Haig Road connects Geylang Road and East Coast Road. The road is named after Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Bemersyde, the commander-in-chief of the British Expeditionary Force in France from 1915 to 1918. Located in Katong, the road used to be part of the former Kampong Serani.
History and landmarks
Haig Road was named after Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Bemersyde, who won the war of attrition for the British and worked to better the lives of wounded and retired servicemen.1 Haig Road and Still Road once straddled the Confederate Estate, which was owned by Chew Joo Chiat. The road was thus part of a large coconut plantation, for which the estate was known.2 Haig Road also used to be part of Kampong Amber. The road continues as Amber Road after its junction with East Coast Road.3
Around the 1950s, an increasing number of Eurasians moved to live along Haig Road and the place became known as Kampong Serani (“Eurasian Village” in Malay). Kampong Serani consisted of little wooden terrace houses set in three rows, making up three sides of a rectangle. The fourth side was a mansion where the landowner of the kampong lived, segregated from the rest of the village. Kampong Serani soon became a landmark to taxi drivers and trishaw riders. The Serani residents were said to have shared a tight communal bond strengthened by their activities together. With the development of public housing flats in Singapore, residents moved out of the kampong gradually.4
Haig Road was also home to colonial government quarters. During the Japanese Occupation (1942–45), these buildings were used as social sites by the Japanese soldiers.5
From a seaside suburb, Haig Road developed into a traditional low-rise residential area. Its landscape changed dramatically after land reclamation works, which led to the creation of East Coast Park, a manmade lagoon and a small jetty. Condominiums and luxury chalets were also developed in the area.6
Due to their proximity, Haig Road also shares the excitement of the Geylang Serai bazaar. During the Hari Raya Puasa festive season, the bazaar bustles with stalls selling clothes, shoes and food.7
The southern end of Haig Road between Dunman and Mountbatten roads have long been home to several schools. The first three schools in the area appear to have been Tanjong Katong Secondary School, Haig Boys’ School and Haig Girls’ School in 1952.8 Other primary schools there include Fowlie Road and Seraya Primary, which later merged with Haig Boys’ and Mountbatten to become Tanjong Katong Primary School in 2001.9 Dunman High (founded 1956) and Dunman Secondary (founded 1963) both started in the area but moved away in 1995 and 1990 respectively, while Haig Girls’ left the area in 1995.10
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
1. Peter K. G. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore (Singapore: Who’s Who Publications, 2000), 98. (Call no. RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS])
2. Lily Kong and T. C. Chang, Joo Chiat: A Living Legacy (Singapore: Archipelago Press, 2001), 39. (Call no. RSING 959.57 KON-[HIS])
3. Survey Department of Singapore, Singapore 1961: Katong, 1961, survey map. (National Archives of Singapore accession no. SP001506_6); Survey Department of Federated Malay States and Straits Settlements, Geylang Mukim (Geylang Mukim) and Siglap Mukim, 1931, survey map. (National Archives of Singapore accession no. SP005925)
4. Myrna Braga-Blake and Ann Ebert-Oehlers, Singapore Eurasians: Memories and Hopes (Singapore: Times Editions, 1992), 62–65. (Call no. RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Kong and Chang, Joo Chiat, 33, 39, 43, 49; Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 142–43. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
5. Kong and Chang, Joo Chiat, 43.
6. Kong and Chang, Joo Chiat, 58–63; Loh Keng Fatt, “The Lure of Tanjong Katong,” Straits Times, 30 April 2000, 6; Karl Ho, “New Kids on the Block,” Straits Times, 8 July 2002, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
7. “Hari Raya Light-Up,” Straits Times, 12 January 1998, 28; “Geylang Serai Countdown,” Today, 1 November 2005, 25; “Bright Lights, Geylang City,” Today, 12 September 2008, 74. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Desmond Ng, “Where Girls Climbed Trees and Played with Worms...,” WEEKENDeast, 29 October 1999, 3; Chia Poh Thik, “Registering for School,” Straits Times, 24 January 1952, 6; “Secondary School Education in Singapore,” Indian Daily Mail, 20 January 1952, 1; “Education, Medical & Police: P.W.D. Largest Programmes,” Indian Daily Mail, 15 November 1952, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
9. “Lessons Start at New Schools,” Straits Times, 17 October 1956, 1; “Sports,” Singapore Tiger Standard, 8 June 1957, 9; Amy Chiew, “Schools' Merger: Mixed Feelings,” New Paper, 1 July 2000, 21. (From NewspaperSG)
10. Audra Ang, “3 Schools in Katong to Move,” WEEKENDeast, 22 February 1990, 5; Better Design, Facilities at New Buildings for Two Schools, Straits Times, 28 May 1995, 26; Ng, Where Girls Climbed Trees.” (From NewspaperSG)
Lee, K. L. (1968). Haig Road – general view  [Photograph] [Online]. Retrieved from PictureSG.
Lee, K. L. (1992). Haig Road no. 129: exterior  [Photograph] [Online]. Retrieved from PictureSG.
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.