Heritage centre to showcase old Traffic Police HQ at 28 Maxwell Road

A permanent exhibition about the former Traffic Police (TP) headquarters at 28 Maxwell Road will be housed in the public area of the building, when it re-opens in 2019 as an extension of Maxwell Chambers.
A permanent exhibition about the former Traffic Police (TP) headquarters at 28 Maxwell Road will be housed in the public area of the building, when it re-opens in 2019 as an extension of Maxwell Chambers.PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Long before driving theory tests were computerised or even conducted on paper, they were done orally using a table-top map and toy cars.

"I would ask the testee what the procedure is as the 'car' approaches the 'T-junction'," said Mr Tan Kwong Moh, 71, who used to conduct these tests at the former Traffic Police (TP) headquarters at 28 Maxwell Road. "So he must tell me that he has to slow down, stop, look left and right, and turn on the signal, to get the question right."

In the ground-floor courtyards of the 89-year-old building, traffic police officers would play badminton during their breaks,while suspects were also said to have been lined-up there, said Ms Cassandra Tan, 21.

She is one of six Singapore University of Technology and Design students conducting in-depth interviews with officers who worked in the building, to conserve its heritage. Their memories will be shared in a permanent exhibition housed in the public area of the building, when it re-opens in 2019 as an extension of Maxwell Chambers.

For 72 years until 1999, the neo-classical building was the TP HQ until it moved to Ubi. Built in 1928 by the British colonial government, the Frank Dorrington Ward-designed building had also served as barracks for the police.

It is the people that give the building its character, through their stories and memories, Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah told about 50 TP officers, past and present, yesterday.

"That is why the Ministry of Law worked with the Traffic Police and students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design to launch the Heritage@Maxwell programme - to keep your memories of 28 Maxwell Road alive, and to share them with younger Singaporeans," she said.

From the second half of the year, the 161m-long building will undergo restoration works as part of Maxwell Chambers' $25 million expansion project. The international arbitration centre was established in 2010, and will triple in size following the expansion.

Apart from the heritage exhibit, the refurbished building will also include a 24-hour public thoroughfare, connecting pedestrians from Tanjong Pagar MRT Station to the new Maxwell MRT Station, open-to-sky courtyards, as well as several food and beverage outlets.