Why Tanglin has a Halt

Block 80, Tanglin Halt

Yesterday, someone tweeted something quite innocuous – about food and about how she was about to eat food – but the locality she tweeted about – “Tanglin Halt” – piqued my interest.

I’ve always wondered who Tanglin was named for, and why there is (or was) a “Halt” in Tanglin. It isn’t exactly a burning question, so I’ve left it aside for the best part of three decades, until now.

Googling “Tanglin Halt History”, I found the NHB site, “Heritage Trails“, which explained:

This area, bordered by Stirling Road, Queensway and the Malayan Railway, derived its name from Tanglin Road and the Malayan Railway, which used to have a stop (thus the word ‘halt’) near the junction of Tanglin Halt Road and Tanglin Halt Close. ‘Tanglin’ came from “Tua Tang Leng” (Hokkien: Great Eastern Hills), a name given by the Chinese to the hilly area around Tanglin Road. Tanglin Halt was also known as ‘Tanglin Halt Chap Lau’ (Hokkien: Ten Storeys), after the ten-storey blocks which make up the estate. Today it is called Tanglin Halt Green with three new 40-storey blocks towering over the original Chap Lau which are still standing

So now I know: The Ten-Storey Blocks on The Great Eastern Hills where The Train of the Land of the Malays (Keretapi Tanah Melayu) used to Halt.

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18 thoughts on “Why Tanglin has a Halt”

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  4. Interesting – thanks for finding that. I've started collecting old photos of former railway stations in Singapore. Just got one of Newton Railway Station. There's also Tank Road Station and Bukit Timah Station. Now to find an old railway map.

    1. Hi I was interested to hear you’re collecting old station photos as I’ve seen some on heritage sites on the internet as well as visiting the ones that are left in the past month. I have a map of Singapore bought in the 1980’s which shows KTM tracks with the old branch lines, including one from Buona Vista to the current AYE. I’m trying to find out more about this after seeing what looks like an old station next to One North a couple of weeks ago. Barbara

  5. Thanks for using my photo, miyagi.

    The explanation by NHB may be correct but unconvincing. How did the Halt get its name from a road that is more than two MRT stops away? Even the name 'Great Eastern Hills' is strange, so the point of reference must be west of Tanglin then, but what? Bukit Timah Hill? lol

    1. Hi Mr Miyagi. I’d like to propose another theory as to the name Tanglin. (My wife used to live at #63.) In questioning your theory I’d ask where are the ‘Great mountains’ in Singapore? Mt Faber is the highest point and its only a hill.

      Last night I chatted with two Chinese grad students over tea. They explained to me that ‘Chinatown’ in foreign countries is called ‘Tang ren jie.’ ‘Tang ren’ means ‘Tang people.’ The sounds ‘R’ and ‘L’ are often transposed in Chinese, so with only a small stretch, ‘Tang ren’ could sound like ‘Tanglin’ to a Malay or English ear – China town of the diaspora in a Malay island. Add a station and you have Tangren /Tanglin Halt.

      I really have no idea, but given the absence of any ‘great mountains’ in Singapore, and the migration of Chinese folk, it could be an alternative explanation. Any other folks have some thoughts? Morry.

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