>> Enter Senior Police Officers' Mess
Senior Police Officers' Mess
No 153, Mount Pleasant Road
Tel : 64783040 / 64783174
No one appears to know exactly when the Senior Police officers' Mess at 153, Mt Pleasant Road was built. However, an educated guess will place it around the 1930s.
The Mess was originally intended as a home for unmarried British officers of ASP rank and above. The living quarters were sited on the upper floor while the ground floor held the anteroom, dining room and bar.
Officers in those days practically ate all their meals at the Mess, which necessitated the employment of a small catering corps with the traditional 'Hylam cookie' at its centre.
Mess staff were housed in their own quarters at the rear of the mess, at the beck and call of officers needing a quick meal or some other task done.
Friday nights were social nights, with music and dancing, and these were attended by unmarried and married officers and their guests.
Orchestras and bands being somewhat scarce in those days, the services of the Police Band were regularly prevailed upon. The band was made up of Sikh and Malay bandsmen led by a British bandmaster.
On Sunday afternoons, the high point of social activities was cricket in the Academy grounds (then known as the Police Training School), followed by the inevitable Sunday tiffin, to which lady friends were invited. But lady friends were expected to follow the very strict rules of the Mess, which allowed them to enter only the ante-room. The bar, an all-male bastion, was strictly out of bounds to ladies.
What happened to the Mess during the Japanese Occupation is yet another unknown chapter in its history, but it appears to have been the victim of looting. Mr Wong Ah Sun, who has been a mess steward for 42 years, recalls making his way through the tapioca garden that is now the lawn and tennis courts and entering a Mess devoid of furnishings.
From 1946, a steady effort was made to restore the Mess to its pre-war elegance.
The end of the war also signalled other major changes. Under the policy of Malayanisation, more and more Asian senior officers began to replace colonial police officers. For the first time, the Mess, which had hither to been an exclusive European enclave, opened its doors to Asian senior officers.
However, most Asian senior officers were married, had their own quarters and therefore did not need to use the Mess. As a result, the number of unmarried officers living in the Mess gradually dwindled.
When inspectors were upgraded to the status of Division One officers, the Mess ceased to be a Gazetted Officers' Mess and was made a combined Mess for all senior officers. An extensive renovation programme was put into motion, resulting in the modernisation of the dining hall, billiards room and cafeteria.
Today, the Mess boasts facilities that few officers in pre-war days would have dreamt of, such as tennis courts, an air-conditioned lounge, a gymnasium and hostel facilities for visiting guests.
Will the Mess gradually turn into an officers' club, rather than a mess, with modern restaurant, swimming pool and other social and recreational facilities, and if so, will the old atmosphere of the Mess slowly disappear?
We hope that in the course of upgrading our facilities, there will be no tradeoff resulting in the erosion of Mess traditions and customs.
In short - let us keep our Officers' Mess.