Saturday, 26 January 2013

Setchwalk from Wessex to Portdown

Vimy House along Woking Road.

Wessex Village Square
Although the island Republic of Singapore has been submitted to a systematic territorial revolution since the 1960s, some of its urban heritage has been preserved. This is the case with Wessex Estate, a quiet residential neighbourhood located in the low hills extending on the western flank of the central urban area. Made up of less than a dozen bungalows and 26 small blocks of flats, Wessex Estate is of no particular architectural interest, but it does represent a heritage through the names borne by the blocks of flats.

Clearly printed on the façades of the 26 blocks of flats, these names all refer to military feats of British history. The study locates and briefly describes these events, several of which took place on European fronts, as far back as the early 18th century (such as Ramilies, Blenheim), others throughout the British Empire, starting from the middle of the same century (such as Plassey, Quebec, Khartoum, Pegu).

Built just prior to or just following WWII, it seems that the flats housed non-commissioned British officers during the Malayan Emergency (1948–1960). Their names refer to battles or theatres of war in all of which a given British regiment, the 67th or South Hampshire Regiment, might have been involved. Whatever the case, it remains somewhat remarkable that so many reminders of the colonial past, even a good number with "no natural connection" to Singapore, have remained prominent in this city-state otherwise apparently prone to sever "colonial apron strings".

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