by Thulaja, Naidu Ratnala
Marsiling Road is a two-way street that links Woodlands Centre Road and Riverside Road.1
Marsiling Road was named after the residence of wealthy merchant Lim Nee Soon, Marsiling Villa. “Marsiling” is derived from Maxi village, Lim’s hometown in Chaozhou, Guangdong province, China.2
Early landmarks and residents
During the 19th century, the area around Marsiling Road was occupied by a few villages (kampongs). The landscape was covered mostly by gambier and rubber plantations.3 Kampong Lorong Fatimah, which used to be located northwest of Marsiling Road, was replaced by the extension of the Woodlands Checkpoint in 1989.4 Most of the residents in this kampong worked in factories nearby, while a minority, usually younger residents, held jobs in hotels and banks in the city.5 Kampong Lorong Fatimah was named after Fatimah Binte Haron, a former justice of the peace in Singapore, in recognition of her contributions. She built a surau – a small space designated for praying – in the kampong, and made frequent donations to charities.6
Marsiling Road was home to various industries. For example, the Metal Box Co. of Malaya, a factory capable of producing 120,000,000 pineapple cans per year, was sited near the intersection of Marsiling Road and Woodlands Road from 1949 until 1975.7 Also found on Marsiling Road is the factory of Lau Chong Kee Confectionery, a pioneer of machine-made mooncakes in Singapore.8 Supermarket chain Sheng Siong used to be headquartered at 3000 Marsiling Road till 2009, when it moved to Mandai Link Road.9 Seiko Instruments Singapore, a major overseas plant of Seiko, has been located in the Marsiling Industrial Estate since 1984.10
Marsiling Road is known for its army camps, owing to its hilly terrain and proximity to Singapore’s northern border with Malaysia.11 Marsiling was one of the shooting locations for the 1983 Mandarin drama series,《新兵小传》(Army Series), by the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation.12
Schools along Marsiling Road include Woodlands Secondary School and Marsiling Secondary School. The Sri Siva Krishna Temple is located at the intersection of Marsiling Road and Marsiling Rise.13
In the latter half of the 20th century, Marsiling Road underwent massive development. On 30 November 1962, the People’s Association opened a rural community centre there as part of a pilot project to provide veterinary services for livestock breeders, as well as agricultural services for farmers.14 The Ministry of Culture also installed television sets at the centre, and screened films for the public’s free viewing.15 In June 1981, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) blocks located along Marsiling Drive, a lane connected to Marsiling Road, became the first in Singapore to have new coloured signages bearing the block number, road name and postal code.16
More developments sprang up following the opening of the Marsiling Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station in 1996. The Marsiling station is part of the North-South Line.17 Some of the HDB blocks of flats along Marsiling Drive feature shopping and recreational facilities in a bid to attract more Singaporeans to live in the developing estate. Existing flats and the surrounding landscape were spruced up through upgrading projects carried out by the HDB. In 1994, Marsiling residents opted in favour of the Interim Upgrading Programme, choosing to upgrade their surroundings with covered walkways, amphitheatres, improved playgrounds and tiled void decks.18 Recently, the HDB built two housing estates – Straits Vista @ Marsiling and Marsiling Heights – along Marsiling Road, which were ready in 2008 and 2014 respectively.19
Road to Woodlands Checkpoint
Marsiling Road was one of the roads that motorists could use to access the former Woodlands Checkpoint at the Causeway via Woodlands Road.20 This function of Marsiling Road ceased to exist with the opening of the new Woodlands Checkpoint in 1999. In 2008, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority reopened the Old Woodlands Checkpoint for use by heavy vehicles to ease congestion.21 Marsiling Road thus became a key road again, as motorists use it to access the old Checkpoint via Woodlands Centre Road.22
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja, Nor-Afidah Abd Rahman & Jeremy Goh
1. Singapore Land Authority. (n.d.). OneMap. Retrieved 2016, July 29 from OneMap website: https://www.onemap.sg/index.html
2. Lim, H. S., & Lim, G. H. (Eds). (1987). 《义顺社区发展史》[The development of Nee Soon community]. Singapore: Grassroots Organisation of Nee Soon Constituency; National Archives Oral History Department, p. 115. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 959.57 DEV-[HIS])
3. Lim, H. S., & Lim, G. H. (Eds). (1987). 《义顺社区发展史》[The development of Nee Soon community]. Singapore: Grassroots Organisation of Nee Soon Constituency; National Archives Oral History Department, p. 2. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 959.57 DEV-[HIS])
4. Goodbye to village life. (1989, September 12). The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Keeping kampung spirit alive. (1989, September 21). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Hadijah Rahmat. (2005). Kilat senja: Sejarah sosial dan budaya kampung-kampung di Singapura. Singapore: HS Yang Publishing, p. 89. (Call no.: Malay RSING 959.57 HAD-[HIS])
7. Big new factory for colony. (1950, April 4). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Cragg, C. (1996). The new taipans: A vital source book on the people and business of the Pacific Rim. London: Arrow Books, pp. 118–119. (Call no.: RSING 330.95 CRA); Survey Department, Singapore. (1953). Singapore provisional issue [Map accession no. TM000041]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
8. Cheong, S. (1979, October 3). The old versus the new. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Sheng Siong (2016). Milestones. Retrieved 2016, June 9 from Sheng Siong website: http://www.shengsiong.com.sg/pages/Milestones.html
10. Swinging to the sound of Seiko. (1984, November 30). The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. 嘉 [Yong, J.]. (1976, October 19). 露营在马西岭. Nanyang Siang Pau, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. 山洪 [Shan, H.]. (1983, March 3). 负责 ‘新兵小传’ 拍摄工作的四位编导. Nanyang Siang Pau, p. 29; 杜红 [Du, H.]. (1983, March 4). 一滴汗是一分力量. Nanyang Siang Pau, p. 35. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Singapore Land Authority. (n.d.). OneMap. Retrieved 2016, August 1 from OneMap website: https://www.onemap.sg/index.html
14. 3 new centres opened: TV sets to be installed (1962, November 30). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Free film shows by Ministry of Culture (1962, December 10). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. New sign boards to help visitors. (1981, June 6). New Nation, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Residents prepare for easier life with Woodlands MRT line. (1996, January 21). The Straits Times, p. 24; Go north young man. (1995, January 8). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. More Interim Upgrading projects launched. (1995, July 31). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. HDB’s challenge: low-cost housing, condo-like flats. (2008, June 11). The Straits Times, p. 36. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Sembawang Town Council. (2013, June). Our town is growing. Hearttalk. Retrieved 2016, June 27 from Sembawang Town Council website: http://www.sbtc.org.sg/uploads/files/HeartTalk%20June%202013%20Final%20Screen(2).pdf
20. Malaysia. (1964). Nee Soon [Map]. (Call no.: RCLOS MAP 912.5957 MAL)
21. Old Woodlands Checkpoint to re-open next month. (2008, November 22). The New Paper, p. 6. Retrieved From NewspaperSG.
22. Street Directory. (2016). Marsiling Road. Retrieved 2016, June 3, from Street Directory website: http://www.streetdirectory.com/sg/marsiling-road/20105_1.html
The information in this article is valid as at 2016 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.