This is a continuation from the previous article Old, Common Names of Places in Singapore, and their Origins.
Other than names of our pioneers, early local merchants or governors of Straits Settlements, many roads in Singapore are also named after various items, cities or simply one reason or another.
Even Singaporeans are unaware of the existence of some of the roads!
Do you know while there is a Sunset Way at Clementi, there is also a Sunrise Way off Yio Chu Kang Road? Find out more…
Roads of Fruits
Somewhere off Upper Serangoon Road, there are two minor roads which are interestingly named after fruits: Lorong Lew Lian (罗弄榴莲) and Lorong Ong Lye (罗弄黄梨). The reason is unknown, perhaps in the past there were durian and pineapple plantations around the area. Jalan Durian can be found on Pulau Ubin. There was once a Lorong Koo Chye (罗弄韮菜) at Upper Paya Lebar, but it became defunct when Tai Seng-Ubi was developed into an industrial estate.
Elsewhere at Katong, there is a Lorong Nangka (Jackfruit in Malay), Mangis Road (Manggis is Mangosteen in Malay), Rambai Road, Duku Road, Chiku Road, Langsat Road and Rambutan Road (all tropical fruits).
At MacPherson, there is a network of “fruit-tree” roads which include Lichi Avenue (Lichi is a variant spelling of litchi, or lychee), Cedar Avenue (Cedar trees, native in Southeast Asia and Australia, produce bluish fruits that are poisonous to humans), Mulberry Avenue (Mulberry is native in subtropical regions of Asia, Africa and Americas), Angsana Avenue (common tree found in Singapore with a flat disc-shaped fruit), Kenanga Avenue (Kenanga is the Indonesian name for Ylang-Ylang, a perfume tree with black fruits) and Belimbing Avenue (Belimbing is the Indonesian name for starfruit).
Roads of Bananas
A set of connected roads near Beauty World, Upper Bukit Timah, used banana (pisang in Malay) as names. They are called Lorong Pisang Asam (sour in Malay), Lorong Pisang Batu (stone), Lorong Pisang Emas (gold), Lorong Pisang Hijau (green), Lorong Pisang Raja (king) and Lorong Pisang Udang (prawn). Jalan Pisang is located at Kampong Glam.
Roads of Nuts
At Bukit Panjang neighbourhood, a series of minor roads, drives and crescents are named after nuts, namely Almond, Cashew, Chestnut and Hazel.
Roads of Royalties
There exists a “royal” estate along Farrer Road, where the roads are named after monarch titles: King’s Road, Queen’s Road, Empress Road, Prince Road, Duke Road, Duchess Road, Prince of Wales Road, Princess of Wales Road and Coronation Road.
Prince Charles Crescent and Prince Phillip Avenue are two parallel roads along Alexandra Road, while King Albert Park is a minor road at the junction of Bukit Timah Road and Clementi Road, and King George’s Avenue is found at Jalan Besar.
King’s Road and Queen’s Road are not to be confused with King’s Avenue and Queen’s Avenue located at Sembawang. There is a Queen Street in the City but no King Street exists in Singapore. There is a Jalan Rajah (“king” in Malay) at Balestier though.
Roads of Poets
The roads at Teacher’s Estate, Yio Chu Kang Road, are all named after famous poets and philosophers. There are three roads named after Chinese poets, namely Li Po (李白) Avenue, Tu Fu (杜甫) Avenue, Tung Po (苏东坡) Avenue. Iqbal Avenue is named after Muhammad Iqbal, a Muslim poet and philosopher who lived in British India from 1877 to 1938.
In the same estate, there are also Tagore Avenue (named after Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)), Kalidasa Avenue (refers to 4th century Sanskrit writer Kalidasa), Omar Khayyam Avenue (named after Persian poet/philosopher Omar Khayyam (1048-1131)) and Munshi Abdullah Avenue (Munshi Abdullah (1797-1854) was the Father of Modern Malay Literature). At Serenade Walk, the word serenade means a musical performance in someone’s honour.
Roads of Places
There are many roads in Singapore that are named after cities or places of other countries in the world.
Two parallel short roads called Butterworth Road and Ipoh Road (Malaysia) exist at Tanjong Katong. At Raffles Place, there is the Malacca Road, whereas Pahang Street and Johore Road (now defunct) are located in Kampong Glam. There are three roads named after Penang, namely Penang Road, Penang Lane (near Fort Canning) and Jalan Pinang (Penang) at Kampong Glam. Interestingly, Perak Road is at Little India while Trengganu Street is found in Chinatown.
In the downtown where the early Chinese resided, many streets are named after cities or provinces of China, such as China Street, Amoy (厦门) Street, Canton (广州) Street, Chin Chew (possibly referring to 泉州) Street, Hokien (福建) Street, Nankin (南京) Street and Pekin (北京) Street (now an inner street). Shanghai (上海) Road is located off River Valley Road, and Yunnan (云南) Crescent/Drive/Walk are at Jurong West.
Interestingly, during the days of Nanyang University (1956-1980), many roads inside the campus were named after cities and places of China, as seen in the map above. There were the likes of Peking (北京), Sinkiang (新疆), Tibet (西藏), Fuchow (福州), Swatow (汕头), Amoy (厦门), Thaipu (大浦), Wuchang (武昌), Szechuan (四川), Chungking (重庆), Nanking (南京), Tientsin (天津) and Hangchow (杭州). All these roads were defunct after the university shut down in 1980.
A host of roads named after Burma cities, towns and landmarks can be found near the Moulmein Flyover of CTE. On one side there are the Rangoon (capital of Burma 1948-2006) Road and Mergui (Burma’s Mergui Archipelago) Road. On the other side lie Akyab (Burmese city) Road, Ava (capital 1364-1841) Road, Bassein (city) Road, Bhamo (city) Road, Irrawaddy (Burmese river) Road, Mandalay (capital 1860-1885) Road, Martaban (Burmese town) Road, Minbu (city) Road, Pegu (city) Road, Prome (town) Road and Shan (Burmese ethic group) Road.
Near Little India, Bristol Road, Cambridge Road, Carlisle Road, Devonshire Road, Dorset Road, Durham Road, Gloucester Road, Hampshire Road, Hertford Road, Kent Road, Norfolk Road, Northumberland Road, Oxford Road, Rutland Road, and Truro Road are all named after England counties.
Singapore roads that are named after England’s towns, cities and suburbs include Exeter Road, Oxley Road, Somerset Road and Tiverton Road.
Outside Sembawang Shipyard, which was formerly the British Naval Base, the roads were named after countries, capitals and cities in the Commonwealth of Nations. They are the Auckland (New Zealand city) Road, Bermuda (British overseas territory in North Atlantic Ocean) Road, Canada Road, Canberra (Australia’s capital) Avenue, Durban (South African city) Road, Falkland (British overseas territory in South Atlantic Ocean) Road, Fiji Road, Gibraltar (British overseas territory at south of Spain) Road, Kenya Crescent, Lagos (Nigerian port) Circle, Malta Road, Montreal (Canadian city) Road, Ottawa (Canada’s capital) Road, Pakistan Road, St. Helena (British territory in South Atlantic Ocean) Road, St. John’s (Antigua and Barbuda’s capital) Road and Wellington (New Zealand’s capital) Road.
Other than Pahang Street and Jalan Pinang mentioned earlier, Kampong Glam also consists of a number of roads named after Muslim places, such as Bali Lane, Java Road (both Indonesia islands), Baghdad (capital of Iraq) Street, Muscat (capital of Oman) Street and Kandahar (Afghanistan city) Street.
A Ceylon Road can be found along East Coast Road. Ceylon is the former name of Sri Lanka from 1948 to 1972. The name of Kadayanallur Street, which is off Maxwell Road, is derived from an Indian city. So is the nearby Banda Street.
Interestingly, the road connected to Kadayanallur Street is called Erskine Road, where Erskine is a Scottish town. Glasgow Road is in Kovan, where Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland. Ireland’s capital, province and townland are also reflected in Dublin Road, Connaught Drive and Killiney Road. French Road is near Jalan Besar Stadium.
There is also the Hongkong Street between New Bridge Road and South Bridge Road.
The famous Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple stands on Waterloo Street, which was named after the Battle of Waterloo where the Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley claimed a famous victory over Napoleon Bonaparte. Waterloo is a municipality in Belgium.
Roads of Emotions
Residents going to the Aljunied Park will probably feel a sense of joy as the network of roads beside the park are named Happy Avenue. Indeed, it is said the area, once part of MacPherson, had a theme of contentment and virtues for happiness. One cannot say the same for the Sembawang folks with its Jalan Malu-Malu (Malu-malu is affectionately shy or modest in Malay) off Sembawang Road.
Meanwhile, people staying at Kay Poh Road will not be pleased if anyone calls them busybodies. Kay Poh Road, however, was named after Wee Kay Poh (黄继宝) who was a former apprentice at A.L. Johnston & Company in the 19th century and later became the owner of opium and liquor business.
Roads of Numbers
At Old Airport Road, a network of small roads are named according to numbers in Malay. Jalan Satu, Jalan Dua, Jalan Tiga, Jalan Empat and Jalan Lima simply means “road one” to “road five”.
Roads of No Names
Many small roads of the early days still exist in the under-developed parts or restricted areas of Singapore. They have no official names and are simply called… tracks. They usually come with a single- or double-digit suffix.
Punggol Road has a Track 24 leading to a fishing pond, while there is a Track 14 off Old Choa Chu Kang Road that enters a Chinese cemetery. Mandai Road’s Track 7 and Track 16 are still around, but the tracks at Lim Chu Kang Road (Track 11 & 13) and Jurong Road are now defunct.
Both Punggol and Ponggol were in use since the early days. Today, the name Punggol is being used officially, whereas the name Ponggol is now only found at the small roads of Ponggol Seventeenth Avenue and Ponggol Twenty-Fourth Avenue.
Published: 11 April 2011
Updated: 17 February 2020