Old Admiralty House



Old Admiralty House, located at Old Nelson Road, was built in 1939 and served as the residence for the Commodore Superintendent of the Royal Navy Dockyard.1 It was gazetted as a national monument in 2002 and currently houses a private school.2

Description

Old Admiralty House was designed in the Arts and Crafts architecture style.3 It comprises a two-storey brick building and a one-storey wing on its northwest side. Its roof is high-hipped and clad with French terracotta tiles.4

The first storey is heavily stuccoed and painted white, while the second storey is exposed fair-faced brickwork with white joints. The building’s casement windows are made of timber and painted blue.5

History

Old Admiralty House was built in 1939 on 4 ha of land at the British Naval Base in Sembawang which served as the residence for the Commodore Superintendent of the Royal Navy Dockyard.6 It was initially believed to have been designed by British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, however, later research suggests that there is no concrete evidence that Lutyens had designed the house as he had never visited Singapore.7 It was also used as the strategic planning headquarters of the British armed forces during World War II.8 After the war, a swimming pool was built on the premises with the help of 200 Japanese prisoners-of-war.9

The building was named Admiralty House in 1958.10 As Admiralty House, it was the home of the Commander of the Far East Fleet until 1 November 1971.11 Prior to this, it had been known as Canberra House and then Nelson House, and had served as the residence of not only the Commodore Superintendent of the navy dockyard but also the Flag Officer of the Malayan Area.12

Admiralty House was renamed as ANZUK House, when the Australian, New Zealand, and United Kingdom (ANZUK) tripartite force was responsible for Singapore’s military defence from 1971 to 1974. It was occupied by an Admiral and an Air Vice-Marshall.13 After the departure of the ANZUK force, the building was used as Sembawang Shipyard’s recreational club, and later leased to various operators as recreational facilities.14

In 1990, while landscaping was being carried out on the premises, the ground under an excavator collapsed, leading to the discovery of a 30 m2 underground bunker, believed to have been a bomb shelter for the Commodore Superintendent’s workers. There has been speculation that a separate bomb shelter for the Commodore exists and that a tunnel connects Admiralty House to Sembawang Shipyard as part of a network of as yet unexplored tunnels.15

The building was taken over by Yishun Country Club in 1991 and by Karimun Admiralty Country Club in 2001.16

Designation as a national monument and later developments

On 2 December 2002, the building was gazetted as a national monument and renamed Old Admiralty House.17 In January 2007, it became the first gazetted monument to be put up for tender by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA). Earmarked for recreational use, the site was eventually awarded to YESS Group on a three-year renewable lease.18

YESS Group had planned to establish a S$5 million family-oriented recreational club offering a golf course, sporting facilities and adventure courses. It also planned to highlight the historical significance of the site by constructing a replica of a British warship on the premises.19 Slated for opening by October 2007, the completion of the project was delayed, and in 2009 a series of problems surfaced.20

It was discovered that YESS Group had signed on sub-tenants, including several restaurants and a school, without the permission of the SLA. It was also found operating an illegal dormitory comprising air-conditioned metal containers on the site.21 The SLA finally terminated YESS Group’s contract in July 2010 after it repeatedly defaulted on rent payments.22

In 2011, the tender for the site was awarded to FIS Institute, now known as Furen International School.23 Since January 2012, it has been used as the school’s new campus.24



Authors

Justin Zhuang & Alex Chow



References
1.
Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 215. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS]); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 67. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
2.
Koh, G. (2002, December 6). Three historic buildings picked for preservation. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Furen International School. (2016). School description. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Furen International School website: http://www.fis.edu.sg/overview/school-description/
3.
Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 216. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
4.
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 68. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 216. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
5.
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 68. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
6.
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 67. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 215. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
7. Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 215. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS]); National Heritage Board. (2015, June 26). Former Admiralty House. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Roots SG website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-admiralty-house
8.
Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 215. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS]); Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 389. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
9.
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 67. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
10.
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 68. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 215. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
11.
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 68. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 215. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
12.
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 67. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); National Heritage Board. (2015, June 26). Former Admiralty House. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Roots SG website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-admiralty-house
13.
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 68. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 215. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS]); National Heritage Board. (2015, June 26). Former Admiralty House. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Roots SG website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-admiralty-house
14.
Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 215. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS]); National Heritage Board. (2015, June 26). Former Admiralty House. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Roots SG website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-admiralty-house
15.
Yohanna Abdullah. (1992, January 6). Treasure hunt that unearthed not gold or silver, but a WWII bunkerThe Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16.
Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 215. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS]); Different names through the years. (2007, February 7). The Straits Times, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17.
Koh, G. (2002, December 6). Three historic buildings picked for preservationThe Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18.
Singapore Land Authority (2007, May 8). Singapore Land Authority’s first preserved monument on tender gets five million touch-up [Press release]. Retrieved from Singapore Land Authority website: http://www.sla.gov.sg/News/tabid/142/articleid/413/category/Press%20Releases/parentId/97/year/2007/Default.aspx
19.
Cheam, J. (2007, May 9). Old Admiralty House to get makeover as country clubThe Straits Times, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20.
Lim, J. (2009, March 26). Admiral plan still seeking sea legsThe Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21.
Lim, J., & Leow, S. W. (2009, October 16). School told to vacate premisesThe Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22.
SLA to re-launch tender of Old Admiralty House site in Sembawang. (2010, July 1). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
23. Lim, J. (2012, January 26). Admiral Hill takes ‘scholarly’ turn. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Furen International School. (2016). School description. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Furen International School website: http://www.fis.edu.sg/overview/school-description/
24.
Lim, J. (2012, January 26). Admiral Hill takes ‘scholarly’ turn. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resource
Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 215–216.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])



The information in this article is valid as at 27 July 2012 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
Historic buildings--Singapore
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Historic Buildings
Monuments--Singapore
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Monuments
National monuments
Historic buildings
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings