 20km, had earlier been curated and launched by the National Heritage Board.

Each of the self-guided trails, which members of the public can explore using maps found on roots.gov.sg, covers a different aspect of the region's history.

The 7km Historical Landmarks of Sembawang trail, for instance, will guide participants on a journey through time, featuring sights that mark the major milestones of the area.

These include, for example, the Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple. The origins of the temple can be traced back to 1962, when Hindu dockyard workers of the former Sembawang Naval Base first built a small shrine under a tree near Canberra Road. The temple relocated to its current site in 1996.

The trail will also take history buffs to the "Sembawang strip" of shophouses that once housed popular watering holes frequented by visiting sailors, and end at Sembawang Hot Spring Park. The natural hot spring was first discovered in the early 1900s.

The 8km Communities of Sembawang trail spotlights people from the area and its neighbourhoods, featuring, for instance, black-and-white houses that were built in the 1930s as homes in the naval base for British staff.

A former campsite popular among young people and communities of yesteryear is also on this route. Today, the site of the former Kampong Tengah Holiday Camp is occupied by its modern reincarnation, PAssion WaVe@Sembawang facility, which also offers campsites and sea sports.

(From left) Sembawang Heritage Trail volunteer Alwis Lim guiding Sembawang GRC MPs Vikram Nair, Mariam Jaafar and Lim Wee Kiak, and Canberra citizens' consultative committee chairman Norman Aw at Sembawang Park. PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Beaulieu House is featured on the 5km-long From Dockyard to Shipyard route that traces the history of the Sembawang Naval Base. PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The third trail is the 5km From Dockyard to Shipyard route that traces the history of the Sembawang Naval Base, which opened in 1938 and closed in 1971.

On this trail, people can explore the various landmarks that were part of the naval base, such as the former Sembawang Shipyard. This is now known as the Sembcorp Marine Admiralty Yard.

Entry is not allowed, but people can catch a glimpse of the Sembawang Fire Station - gazetted as a conserved building in 2007.

Dr Lim said at Sunday's event: "Many parts of Sembawang have retained the kampung feel and it is important for us to protect it for future generations to come."
Engineer Gayathiri Thamilarasu, 37, was one of the Sembawang GRC residents who attended the event.

Miss Gayathiri, who moved from Clementi to the area in 2013, said she was less familiar with the other areas of Sembawang than her immediate neighbourhood in Sembawang Close.

"With Covid-19 now, we can't really go overseas and stuff. So it's a good chance to learn more about my country."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.