Fort Siloso: A Piece of Sentosa’s Past Preserved

Fort Siloso

Once upon a time, there were four military forts on Sentosa. Today, only one coastal fort remains, Fort Siloso.

Located at the westernmost end of Sentosa, Fort Siloso is built on top of a hill once known as Tiger Hill in Malay. This position provided commanding views of the waters to the South of Singapore, as well as views of Keppel Harbour.

Fort Siloso’s Past

Gun battery at Fort SilosoWork on Fort Siloso started in 1878 and over the years, the Fort was expanded and enhanced. As late at 1941, work was still being carried on with a Fire Director Tower built at Siloso Point.

Guns on display at Fort Siloso, Sentosa
Guns on display at Fort Siloso, Sentosa

Contrary to a popular myth that says Fort Siloso’s guns were facing the wrong way and did not take part in the Battle of Singapore, the guns at Fort Siloso did take part in the defence of Singapore. However, they did not have much impact as their rounds were intended to be used against ships as opposed to troops.

During the Japanese Occupation, Fort Siloso was used as a Prisoner of War camp. After the war, it was reoccupied by British forces before being handed over to the Singapore government in 1967.

It was then designated a historical site in 1972 when it was decided that the island called Blakang Mati would be redeveloped as Sentosa.

Visiting Fort Siloso Today

In May 2017, Fort Siloso was further enhanced to allow visitors a better self-guided experience around the site.

Fort Siloso Skywalk
Fort Siloso Skywalk

The main entry point to Fort Siloso is now via the Fort Siloso Skywalk. Visitors can take a lift up to the Skywalk. It is a 5-minute walk along the 181 metre elevated walkway to Fort Siloso.

Visitors start their visit at the upper levels of the Fort and work their way downwards.

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Fort Siloso has three tunnel systems. These were used to house the ammunition for the guns above.

Depiction of activity in underground gun magazine at Tunnel C, Fort SilosoThe first, Tunnel C, can be explored at the peak of Fort Siloso. Inside, as indeed found throughout Fort Siloso, are mannequins that provide a visual representation of the activities carried out by soldiers stationed at the Fort.

Heritage Trail or Gun Trail

Visitors can explore the Fort by following one of two trails. The Heritage Trail takes visitors around the various buildings of the Fort. The Gun Trail is a tour around the different type of guns and cannons on display at the Fort.

For the general visitor who would like to find out more about the Fort, we would recommend the Heritage Trail. Just follow the markers on the ground.

Heritage Trail Starting Point, Fort Siloso, SentosaFrom the Heritage Trail’s starting point, venture up to the Battery Command Post.

Inside the Battery Command TowerInside, don’t be alarmed by the sounds you hear – it is an audio track that simulates what it must have been like in 1942 when the guns were used in the Battle of Singapore.

The Heritage Trail then leads on to Fort Siloso Square, the main parade square. Next to Fort Siloso Square are the Casemates which now holds an exhibition about World War 2.

Tunnel Tales & Surrender Chambers

Inside Siloso Tunnel Complex B
Inside Siloso Tunnel Complex B

The Siloso Tunnel B Complex is also found here. It is located below the 6 inch gun battery. Inside, learn about life for Prisoners of War, such as those who were held at Fort Siloso.

Carrying on downhill, there is the Store and Engine Room buildings. These contain exhibitions about Force 136, a special military force, and life during the Occupation.

Director Tower at Siloso PointProceed underground again at Tunnel Complex A. The tunnel’s long passageway leads down to the cliff face at Siloso Point and the Fire Director Tower.

Surrender Chambers at Fort SilosoNext along the trail is the Surrender Chambers. This museum has also been enhanced to provide a more visual experience for visitors.

Back to the 1880s

GuardroomFrom the Surrender Chambers, head toward the Guardroom with the Union Jack flying on the flagpole outside. The next section of the trail takes you back to the 1880s and the life of a British soldier stationed at Fort Siloso.

Parbuckling, a method for moving heavy equipment such as guns
Parbuckling, a method for moving heavy equipment such as guns.

Go through the Guardroom and make your way up the wooden ramp behind it. As you walk up the hill, imagine what it must have been like for the soldiers who had to haul cannons and ammunition up the hill with muscle power alone.

HMS Troopship

Barracks at Fort Siloso in the 1800s
Barracks at Fort Siloso in the 1800s

Cookhouse at Fort SilosoAt the next few sections, you will be able to view scenes of what it was like making the 60-day journey in 1885 from Britain to Singapore, the living quarters for soldiers and how they went about their daily activities.

This trail leads you back to the top of Fort Siloso.

Visiting Fort Siloso

Fort Siloso provides an interesting look at life in a colonial coastal defence fort in the late 1800s and first half of the 20th Century. It is a world apart from the rest of the bustle of Sentosa and a must-visit for military buffs or those interested to learn more about Singapore’s history.

Fort Siloso, Sentosa

Opening Hours: 10 am to 6 pm, Last admission at 5.30 pm.
Free Admission

READ: Surrender Chambers – A Story of Two Surrenders

READ: World War 2 Sites in Singapore Hidden in Plain Sight

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