Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

June 10, 2008

Old army barracks now a hip hangout for students

Filed under: General — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:25 am

A FORMER home of British and Malayan soldiers has been converted into a hip hangout for students of the Singapore Polytechnic’s Dover Road campus.

Called Moberly, the old barracks, refurbished at a cost of over $1 million, is the last colonial building on the campus.

The building’s original facade is the only thing that has been retained; its interior space has been revamped and reconfigured to accommodate a LAN gaming room, music studios and a study area.

A former British soldier in town for the official launch of the student hub last week said: ‘I’m sure the old soldiers would love it! I’m glad they didn’t knock it down.’

Fond memories came flooding back for the now 70-year-old Barry Hardy as he toured the place, which was his home for six months in 1963, eight years before the British armed forces pulled out of Singapore.

It was not a hard posting. Even back then, the facility was modern and comfortable, compared to tents. It had ceiling fans and mosquito nets were not needed.

Mr Hardy recalled: ‘We had a boot boy to clean our boots, polish the brass and make the beds, a man to do our laundry and an old, very shy Chinese lady to do our mending.’

Singapore Polytechnic began occupying the 33ha Princess Mary Barracks in 1971, when its Shenton Way campus could no longer hold its growing student intake.

The polytechnic demolished most of the colonial buildings there, save for Moberly, which housed the Civil Engineering and Building Department and the School of Nautical Studies.

In the late 1990s, it was renovated and used for co-curricular activities and student camps.

The idea to convert it into a student hub was thus a natural progression from that, said Mr Liew Beng Keong, director of the department of student and alumni affairs at the polytechnic.

To connect current users of the place to history, a museum has been set up in Moberly to display memorabilia like old trophies, teaching aids and historical documents donated by alumni and former staff members. Military insignia donated by former soldiers also take pride of place.

Moberly is fast becoming a hangout for the students.

Nick Koh, 19 and in his third year in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, plays pool there thrice a week.

He said: ‘When we are stressed or tired, we come by here to chill out with friends.’

Source : Straits Times – 13 May 2008

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