Weather :

Time Required : 1-2 hours

Entry Fee : SGD 3 per person
Free for:
All Children under 6
Singaporeans and permanent residents
Singapore student pass holders
Museum Roundtable members

Timings : Monday - Saturday: 9.00 AM - 5:30 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Open during Public Holidays except on the first day of Chinese New Year

Old Ford Factory, Singapore Overview

The Former Ford Factory is a historic site and the venue of a permanent World War II exhibition, located at Upper Bukit Timah Road. Built in 1941 as an automobile factory, the building gained importance as it was the site of British surrender to the Japanese during World War II, in 1942. This national monument is an ideal location for history buffs and tourists to learn about Singapore’s colonial history, and how the Japanese occupation changed the landscape of the country.

The Old Ford Factory has four permanent exhibitions and various collections that comprise of archival records, personal items, oral accounts, letters, and other memos that give visitors a multifaceted view of this tumultuous time. Sketching the history of the Lion City from the early twentieth century, the National Archives of Singapore now maintains the Former Ford Factory and museum. The iconic Surrender Room where the British ceded control and the archival letters make the former Ford Factory a poignant visit for patrons to understand and contemplate the consequences of war.

Photos of Old Ford Factory

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Exhibitions at Former Ford Factory

Divided into four parts, the permanent exhibition traces the history of Singapore and the former Ford Factory from pre-war times to the legacies of the battles. Letters, oral records, archival material, and other data are presented to show the complex and diverse accounts of the Singaporean population during World War II and its aftermath.

Introduction: This part introduces visitors to the old Ford Motor Factory, right from being the first motorcar assembly plant in Southeast Asia to its current status as a national monument. An interactive map allows patrons to get a panoramic view of the factory and understand the surrounding area as well.

Fall of Singapore: In 1942, the British surrender to the Japanese at the very premises of the Ford Motor Factory. Step back in time and watch the events that led to this historic moment at the recreated Surrender Room of the Factory, with archival footage and records from local Singaporeans, British officers, and Japanese military forces. The three different narratives give visitors a unique vantage point to understand the dynamics at play.

Becoming Syonan: After the British ceded control to the Japanese, Singapore was renamed Syonan-to – ‘Light of the South.’ The Japanese occupation was marked by false promises of a ‘Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere’ and development, and subsequent local suffering. Comprising of sombre oral accounts and personal memorabilia, this section details common life under the scanner of the Sook Ching – a massive screening process that culminated in violence and death.

Legacies of War: This section looks to the future and how the war is to be interpreted for generations to come. Looking at the various reactions to the war and how the British were received when they came back to Singapore in 1945, this section outlines the decolonization and urbanization efforts that made the Lion City what it is today. Remembering the fallen heroes of the battle, ‘Legacies of War’ asks pertinent questions on how one must understand the war and peace.

Collections at Old Fort Factory

  • Map of Singapore on 83 Key Locations: Donated from the National Library collection, this map collection hold annotated photographs of 83 important locations of erstwhile Singapore, documented by Japanese spies prior to the war. The legend and booklet provide information on how the informants used this data to circumvent these locations during the attacks on Singapore.
  • Air Raid Precaution Squad and other Identity Cards: This exhibit showcases the military and civilian ID cards that every Singaporean had to carry under Defence Regulations. This restriction foreshadowed the upcoming war as it was seen as a measure to weed out potential spies and informants.  
  • Postcards of Artists’ Impressions of War Scenes: Donated by an office of the Japanese Imperial Army’s propaganda department, these postcards were originally distributed to Japanese soldiers after the war and depicted Singapore after yielding in battle.  
  • Overseas Chinese Certificate of Registration: Immediately after the British surrendered in Singapore in 1942, Chinese men were asked to appear for a mass screening process, and allowed to leave only after approval. The exhibit bears an approved certificate belonging to a certain Ow Kit.
  • Records from the British Military Administration Files: The incident of Joseph Francis’s torture at the hands of the Japanese Kempeitai is documented in this collection at Former Ford Factory. The letters were written by Francis’s brother and friend, describing his efforts in the anti-Japanese resistance.  
  • Malayan Emergency: This exhibit documents the tumultuous period of war between the Malayan Communist Party and the colonial government. Emergency was declared in Singapore island between 1948 and 1960, and newspaper clippings from the time show the complex dynamics between the rebels and the government.
  • Dalforce Medals: This medal collection comprises of the Pacific Star, the War Medal, and the 1939-45 Star awarded to Wong Yew Fook, a Dalforce Battalion soldier, and other members that fought in the Battle of Singapore.
  • British Military Administration Message to the People of Malaya: This four-language pamphlet aimed to reassure the people of Malaya after the war, and was published by the interim British Military Administration to appease the locals and acknowledge their problems.

Free Guided Tours

Free guided tours are offered at the Former Ford Factory on a first-come, first-serve basis. Volunteers and docents take patrons around the museum to give insider information and more details on the various collections. Each tour accommodates 20 members, so it is advisable to reach the meeting place – the lobby – 15 minutes prior to the starting time.

English tours
Timings:
Tuesday – Friday: 2:30 PM
Saturday, Sunday: 11:00 AM and 3:30 PM

Mandarin tours
Timings:
Saturday: 11:30 AM

History of Former Ford Factory

Built in 1941 as Southeast Asia’s first motorcar factory, this building was constructed in the Art Deco style with huge doorways and glazed windows. A factory of the Ford Motor Company of Malaya, this establishment supplied vehicles to Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, Thailand, and Borneo. An iconic landmark in the industrial revolution of Singapore, the factory initially produced military vehicles and fighter planes for the British army to combat the Japanese. However, as surrender became imminent, Japanese Commander General Tomoyuki Yamashita seized Ford Factory. On February 15 1942, British General Arthur Percival met General Yamashita at the Factory’s board room and capitulated. This monumental event sealed the fate of the factory. 

During the Japanese occupation, Nissan Motors manufactured trucks here. After the war ended in 1945, the British army gave back the factory to Ford, after which the company used the premises till 1980. In 2006, the factory was marked as a national monument, and the National Archives decided to exhibit World War II artefacts here.

How to Reach Old Ford Factory

The Ford Factory is located at 351 Upper Bukit Timah Road.

Bus: The following buses ply to Upper Bukit Timah Road: 67, 75, 170, 171, 173, 178, 184, 961

MRT: Take the Downtown Line to Hillview MRT Station or Beauty World MRT Station, and take a bus to The Hillside. The building is a short walk away.

Car: From Batok East Avenue, turn left to Old Jurong Road and enter Upper Bukit Timah Road. Cross St Clare School for Special Education and drive down Upper Bukit Timah Road. The Former Ford Factory is on the left.

Car Parking: Limited parking is available at the Former Ford Factory.

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