A Short History

195 Pearl's Hill Terrace, aka the Upper Barracks on Pearl's Hill in Singapore has a rich history connected to the city's post-war period and efforts to maintain public order. The strategic location of the buildings allowed the police to establish surveillance and control over the crime-ridden Chinatown area. The Upper Barracks housed a unique bomb-proof bunker that served as the nerve center for police communications during both crises and peaceful times. This Combined Operations Headquarters facilitated effective coordination between the police and armed forces, especially during incidents like the Chinese Middle Schools riots in 1956. The barracks played a crucial role in combating crime and coordinating operations in the post-independence era, addressing armed robbery, kidnapping, and gang fights.

After World War II, the Upper Barracks was repurposed to accommodate government agencies dealing with national security. It served as the base for the Ministry of Interior and Defence (MID), which oversaw Singapore's security and defense until it split into the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) in 1970. During this period, Dr. Goh Keng Swee, the Minister for MID, had his office in the building. The barracks housed various units of the Singapore Police Force, including the Radio Division, Anti-vice Unit, and 'A' Division headquarters. Over time, the buildings were leased to commercial entities and were ultimately conserved as national historic sites by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the National Heritage Board.

In 2001, the Singapore Police Force relocated to new headquarters, leaving the Upper Barracks vacant. The buildings were later transformed into Singapore's Independent arts enclave called 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace, where they continue to be used for commercial purposes today.


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