03 January 2011

Old Singapore Quiz (22) - Old Building - Answer

Nobody gave the correct answer for this quiz although YG did make an intelligent guess, as always, by saying that the building must be near my place of work. I don't think the quiz was too difficult but rather, there seems to be very few visitors to this place - Labrador Villa Road in Labrador Park and hence not many people know what it has to offer. Why do I say that? Well, I visited Labrador Park on the morning of 29 Dec 10, a Saturday and there was not a single soul in sight!

Almost all the facilities in the park were closed. They include the old building which, according to a location map in the vicinity, was originally designated a boutique hotel. I do not know whether the hotel business actually did materialise or not.

Other facilities that were closed include:

The secret tunnels.

The tunnels were "rediscovered" only in 2001 and officially opened by Minister for National Development Mr Mah Bow Tan not too long ago in March 2005.

Now they are "closed for maintenance".

The Villa Raintree Resort and Spa, which used to house the Pasir Panjang Boys' Hostel from 1980s till the early 1990s and then Breakthrough Missions till the early 2000s.

The creepers on its signboard look creepy.

The Olive Ristorante.

Even the toilets were closed. And definitely not for cleaning.

This statue in Labrador Park seems to be on the constant lookout for the precious and elusive visitor.

Considering the dearth of visitors, why do you think Labrador Park is now undergoing "maintenance"? Surely cannot be due to wear-and-tear because of heavy human traffic, right? And how come the supposedly "maintenance" does not have an expected completion date? Like Mandai Orchid Garden which "has been losing money from Day 1", according to its owner Mr Heah Hock Heng, I believe Labrador Park is suffering the same fate. Only difference is that Labrador Park is losing Government's, or more rightfully, taxpayers' money. Mr Heah continues to operate the Mandai Orchid Garden at a loss because of his passion for orchids. However, the same cannot be said for Labrador Park visitors. I don't think visitors are passionate enough about history and heritage to be willing to fork out $8.60 just to explore the secret tunnels at the park. Thus, the tunnels are likely to remain secret... or be "closed for maintenance" indefinitely.

What do you think?


Andrew said...

The company (Singapore Explorer) which was hosting the Secret Tunnels closed down, or rather stopped manning the tunnels, i believe.

Thanks for sharing the nice visit you had. :)

Victor said...

Thank you for your comment, Andrew.

I was also wondering whether the road name "Labrador Villa Road" originated from this old villa. Do you know if this is so?

Peter Stubbs said...

I have a copy of an 1895 map of Pasir Panjang/Batu Berlayar, and on it is marked, “Labrador Villa”. There are no roads on the map, only tracks, so I think that we can take it that when the road was built it adopted the Villa’s name.

Victor mentions the “Labrador Secret Tunnels” in his blog. Singapore seems to have an obsession with tunnels. I quite often discuss “tunnels” with Singaporeans who have an interest in military history. There are only a few real tunnels from the old military days. Most of what people call “tunnels” are actually, like those at Labrador, magazines for coast artillery guns. I get really annoyed at the Sentosa people for calling the magazines and underground complexes at Fort Siloso “tunnels”. That’s it, rant over, Victor was only reporting what is on the signs.

Keep up the good work Victor. I was actually using Google Street View to try to find the building, looking at what I thought were likely spots.

Andrew said...

Peter is quite right bout the commercialized 'Secret Tunnels' of the park, which in fact former casemates for the guns. :)

Icemoon said...

The Chinese words under "Labrador Secret Tunnels" do not mean tunnel but bunker, if this is any consolation, haha

Unknown said...

I was a "resident" of the Pasir Panjang Boys Hostel in 1975 hence I am always seeking more information.