7 Things You Never Knew About Seletar
STORY: Low Yi Bin & Nicholas Yong
09 February 2022
Most of us know Seletar as the home of Seletar Airport and other aerospace-related facilities. However, there are some little nuggets of trivia about the region that many of us might not be familiar with. Check out these really cool fun-facts:
1. It used to be home to the first and biggest British Royal Air Force HQ in the Far East
At one time, 179 Piccadilly was the Station HQ of the British Royal Air Force, and was used as a model for other bases in the region. The base also served as Singapore's first civil airport before Kallang Airport was completed in 1937. Aviation legends such as Kingsford-Smith and Amy Johnson stopped here on their record-breaking flights, and even noted British playwright Noel Coward and comic actor Charlie Chaplin paid the venue a visit.
After the British withdrew from Singapore in 1971, the premises were used by the Singapore Armed Forces until 2006.
The site is currently closed to the public, but psst... there's a newly-launched special-access tour you can join that's part of the National Heritage Board's Battle for Singapore 2022 programme. Click here for bookings and deets.
2. Its name is believed to have been derived from a group of indigenous people
The origin of the word “Seletar” has a surprisingly long history. It’s used to refer to the Orang Seletar, a group of aboriginal people who initially lived in mangrove forests there. Unfortunately, they had to move when the forests were cleared away for redevelopment in the 20th century. Currently, they reside in villages in Johor.
3. It used to be a giant rubber plantation estate
Long before it became the home for Seletar Airport, the region was an enormous rubber plantation estate owned by the Singapore United Plantations Limited. It was after 1923 when the then Straits Settlement government bought over the land for the British Royal Air Force, that laid the foundations for the Seletar we have today.
4. Many bungalows there were from the colonial era
There are about 140 bungalows located around the Seletar Aerospace Park that were once the homes of officers from the British Royal Air Force before the second World War. Some of these bungalows had been refurbished into popular food and beverage joints, like Wheeler’s Bungalow and The Summerhouse. (Psst, they’re extremely Instagram-mable.)
5. There are two reclaimed islands in the area
Pulau Punggol Barat and Pulau Punggol Timor are tucked away at the edge of the Seletar region. However, they’re mostly undeveloped as compared to the main island. Recently, a Malaysian minister proposed constructing a third Singapore-Malaysia bridge crossing into Pulau Punggol Barat. Maybe if that happens, the two islands won’t be that ulu anymore.
6. Upper Seletar Reservoir is home to a rocket-shaped tower
This 18m lookout tower has stood over Upper Seletar Reservoir since 1969, the same year Neil Armstrong stepped on the Moon. Built to reflect the “space craze” of that time, it has been there since the reservoir was officially opened. You can always head to it if you ever need a retro photoshoot. (Did we just give you an idea for your pre-wedding shoot? You're welcome!)
7. There’s a shuttle bus service between The Seletar Mall and Yio Chu Kang Industrial Estate
Quick hack: This lunchtime service travels between The Seletar Mall and the industrial estate in Yio Chu Kang while making several stops on the way. The bus makes multiple trips throughout the lunch period and most importantly, it’s free of charge!
There's lots of yummy makan around Seletar Camp
For NSFs and Regulars at Seletar Camp, check out this episode of our "Follow Me To Makan" series, in which host Benzo helps you discover yummy eats near Singapore camps. In this episode, he introduces you to scrumptious Hokkien prawn noodles, heavenly halal dim sum, and yummy beef burgers in the vicinity.