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(1) Mini's own picnic bench can be unfolded from the boot.

(2) Wide open spaces with a view of the Seletar Airport Runway.

(3) An airplane-themed playground in The Oval @ Seletar Aerospace Park for the kids.

(4) Colonial bungalows that used to house the families of the British RAF.
Memories - a MINI look at Singapore's heritage

Fly and Drive

Get a dose of aviation history at Seletar Aerospace Park.
Jul 1, 2017 5:50 AM

IT'S easy to get so excited about the new developments at the Seletar Aerospace Park that you forget this was Singapore's first international airport in the 1930s, way before Changi Airport was a thought on any urban planner's mind.

Currently, the 320-hectare space is part of JTC's (S$60-million) redevelopment project. It includes the grounds of the Seletar Airport, as well as the 32 colonial bungalows that are part of The Oval @ Seletar Aerospace Park.Restaurants, cafes and even an airplane-themed children's playground are drawing people from all parts of town to this new hipster hangout. It's an excellent location for a weekend drive, where you can soak up some history and even have a picnic. Mini Countryman's inbuilt picnic bench makes it a much more comfortable affair too.

The one landmark you can't miss is the Seletar Airport itself, which was purpose-built for the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and completed in 1929. It became Singapore's first international civil airport in 1930 until the opening of Kallang Airport seven years later.

The Seletar Airport also served as the RAF's first airbase in our part of the world, and was used as a military base in WWII. During the Japanese Occupation, it was taken over by the Japanese military.

 One good spot to get a view of the not-so-busy runway is Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafè, a two-year-old cafe run by local artist Poon Kng Joo.

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If aviation isn't quite your thing, then check out one of the restaurants housed in the bungalows that were built near the airport to house the families of the RAF. Because the site used to be made up of mangrove swamps and uneven land, it had to be reclaimed and cleared by thousands of labourers including the Samsui women.

Though there were a total of 378 bungalows in the area originally, almost half have been set aside for demolition to make way for new developments. As for the 32 conservation bungalows within The Oval, 23 are of the "Black and White" style, while the other nine double storey bungalows are of the Early Modern style and built after WWII.

Some of the completed eateries include YOUNGS Bar & Restaurant by the Pentagon Group, Di Wei Teochew Restaurant, The Summerhouse by the 1-Group, and Wheeler's Estate. Or, create your own 'restaurant' - with a blanket, favourite snacks and comfortable seating from your own car boot.

Memories is brought to you by the new MINI Countryman - designed to start conversations, make new friends, #AddStories.