My earlier articles about the Nishat at Bras Basah Road caused me to wonder how many of these Nissen huts are still in existence in Singapore. In case you do not know, a Nissen Hut is “A prefabricated building of corrugated steel in the shape of a half cylinder, used especially by military personnel as a shelter. It is named after its inventor, Lt Col. Peter Nissen (1871-1930), a British mining engineer.”
Mention Nissen hut and my mind goes back to the early 1970’s when I was an undergraduate at the University of Singapore. At that time, there were some Nissen huts at the Bukit Timah campus. Although I attended classes at the Engineering Faculty at Prince Edward Road, I had on a couple of occasions been inside these Nissen huts. I remember there was one (or more) near to the Cluny Road entrance. My friend, Peter Chan who sent me this photo would probably be able to tell us where the others were found. Sadly, they have long disappeared from the map of Singapore.
So are there any Nissen huts left in Singapore today? As far as I know, up to maybe two years ago there were at least six places where you could still find them. So with a bit of help from Peter, I put together this quiz for you. Please tell us where these photos of Nissen Huts were taken.
Photo no. 1
I start with the easiest. This one is just next to a busy road and you certainly will have no difficulty identifying the location.
Photo no. 2
This one should be quite easy as well. This place used to be a famous army camp. The first time I came here was on an unforgettable day in my life. It was the day I was called up for full-time National Service. On the way from the CMPB to Safti where we would begin our much-dreaded army life, the three-tonner made a detour and brought us here to pick up some army gear. Read my story here.
It looks like this camp is going to be demolished soon. When I went there a few weeks ago, there was signboard at the entrance warning against trespassing. But I noticed several cars with L-plates going in and out of the camp; and so I thought to myself; “If these guys can ignore the warning sign so blatantly, why can’t I?” And so I walked in and snapped several photos. Soon I realized that this place has been temporarily rented out to a driving school and before long, a driving instructor came along and chased me out. But by then I had already accomplished my mission.
Photo no. 3
This is another famous army camp. If you have been in this area, you certainly would be able to give the correct answer. In fact, if you were to go there now, you can still see the shells of several Nissen huts and other dilapidated wooden buildings like those you would find in first generation SAF army camps. Thanks again to Peter for this photo.
Photo no. 4
This one is a bit difficult. But I have blogged about this place before, and if you have read my piece, you just might be able to give the correct answer.
Photo no. 5
This last one is probably the most difficult. I think even Peter would not know the answer. So I’d better give you some hints. I stumbled upon it quite by chance two years ago.
1) It is located in the Western part of Singapore.
2) It is not within an army camp or a huge government complex.
Peter told me that there is yet one more place where you’d probably be able to see some Nissen huts; and that is in the former Seletar Air Base. “It is just before the airport building as you drive in, on your left (if not demolished yet) was what used to be a staff canteen”. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to go all the way to Seletar to check this out. If you live nearby and are able to confirm the status of these interesting buildings, please do update us. Better still take a couple of photos and send them to me so that I can add them to my collection.
And if you know of any other place where you can still find Nissen huts in Singapore, do share the knowledge with us. Or you can also set a quiz to challenge us.
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