Whether you’re a sceptic or believer, facts are facts: hospitals are creepy, man. Maybe it’s their long corridors or unnervingly sterile rooms – whatever it is, there’s one in Singapore that really takes the cake for 10/10 scary vibes: Old Changi Hospital.
It ticks all the boxes: it’s abandoned, ulu, and quite possibly haunted. But beyond the tittle-tattle and ghost stories from secondary school chalet gatherings, here’s what you need to know about Singapore’s scariest site.
The now-defunct Changi Hospital was built in 1935 by the British colonial government as part of the military base camp in the Changi area. It included two military buildings – Blocks 24 and 37 – that were a part of the Kitchener Barracks, which housed the Royal Engineers of the British Army.
Block 37 was one of the hospital’s military buildings.
Image credit: @superche_sg via Instagram
However, the hospital’s heyday was short-lived, with the grounds being seized by Japanese troops in 1942 and used as a holding area for prisoners of war.
POWs in Changi’s Roberts Barracks, where medical facilities from the Kitchener Barracks were transferred briefly during WWII.
Image credit: via G.H.O.S.T Club SG
This is where things started getting shady. Though Kitchener Barracks still operated as a medical facility for war casualties and injured military personnel, WWII also saw the grounds being used by the Kempeitai. If your memories of social studies class are hazy, well, the Kempeitai were the Japanese military police notorious for their brutal torture techniques.
Old rooms that have since been left to the elements.
Image credit: @abandonedwalker via Instagram
Rumour has it that the hospital held Kempeitai torture chambers, and had a room with thick chains hanging from the walls and blood-stained floors. Yeesh.
With its hair-raising history, it’s no wonder the hospital gained its spooky reputation over the years.
After the Japanese surrendered, the Kitchener Barracks were converted into the Royal Air Force (RAF) Hospital Changi. A third building, block 161, was added in the 1960s to link blocks 24 and 37.
Block 161 stood out for its “modern” look at the time compared to its pre-war counterparts.
Image credit: Bruce Smith
Over the years, through Singapore’s gaining of independence and the withdrawal of British troops, the hospital saw more changes in the 70s. During this period, it went by the names of ANZUK Hospital, UK Military Hospital, Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Hospital, and finally, Changi Hospital.
Medical services also became available to members of the public, and no longer were just for military personnel and their families.
View of the sea from the hospital’s upper floors.
Image credit: @loxkim via Instagram
However, not all bode well. The layout of the hospital was less than ideal – its blocks were separated by steep slopes and hills, leading to extra time needed just to get from one place to another.
Image credit: @andywillet_sg via Instagram
Plus, this made it difficult for medical services to be efficiently carried out. So the hospital officially closed in 1997, after merging with Toa Payoh Hospital to form Changi General Hospital.
The hallways that were once roamed by staff and patients now saw trespassers and vandals, marking the beginning of the site’s new identity as Old Changi Hospital.
Graffiti in a rusty lift.
Image adapted from: @urbex.boss via Instagram
Old Changi Hospital has had its fair share of baggage over the years. I mean, as if people coming in to vandalise the space wasn’t enough, whispers started to fly that Satanists were using its rooms as sites for demonic practices.
Image credit: @urbex.boss via Instagram
Naturally, rumours of the hospital being haunted began going around. People reported strange happenings during their adventures, from spotting apparitions in pre-war clothing to spirits in medical uniforms along the corridors.
A cyclist around the area was taking a video of OCH when he caught a mysterious black figure appear at a window and vanishing seconds later.
Image credit: STOMP
The grounds were even used by production houses as film sets for shows such as Incredible Tales and Haunted Changi.
While none of these stories can ever truly be verified, we can’t deny the thrill of hearing them nonetheless. 90s’ kids will know how late-night class gatherings were never complete without at least one story about Old Changi Hospital – and usually from that garang fella who claimed to have gone there themselves.
Image credit: @search.singapore via Instagram
From a relic of our colonial past to its post-war transformation, Old Changi Hospital goes beyond being a he-said-she-said story you’d have found on sites such as SFOGS.com. Plans of refurbishing the landmark have fallen through over the years and it still stands vacant till today. People are usually not allowed to enter, with security officers stationed around the premises, but you can enquire with Supernatural Confessions about their Saturday night tours of the hospital at $85 per participant.
Thanks to modern technology, we can also enjoy the sights of OCH from the comforts – and safety – of our own homes with Adventures Unlimited’s free 360° Old Changi Hospital video tour. Sure, it’s not the same as exploring it IRL – but hey, at least you won’t attract any ghosties online.
Check out more chilling Singapore stories here:
Article originally published on 1st March 2021. Last updated by Xin Tian Koh on 22nd August 2023.
Cover image adapted from: @andywillet_sg, @search.singapore, @urbex.boss and @abandonedwalker
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