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Balestier Road

Balestier is a subzone located in the planning area of Novena in the Central Region of Singapore. The main road, Balestier Road, links Thomson Road to Serangoon Road and the road continues on as Lavender Street. The area is home to rows of shophouses, low-rise apartment and commercial buildings as well as a shopping mall known as Shaw Plaza. There are several lighting and electrical shops along Balestier Road, which is also home to the Ceylon Sports Club. The area is known for its food such as bak kut teh, chicken rice and tau sar piah with budget hotels sprucing up in the area. In the area, there are several apartments and condominiums.

Etymology and history[edit]

The precinct was named after Joseph Balestier, the then colony's first American consul from 1837 to 1852 and the owner of a 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) sugar plantation called Balestier Plain, which failed and was put up for sale. Balestier was in Singapore between 1834 and 1852 and was a botanist and agriculturist. The area was named after him as it was where his plantation was located. Balestier hired a number of immigrants on his estates. [1][2] The Chinese labourers settled in the area and built a temple which still exists known as Go Cho Tua Pek Kong, with the area having the last free-standing wayang stage in Singapore that was built in 1906. The rows of shophouses was constructed in the late 19th century have been since conserved, though some have made way for new development. These shophouses were to provide services to residents. In the 1880s, several bungalows were constructed, with one still remaining at Tai Gin Road known as the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall (formerly the Sun Yat Sen Villa or Wan Qing Yuan).

Other than shophouses and bungalows, there were industrial activities in the area as well. There were rattan plantations along the Whampoa River and sugarcane productions at Jalan Ampas. The Balestier Market (now Balestier Market and Food Centre) was where locals could sell their produce. It was used as a food rationing centre during World War II. Later, the market was rebuilt and housed a hawker centre as well. The market has since undergone upgrading works in the 2000s. Developers went on to construct landed properties in the 1920s with bungalows and terrace housees. In the 1950s, there was a film studio run by Shaw Brothers for its Malay language films. Both the Singapore Improvement Trust and the Housing and Development Board built flats in the area known as St. Michael's Estate. Modern shophouses were erected in the 1960s as well including walk-up apartments. In the late 20th century, several buildings made way for newer buildings such as high-rise condominiums, shopping malls and new commercial buildings. [3]

The Hokkiens referred to Balestier Road as o kio, meaning "black bridge", and as go cho tua peh kong, meaning "Rochor temple". The Tamils named the area thaneer kampong தண்ணீர் கம்பம் as water was drawn from there by bullock cart in the old days. [1]

The Sultan of Sulu used to own a house along Balestier Road purchased in 1903. [4]


  1. ^ a b Victor R Savage, Brenda SA Yeoh (2004), Toponymics A Study of Singapore Street Names, Eastern University Press, ISBN 981-210-364-3
  2. ^ Vernon Cornelius-Takahama (2004). "Joseph Balestier". Singapore Infopedia. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  3. ^ "Balestier, a mix of new and old". Urban Redevelopment Authority. 12 January 2007. 
  4. ^ Template:The Straits Times, 8 July 1903, Page 4

External links[edit]