Chek Jawa Visitor Centre

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Timings : 8:30 AM - 6:00 PM

Time Required : 1 hour

Entry Fee : No Entry Fee

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Chek Jawa Visitor Centre, Singapore Overview

A quaint little cottage situated on the eastern part of the island of Pulau Ubin, the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre is housed in the structur of the former House No. 1, which was built as a holiday home by the British during the colonial era. As it was built around 80 years ago, the cottage, which is situated among dense foliage, has architectural features which are reminiscent of Tudor style buildings, characteristic of 16th century England.

The Chek Jawa Visitor Centre has many unique features which set it apart from other buildings built during the colonial period. Surrounded by pine trees, this charming little house has two-storeys, a large airy verandah, a magnificent fireplace and even its own jetty. Visitors are treated to a breathtaking view of mainland Singapore and the lovely island of Pulau Sekudu. Timber frames and joints, black metal frame windows with double layers, terracotta tiles in a honeycomb design and brilliant granite masonry lend this building a tranquil old world charm. The various hidden nooks and corners offer visitors the chance to experience some peaceful time away from the hustle and bustle of mainland Singapore. One can find several information panels and exhibits on the ground floor which depict the history and the rich biodiversity of Chek Jawa.

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Sightseeing at the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre

There are various noticeable aspects of the former House No. 1, currently serving as the Chek Jawa Visitor Center. The original fireplace of the House is so rare that it is considered to be the only one left in Singapore. Although the House had a working chimney, the fireplace had to be boarded up because the chimney now houses a colony of rare Pouched Tomb bats. The original water tower of House No. 1 also could not be used because it houses another rare species of bats called the Malayan False Vampire Bats. During renovations, the charming little jetty of House No. 1 was rebuilt, and the servants’ quarters were turned into restrooms.

The gorgeous little islet of Pulau Sekudu can also be seen from the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre. Popularly called Frog Island because of the huge boulder on it shaped like a frog, this tiny islet has magnificent seagrass meadows, lovely rock formations, a natural lagoon and even mangrove trees. As such it is rich in marine life. However, an official permission is required to land on this islet, which is now a part of Chek Jawa.

History of the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre

Built in the 1930s, House No. 1 served as a holiday retreat for Langdon Williams, the then Chief Surveyor of Singapore. However, this account is often contradicted by other accounts which claim that House No.1 originally served as a vacation home for a resident British medical officer. The cottage was then taken over by a rubber company and served as the home of the manager of the rubber estate. It changed hands many times, before being finally acquired by the Singaporean Government in 1990s. After being left in a state of neglect for over a decade, House No. 1 was finally renovated after being granted conservation status in 2003. A complete renovation of the House continued for two years, as it had been severely infected by termites, and was finally completed in 2006. It was then opened as the Chek Jawa Visitor Center in 2007.

Colonial Architecture of the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre

The Chek Jawa Visitor Centre uses the structure of the former House No. 1, built during the colonial period by the British. It was built in the style of the 16th century Tudor houses found in Britain at the time. As such, it has some very unique architectural features. These include:
  • Black metal framed windows, which although common in Tudor style houses, are unique in House No. 1 because they have double frame layers with netting to keep out insects.
  • Beautifully made frames and joints out of black timber, which were built to support the stone walls of the house. Sadly, many of these joints had to be replaced due to a major termite infestation.
  • Strikingly made quoins, which used the granite found at Pulau Ubin.
  • House No. 1 has been decorated with terracotta tiles, which have been arranged in a unique honeycomb manner, uncommon to Tudor style homes. These terracotta tiles have been preserved well through the years.

How To Reach Chek Jawa Visitor Centre

The Chek Jawa Visitor Centre is situated on Pulau Ubin, an island off the coast of Changi, and can be reached by public bumboats from Changi Point. Visitors should take a bumboat from Changi Jetty (now called Changi Point Ferry Terminal), which is near the Changi Village Hawker Centre. From the Ubin jetty, visitors may hire a vehicle or rent a cycle to get to the visitor centre, located on the eastern tip of the island.

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