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St James Power Station Has A Free Gallery & Kid-Friendly Heritage Trail To Explore

St James Power Station Heritage Gallery & Heritage Trail


Head to VivoCity or Sentosa and you’ll likely catch sight of the iconic red-brick building with its striking white chimney and 3-storey high windows. 

That’s the St James Power Station, which no longer supplies power, but now serves as a Heritage Trail and Gallery. History buffs will be delighted with a free deep dive into Singapore’s maritime history and the evolution of how we power our buzzing and ever-growing city.


History of St James Power Station


St James Power Station began in 1926 as a coal-fired power station to supply electricity to nearly 30,000 people in Telok Blangah. It was decommissioned in 1976 as it couldn’t keep up with operating costs and electricity needs.

But the building didn’t sit empty for long. In 1981, the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) repurposed St James Power Station into an automated warehouse to help ease the load off neighbouring Brani Port.

It was decommissioned again then turned into an entertainment centre for nightlife in 2006. Millennials reading this might remember heading to St James Power Station to hop around its 11 nightclubs and music spots. The crowds died down when the music stopped in 2018.

The building has since been gazetted as a National Monument and is now the global HQ of British electronics company Dyson. Just note that only the area below the chimney is open to the public – the rest of it is considered private property.


What you need to know before visiting St James Power Station


While entry to the gallery is free, pre-bookings are a must. You can make an appointment to visit on the St James Power Station’s website.

Food and drinks, along with smoking, are prohibited. Taking pics for the ‘Gram is perfectly fine, but using tripods, selfie sticks, and flash photography is a no-no. The gallery is open to all ages, just note that children below 13 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.


What you can find at the outdoor Heritage Trail


St James Power Station has been a part of the Telok Blangah landscape since 1926.
Image credit: St James Power Station

Right outside St James Power Station, you’ll be greeted with a collection of historical artefacts, starting with the Tanjong Pagar Gateposts, made of cast-iron. These have been here since 1864 as part of the entrance to the Victoria Dock, the harbour at the time.

harpoon gunThis harpoon gun was gifted to the Maritime Museum in 1974. Whaling was common back then.
Image credit: Glitter Spread via Google Maps

Move towards ground level and you’ll spot a harpoon gun originally from the Soviet ship Voshkhititel’nyy’ (meaning “delightful”) that used to dock in Singapore during its expeditions to the Indian Ocean.

anchor
Image credit: Wei Wang via Google Maps


Next to it is a 2m-tall stockless anchor that was commonly used on ships last century. You’ll notice  the lack of horizontal arms that most anchors have; the design choice made it easier to manoeuvre the anchor in deep waters.

Image credit: HarbourFront Centre

The steel framed windows at the beginning of the Heritage Trail were part of the original St James Power Station’s building design. The green-tinted glass kept out the hot tropical sun, way back in not-so-good ol’ days when aircon and UV-blocking window film weren’t a thing.

steam craneImage credit: HarbourFront Centre

Little legs won’t get too tired on the mini-trail, and kiddos will be rewarded with a view of the 10-tonne steam crane that once ran along the docks on a set of railway tracks. It was in use for a full 100 years – before being decommissioned in 1983.

Fun fact: The company who supplied the parts for the steam crane is the same company that once provided our rails for our MRT for more than 30 years.


What can you find out at the Heritage Gallery


If you’ve ever wondered what the inside of the building’s prominent chimney looks like or how steam power works, you’ll be able to find out from the Heritage Gallery. It houses a museum with the history of St James Power Station and the surrounding area’s evolution as a port.

One highlight of the museum is an intricate 3D artwork of the complex system of water, steam, and electricity of the original power station. Both kids and adults can learn about how Singapore once relied on steam power by whipping out their phones and scanning the QR code to interact with the exhibit.

There’s also an animated augmented reality video series combining oral history, interviews, and archival film footage that breathe life into the past, especially for the kids.


Image credit:
St James Power Station

Another exhibit, “Alternative Futures”, looks from the past to the future. Eco-warriors who are all about green life can immerse themselves in exploring Singapore’s search for clean and renewable power sources in the coming decades.

ChimneyA photo of the refurbished West Chimney is a must for the gram.
Image credit: @ciawush via Instagram


How to get to St James Power Station


The nearest MRT station is HarbourFront that’s an interchange for both the Circle and North-East lines. If you’re taking a bus alight at “HarbourFront Stn/Vivocity” Bus Stop. Enter VivoCity and head to Golden Village at level 2.

Just outside the cinema is an overhead bridge that will take you to St James Power Station. It’s a 6-minute walk from the mall. There are information panels about the history of the Keppel area and St James Power Station along the bridge that give a preview of the heritage trail.


Explore Singapore’s history of power at St James Power Station


St James Power Station has had quite an evolution from a coal-fired power station, port warehouse, entertainment complex, and now a national monument and global headquarters.

The Heritage Gallery and Heritage Trail don’t require a tonne of energy to explore as they cover a small compound. It packs informative history and science journeys in an IG-worthy building – a welcome detour when the kids need a break from an afternoon of shopping.

St James Power Station
Admission Fee
Free
Google Reviews
4.2
(122)
Address
3 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore 098544
Opening Hours:
Wednesday 10:00 AM - 06:00 PM Show More Timings

More guides to the West:


Cover image adapted from: St John’s Power Station & Wei Wang via Google Maps.
Originally published on 8th April 2022. Last updated by Syahiran Sean on 15th May 2024.