MacPherson is one of the five sub-zones in the Geylang Planning Area.1 MacPherson Road lies between Woodsville Flyover and MacPherson Lane.2
MacPherson Road was previously known as Jalan Klapa, as it ran through a coconut plantation.3 It was named after Lieutenant Colonel Ronald MacPherson (b. 1817–d. 1869), who was the First Captain Commandment of the Singapore Volunteer Rifle Corps, formed in 1854. MacPherson was also the first colonial secretary of the Straits Settlements in 1867 and the designer of St Andrew’s Cathedral, built in 1862.4
MacPherson Road was a vital road that led to the Paya Lebar Airport, from the airport’s opening in 1955 until it ceased civil aviation operations in 1981.5 Along the road lies MacPherson Industrial Estate where business offices, stores and warehouses are located.6 Also located nearby are the private residential areas of Sennett Estate and Happy Gardens Estate.7 The first batch of 10-storey flats forming the MacPherson Housing Estate, totalling 11 blocks, was completed in 1961.8
A landmark near the junction of Upper Serangoon Road and MacPherson Road was the MacPherson Road Market, built in 1955.9 The market closed down in 1990 for renovation. It re-opened as a 24-hour coffeeshop in 1991 and was renamed as Jackson Centre. The area near the market used to be known as Sar Koh Chi, meaning Third Milestone in Hokkien.10
To improve traffic flow, Jackson Centre was torn down in 2007 to enable the construction of a tunnel stretching from MacPherson Road to Bendemeer Road. The tunnel was part of the upgrading of the Woodsville Interchange.11
1. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1994). Geylang Planning Area: Planning report 1994. Singapore: Author, p. 6. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN)
2. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2016, July 28). Guidelines and procedures: Food and beverage. Retrieved 2016, August 23 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: https://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/guidelines/development-control/change-use-premises/sections/guidelines-different-uses/fnb/fnb.aspx
3. Ramachandra, S. (1961). Singapore landmarks, past and present. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, p. 45. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 RAM)
4. Savage, V., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 243–244. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
5. Campbell, B. (1977, March 19). Challenging task of moving our airport to Changi. The Straits Times, p. 12; A stretch of Paya Lebar Road closed. (1963, March 26). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Chua, S. K. (1971, January 27). Where modern living finally catches up with kampong life. The Straits Times, p. 18; 3 more industrial estates are developed. (1962, September 16). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. New market will serve thousands. (1955, May 13). The Straits Times, p. 12; Chua, S. K. (1971, January 27). Where modern living finally catches up with kampong life. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. More homes for people. (1961, April 28). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. New market will serve thousands. (1955, May 13). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG,
10. Tan, C. (1990, October 19). MacPherson market to be 24-hr coffeeshop. The Straits Times, p. 25; Tan, T. (2007, September 17). Kopitiam making way for tunnel. The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Tan, T. (2007, September 17). Kopitiam making way for tunnel. The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
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.