In one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates, Tiong Bahru, there lies a very interesting place/trail that not many Singaporeans know about that is right beneath their homes. Located at Blk 78 Guan Chuan Street lies an air raid shelter that is 1,500 sqm in floor size! The Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter was first opened to the public for guided tours in 2013, I didn’t manage to join the guided tour and visit the Air Raid Shelter. When National Heritage Board (NHB) organised guided tours for February 8th and 15th 2014, I managed to sign up for the last tour on 15th February 2014 and it was an eye opener to learn and know more about Singapore’s past, and explored a significant part of Singapore’s history that not many knew about.
The Air Raid Shelter at Blk 78 Guan Chuan Street is of great importance and significance because it is the only public housing building by the Singapore Improvement Trust to have an Air Raid Shelter built as part of its design and it is also the last remaining pre-war civilian Air Raid Shelter still in existence today (Source: National Heritage Board)
Joining a group of heritage enthusiasts in the guided heritage walk inside the Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter, I got to see what it could be like during World War 2 when the bombs were dropping on Singapore. Our heritage guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable in sharing her research and stories about the Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter with the participants. Walking inside the Air Raid Shelter can be pretty stuffy and perspiring, due to the limited ventilation outlets, this allowed the participants to have a feel and idea of how the people felt when they were hiding inside the Air Raid Shelter during World War 2 when the Japanese bombed Singapore. It wasn’t comfortable and with the bombing above them, those were indeed very tough and dark times during Singapore’s history that we must not forget.
As the guided tour finished, I added another tick to my list of Old Places Exploration in Singapore. The guided tour was enriching and an eye-opener to the history and heritage of Singapore that we must preserve and conserve. Joining heritage tours organised by NHB gave me more details and knowledge beyond history books and websites, the tours gave me a feel of our history, heritage and stories behind them.
For more information on Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter, you can check out the link here to NHB website. Do keep a look out on NHB and I Love Museum websites when they announce guided tours for Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter in the future!