Former Singapore Badminton Hall



Located on Guillemard Road, the former Singapore Badminton Hall was built to host the 1952 Thomas Cup, first held in England in 1949 and won by the Malayan team. Although the games did not eventually take place in the building, subsequent Thomas Cup matches in 1955 and 1958 were held there. Over the years, the hall was also used as a venue for other sporting matches, entertainment activities and key political events.

Background
In the early years, competitive badminton games were played in the Singapore Volunteer Corps Drill Hall on Beach Road. However, tournaments often had to be delayed due to the venue being booked for other events.1 After Aw Boon Haw, patron of the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA), constructed a hall for the Clerical Union on Rangoon Road, matches were played at the badminton court  in the hall.2 However, the hall proved to be inadequate for tournaments due to the inadequate lighting for competitive matches and heat emanating from the zinc roof.3


In the 1930s, there were calls for a purpose-built badminton hall with several letters and articles appearing in the newspapers.4 A site near the Post Office Club on Serangoon Road was selected. The project, however, was abandoned, possibly due to the death in 1939 of then SBA president, Chua Keh Hai.5

In February 1949, the Malayan badminton team won the inaugural Thomas Cup tournament in England.6 This meant that Malaya would have to host the next Thomas Cup in 1952.7 Lim Chuan Geok, then president of SBA, called for the construction of a badminton hall to host international badminton tournaments.8 In May 1949, a committee chaired by prominent local laywer John Laycock was formed to raise funds for building the hall.9

In 1950, the government announced plans to build a stadium on Anson Road that would house a badminton hall.10 This led to the belief by the public that a separate badminton hall would no longer be required, thereby resulting in dwindling donations for the new hall.11 When the project came to a standstill in February 1951, SBA’s hall committee resumed the fundraising campaign.12

Construction and key developments
In August 1951, the colonial secretary approved a site along Guillemard Road for the badminton hall.13 Ng Keng Siang was the building’s architect, while the contractor was C. H. Tong’s Union Construction Company.14 The hall was officially opened on 7 June 1952 by then Governor John F. Nicoll.15 At the time of its opening, the building had two canteens, four badminton courts and a seating capacity of 7,126.16

Although the badminton hall was completed in time for the second Thomas Cup tournament in 1952, the decision had already been made in March 1952 to hold it at the Happy World Stadium,17 where Malaya successfully retained the cup.18

In 1955, the Malayan team took the Thomas Cup for the third consecutive time.19 In 1958, however, Malaya lost the tournament to Indonesia.20

By the 1980s, the hall was overused and there was a need for more modern training facilities.21 Consequently, the SBA built and opened a S$5.5-million club house next to the hall, facing Lorong 22 Geylang, in 1986.22 The club house was fully paid for by donations.23

Financial problems
The construction costs of the Singapore Badminton Hall were estimated at $300,000 in February 1951, but had tripled to nearly $800,000 by the time the building was completed in June 1952. The final costs were calculated to be about $850,000.24 Disagreements over proposed ancillary facilities that had increased the construction costs, as well as concerns over raising sufficient funds to pay for them, led to Laycock’s resignation as SBA’s hall committee chairman in September 1951.25 A new committee under Tan Lark Sye was formed in May 1952.26 The hall’s completion was made possible with a $250,000 loan from Aw, and the building’s general contractor, C. H. Tong, agreeing to continue work without payment.27

The financial problems continued long after the hall opened. In 1954, G. E. Morris & Co. had the hall’s electrical fittings seized and auctioned off to cover the outstanding $9,460.98 that the hall had owed the company.28 Fortunately, Aw and the General Electric Co. purchased the fittings and “lent” them back to the hall.29 In the same year, Lim Chuan Geok retired as SBA’s president but  continued to run the hall until 1958 when the government took over the operations.30 For the next two decades, SBA continued to clear the debts, which were transferred to the Singapore Sports Council in 1978, together with ownership of the hall.31

Historic site
Besides badminton training sessions and matches, the Singapore Badminton Hall was also the venue for other sports tournaments such as sepak takraw, table tennis and taekwon-do.32

In the 1950s to ’60s, the hall witnessed significant events in Singapore’s history. It served as the site for key political events, such as the election victory rally by the People’s Action Party in June 1959. It was also the vote counting station for the merger referendum in September 1962.33

Entertainment events such as plays, movie screenings as well as music and dance competitions were also held regularly in the hall.34 Striptease dancer Rose Chan performed at the hall between 1956 and 1957,35 while Radio Singapore staged its Puspawarna Singapura variety shows there in 1959 and 1960.36 The concert by British pop group The Rolling Stones in 1965 was preceded by Cliff Richard and the Shadows, whose 1961 performance was a strong influence on local popular music in the 1960s.37 In addition, the hall was a coveted performance venue among local bands such as The Quests and The Trailers.38

On 1 September 1999, the hall became the first sports facility to be marked as a historic site by the National Heritage Board.39

In July 2007, SBA was informed that the hall’s lease would end in January 2008, following which the annual rental would be increased from under S$100,000 to S$1.164 million.40 As a result, the hall was closed down and SBA moved to the Singapore Sports School in Woodlands.41 In May 2009, the hall was reopened by Turf City Management – after a S$2-million refurbishment – as Guillemard Village, an entertainment-cum-food and beverage centre.42



Author
Bonny Tan



References
1. All ready for junior singles and doubles. (1935, May 19). The Straits Times, p. 20; The world of badminton. (1933, November 12). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Clerical Union. (1933, February 21). The Malaya Tribune, p. 7; Clerical Union. (1933, June 1). The Malaya Tribune, p. 13; What’s on?: Public functions and sports fixtures. (1934, October 12). The Malaya Tribune, p. 6; S.B.A. wants hall of their own. (1950, June 12). The Singapore Free Press, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Badminton hall for Singapore. (1935, April 21). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. The world of badminton. (1933, October 29) The Straits Times, p. 15; Badminton hall for Singapore. (1935, April 21). The Straits Times, p. 19; A badminton hall for Singapore?: Finding future stars. (1934, July 15). The Straits Times, p. 19; ‘Dragon’. (1936, November 15). Need of badminton halls in Malaya. The Sunday Tribune, p. 19; Another plea for a badminton hall. (1938, January 23). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Is Singapore Badminton Hall project abandoned? (1939, March 11). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Feather. (1948, September 12). Thomas Cup open to all nations. The Straits Times, p. 10; Lee, S. Y., & Reuters. (1949, February 27). Malaya wins the Thomas Cup. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Victory with honour. (1949, February 28). The Malaya Tribune, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Ferroa, R. (1949, March 2). Cup team will see latest lighting. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Badminton hall plans take shape. (1949, May 20). The Singapore Free Press, p. 7; Pen sketches of the new members. (1948, March 21). The Sunday Tribune, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. ‘Bold plan’ for Anson Rd. stadium. (1950, April 26). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Sharpshooter. (1950, November 19). Shuttlers anxious about the Badminton Hall. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Hall site ‘certain’; S.B.A. will build. (1951, February 28). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Playing fields proposal. (1951, August 11). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. And the hall is going up. (1952, March 18). The Straits Times, p. 12; Thomas Cup final may go to K.L. (1951, December 22). The Straits Times, p. 16; New C’ttee elected to take over hall project; Lauds Aw aid. (1952, May 11). Sunday Standard, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Diemer, C. (1952, June 7). World’s best shuttle stadium opens today. Singapore Standard, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Diemer, C. (1952, June 7). World’s best shuttle stadium opens today. Singapore Standard, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Happy World will be Thomas Cup venue. (1952, March 10). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Malaya’s cup – and how they cheered. (1952, June 2). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Leong, H. M. (1955, June 6). But only after grim struggle. Singapore Standard, p. 12; Mr. G. keeps an eye on the ‘bird’. (1955, June 5). Sunday Standard, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Bryce, C. (1958, June 16). Teh Kew San saved Malayan prestige. The Singapore Free Press, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Ong, T. C. (1986). Address by Mr. Ong Teng Cheong, Second Deputy Prime Minister and President of the Singapore Badminton Association at the official opening of the SBA Club House. In The official opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986. Singapore: Singapore Badminton Association, [p. 3]. (Call no.: RCLOS EPHE O762)
22. Tan, H. D. (1986). A look back. In The official opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986. Singapore: Author, p. 27. (Call no.: RCLOS EPHE O762)
23. Singapore Badminton Association. (1986). The official opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986. Singapore: Singapore Badminton Association, pp. 3, 9. (Call no.: RCLOS EPHE O762)
24. Hall site ‘certain’; S.B.A. will build. (1951, February 28). The Straits Times, p. 12; Public give $184,942 to Badminton Hall Fund. (1952, June 23). Singapore Standard, p. 7; Save the hall appeal. (1954, March 11). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Laycock, J. (1951, September 6). Mr. Laycock’s letter. Singapore Standard, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Laycock opposes S.B.A.’s $600,000 hall plan, quits. (1951, September 6). Singapore Standard, p. 12; New c’ttee elected to take over hall project; Lauds Aw aid. (1952, May 11). Sunday Standard, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Badminton Hall: Aw Boon Haw gives big loan. (1952, May 9). Singapore Standard, p. 1; Badminton hall ‘hero’ is contractor. (1952, May 11). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. James, J. (1954, February 7). Creditor blacks out the stadium. Sunday Standard, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. SBA records thanks to Aw & GEC. (1954, April 7). Singapore Standard, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Shuttlers vote for Cheng Chye. (1954, April 11). Sunday Standard, p. 17; Lim, K. C. (1958, February 11). Hall is ‘transferred’ without any fuss. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Singapore Badminton Association. (1986). The official opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986. Singapore: Author, p. 25. (Call no.: RCLOS EPHE O762); Singapore Sports Council. (1978). Singapore Sports Council annual report 77/78. Singapore: Author, p. 24. (RCLOS 354.5957093 SSCAR-[AR])
32. Wang, J. (2007, July 29). Start saying goodbye. The Straits Times, p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. 9,000 unionists roar ‘Merdeka’ as they pass 5 resolutions. (1959, June 29). Singapore Standard, p. 1; Sam, J. (1962, September 1). Merger D-day in S’pore today. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. Wang, J. (2007, July 29). Start saying goodbye. The Straits Times, p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Stripper Chan comes to town. (1956, April 4). The Singapore Free Press, p. 10; Page 4 advertisements column 1: Rose Chan. (1957, March 25). Singapore Standard, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. Nightclub singers ‘steal’ variety show. (1959, December 8). The Singapore Free Press, p. 3; Puspawarna Singapura again please the crowd. (1960, February 2). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. Yong, J. (1965, February 18). Stones lose to the firecrackers. The Straits Times, p. 11; Cliff big hit here. (1961, November 19). The Straits Times, p. 5; Choy, S. (1982, April 15). For love of the sixties. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. 1965: Those were the days. (1990, July 6). The Straits Times, p. 4; Two-night Yuletide performance by Quests quartet. (1965, November 15). The Straits Times, p. 22; Stomping at pop show. (1966, December 15). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
39. Tan, H. Y. (1999, September 2). ‘Hall of dreams’ makes history. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
40. Wang, J. (2007, July 29). Start saying goodbye. The Straits Times, p. 38; Wang, J. (2007, July 28). Singapore Badminton Hall likely to close in Jan. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
41. Wang, J. (2007, September 25). SBA to get new home at Sports School. The Straits Times, p. 36; Athletics, table tennis moving to Sports School in Woodlands. (2007, November 1). The Straits Times, p. 42; Tan, J., & Voon, T. (2009, April, 6). Badminton hall reborn as F&B, leisure hub. The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
42. Tan, J., & Voon, T. (2009, April, 6). Badminton hall reborn as F&B, leisure hub. The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
Sports and games
Recreation>>Sports
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Public Buildings
Public buildings
Badminton (Game)--Singapore
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
Sports, recreation and travel>>Ball games>>Racket games>>Badminton
Halls--Singapore