Dunearn Road

Dunearn Road starts at the junction of Clementi Road and Jalan Anak Bukit. The road runs parallel to Bukit Timah Road, with a canal separating the two long stretches of roads. Near Adam Road, the road divides to form the Dunearn underpass and the Farrer flyover. Towards the end, Dunearn Road bifurcates into two, near Newton Road. While one part of the road ends at Newton Road, another merges with Bukit Timah Road.1

Dunearn Road was named after Dunearn House, a mansion that served as the former Oldham Hall Boarding School located in the vicinity of the road. Little is known about the name Dunearn, save for the fact that it is of Scottish origin and is typical of names of Singapore’s early settlers. It is also not known why the road was named after Dunearn House.2

The road’s history dates back to 1841 when the government marked land for a road to be built 50ft north of a canal, from a bridge near Buffalo Village to a place near Bukit Timah.Dunearn Road was built on this land and was parallel to the railway, which was also built on the same reserve of land before being moved to Tanglin Halt. Dunearn Road and Bukit Timah Road, in fact, served as a two-way carriage or cart lane. The road originally connected Chancery Lane and Municipal Boundary and measured 75ft in 1853. It was officially named Dunearn Road in 1928. Redevelopment work over the years extended the road to its present state.4

Dunearn Road is lined with many tall trees such as Broad Leaf Mahogany, Kenanga, Droopy Cassia, Rhu and Jambu Laut. These trees provide shade as well as a stately charm to the road. The road was home to many nurseries in the 1960s, but the nurseries had to move to other locations around 1986 because of road-widening work between Coronation Road and Swiss Cottage Secondary School on Dunearn Road. A granite quarry, one of the deepest quarries in Singapore, had existed at Rifle Range Road, off Dunearn Road. It was later filled, converted into flat land and used for building development work. Sheares Hall, a hostel used by students from the University of Malaya, was located on Dunearn Road until it moved to the National University of Singapore campus in 1982.5

The Singapore Turf Club used to be located on Dunearn Road until it was moved to a new site in Kranji in 1999.6 The Home Nursing Foundation, at the junction of Dunearn Road and Gilstead Road, was built in 1966 to serve as the Singapore Family Planning Centre originally. It is now occupied by the World Health Organisation. A bougainvillaea park, housing a variety of bougainvillaea and shrubbery, was built in 1970. The park is flanked by Watten Drive, Watten Estate Road, Watten Park and Dunearn Road.7

Many schools are located in the vicinity of Dunearn Road. These include Singapore Chinese Girls’ SchoolThe Chinese High School, Hwa Chong Junior College and Anglo-Chinese School. The site that once housed National Junior College (NJC) and Nanyang Primary School in Linden Drive, off Dunearn Road, was taken over by Nanyang Girls’ High School in 1995, after NJC moved into a new building at nearby Hillcrest Road.8

Dunearn Road is lined with mostly private residential units, constructed in recent years. One of the earlier ones is Chancery Court, built in 1981. This estate, by the Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC), is made up of 84 maisonettes and 52 studio apartments. A condominium, The Glyndebourne, stands where the Copthorne Orchid Hotel used to be. The hotel closed in 2011.9

Religious buildings along this road include the Phor Beng See Temple, Kuan Yin San Temple, Gospel Light Christian Church, Bethlehem Bible Presbyterian Church and Barker Road Methodist Church. The Life Bible Presbyterian Church is located on Gilstead Road, which is close to Dunearn Road.10

Commercial buildings along Dunearn Road are the Raffles Town Club and the Novotel Orchid Inn, built in the early 1970s.11 Sime Darby Centre, a 13,088-square-metre commercial property, Dunearn Court, Dunearn Estate, Watten Estate, Sime Darby Building, Capitol Park, Swiss Club Park and Dunearn Gardens are some other buildings along the road.12

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

1. Peter K. G. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore (Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, 2000), 70 (Call no. RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Norman Edwards and Peter Keys, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 87, 99, 105–07, 490–91 (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Toponymics: A Study of Singapore Street Names (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 2003), 112. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
2. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore, 70; Savage and Yeoh, Study of Singapore Street Names, 112.
3. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore, 70.
4. Savage and Yeoh, Study of Singapore Street Names, 112; Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984), 573. (Call no. RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
5. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 87, 99, 105–07, 490–91; Dominic Nathan, “Big Cover-Up at Bukit Timah,” Straits Times, 1 May 1999, 62; “Reliving Good Old Days at Sheares Hall,” Straits Times, 8 September 2002, 35. (From NewspaperSG)
6. “History of Bukit Timah Saddle Club,” Bukit Timah Saddle Club, accessed 2 December 2016.  
7. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 87–88, 99, 491.
8. Warren Fernandez, “‘Bukit Timah Belt’ of Top Schools,” Straits Times, 8 May 1993, 32. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Kalpana Rashiwala, “New Condo at Copthorne Orchid Hotel Site,” Business Times, 30 October 2010, 35. (From NewspaperSG)
10. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 87, 99, 105–07, 490–91.
11. “Novotel Hotel’s $14M Relaunch,” Straits Times, 29 October 1996, 35. (From NewspaperSG)
12. Arthur Lee, “Sime (S) Sees More Profits from Non-Motor Units,” Business Times, 25 March 1994, 2 (From NewspaperSG); Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 87–88, 99, 491.

The information in this article is valid as at February 2020 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
Streets and Places