Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Wessex Estate - Black & Whites

Leaving behind the black and whites of Rochester Park  A short distance SE you will come across another estate of colonial homes sitting along Portsdown Road and known as Portsdown or the Wessex Estate. Now an enclave of artist studios it has recently also become known as 'Little Bohemia'

Wessex estate is made up of about a dozen houses and 26 blocks/flats. They were built in the late 1940s and early 50s and used up to the beginning on the 1970s, by the British army, when they left Singapore the government took over the control of the buildings. 

Military black and whites were the last in a long history of black and whites to be built in various designs. Those of the 50s were much plainer, utilitarian and angular. These military B&W's were built not only for the military but also by them, there was a big surge in these buildings from 1935 as the British grew there base in Singapore, to be their biggest base in Asia. 

The Portsdown homes were built in the Art Deco 'modern' style for the Hampshire regiment stationed at the Portsdown army camp. These were built around the late 1940s by the Public works department (PWD) 

Each of the blocks you see not only have a number but have also been given a name ie Aden. They were given names that were relevant to British military history. 

You cannot in all truth visit this estate without stopping at the famous Colbar (Colonial Bar) Built in 1953 at Jalan Hang Jehat. They served food for the soldiers and continued serving both western and Asian dishes even after they relocated in 2003 to Whitchurch Rd. It continues today to be very popular and is a step back in time having retained many of its original features and fittings. They even reused tiles and doors from the original cafe. 

As mentioned it's now known for its artist community. Once a year they open their homes and galleries for ArtWalk@Wessex which takes place over a weekend. During the event visitors can wander around and visit and get to meet many of the artists. 

The estate sits close by to the old KTM Railway line, now the wildlife haven and walking route 'The Green Corridor'

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