Tanglin Estate

Tanglin's hilly terrain includes Leonie, Cluny, Goverment Hill, Institution Hill, Cairnhill, Emerald Hill, Mt. Elizabeth, Claymore Hill, Lady Hill, Nassim Hill, Fort Canning Hill and Goodwood Hill. 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 twa tang leng, meaning "great east hill peaks", a reference to the numerous hills in the area. Tanglin has many established residences, luxury apartments and condominiums. A string of five-star hotels, embassies, consulates and High Commissions of various countries also sit here. 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 is approximately 760 ha. The land was used for large plantations of gambier, nutmeg and pepper since the 17th century which continued into the 19th century. As it became a popular place of residence and plantation start-ups amongst the Europeans and Teochews, the estate invariably took on the names of some notables there. These included Europeans such as Thomas Oxley (Dr), a senior surgeon between 1840-1845, and Cairn who built the first house in Tanglin in 1840. Tanglin also boasts several roads with names of Scottish origin, attributed largely to famous British personalities with a Scottish background. Europeans and wealthy Chinese settlers built large villas on Nassim Hills particularly in the 1900s.

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. Today Ngee Ann City, with its twin towers, stands in its place. Other landmarks in Tanglin include the Botanic Gardens (1874) and the Old Tanglin Club or British Military HQ Tanglin Barracks (1872), St George's Church (1910), Gleneagles Hospital and Medical Centre (original building 1950) Tanglin Shopping Centre, and Tanglin Police Station (1981). In 1980, the location was identified as a Good Class Bungalow Area. Nassim, Chatsworth, Tyersall, and Ridout are the four subzones of Tanglin, all in prime location where many exclusive and elaborate houses can also be found.

Variant names
Chinese names: In Hokkien Toa Tang-leng, in Cantonese Tai Tang-leng both mean "Big Tanglin" or "Great Tanglin".
Indian name: Upper Tanglin has a Tamil name, Vampumalei which means "Whampoa's Hill".

Vernon Cornelius

Ramachandra, S. (1961). Singapore landmarks, past and present (pp. 17-19). Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
(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)

Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & now (p. 72). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)

Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore). (1994). Tanglin planning area: Planning report 1994 (pp. 4, 6, 8) . Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority.
(Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN)

Further readings
Edwards, N., & Keys. P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places (pp. 283-284). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW) 

Samuel, D. S. (1939). Malayan street names: What they mean and whom they commemorate (p. 87). Ipoh: Mercantile Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5 RAJ)

Tanglin tapestry [1998]. Singapore: [Tanglin Division of the Kreta Ayer-Tanglin GRC].
(Call no.: YRSING 959.57 TAN)

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.

Streets and Places
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Street names--Singapore
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