Institute of Mental Health (IMH) - formerly known as the Mental Hospital, was established in 1928. It was later renamed as Woodbridge Hospital in 1951. Today, nobody wants to be associated to the names. Even the road leading to the hospital, Jalan Woodbridge, is now known as Gerald Drive.
So why would anyone want to visit this place? Well, the hospital is no longer the dreary place that it was once known to be.
In 1993, the hospital moved from the old Jalan Woodbridge to Buangkok. There's a quaint food court that faces the Heritage Garden. There's also the Woodbridge Museum that is open to public.
Greeting you at the entrance is this antiquated bell. Built in England, this 1928 bell was installed in the old clock tower that has since been demolished. The bell rung thrice a day, reminding the patients that it was meal time. It was also rung on special occasions such as Christmas and New Year.
I was actually stopped by the security guards as photography of the wards is not allowed. However, I assured the guard that my intent was pandering towards history and heritage. With that, you want along his way as I continued my visit to the hospital. Walking through the lobby, you will come to the "Heritage Garden".
|Photo courtesy of National Library Board (1)|
As from the newspaper cutting above, one can see the distinctive star burst concrete ventilation that allowed for fresh air to enter the ward. IMH has salvaged one of these ventilation.
Found in the Heritage Garden are other parts of the old building that sought to keep the mentally ill patients in - the metal gates and the solid metal tubes windows.
To further capture how the Woodbridge Hospital operated in the past, IMH dedicated a portion of space to set up a museum. This is on the second level of the main building.
Seeing some of these rudimentary tools on display, I can just imagine the horrid times that these patients had to go through.
The non-descript food container and the water jug added no joy to the Woodbridge patients. Everything was sterile; no colours on the wall to add life.
Visiting the Heritage Garden and the Woodbridge Museum has shown me how much the treatment of mental patients has changed. The current lodging condition of IMH is surely much better than before. Medical advances have also taught medical workers how they can treat mental patients with greater dignity.
1. Singapore's New Mental Hospital in Singapore. September 24, 1927. Malayan Saturday Post. P36.