Kranji Road is named after a local tree, the pokok keranji (Malay for kranji or keranji tree) or the Dialium indum, which was found in abundance in Singapore in the first half of the 19th century, but has since rapidly dwindled.1
The road is a two-way road that begins at the junction of Woodlands Road and Turf Club Avenue, and ends near Kranji Loop. It is an industrial area that falls within the Sungei Kadut Planning Area in the northern region of Singapore. The planning area is bounded by Bukit Timah Expressway to the east, the Straits of Johor to the north, Kranji Expressway to the south and Pang Sua Canal/Kranji Reservoir to the west.2
According to a map of Singapore dating back to 1970, a village called Kampong Kranji used to exist beside Kranji Road.3 Located along the northern coast, it was a significant spot that served as a ferry station to Johor Bahru before the Causeway was built in 1923. Kampong Kranji attracted many Chinese traders because it was linked to Singapore Town by Bukit Timah Road.4
The area around Kranji Road was used for the first Singapore-Kranji railway from Tank Road to Kranji, which opened in 1903.5 The track line crossed Kranji Road near the 14th mile, although the train itself did not stop at Kranji. In fact, a 1903 article published in The Straits Times notes: “As regards the title “Singapore-Kranji” Railway, it does seem anomalous that the line not only does not go to Kranji, but that it is virtually impossible to get to Kranji from the (Woodlands) Railway terminus, or to the Railway terminus from Kranji without trespassing".6
In 1909, the Johor State railway was opened. After the completion of the Causeway in 1923, the Johor State railway and the Singapore-Kranji railway were joined to become the Federated Malay States Railways (FMSR).7 The new FMSR did away with the numerous level crossings in Singapore, of which only two remained at Kranji Road and Choa Chu Kang Road.8 Both railway crossings survived until 2011, when the Singapore Land Authority commenced removal works of tracks and ancillary structures of the railway, which was operated by Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTM).9
A news report about the sale of a plot of land at Kranji Road, which included a pineapple factory, suggests that pineapple-related facilities existed there prior to 1912.10
Two of the pineapple canning factories located along Kranji Road in the 1930s were Lam Huat & Co (later Lam Huat Hup Kee), and Chuan Seng and Co.11 Conflicts between the workers and their management led to a strike which started on 19 July 1957 and ended on 21 July 1957.12
Another dispute in February 1959 led to 180 workers from Lam Huat Hup Kee pineapple cannery losing their jobs, following the managing director’s allegation that he had been threatened by a group of them. The Ministry of Labour stepped in to settle the conflict. Subsequently, it was reported that the management agreed to reinstate all of the workers except one of them. Still, poor market conditions resulted in Lam Huat Hup Kee cannery suspending operations in November 1959. As it prepared to re-open in 1960, the pineapple industry continued to grapple with challenges.13
It is not known when they came into existence, but two streets off Kranji Road – Jalan Lam Huat and Jalan Chuan Seng – appear to be named after Lam Huat Hup Kee cannery, and Chuan Seng and Co. respectively. Jalan Chuan Seng was labelled in a 1970 map of Kranji and Mandai; it was later expunged.14 The sale of a site along Jalan Lam Huat for industrial development shows that the street still exists as at February 2019.15
Tao Khoon Public School
Kranji Road was once home to Tao Khoon Public School (導羣學校), a Chinese-language16 school established before 195017 that was originally a private institution run by the community leaders of the area before it received government grant-in-aid.18 The school was one of the polling stations for the residents of Choa Chu Kang during the general elections of 1963 and 1972.19
World War II
During the Japanese invasion of Singapore in 1942, many Allied soldiers and Singapore combatants of the volunteer army known as Dalforce fought against the Japanese at Woodlands, Kranji and Bukit Timah. Kranji marks the site of some of the most intense fighting during the Japanese attack on Singapore in 1942, where British and Australian troops fought to stop Japanese infiltration across the Kranji Reservoir.20
The site of the current Kranji War Cemetery was initially a temporary cemetery, but grew during the Occupation when a prisoner-of-war (POW) camp and hospital were established nearby at Woodlands. The site eventually became the final resting place of Allied soldiers who were killed.21
The Kranji Memorials
Situated south of Kranji Road and located off Woodlands Road is the Kranji War Memorials.22 The memorial was built in 1946 and designed by Colin St. Clair Oakes to commemorate the contributions of the 24,000 Allied soldiers who died during World War II.23 It is located within the Kranji War Cemetery along with several other memorials such as the Singapore (Unmaintainable Graves) Memorial, the Singapore Cremation Memorial, as well as the Singapore Civil Hospital Grave Memorial.24 In addition, adjacent to the Kranji War Cemetery is the Kranji Military Cemetery25 and the Singapore State Cemetery.26
Improvements were made to the accessibility of the area with the official opening of Kranji MRT Station in 1996.27 Kranji MRT Station was built on Woodlands Road following earlier plans to relocate the Singapore Turf Club from Bukit Timah, so as to free up prime land in Bukit Timah for residential development.28 In order to build Kranji MRT Station as part of the Woodlands extension of the MRT system, the Land Office acquired 15 plots of land at Sungei Kadut Industrial Estate under the Land Acquisition Act. Kranji MRT station lies along the Woodlands MRT line between Yew Tee and Marsiling MRT Stations.29
Singapore Turf Club
Another notable landmark in the vicinity is the Singapore Turf Club next to Kranji MRT station. The racecourse had been situated at Bukit Timah since 1933, before relocating to its current site in 1999.30 Costing $500 million, the Kranji racecourse was touted as a state-of-the-art racing facility.31
In 2015, two brown directional signs endorsed and approved by the Singapore Tourism Board and Land Transport Authority were also put up along Kranji Road and Jalan Bahar to identify farms in the Kranji countryside as points of interest for tourists.32
Kranji Bus Depot, which is owned by SMRT is also located at Kranji Road. It is a repair and maintenance centre for buses, taxis and external fleet owners, offering a diverse range of services, including repair and maintenance packages, accident repair, spray painting and motor insurance claims.33
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja & Jacqueline Lee
1. Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 228 (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Sungei Kadut Planning Area: Planning Report (Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, 1997), 8. (Call no. RSING 711.4095957 SIN); S. Ramachandra, Singapore Landmarks, Past and Present (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 1961), 34. (Call no. RCLOS 959.57 RAM)
2. Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Sungei Kadut Planning Area, 4, 8; Urban Redevelopment Authority, URA Space, map, accessed 21 July 2016.
3. Survey Department, Singapore, Singapore. Instrumental Plot – Kranji – Mandai, 1970, topographic map, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. TM000563)
4. “Singapore,” Eastern Daily Mail and Straits Morning Advertiser, 23 December 1905, 1 (From NewspaperSG); K. F. Tang, ed., Kampong Days: Village Life and Times in Singapore Revisited (Singapore: National Archives, 1993), 11. (Call no. RSING 959.57 KAM-[HIS])
5. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 228; Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Woodlands Planning Area: Planning Report (Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, 1997), 8 (Call no. RSING 711.4095957 SIN); Ramachandra, Singapore Landmarks, Past and Present, 34.
6. “Singapore-Johore Railway,” Straits Times, 11 April 1903, 5; “Untitled,” Straits Times, 21 November 1903, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
7. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 219.
8. “Opening of New F.M.S.R. Terminal Station,” Malayan Saturday Post, 7 May 1932, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Urban Redevelopment Authority, “Development Plans for Railway under Review,” Today, 29 July 2011.
10. “The Property Market,” Straits Times, 25 June 1912, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
11. “New Pineapple Factory,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 9 November 1936, 3; “Intent to Annoy Alleged,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 30 June 1940, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
12. “No Jobs for Friends, So 200 Quit,” Straits Times, 20 July 1957, 1; “Pine Workers Call Off Lightning Strike,” Sunday Standard, 22 July 1957, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Joseph Yeo, “‘Threat’ to Director, So 180 Are Fired,” Straits Times, 13 February 1959, 6; “Ministry Bid to Settle Pine Dispute,” Straits Times, 14 February 1959, 4; “Cannery Row Is Over: Men Reinstated,” Straits Times, 17 February 1959, 2; “350 Lose Their Jobs as Cannery Shuts Down,” Straits Times, 21 November 1959, 9; “Cannery Will Open after Long Lay-Off,” Straits Times, 23 July 1960, 9; “Seven-Point Plan to Put the Pine Industry in a Firm Position,” Straits Times, 20 June 1960, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
14. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 166, 175; Ng Yew Peng, What's in the Name?: How the Streets and Villages in Singapore Got Their Names (Singapore: World Scientific, 2018), 198, 217 (Call no. 915.9570014 NG); Survey Department, Singapore, Instrumental Plot – Kranji – Mandai.
15. Singapore Land Authority, Singapore Road Map. Singapore North West, 1973, survey map, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. SP006598); Vivienne Tay, “Carros Project Management Clinches JTC Site in Kranji for S$5.1M,” Business Times, 20 February 2019.
16. Survey Department, Singapore, Instrumental Plot – Kranji – Mandai; “Schools Where You Can Register Your Children,” New Nation, 8 August 1972, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
17. “Dao qun xuexiao” 導羣學校 [Guide School], Nanyang Siang Pau 南洋商报, 6 February 1950, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
18. T. F. Hwang, “$4,200 Refund for Fraud Principal,” Straits Times, 19 October 1972, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
19. “Where to Cast Your Votes,” Straits Times, 21 September 1963, 5; “Where to Go to Cast Your Vote,” New Nation, 24 August 1972, 1; “Where to Cast your vote,” (1972, September 1). Straits Times, 1 September 1972, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
20. Justin Corfield and Robin S. Corfield, Encyclopedia of Singapore (Singapore: Talisman Pub, 2006), 37. (Call no. RSING 959.57003 COR-[HIS])
21. Wan Meng Hao and Jacqueline Lau, Heritage Places of Singapore (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2009), 212–14. (Call no. RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
22. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 228; Ramachandra, Singapore Landmarks, Past and Present, 34.
23. “Memorial to 24,000 Who Died for Us,” Straits Times, 24 February 1957, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
24. “Kranji War Cemetery,” Commonwealth War Graves Commission, accessed 15 October 2019.
25. Commonwealth War Graves Commission, “Kranji War Cemetery.”
26. Peter K. G. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore (Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, 2000), 178. (Call no. RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS])
27. Ann Williams, “Turf Club to Move to Kranji Close to Proposed MRT Station,” Straits Times, 18 March 1993, 40; Yeow Pei Lin, “Factory land along Woodlands MRT Line to Be Acquired,” Straits Times, 3 January 1996, 3; Cephah Tan, “Another Station Added to Woodlands MRT Line,” Straits Times, 19 November 1992, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
28. Williams, “Turf Club to Move to Kranji Close.”
29. Yeow, “Factory land along Woodlands MRT Line.”
30. Williams, “Turf Club to Move to Kranji Close”; “Milestones,” Singapore Turf Club, accessed 20 July 2019.
31. Peter H. L. Lim, ed., Chronicle of Singapore: Fifty Years of Headline News 1959–2009 (Singapore: Didier Millet in association with National Library Board, 2009), 290. (Call no. RSING 959.5705 CHR-[HIS])
32. Melissa Lin, “Kranji Farms Recognised as Tourist Spot,” Straits Times, 8 March 2016, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
33. “SMRT Automotive Services: Location,” Singapore Mass Rapid Transit, accessed 15 October 2019.
Singapore Land Authority, Singapore Road Map. Singapore North West, 1973, survey map, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. SP006598)
The information in this article is valid as at November 2019 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