RAF Seletar Association has a new home

RAF_Seletar_CrestThe official website of the RAF Seletar Association now incorporates RAF Tengah Association and can be found at http://www.rafseletar.org

This website is designed to help keep alive the memories of service personnel and others lucky enough to have served at RAF Seletar Singapore which was an active RAF station from 1928 through to 1971. Membership is open to all Service and civilian personnel, including their families and relatives, who served at Seletar, Tengah, and any associated units on the Island of Singapore. This includes past and present personnel of the Singapore Armed Forces.

Orang Seletar

Fabulous story about Seletar’s original residents…

kon seletar or orang seletar is now classified as an orang asli tribe in malaysia. they were named after the seletar area in singapore (or it could be the other way around), where about 800 of them once lived. these people could be considered sea gypsies or orang laut. however, they did not belong to the same group that raffles met when he stepped shore. the orang seletar were descendants of the orang laut from the spice islands of indonesia.

are there still orang seletar in singapore? i believe there are. some have assimilated into the malay community and some have even inter-married with the other races. i read about two orang seletar women who had chinese husbands. most, however, had migrated to sungai pulai in south-west johor.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,600 times in 2010. That’s about 13 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 10 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 157 posts. There were 17 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was August 6th with 126 views. The most popular post that day was Sunset Grill.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were vagsg.com, theonlinecitizen.com, blogcatalog.com, search.bt.com, and search.conduit.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for sunset grill seletar, raf seletar, raf seletar singapore, seletar, and sunset grill and pub.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Sunset Grill January 2008

2

RAF Seletar residents reunion March 2009
19 comments

3

Bird’s Eye View of Seletar Airbase – Past, Present and Future November 2007
6 comments

4

Theatre Club still invokes memories December 2009
12 comments

5

Theatre Club January 2008
8 comments

Reunions

If you are looking to re-connect:

The are plenty of people in and around the UK, Canada, USA, Spain and Australia who organise regional events to do with the Seletar Association and other interesting matters to do with the RAF. If you’re not sure who’s who and how to contact them – here’s the list with phone numbers.

JTC to build 7 factories at Seletar

karamjit-kaurBy Karamjit Kaur, Aviation Correspondent
Source : Straits Times – 05 February 2010

SEVEN new factories, each up to 3,000 sq m in size, will come up at Seletar Aerospace Park next year, near the future Rolls-Royce facility. The $30 million project by JTC Corp is partly to support the British power systems and engines giant, which will assemble and test engines, as well as make fan blades for large aircraft, at the site.

EDB director of transport engineering Sia Kheng Yok said: ‘There are many discussions now on with local and overseas companies about supply opportunities.’ Growing the manufacturing arm of the aerospace industry is a key priority for Singapore, which currently does more work in aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO). This segment accounted for about 90 per cent of the industry’s total output last year, which hit just over $7 billion – about the level seen in 2008.

Hampstead Gardens road sign still up

By Loh Kok Sheng

Yesterday Gun Kiat and I went to Seletar to take a good look before construction and development starts for a new aerospace centre. Was introduced of this wonderful place by this show that I was glued to watching, called “Hey! Singapore” hosted by Lisa Ang. Many many years ago, I wanted to go in and take a look but at that time, ICs are needed for verification before entering the Seletar complex. I forgot mine so it was a wasted trip back then.

Royal Air Force Seletar Reunion Tour – March 2009

Mid March saw thirty-eight members of the Association once again gathering at that ancient conglomeration of buildings known as Heathrow Airport…… lots of great pictures of Singapore, including the sad mid-demolition one of the old mess hall.

“After Singapore, it was time for one group to head back for the UK and another for Penang, where, courtesy of the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, we had managed to get permission to visit the RMAF Base at Butterworth, yet another first. It was almost sixty years since I’d been based here so there was almost nothing I recognised, except the building that had been our Sqn (110) HQ, now unused, still looking lonely and forlorn on a piece of grass overlooking to the runway, as it always had. Other buildings had sprung up all around, but none too close. It was as if it were warning them off, like Clint Eastwood in the film Gran Torino – “Get off my lawn.”

All in all another good tour. Did someone mention something about a repeat in 2011?”

Theatre Club still invokes memories

A post from almost 2 years ago is hot again, thanks to memories from Pete Goss and Alan Hills. Enjoy!


  • Pete Goss // April 22, 2009 at 7:47 amReply (edit)

    I must have known Lew, because I was in the play that won the Services Drama Festival. It was called “JB” and was directed by my mum, Julie Goss. I have very fond memories of the club which was very successful while we were there from 1960 to 1963. I still have some of the old programmes in the attic.

  • Alan Hills // December 8, 2009 at 4:29 amReply (edit)

    I was the station photographer at RAF Seletar 1962 -64. Just after JB I was asked to take photos of productions at the theatre club – I think the first was Alladin? Xmas ‘62 – and I continued until repat in Aug 1964. I still have many photos from that time, plus old programmes, of the productions, the fire, etc.. I remember Julie Goss very well. I am still in touch with John Baker (lighting) who went on to work with Joan Littlewood at Stratford (East), then Chichester, now in South Africa. Also Joyce Dobbie.
    I did 12 years in the RAF, my best postings were Butzweilerhof and Seletar – great memories!

  • Alan Hills // December 15, 2009 at 3:54 amReply (edit)

    Re location of Theatre Club. Just been looking at Google Maps – entered ‘Seletar’ and up it came. Sat pix a bit bit dark and cloudy – but could make out the SHQ, the station cinema and post office – still there.

    From memory, the Theatre club was in Oxford Street, which branched at a sharp angle from Piccadilly (where did they get these names!). On the corner was the Anglican Church, and I think the Club was the next building along – but again from memory there was also the families NAAFI shop in that row.

    The schools were in the Crescent on the right hand side of Picadilly going toward the main camp entrance.

    Unfortunately the pix are quite dark and it is difficult to be sure, but there does seem to be quite a lot of the old buildings standing.

    Worth a chufti, though!

    All best.

One year on

12 months ago, residents along Haymarket, Bayswater, Kinghtsbridge, Hyde Park Gate, The Oval, Swallow Street and parts of Edgeware Road and Regent Street were hosting garage sales, packing up and bidding farewell to a very special place.

foursquare

It seems like the right time to reflect on what has actually happened to Seletar since it was handed over to JTC. I’ve set up an account at Foursquare to build profiles of key places. Join me, and share your stories.

Eurocopter breaks ground in Seletar

As reported by Channel News Asia

Companies express interest to build aviation centre at Seletar
By Cheow Xinyi/Ryan Huang, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 31 October 2009

Even before a tender is called, companies have expressed interest in building the General Aviation Centre at the upcoming Seletar Aerospace Park (SAP), according to JTC Corporation.

The centre will house hangars on a 2.6-hectare plot of land, and the tender is expected to be called some time next year.

JTC announced this at the groundbreaking ceremony for helicopter maker Eurocopter’s new facilities in Seletar, costing S$15 million.

Eurocopter announced in June its move from Loyang to Seletar for its South-east Asian base. It is expected to move into its new base by the fourth quarter of 2010.

It said that the timing for the project is perfect with the upswing in the economy.

Dr Bernhard Brenner, president, Eurocopter (Southeast Asia), said: “We had some cancellations in the first six months of 2009 which was quite complicated, but since June we really feel that things are improving, that the market is taking on.

“We have stronger demand for new projects, we think we will have a bright future.”

Rolls Royce expands

Today in the Straits Times

When the projects are completed in a few years, Rolls-Royce, which now employs about 1,400 people here, will increase its head count to 2,000, its regional director, Singapore, Mr Jonathan Asherson told The Straits Times on Tuesday.

Still a long way to the 10,000 ‘new jobs’ EDB promised when it embarked on the Seletar Aerospace Hub/Park programme…

Rolls Royce expands

Seletar Fuel Depot

As reported by Ven Sreenivasan in Business Times on June 4th, 2009

Redevelopment of the 300-hectare Seletar Aerospace Park is on schedule despite a slump in the global aviation industry. JTC Corp’s CEO Ow Foong Pheng said the developers of the aerospace park, led by JTC, would press on with infrastructural works to ensure that they are ready for customers’ operations as soon as the economy picks up. She was speaking at the groundbreaking of a new $6 million jet fuel depot on a 1.07 ha plot adjacent to the extended runway at the West Camp area ..

Ex-resident clears up mystery

Some of you will remember photos from the 60s of the church and theatre. Pete, who used to live on the base, has helped us locate these structures.

The St Andrews Church I knew in 1960 was situated at the corner of Piccadilly and Oxford Rd. As Boy Scouts we used to march down Piccadilly past Mornington Crescent and turn left down Oxford Road. The Seletar Theatre was next door to it. I see from Google Earth that there looks like a parking lot there now.

Photos at previous post.

Revisiting Seletar Memories

Many of you have asked for the link to Ang Yiying story at The Straits Times on 30th March … here is the link, and below is the text

A LITTLE corner of Singapore that once featured prominently in its history has been earmarked for redevelopment but one group, from thousands of miles away, are holding onto their memories of Seletar Airbase dearly.
The 920-strong group, based in Britain and calling itself the RAF Seletar Association, has organised eight trips back to Seletar since 2000, with about 40 visiting each time. In 2007, the association’s 10th anniversary, more than 100 made their way here.

The association was formed in 1997 by Royal Air Force (RAF) ex-serviceman Les Nicole and a few friends who met up in a pub in England. It has grown over the years, attracting members who are a mix of those who have served at RAF Seletar, a former British airbase, and their children who have grown up there. This time around, 38 are here for about two weeks, most will be heading home on Monday.

For many of them, Seletar holds a special place in their hearts because they were young then and Singapore was one of their first overseas postings. ‘It was something different and they had a lot of friends there,’ said David Taylor, 72, the author of the book, Seletar: Crowning Glory, published in 2002, who is one of the members on the trip here. ‘In the services, you tend to stick with friends more than civillian life.’

Common memories include the camaraderie forged from playing sports, going to the camp cinema, bonding over RAF Seletar’s favourite Tiger Beer and trips made out of camp to places like Haw Par Villa and the Botanic Gardens. Some of the members have made more than one trip back but say that age is catching up and this journey may be their last.

Last week, the group visited locations like the Sembawang Shipyard, the Changi Airbase and the Changi Murals, before a trip on Thursday to Seletar Airbase.

Seletar Boy

Inset to main story at Straits Times 30 March

RETIRED Major Yeo Kuan Joo, 72, who is coordinator and guide for the RAF Seletar Association members on tour here, has a special relationship with Seletar Airbase.
After losing his father in World War II, the middle child of three children, then aged about 11, met some RAF servicemen who became his unofficial guardians.

One of them is Dr John Bright Willis, now 80 and a retired mathematics lecturer from the University of Southampton. He was then 18 and serving in the RAF at a camp in Paya Lebar.

In a phone interview from the UK, he recalled, ‘Kuan Joo was a small boy wandering around the camp. He looked very intelligent and charming. He used to come and stay there from time to time at the camp cinema.’

The group of four to five servicemen, including Dr Willis, thought it was a pity if the boy did not receive an education and pooled together money to send him to a boarding school here.

When Major (Ret) Yeo was schooling, he would visit his guardians at Seletar Airbase where they were later posted, during his weekends and school holidays.

He became known as the only Chinese boy in Seletar, wandering around the camp and going to the hangar where the radar fitters worked.

‘He made friends very easily,’ added Dr Willis.

After Dr Willis returned to the UK, Major (Ret) Yeo went on to stay with RAF serviceman Mr Stan Peirce and his wife, Molly, now both deceased, on their married quarters in Seletar, during his school holidays.

The servicemen continued to pay for his education after their return to UK.

Major (Ret) Yeo was involved in trade but eventually joined the Singapore Armed Forces in the 1960s, rising through the ranks and was posted to Seletar to be Camp Commandant in the early 1980s.

‘I never asked for my posting but providence put me as camp commandant of Seletar,’ he said, saying that his life has come full circle. He was also president of the RAF Seletar Association from 2001 to 2006.

One of the organisers of the ‘pilgrimages’ back to Seletar, he hopes that the main gate of Seletar will be retained and the guardhouse will be converted to a small museum.

We are on Twitter

Now that we no longer live in Seletar, our ability to provide in-depth updates is limited. Snippets via Twitter will be more feasible. We hope you can join us, or just enjoy the updates here in the ‘Tweets’ sidebar. A big thanks to WordPress for making this easy-peasy with the Twitter widget :)

If you have recent photos, stories or links to Seletar, we’ll be happy to share them here!

RAF Seletar residents reunion

This weekend, a group of some 40 former residents from the 1950s and 60s are visiting Singapore, and will head to Johor for a reunion gathering. These dinners used to happen at Hyde Park Gate, but with no residents left along the street, the venue had to be moved.

Sad that the customary walk around the Camp is no longer possible. This may in fact be the last major trip by former RAF residents.

Seletar homes and residents wanted by photographer

Highlighting a comment we had in an earlier post:

I am currently seeking former residents of Seletar Camp who would be willing to be photographed at their homes prior to their being “expunged.” I also have a brief questionnaire for them so that I can personalize the photos with some of their poignant memories and reflections. If you’d be interested in having some high-quality photos taken, please contact me at cmcturk1@mac.com Please note that some of the the photos may be possibly published at a later time but I would be happy to give you a free CD or DVD of your photos for your personal use. Thank you!

Rolls Royce delays

Advance GDP estimates released by MTI today are grim:

The weaker prognosis for the Singapore economy in 2009 is also based on the sharp contraction seen in the fourth quarter of 2008. Advance estimates[1] show that gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter contracted by 2.6 per cent in real terms over the same period in 2007, following the decline of 0.3 per cent in the preceding quarter. On a seasonally adjusted, annualised quarter-on-quarter basis, real GDP fell by 12.5 per cent, compared to a decline of 5.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2008.

Arguably, pressing on with the construction work for Seletar can boost economic activity and absorb some excess capacity. But how far will the government subsidise the venture? On Nov 21st, Business Times’ Ven Sreenivasan reported delays to Rolls Royce’s plans

The timetable for the construction Rolls-Royce’s $320 million Trent aero-engine plant at Seletar Aerospace Park may be a casualty of the dramatic downturn in the global aviation operating environment…. BT understands from industry insiders that the British power systems giant has yet to award several major contracts for the construction of its huge facility here. This is more than half a year after groundbreaking took place at the eight-hectare site at Seletar….UK-based Roll-Royce officials were tight-lipped when contacted yesterday, but alluded to the impact of announced programme delays by customers.

Unfortunately, the Google search result below only points to a ‘page not found’ error on EDB’s website. We’ve contacted EDB for clarification.
rolls-royce-partnering-singapore-for-growth

Roads will be expunged

Had to look up ‘expunge’

ex·punge  (k-spnj)

tr.v. ex·pungedex·pung·ingex·pung·es 

1. To erase or strike out: “I have corrected some factual slips, expunged some repetitions” Kenneth Tynan.
2. To eliminate completely; annihilate. See Synonyms at erase.

park-laneknightsbridge

Moving out sale

Since October, we have seen one family after another move out of Seletar Airbase. Today, there are just 20 families left in the Park Lane, Hyde Park Gate, Oval and Haymarket area. We will all have to move out by 31st December.

Rahul and I are attaching ourselves to Isabelle’s garage and art sale on Sunday, December 7th.

If you are looking for:

Seletar-related ART, original DRAWINGS….
BABY and YOUNG CHILDREN items….
Furniture
Children’s clothes
Garden Furniture
a sports car…. SOLD
Electrical appliances

Many items are also listed at the sale specific website. We hope you have time to stroll around a part of the camp that simply will not exist after Dec 31st!

Which houses will stay, which will be demolished?

We’ve had quite a few debates about which houses will remain standing, and which have been earmarked for demolition in January 2009. Thankfully, Isabelle was able to superimpose our definitive residential map on to the projections for Seletar Aerospace Hub Park provided in EDB’s fact sheet.

Legend

The School of Logistics and 2 houses at Hyde Park Gate will be removed to make space for part of the ‘runway dependent’ zone. 12 other houses st Hyde Park Gate will be demolished to accommodate a broader skirting for the runway. Incidentally, these houses are built on an elevation some 10 m higher than the existing runway. Much of Hamilton Place, Old Birdcage Walk and Baker Street will form part of the ‘commercial, recreational, F&B’ zone. The Oval, and some of Hyde Park Gate will make up the ‘institutional’ zone. Houses along Haymarket and Swallow Street will disappear to form the South side of ‘runway dependent’ zone. The Seletar Airbase Golf Club House, part of 3 Park Lane and 1 Hyde Park Gate will need to be removed to make way for the 6-lane motorway that will be running through the Aerospace Hub Park.

No new tenants in sight?

A looming global recession cannot be cheerful news if you are trying to sell to the aviation industry. ‘Build them and they will come’ may no longer be a viable strategy…

I wonder if bus tours were part of the original plan. From the AmCham website:

September 12, 2008 – Members from the Aerospace Defense Committee boarded a coach bus to learn more about Seletar Aero+sPace. The driving tour of the air base was led by our tour guides Celine Yeo, Marketing Manager of JTC Corporation and Chan Ying Xuan, Assistant Head, Transport Engineering for the Economic Development Board (EDB). On the driving tour the committee learned about the details of the new aerospace park being developed at Seletar. Ms. Yeo explained how JTC will carry out master-planning and infrastructure improvements for Seletar Aero+sPace, in consultation with other government agencies. The committee also learned of plans to transform Seletar into a site that will support aerospace Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO), design and manufacturing of aircraft systems and components, business and general aviation activities and an aviation campus for the training of pilots, aviation professionals and technical personnel.

Rumblings over Seletar hub’s goals as reported at the Singapore AirFreight Directory on 28th September 2008.

But serious questions have recently arisen about whether the initial objectives of developing a business aviation hub may have shifted, albeit slightly. More critically, doubts have arisen – at least in the minds of many incumbent operators at Seletar – about whether officials responsible for the project understand business aviation. There have been rumblings within the Seletar aviation community about poor communications and consultations by officials.

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