The History Behind View Road Mental Hospital

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The History Behind View Road Mental Hospital

Discover the true 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

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 the administrative building cum command center for the British 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. It was later completed and used by the Japanese during the Japanese Occupation.

View Road was once connected to Hawkins Road and Rimau Lane; both have been demolished. 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 into Singapore.

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. 

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 offer protection against artillery shelling by the Japanese from Johor.

You may be interested in: The History Behind Istana Woodneuk

Rimau Bomb-Proof Offices in 2019 | Image credits: papazhaowitkelvin

Similarly, during the Japanese Occupation, the compound was used by the Japanese as a 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

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 naval base.

The site was vacated once again on October 1971 with the withdrawal of the British from Singapore and the eventual disbandment of the Naval Base Police Force.

View Road Mental Hospital

It was till 1975 when the compound 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 personalized 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 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.

The hospital later underwent major renovations along with an increase in 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 site for urban explorers. While there are no official records of  any unethical experiments or tortures being carried out, those who ventured into the compound claimed to have experienced paranormal activities. This ranges from slamming doors and crying screams to a pungent odour and blood stains on the walls.

Today, the entire area is slated for redevelopment as part of the Woodlands North Coast Innovation Corridor. It is currently unknown if the Former View Road Hospital will be demolished for the new developments.

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

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