Former Singapore Badminton Hall

Singapore Infopedia


Located on Guillemard Road, the former Singapore Badminton Hall was built to host the 1952 Thomas Cup, which was first held in England in 1949 and won by the Malayan team. Although the games did not eventually take place in the building, subsequent Thomas Cup matches in 1955 and 1958 were held there. Over the years, the hall was also used as a venue for other sporting matches, entertainment activities and key political events.

In the early years, competitive badminton games were played in the Singapore Volunteer Corps Drill Hall on Beach Road. However, tournaments were often delayed, because the venue was booked for other events.1 After Aw Boon Haw, patron of the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA), constructed a hall for the Clerical Union on Rangoon Road, matches were played at the badminton court  in the hall.2 However, the hall proved to be inadequate for tournaments due to the inadequate lighting for competitive matches and heat emanating from the zinc roof.3

In the 1930s, several letters and articles in the newspapers called for a purpose-built badminton hall.4 A site near the Post Office Club on Serangoon Road was selected. However, the project was abandoned, possibly due to the death in 1939 of then SBA president, Chua Keh Hai.5

In February 1949, the Malayan badminton team won the inaugural Thomas Cup tournament in England.6 This meant that Malaya would have to host the next Thomas Cup in 1952.Lim Chuan Geok, then SBA president, called for the construction of a badminton hall to host international badminton tournaments.8 In May 1949, a committee chaired by prominent local lawyer John Laycock was formed to raise funds for building the hall.9

In 1950, the government announced plans to build a stadium on Anson Road that would house a badminton hall.10 This led to the public impression that a separate badminton hall would no longer be required, thereby resulting in dwindling donations for the new hall.11 When the stadium project came to a standstill in February 1951, the SBA’s hall committee renewed the fundraising campaign.12

Construction and key developments
In August 1951, the colonial secretary approved a site along Guillemard Road for the badminton hall.13 Ng Keng Siang was the building’s architect, while the contractor was C. H. Tong’s Union Construction Company.14 The hall was officially opened on 7 June 1952 by then Governor John F. Nicoll.15 At the time of its opening, the building had two canteens, four badminton courts and a seating capacity of 7,126.16

Although the badminton hall was completed in time for the second Thomas Cup tournament in 1952, the decision had already been made in March 1952 to hold it at the Happy World Stadium,17 where Malaya successfully retained the cup with a score of 7 to 2 over the United States.18

In 1955, the Malayan team took the Thomas Cup for the third consecutive time.19 At the next tournament in 1958, which took place at the Singapore Badminton Hall, Malaya lost to Indonesia.20

The construction costs of the Singapore Badminton Hall were estimated at $300,000 in February 1951, but had tripled to nearly $800,000 by the time the building was completed in June 1952. The final costs were calculated to be about $850,000.21 Construction costs had increased because of proposed ancillary facilities. Disagreements over these facilities and concerns over raising sufficient funds to pay for them led to Laycock’s resignation as SBA’s hall committee chairman in September 1951.22 A new committee under Tan Lark Sye was formed in May 1952.23 The hall’s completion was made possible with a $250,000 loan from Aw, and the building’s general contractor, C. H. Tong, agreeing to continue work without payment.24

The financial problems continued long after the hall opened. In 1954, R. E. Morris & Co. had the hall’s electrical fittings seized and auctioned off to cover the outstanding $9,460.98 that the hall had owed the company.25 Fortunately, Aw and the General Electric Co. purchased the fittings and “lent” them back to the hall.26 In the same year, Lim Chuan Geok retired as SBA’s president but continued to run the hall until 1958 when the government took over the operations.27  For the next two decades, the SBA continued to clear the debts, which were transferred to the Singapore Sports Council in 1978, together with ownership of the hall.28

By the 1980s, the hall was becoming dilapidated, and modern training facilities were needed.29 Consequently, the SBA built a S$5.5 million club house next to the hall.30 Opened in 1986, the club house was fully paid for by donations.31

Historic site
The Singapore Badminton Hall was where Wong Shoon Keat won Singapore’s first men’s singles badminton gold medal at the 1983 Southeast Asia (SEA) Games. Besides badminton training sessions and matches, the Singapore Badminton Hall was also the venue for badminton matches at the 1993 SEA Games, and other sports tournaments such as sepak takraw, table tennis, gymnastics, billards, wrestling and taekwon-do.32

In addition, entertainment events took place at the hall, such as variety shows, a talent competition and a rock concert.33 Striptease dancer Rose Chan performed at the hall between 1956 and 1957,34 while Radio Singapore staged its Puspawarna Singapura variety shows there in 1959 and 1960.35 The concert by British pop group The Rolling Stones in 1965 was preceded by Cliff Richard and the Shadows, whose 1961 performance was a strong influence on local popular music in the 1960s.36 In addition, the hall was a coveted performance venue among local bands such as The Quests and The Trailers.37

In the 1950s to ’60s, the hall served as the site for key political events, such as the election victory rally by the People’s Action Party in June 1959. It was also the vote counting station for the merger referendum in September 1962.38

On 1 September 1999, the hall became the first sports facility to be marked as a historic site by the National Heritage Board.39

In July 2007, the SBA was informed that the hall’s lease would end in January 2008, following which the annual rental would be increased from under S$100,000 to S$1.164 million.40 As a result, the hall was closed down and the SBA moved to the Singapore Sports School in Woodlands.41 In May 2009, after a S$2 million refurbishment, Turf City Management reopened the hall as Guillemard Village, an entertainment and food-and-beverage centre.42

Over the years, the former badminton hall has been variously transformed into a 24-hour indoor commercial prawn fishing pond (2009), a competition arena for the inaugural Singapore Kettlebell Championships (2012) and the first Singapore Mixed Martial Arts Fighting Championships (2014), and a training centre for aerial-acrobatics, gymnastics and parkour.43


Bonny Tan

1. “All Ready for Junior Singles and Doubles,” Straits Times, 19 May 1935, 20; “The World of Badminton,” Straits Times, 12 November 1933, 19. (From NewspaperSG)
2. “Clerical Union,” Malaya Tribune, 21 February 1933, 7; “Clerical Union,” Malaya Tribune, 1 June 1933, 13; “What’s On?: Public Functions and Sports Fixtures,” Malaya Tribune, 12 October 1934, 6; “S.B.A. Wants Hall of Their Own,” Singapore Free Press, 12 June 1950, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
3. “Badminton Hall for Singapore,” Straits Times, 21 April 1935, 19. (From NewspaperSG)
4. “The World of Badminton,” Straits Times, 29 October 1933, 15 (From NewspaperSG); “Badminton Hall for Singapore”; “A Badminton Hall for Singapore?: Finding Future Stars,” Straits Times, 15 July 1934, 19; “Dragon”, “Need of Badminton Halls in Malaya,” Sunday Tribune (Singapore), 15 November 1936, 19; “Another Plea for a Badminton Hall,” Straits Times, 23 January 1938, 26. (From NewspaperSG)
5. “Is Singapore Badminton Hall Project Abandoned?Straits Times, 11 March 1939, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
6. Feather “Thomas Cup Open to All Nations,” Straits Times, 12 September 1948, 10; Lee Siew Yee and Reuters, “Malaya Wins the Thomas Cup,” Straits Times, 27 February 1949, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
7. “Victory With Honour,” Malaya Tribune, 28 February 1949, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Roy Ferroa, “Cup Team Will See Latest Lighting,” Straits Times, 2 March 1949, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
9. “Badminton Hall Plans Take Shape,” Singapore Free Press, 20 May 1949, 7; “Pen Sketches of the New Members,” Sunday Tribune (Singapore), 21 March 1948, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
10. “‘Bold Plan’ for Anson Rd. Stadium,” Straits Times, 26 April 1950, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Sharpshooter, “Shuttlers Anxious About the Badminton Hall,” Straits Times, 19 November 1950, 18. (From NewspaperSG)
12. “Hall Site ‘Certain’; S.B.A. Will Build,” Straits Times, 28 February 1951, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
13. “Playing Fields Proposal,” Straits Times, 11 August 1951, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
14. “And the Hall Is Going Up,” Straits Times, 18 March 1952, 12; “Thomas Cup Final May Go to K.L.,” Straits Times, 22 December 1951, 16; “New C’ttee Elected To Take Over Hall Project; Lauds Aw Aid,” Sunday Standard, 11 May 1952, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Christine Diemer, “World’s Best Shuttle Stadium Opens Today,” Singapore Standard, 7 June 1952, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Diemer, “World’s Best Shuttle Stadium Opens Today.”
17. “Happy World Will Be Thomas Cup Venue,” Straits Times, 10 March 1952, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
18. “Malaya’s Cup – And How They Cheered,” Straits Times, 2 June 1952, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
19. Leong Hew Meng, “But Only After Grim Struggle,” Singapore Standard, 6 June 1955, 12; “Mr. G. Keeps an Eye on the ‘Bird’,” Sunday Standard, 5 June 1955, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
20. Charles Bryce, “Teh Kew San Saved Malayan Prestige,” Singapore Free Press, 16 June 1958, 14; Charles Bryce, “Teh Kew San Saved Malayan Prestige,” Singapore Free Press, 16 June 1958, 14; Jeanette Wang, “Start Saying Goodbye,” Straits Times, 29 July 2007, 38; Lim Say Heng, “In Dad's Footsteps, Hopefully,” New Paper, 20 April 2015, 12–13. (From NewspaperSG)
21. “Hall Site ‘Certain’; S.B.A. Will Build”; Diemer, “World’s Best Shuttle Stadium Opens Today”; “Save the Hall Appeal,” Straits Times, 11 March 1954, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
22. J. Laycock, “Mr. Laycock’s Letter,” Singapore Standard, 6 September 1951, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
23. “Laycock Opposes S.B.A.’s $600,000 Hall Plan, Quits,” Singapore Standard, 6 September 1951, 12 (From NewspaperSG); “New C’ttee Elected To Take Over Hall Project.”
24. “Badminton Hall: Aw Boon Haw Gives Big Loan,” Singapore Standard, 9 May 1952, 1; “Badminton Hall ‘Hero’ Is Contractor,” Straits Times, 11 May 1952, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
25. Jeffery James, “Creditor Blacks Out the Stadium,” Sunday Standard, 7 February 1954, 19. (From NewspaperSG)
26. “SBA Records Thanks to Aw & GEC,” Singapore Standard, 7 April 1954, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
27. “Shuttlers Vote for Cheng Chye,” Sunday Standard, 11 April 1954, 17; Lim Kee Chan, “Hall Is ‘Transferred’ Without Any Fuss,” Straits Times, 11 February 1958, 14. (From NewspaperSG)
28. Singapore Badminton Association Club House, Official Opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House, 25; Singapore Sports Council, Annual Report 1977/78 (Singapore: Singapore Sports Council, 1978), 24. (Call no. RCLOS 354.5957093 SSCAR-[AR])
29. Ong Teng Cheong, “Address by Ong Teng Cheong,” in Singapore Badminton Association Club House, The Official Opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Singapore: Singapore Badminton Association Club, 1986), 3. (From PublicationSG)
30. Tan H. D., “A Look Back,” in Singapore Badminton Association Club House, The Official Opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Singapore: Singapore Badminton Association Club, 1986), 27 (From PublicationSG); Tay Cheng Khoon, “President Drops a Shuttle Hint,” Straits Times, 8 May 1986, 25. (From NewspaperSG)
31. Singapore Badminton Association Club House, The Official Opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Singapore: Singapore Badminton Association Club, 1986) (From PublicationSG); Walton Morais, “Badminton Plan Unveiled,” Business Times, 8 May 1986, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
32. Jeanette Wang, “Start Saying Goodbye,” Straits Times, 29 July 2007, 38; Lim Say Heng, “In Dad's Footsteps, Hopefully,” New Paper, 20 April 2015, 12–13 (From NewspaperSG); Abdullah Tarmugi, “The Making of Singapore Badminton Hall,” speech, 1 September 1999, Singapore Badminton Hall, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. (From National Archives of Singapore document no. 1999090101)
33. Wang, “Start Saying Goodbye”; “Serangoon's Talentime,” Sunday Standard, 27 October 1957, 4; “Temple Dance,” Singapore Standard, 30 January 1954, 5; “Preliminary to TV Appearance,” Sunday Standard, 1 January 1956, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
34. “Stripper Chan Comes to Town,” Singapore Free Press, 4 April 1956, 10; “Page 4 Advertisements Column 1: Rose Chan,” Singapore Standard, 25 March 1957, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
35. “Nightclub Singers ‘Steal’ Variety Show,” Singapore Free Press, 8 December 1959, 3; “Puspawarna Singapura Again Please the Crowd,” Straits Times, 2 February 1960, 16. (From NewspaperSG)
36. Judith Yong, “Stones Lose to the Firecrackers,” Straits Times, 18 February 1965, 11; “Cliff Big Hit Here,” Straits Times, 19 November 1961, 5; Siva Choy, “For Love of the Sixties,” Straits Times, 15 April 1982, 1; Nur Syahiidah Zainal, “The Glamour of the Golden 60s,” Straits Times, 11 January 2016, 20. (From NewspaperSG)
37. “1965: Those Were the Days,” Straits Times, 6 July 1990, 4; “Two-Night Yuletide Performance by Quests Quartet,” Straits Times, 15 November 1965, 22; “Stomping at Pop Show,” Straits Times, 15 December 1966, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
38. “9,000 Unionists Roar ‘Merdeka’ As They Pass 5 Resolutions,” Singapore Standard, 29 June 1959, 1; Jackie Sam, “Merger D-Day in S’pore Today,” Straits Times, 1 September 1962, 1 (From NewspaperSG); Tarmugi, “Making of Singapore Badminton Hall.”
39. Tan Hui Yee, ‘Hall of Dreams’ Makes HistoryStraits Times, 2 September 1999, 44. (From NewspaperSG)
40. Wang, “Start Saying Goodbye”; Jeanette Wang, “Singapore Badminton Hall Likely To Close in Jan,” Straits Times, 28 July 2007, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
41. Jeanette Wang, “SBA To Get New Home at Sports School,” Straits Times, 25 September 2007, 36; “Athletics, Table Tennis Moving to Sports School in Woodlands,” Straits Times, 1 November 2007, 42; Judith Tan and Terrence Voon, “Badminton Hall Reborn as F&B, Leisure Hub,” Straits Times, 6 April 2009, 24. (From NewspaperSG)
42. Tan and Voon, “Badminton Hall Reborn.”
43. Tan Yi Hui, “Out With Racquets, In With Rods,” Straits Times, 22 November 2009, 52; Jethro Wang, “Kettlebell Helps To Build Fitness,” New Paper, 12 February 2012, 44; “Throwing a Punch for Amateur MMA Fighters,” Today, 18 December 2014, 46; Wu Jiamin, “Historic Badminton Hall Sports New Cool,” Straits Times, 3 April 2015, 12. (From NewspaperSG)


The information in this article is valid as of May 2023 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


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