Colonial ties run deep with this site. The ‘Goodwood’ name is adopted from Goodwood Park, the Sussex estate of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon. Built by the Public Work Department (PWD) in 1910 to house the officers of Singapore’s growing colonial administration, these bungalows were design in ‘black and white’ due to its popularity at the time. ‘Black and white’ are characterised with the painting of its wooden frames in black whilst the panels in between were painted white.
Influence from the architecture of the ‘plantation houses’ of the mid-19th century is also evident. Similar to those large country mansions, bungalows in Goodwood Hill Estate were square in plan, with broad eaves and verandahs on all sides offering shelter from the sun and rain. The houses were also designed symmetrically with large brick pillars supporting an upper floor and large tiled roofs, featuring high ceilings and wide open access balconies. Either single or double-storeyed, these buildings were constructed around 1910.
From the 1960s to the turn of the millennium, part of the site was dedicated to grooming the nation’s political and civil service leaders. During Singapore’s early years as an independent state, many new civil servants have gone through their induction courses here. In particular, 2 of the 26 units of this estate were instrumental for these purposes.
In July of 1959, Dr Goh Keng Swee, then Minister for Finance, announced that the residence of the Financial Secretary at No. 4 Goodwood Hill would be converted into a ‘political study centre for civil servants’. Less than 2 months after this announcement, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew inaugurated the new ‘Political Study Centre’. The centre was intended as a place where officers could stay in touch with the masses on matters of politics and philosophy.
On top of conducting induction courses for new civil servants, the Political Study Centre also served as a training centre for civil servants in topics such as Government Audit and the role of Civil Service and Public Service Commission. Foreign speakers and officials were often invited to share their experiences. The late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew was known to be amongst those conducting lectures at the site.
No. 2 Goodwood Hill housed the exclusive ‘Pyramid Club’, which was intended to serve as an informal space to facilitate discussion between the government, intelligentsia and business community. Established by the government during the 1960s, its elite membership consisted of 300 politicians, top business notables and top brass.
Buildings and sites featured on Roots.SG are part of our efforts to raise awareness of our heritage; a listing on Roots.SG does not imply any form of preservation or conservation status, unless it is mentioned in the article. The information in this article is valid as of August 2019 and is not intended to be an exhaustive history of the site/building.