Old Changi Hospital



The site of Old Changi Hospital at Halton Road comprises three buildings – blocks 24, 37 and 161.1 These buildings were constructed as part of a military base built by British forces in the 1930s, with the design based on classical colonial bungalows.2 The hospital grounds originally covered 1.3 ha of land off Loyang Avenue, near Changi Village.3 These premises were vacated in 1997, after Changi Hospital merged with Toa Payoh Hospital to form Changi General Hospital.4

Origins and Japanese Occupation
In the early 1930s, the British Far East Command developed a military base in Changi as part of Singapore’s coastal defence to protect the eastern approach to the Johor Straits.5 In 1935, a small hospital for the Royal Air Force in Singapore was commissioned and named the Royal Air Force (RAF) Hospital.6


During the Japanese Occupation (1942–45), the military base in Changi was used as a large prison camp, where at least 50,000 prisoners, including all captured Allied troops, were detained. This caused a great strain on medical facilities in the small hospital, which then moved to nearby Roberts Barracks during the war years.7 When the war ended, the Changi military base reverted to its pre-war functions, and the hospital shifted back to its original premises.8

Post-war period
After Singapore attained independence in 1965, the British Far East Command gradually began their withdrawal from the island, but their military presence in Singapore still continued9 with the formation of ANZUK – a tripartite coalition comprising the Commonwealth Forces of servicemen from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The hospital came under ANZUK’s control in 1971, and was consequently renamed, ANZUK Hospital. In 1975, when ANZUK was  disbanded, the hospital became known as the United Kingdom (UK) Military Hospital.10


As the last of the Commonwealth troops withdrew from Singapore in December 1975, the hospital was handed over to the Singapore government and came under the auspices of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). It was renamed Singapore Armed Forces Hospital, and provided free medical care for SAF personnel and their immediate family members. The hospital gradually extended medical services to the public at the same rates as government hospitals. Services offered at the hospital included general medicine, general surgery and dental surgery.11

At the same time, a former British officer’s club on Halton Road was converted to the Changi Chalet Hospital, and started accepting admissions in January 1975. It provided emergency services to holiday-makers or people with minor ailments as well as x-ray and laboratory services for inmates from Changi Prison, and the armed forces based in Pulau Tekong and Pulau Ubin.12

In 1976, the SAF Hospital was handed over to the Ministry of Health, which combined it with Changi Chalet Hospital. The former was known as the upper block and the latter, the lower block.13 Together, the two facilities made up the 180-bed Changi Hospital, under the governance of the Ministry of Health. However, the 100-metre distance between the two blocks – upper block at Halton Road and lower block at Turnhouse Road – posed some challenges in the administration of the hospital.14 It took hospital staff 10 minutes to walk from one block to another, including having to traverse a flight of steep steps up a hill slope. This led to the duplication of some important services in each block, which made it hard to run the hospital.15

In 1997, Changi Hospital was merged with Toa Payoh Hospital to form a new institution in Simei – the Changi General Hospital.16 At the time of its closure, Changi Hospital had more than 150 staff members.17 Some continued their tenure at the new hospital, but primary administration was undertaken by Toa Payoh Hospital.18

Hospital closure
The vacated buildings at the site of the old Changi Hospital became sought-after set locations for filming local films and television dramas once they became available for short-term rental from the Singapore Land Authority.19 Growing Up, Incredible Tales and Crime Hunters are some of the local dramas that were filmed against its backdrop.20


The former hospital was reputed to be haunted, and became a place of attraction for those interested in paranormal activities. Several websites declared it to be one of the most eerie places in Singapore.21 After nine years of renting it out, the government decided that the site needed to be put to more concrete use that complemented the rustic charm of the neighbourhood.22

In 2006, the Singapore Land Authority put up the site for commercial lease as the first of four properties in the Changi precinct identified for development.23 Among the ideas mooted for the former hospital were to convert it into a school, hostel, chalet or arts venue.24 The tender was awarded to Premium Pacific, a subsidiary of Bestway Properties, which proposed to build a luxurious spa-resort by the first half of 2008. However, the project fell through, and the site was returned to the state in January 2010 after the three-year lease expired.25 The building remains vacant to this day.26

Timeline
1926
: Plans drawn up for a British military base in Changi.27

1927: Clearing of land and construction begin.28
1935: A hospital is built in the British military base in Changi, and named RAF Hospital.29
1942: The British surrender to the Japanese, and the hospital becomes part of a prison camp.30
1945: The Japanese Occupation ends, and the site goes back to being a British military base.31
1971: Control of the hospital is given to the Commonwealth forces from Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom (ANZUK). It is renamed ANZUK Hospital.32
1975: ANZUK Hospital is taken over by the Singapore Armed Forces, which renames it Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Hospital.33
1976: SAF Hospital is handed over to the Ministry of Health, which integrates it with Changi Chalet Hospital to form Changi Hospital.34
1997: Changi Hospital merges with Toa Payoh Hospital to form Changi General Hospital in Simei.35
2006: A tender for commercial lease of the Old Changi Hospital site is awarded to Bestway Properties.36
2010: The site is returned to the government after the three-year lease expired.37



Author

Faizah bte Zakaria




References
1. Singapore Land Authority. (2006, May 29). Old Changi Hospital to reopen to new uses. Retrieved 2016, September 22 from Singapore Land Authority website:

http://www.sla.gov.sg/News/tabid/142/articleid/265/category/Press%20Releases/parentId/97/year/2006/Default.aspx
2. Rajan, T. (2006, October 23). Properties for redevelopment. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Singapore Land Authority. (2006, May 29). Old Changi Hospital to reopen to new uses. Retrieved 2016, September 22 from Singapore Land Authority website: http://www.sla.gov.sg/News/tabid/142/articleid/265/category/Press%20Releases/parentId/97/year/2006/Default.aspx; A new life for former Changi hospital site. (2006, July 31). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. A new life for former Changi hospital site. (2006, July 31). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Probert, H. (2006). The history of Changi. Singapore Changi University Press, p. 17. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 PRO-[HIS]); Chin, K. W. (1983). The defence of Malaysia and Singapore: The transformation of a security system, 1957–1971. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 38. (Call no.: RSING 341.720265 CHI)
6. From ANZUK, UK Military to plain old Changi. (1997, January 29). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Changi General Hospital. (2013). Our history. Retrieved 2016, September 22 from Changi General Hospital website: https://www.cgh.com.sg/AboutUs/Pages/history.aspx
7. Probert, H. (2006). The history of Changi. Singapore Changi University Press, pp. 27–28. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 PRO-[HIS])
8. Changi General Hospital. (2013). Our history. Retrieved 2016, September 22 from Changi General Hospital website: https://www.cgh.com.sg/AboutUs/Pages/history.aspx
9. Campbell, W. (1971, October 30). Pull-out. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10.  Name change. (1971, September 10). New Nation, p. 1; From ANZUK, UK military to plain old Changi. (1997, January 29). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. From ANZUK, UK Military to plain old Changi. (1997, January 29). The Straits Times, p. 2; Lin, L. (2005, January 1). From healing space to filming place. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. From ANZUK, UK Military to plain old Changi. (1997, January 29). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Changi General Hospital. (2013). Our history. Retrieved 2016, September 22 from Changi General Hospital website: https://www.cgh.com.sg/AboutUs/Pages/history.aspx
13. From ANZUK, UK Military to plain old Changi. (1997, January 29). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Changi General Hospital. (2013). Our history: Changi General Hospital, Singapore. Retrieved 2016, September 22 from Changi General Hospital website: https://www.cgh.com.sg/AboutUs/Pages/history.aspx; Farewell bird songs and barbeque smells. (1997, January 29). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Farewell bird songs and barbeque smells. (1997, January 29). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Lin, L. (2005, January 1). From healing space to filming place. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Chia, A. (2016, August 4). Old Changi Hospital: Singapore’s first haunted hospital? Retrieved 2016, September 22 from gov.sg website: https://www.gov.sg/news/content/old-changi-hospital-singapores-first-haunted-hospital
18. Changi patients move to new hospital in Simei. (1997, February 19). The Straits Times, p. 24; New Changi Hospital trains staff to delight its customers. (1997, December 11). The Straits Times, p. 49. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Lin, L. (2005, January 1). From healing space to filming place. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. A new life for former Changi hospital site. (2006, July 31). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Chia, A. (2016, August 4). Old Changi Hospital: Singapore’s first haunted hospital? Retrieved 2016, September 22 from gov.sg website: https://www.gov.sg/news/content/old-changi-hospital-singapores-first-haunted-hospital
22. A new life for former Changi hospital site. (2006, July 31). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Rajan, T. (2006, October 23). Bid to jazz up sleepy Changi: Four pre-war sites up for lease. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. A new life for former Changi hospital site. (2006, July 31). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Project to develop former Changi Hospital into spa resort shelved. (2010, January 31). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Rajan, T. (2006, October 23). Bid to jazz up sleepy Changi: Four pre-war sites up for lease. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Street Directory. (2016). 24 Halton RoadChangi Hospital (former). Retrieved 2016, September 22 from Streetdirectory.com: http://www.streetdirectory.com/sg/24-halton-road-506997/1_79885.html
27. Probert, H. (2006). The history of Changi. Singapore Changi University Press, p. 3. (Call no. RSING 959.57 PRO-[HIS])
28. Probert, H. (2006). The history of Changi. Singapore Changi University Press, p. 7. (Call no. RSING 959.57 PRO-[HIS])
29. From ANZUK, UK Military to plain old Changi. (1997, January 29). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Probert, H. (2006). The history of Changi. Singapore Changi University Press, p. 28. (Call no. RSING 959.57 PRO-[HIS])
31. Changi General Hospital. (2013). Our history: Changi General Hospital, Singapore. Retrieved 2016, September 22 from Changi General Hospital website: https://www.cgh.com.sg/AboutUs/Pages/history.aspx
32. ANZUK likely to take over Changi Hospital. (1971, July 30). The Straits Times, p. 11; From ANZUK, UK Military to plain old Changi. (1997, January 29). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. From ANZUK, UK Military to plain old Changi. (1997, January 29). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. From ANZUK, UK Military to plain old Changi. (1997, January 29). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Lin, L. (2005, January 1). From healing space to filming place. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. Project to develop former Changi Hospital into spa resort shelved. (2010, January 31). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
37. Project to develop former Changi Hospital into spa resort shelved. (2010, January 31). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/



The information in this article is valid as at 26 October 2016 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
Public health
Health and medicine>>Health services
Hospitals--Singapore
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Public Buildings
Public buildings
Historic buildings--Singapore
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
Politics and Government>>Health