The History Behind View Road Mental Hospital

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Discover the history behind View Road Hospital, a former police barrack, mental institution and worker dormitory

Located at a forgotten spot in Woodlands, the now disused building had a fabled past as a former mental institution. 

The Rimau Offices

Half completed rimau offices in former view road hospital
The Rimau offices in the final stages of completion in 1941 | Image credits: National Archives of Singapore

Dating back to 1941, the compound was first built to be an administrative building cum command center for the British Royal Army. It was then known as the Rimau Offices and Accommodations.

With the onset of the Battle of Singapore in 1942, the building was abruptly abandoned in the final stages of its construction, purportedly due to a lack of time and resources.

After the fall of Singapore, the Japanese occupied and completed the construction of the compound.

In 1978, the United Nations established a Vietnamese Refugee Camp (right next to View Road Hospital) to accommodate those displaced after the Vietnam War. The camp closed down in 1996.

Watchtower and Bomb-Proof Offices

Located at the roof of the building is a watchtower, built by the British before the invasion of the Japanese.

As the entire compound was located at the top of a hill, the watchtower became the highest point in Woodlands. With a vantage point of the Straits of Johor, the British was able to coordinate the defence of the causeway as well as air operations in the straits. Unfortunately, it was insufficient to hold of the attacks of the Japanese.

Rimau bomb proof offices in view road hospital
Rimau Bomb-Proof Offices in 1941 | Image credits: National Archives of Singapore

Near the edges of the compound are a series of above-ground bomb-proof offices built by the British. It is believed that the bomb shelters are hastily built to provide some level of protection against artillery shelling by the Japanese from Johor.

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bomb proof offices in abandoned Former View Road Hospital
Rimau Bomb-Proof Offices in 2019 | Image credits: papazhaowitkelvin

Similarly, during the Japanese Occupation, the compound was used by the Japanese as an office to coordinate coastal defences against any potential invasion from the Allied Forces in the north.

After the end of the Japanese Occupation, the building was returned to the British and left unoccupied.

Rimau Naval Base Police Barracks

gurdwara police taking a group photo at view road
Gathering of the Sikh policemen at the neighbouring Sikh temple in 1971 before disbandment | Image credits: thelongnwindingroad

In 1959, the compound was converted into Rimau Naval Base Police Barracks. The barracks was also named “Naval Base Police Asian Barracks” as it housed mostly Sikh and to a smaller extent, Pakistanis, Malays and Gurkhas. It provided lodging for the police force working in the neigbouring Singapore Naval Base, alternatively known as Her Majesty’s Naval Base or Sembawang Naval Base.

The site was vacated once again in October 1971 when the British withdrew from Singapore and disbanded the Naval Base Police Force. 

View Road Mental Hospital

The compound stay unoccupied till 1975 when it was converted into a hospital to alleviate the overcrowding situation at Woodbridge Hospital (now known as Institute of Mental Health).

Named View Road Hospital, the 250-bed hospital focused on the rehabilitative care of long term schizophrenic patients through occupational therapy and personalised programmes.

Patients were taught new trades such as laundry, tailoring woodwork and toy-making to help them secure employment and reintegrate into the society.

courtyard in former View Road hospital
Courtyard of View Road Hospital | Image credits: National Archives of Singapore

A 1993 medical article titled “The Day Release Scheme At View Road Hospital” highlighted the success of the programme, with 92 out of 250 patients being allowed to work outside while continuing to live in the hospital.

The all-male View Road Hospital opened its door to female patients in 1990 before undergoing a major renovation to increase the capacity to 290 beds.

Yet, in spite of its success in rehabilitating patients, View Road Hospital closed down in 2001 for unknown reasons. 

Abandoned and Haunted?

The compound briefly served as a foreign worker dormitory — named View Road Lodge — from 2008 to 2011 before being returned to the Singapore Land Authority.

Due to its history as a mental institution, the former View Road Hospital have become a popular adventure spot for urban explorers. 

There are no official records or accounts of any unethical experiments or tortures being carried out. However, explorers who have ventured into the compound claimed to have experienced paranormal activities ranging from slamming doors and crying screams to a pungent odour and blood stains on the walls.

Today, the entire compound have been fenced up and is slated for redevelopment as part of the Woodlands North Coast Innovation Corridor. It is unknown if the Former View Road Hospital will be demolished.

Former View Road Hospital is  currently fenced up and rigged with motion sensors. Do not enter without permission from the relevant authorities.

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