Tanglin



Tanglin is an area whose hilly terrain includes Leonie, Cluny, Emerald, Mount Elizabeth, Claymore, Nassim and and Goodwood hills.1

Etymology
The name Tanglin is believed to derive from the name of William Napier’s house, Tang Leng, which was constructed in 1854. The house was likely named after the area’s Chinese name twa tang leng, meaning “great east hill peaks”, a reference to the many hills in the area.2

Description

Tanglin has many established residences, luxury apartments and condominiums. A string of five-star hotels, embassies, consulates and high commissions of various countries are also located there. The area is bounded by Bukit Timah Road to the north, Balmoral Road, Tanglin Road, Grange Road and Zion Road to the east, Alexandra Canal, Kay Siang Road and Ridout Road to the south and Queensway and Farrer Road to the west. The total land area with four subzones – Nassim, Chatsworth, Ridout and Tyersall – is approximately 760 ha.3

History
The land, with its fertile and well-drained slopes, had been used for large plantations of sireh, gambier, nutmeg and pepper since the 17th century, and this continued into the 19th century.4 A popular place of residence and plantation start-ups amongst the Europeans and Teochews, the estate took on the names of some notables there. These included Europeans such as:

• Thomas Oxley, a senior surgeon in Singapore between 1840 and 1845, built a large house called The Grange, which gave Grange Road its name. In 1842, he built Killiney House.
• William Napier, Singapore’s first lawyer, named his house Tang Leng on his 67-acre estate.
• Captain William Scott, retired Harbour Master, owned the house known as Claymore.
• Cairn built the first house in Tanglin in 1840 called Cairnhill.
• A. L. MacDonald, one of the original partners of law firm Donaldson & Burkinshaw, built the house, Orange Grove.5

Tanglin also boasts several roads with names of Scottish origin, attributed largely to famous personalities and place names with a Scottish background, such as Balmoral (named after Queen Victoria’s favourite residence in Scotland), Edinburgh, Tyersall, Cluny, Claymore and Scott.6

Europeans and wealthy Chinese settlers built large villas on Nassim Hill, particularly in the 1900s.7 According to S. Ramachandra (1961), the rearing of pigs, poultry and horses at the time attracted big cats such as tigers, leopards and panthers in the vicinity. The European tuans and mems (“sir” and “madam”, respectively) would engage their daytime Tamil plantation workers as escort runners to run beside their buggies and gharries with flaming torches to keep the wild animals away, when they left their Tanglin estates to shop or party in town.8

The Teochews also left their mark with sites such as the Ngee Ann Building, which took on the name of a former Teochew cemetery managed by the Ngee Ann Kongsi.9 The site is presently occupied by Ngee Ann City, with its twin towers.10

Other landmarks in Tanglin include the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Tanglin Club, the former Tanglin Barracks, St George’s Church,11 Gleneagles Hospital and Medical Centre, Tanglin Shopping Centre and the Tanglin Police Station.12

In 1980, Tanglin was designated as a Good Class Bungalow area, where many exclusive and elaborate houses can be found.13



Author

Vernon Cornelius



References
1. Ramachandra, S. (1961). Singapore landmarks, past and present. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, p. 17. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 RAM); Savage, V., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 372. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
2. Ramachandra, S. (1961). Singapore landmarks, past and present. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, p. 17. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 RAM); Savage, V., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 372. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
3. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1994). Tanglin planning area: Planning report 1994. Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, pp. 4, 6. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN)
4. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1994). Tanglin planning area: Planning report 1994. Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, p. 8. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN)
5. Ramachandra, S. (1961). Singapore landmarks, past and present. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, pp. 17–18. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 RAM)
6. Ramachandra, S. (1961). Singapore landmarks, past and present. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, p. 17. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 RAM)
7. Ramachandra, S. (1961). Singapore landmarks, past and present. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, p. 18. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 RAM); Savage, V., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 372. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
8. Ramachandra, S. (1961). Singapore landmarks, past and present. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, p. 17. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 RAM)
9. Ramachandra, S. (1961). Singapore landmarks, past and present. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, p. 17. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 RAM)
10. Singapore Land Authority. (n.d.). OneMap. Retrieved 2017, June 14 from OneMap website: https://www.onemap.sg/
11. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1994). Tanglin planning area: Planning report 1994. Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, p. 8. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN)
12. Singapore Land Authority. (n.d.). OneMap. Retrieved 2017, June 14 from OneMap website: https://www.onemap.sg/
13. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1994). Tanglin planning area: Planning report 1994. Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, pp. 6, 8. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN)



The information in this article is valid as at 1999 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
Suburbs--Singapore
Streets and Places
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Geography>>Population>>Urban Planning
Street names--Singapore
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Urban planning