Heritage Trees at RAF Seletar
by Lua Hock Keong
I'm an employee of one of the government organisations in Singapore: the National Parks Board. Presently I am charged with a programme on old trees in Singapore. We have a list of those old trees (Heritage Trees) and some of them are within the camp ground of the former RAF Seletar.
List of Heritage Trees in Singapore
One aspect of my work is to provide information about these trees, why these are "Heritage Trees", although the obvious answer is that they are mostly old trees! But I'm trying to connect the initial beginnings to the history of the place, thus, putting the "Heritage" to the trees as well as estimating their age at the same time. As there are no planting records to be found, we wouldn't know how old the trees could be, hence knowing when some of the buildings/houses were built will be a good indication.
The Heritage Trees in Seletar CampThese are:
- Rain Tree, at Old Birdcage Walk
- Broad-leaf Mahogany, at West Camp Road and Bayswater/Hay Market Residences
- Tembusu, along Maida Vale
- 4 huge mahogany trees along West Camp Road (sadly, a 5th has been removed)
Dating the Trees
From David Taylor's 2002 book "Seletar, Crowning Glory: The History of the RAF in Singapore", the married quarters at Old Birdcage Walk and Baker Street are among the earliest quarters built in Seletar, circa 1933, and so I presume the huge raintree would have dated around 70 years or so.
However, I can't find any information on when the residences along Maida Vale and Bayswater Rd/Hay Market were built, for whom they were built or when the trees there were planted.
From Google Maps (probably dated a few years ago) there was an unidentified building next to the slip road, which I can't find out about either.
If it is not too much trouble, I'd like to ask if anyone in the Association can remember when these buildings were built, for whom (servicemen or civilian workers) or, better yet, have seen these trees during their posting here and whether they were as large as they are in the photos. My guess is that these large trees dated from the 1930s, but I need to be sure.
Nothing is too unimportant to be useful for me and I'll be grateful if there's any information or recollection by members of the RAF Seletar Association.
Thanks, Hock Keong.
Heritage Tree List
Email: Lua Hock Keong