Tanjong Rhu Road


Tanjong Rhu Road begins from the junction of Fort Road and Meyer Road. A convoluted road with a few branches, it ends near the Kallang basin near the Benjamin Sheares Bridge. This road was a marine yard and the centre point of ship building and repairing in Singapore before the shipyard industry moved to Jurong. In the 1980s, the road and its surrounding areas were converted into a residential estate.

Tanjong Rhu Road was named after the Casuarina trees that grew along the coast of Kallang and Rochore. Casuarina trees are known as pokok rhu in Malay, Rhu being the Malay name for the Casuarina littoria variety of the tree. Post-war reclamation and construction work along the east coast resulted in the uprooting of the Casuarina trees. It is unknown when the road was named Tanjong Rhu but the word was in use since the 17th century, as it appeared in E.G. de Eredis's 1604 Map of Singapore as Tanjon Ro. Other roads in the area, which connect to Tanjong Rhu Road, are named after Tanjong Rhu as well, such as Tanjong Rhu Place, Tanjong Rhu View and Tanjong Rhu Cross.

The whole of Tanjong Rhu was designated to be a marine yard by Raffles in 1822. The area from Sandy Point at the tip of the spit to Deep Water Point, where Tanjong Katong currently is, was to be developed as a shipbuilding yard. Chinese settlers who dwelled in this area were compensated for their move-out of Tanjong Rhu. One of the pioneers of shipbuilding business was Captain Flint who set up a company in 1822. By the 1860s, many boatyards were established including those owned by George Lyons, Thorneycroft and United Engineers, and Tivendale. With the development of trade, the shipyard industry in Tanjong Rhu expanded, helped further by the congestion at the Singapore River
. All the boatyards there had to be cleared and relocated to Tanjong Rhu. The boatyards' workers soon settled with their families in Tanjong Rhu and formed a village. As small shipbuilders made their debut at Tanjong Rhu, the area became more populated. In the early years, there was a single main road linking the yards to the village. Travelling between the city and East Coast was by ferry that plied between Johnston Pier at Colleyer Quay and Tanjong Rhu as roads linking these two points came up only in the 20th century.

In the 1980s, the yards had to be relocated to Jurong in line with the government's attempt to cleanse the waterways. By this period, massive reclamation projects were undertaken to extend Bedok into Tanah Merah and Changi. A total of seven phases of the East Coast Reclamation project was completed between 1966 and 1985. The Benjamin Sheares Bridge was built in 1981. In 1991, the government announced its plan of converting Tanjong Rhu into a 34 ha residential enclave with recreational facilities. Today, Tanjong Rhu presents itself as an exclusive private residential area boasting the island's most prestigious waterfront condominiums including The Waterside, Tanjong Ria Condo, Water Place, Sanctuary Green, Parkshore and Pebble Bay. Restaurants, recreational facilities and shops have sprung up by the beach as well. A place of historical interest along the road is the Singapore Swimming Club, established in 1893. Opposite the club is the Dunman High School, established in 1956. It moved here from Dunman Road in 1995. Prior to this, the Ee Hoe Hean (Yihexuan) Club, the so-called Millionaires' Club of Singapore used to be situated near the Singapore Swimming Club, within the premises of a house that belonged to the late Tan Lark Sye
, a prominent businessman. It was said that fortunes were exchanged at the club's mahjong tables. The club presumably shut down with the death of Tan Lark Sye.

At the time of writing this, the Kallang-Paya Lebar expressway (KPE) is being built. Scheduled to be completed by 2007, this S$1.8 billion expressway will cross under the East Coast Parkway, Tanjong Rhu Road, Geylang River and Pan Island Expressway and join the Tampines Expressway above the ground. Geylang River will be diverted in two stages with dams being built on either side of a bridge.

Variant names
Chinese name: Sha tsui (Cantonese), meaning "sand pit". Tan-jiong gu (Hokkien), being the Hokkien pronunciation of the word "Tanjong Rhu".

Thulaja Naidu Ratnala 

Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore (p. 303). Singapore: Who's Who Publications.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN)

Kong, L. (2001). Joo Chiat: A living legacy (pp. 56, 59, 63). Singapore: Joo Chiat Citizens' Consultative Committee in association with National Archives of Singapore.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 KON)

Life in Katong (pp. 10-11). [2002]. Singapore: National Library Board.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 LIF)

Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2003). Toponymics: A study of Singapore street names. (p. 376). Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
(Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV)

Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then and now (pp. 37, 206, 207). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)

Firmstone, H. W. (1905, February). Chinese names of streets and places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 4, 154-155.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5 FIR-[IC])

Construction of Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway eases strain on CTE. (2002, November 11). The Straits Times.

Lim, L. (2002, March 30). Bigger S'pore, from sea and swamp; land reclamation began way back in 1962, but this is the first time such works have figured in volatile ties with Malaysia. The Straits Times, p. 10.

Further Readings
Urban Redevelopment Authority. (July/August 2002). The changing faces of Singapore. Skyline. Retrieved August 21, 2003, from  www.ura.gov.sg/skyline/skyline07-02/text/changingfaces1.html

The information in this article is valid as at 2003 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.

Street names--Singapore
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