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Homes with a Story: Adam Park Estate

By: AMY BROOK-PARTRIDGE; PHOTOGRAPHY BY EMILY NEWELL

Tucked away in a corner of Bukit Timah is Adam Park Estate, home to 19 colonial black-and-white houses that are steeped in history. We invited ourselves over to see BEVERLEY HAMPSON-FROUD’s beautiful example of this architectural style, to discover how her family secured their dream home – and to hear the historical secrets they’ve uncovered while living there.


Who lives in the house:
British expats (with Australian citizenship) Beverley and Michael Froud, with daughter Ellie, housekeeper Annavi, and Mabel and Maggie the dogs.

The rest of the family: Eldest son Daniel, who now lives in Sydney; Lewis, who lives in London; Natasha, who still lives in Singapore and works at the Australian International School; Jessica, in her final year at Winchester University in the UK; and Rhiannon, now studying at RMIT University in Melbourne.

Time in Singapore: Five years. Prior to this they emigrated from the UK to Australia, where they lived for four years.

Beverley’s favourite room: The living room. “Now I just have to bring the rest of the house up to this standard.”

Having arrived in Singapore from Australia in 2011, Beverley admits she has always had her eye on living in a black-and-white house. “We took a tour of various black-and-whites when we first moved here, but the prices were still quite high, so we moved to a house in Serangoon Gardens. I really wanted to live locally, not in ‘expat city’, and I loved it for the two years we were there.”

Despite the fact they loved the area and their neighbours, the house became something of a disaster area; and with Beverley feeling like a project manager for the property rather than just a tenant, they decided to move.

They relocated to a house closer to the Australian International School, which daughter Ellie still attends. “But the house was just too big for us, so we ended up looking to move on again after two years. We had tried to find a black-and-white house before, but they were rarer than hen’s teeth back then.”

This time round, there were more than 70 showing up as empty on the Singapore Land Authority website, and so Beverley set her sights on securing one. She rang agent after agent, and eventually got to speak to someone who was willing to show her two properties in Adam Park – one was up for auction, the other open to offers. “Our agent was pushing us towards the first one, but we pushed back, and eventually secured the one that we had fallen in love with. Sadly, there are still many others that are empty.”

Five of their six children having flown the coop already, Beverley and husband Michael didn’t need as much space, so the three-bedroom Adam Park bolthole suited their needs perfectly. The house did, however, need some care and attention. “We had the pool put in, added decking and air-conditioning, and replaced the old attap, as well as a lot of the lights; we also removed a partition wall in Ellie’s room, and generally refreshed everything.”

Although they are spending money on items that will most likely have to be removed once they leave, Beverley doesn’t mind. “One of the reasons for choosing a place like this is that we can take care of it ourselves and make it as homey as possible.”

Beverley is a keen gardener (and helper Annavi provides plenty of assistance), so having a good green space was a prerequisite. “Gardening is one of my passions, even here; I get my inspiration from the Botanic Gardens, where I take pictures for us to try to copy at home.”


The Adam Park Project (TAPP)

“TAPP was set up in 2009 with the aim to assess the potential for battlefield archaeology in Singapore. At first look, one might believe that in this modern, bustling city there is little evidence to be found of a war that took place 70 years ago. However, such conflict leaves deep scars, and every river, street corner, forest track and building that is older than 70 years could have been a battlefield.

Adam Park is a remarkable WWII heritage site. Not only did the buildings witness a three-day battle but they also housed 2,000 prisoners for most of 1942. In addition, the wartime story of each tenant in the estate provides a remarkable snapshot of civilian life during the war years. Over 1,400 artefacts connected to the fighting and the lives of the prisoners of war have been recovered from the gardens. However, as the discovery of the murals at the Froud’s house demonstrates, there is much more evidence to be found. The greatest ‘finds’ of all, though, are the houses themselves, and we hope that they will be brought under government protection to ensure their preservation in the years ahead.

The latest phase of TAPP has now come to an end with the publication of the book Tigers in the Park, and more importantly with the opening of the first virtual battlefield museum in Singapore, which acts as a depository for all the research material and archaeological findings. This allows the visitor to delve into the same material that inspired the book and to explore the wealth of archives and photographs for themselves. We hope this is the first of many such museums that will enhance the heritage experience of Singapore and keep these incredible sites intact for future generations. ”

adamparkproject.com

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This is an extract of the article that first appeared in the May 2016 edition of Expat Living. For the full story, you can purchase a copy. Alternatively, Subscribe so you never miss an issue!

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