Current Affairs

New Circle Line MRT stations’ shortlisted names have many stories behind them


In case you missed it, work on Stage 6 of the Circle Line loop will be starting in end-2017. The full Circle Line is expected to open to the public in 2025, closing the loop between Harbourfront and Marina Bay.

Stage 6 comprises three stations — tentatively named Keppel, Cantonment, and Prince Edward.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is currently seeking a public survey to choose the final names of the three stations after shortlisting 2,000 suggestions from an exercise earlier this year.

The public is able to choose from three shortlisted names for each station. We explain the stories behind these names:

Keppel Station

Choose one of the three:

  • Keppel
  • Keppel Harbour
  • Keppel Port

When William Farquhar came to Singapore in 1819, he discovered the presence of a ‘New Harbour’, inhabited by sea people (orang laut).

In the mid-1800s, Captain Henry Keppel, a midshipman, surveyed the New Harbour and found that it was deep enough for ships to dock at, and was suitable to be used by the British to widen their port capacity. The harbour was subsequently renamed Keppel Harbour.

Fast forward more than a century later and the lifeline of the Singapore success story became one of the ports under the purview of the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) in 1963. The harbour slowly transformed into the container-filled Keppel Port we are familiar with.

Cantonment Station

Choose one of the three:

  • Cantonment
  • Old Railway Station
  • Spottiswoode Park

Cantonment refers to a group of lodgings assigned to troops. The area was designated as barracks for the East India Company’s Sepoy troops. Many of the Indian Sepoys followed Raffles when he came to Singapore. 

Old Railway Station shouldn’t come as a surprise to readers – the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, one of the area’s most recognisable piece of architecture, closed its doors to the public at the end of 2016, but continues to draw crowds during holidays when the station opens its doors.

Spottiswoode Park was named after merchant Charles Spottiswoode who built his residence in that area. Spottiswoode was probably most well known for starting the merchant firm Spottiswoodes and Connolly in 1824.

Prince Edward Station

Shortlisted names:

  • Prince Edward Road
  • Parsi Road
  • Palmer Road

Considering Singapore’s relationship with our colonial masters, Singapore has many roads named after British royalty — Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince Philip, Princess Ann, and not forgetting Prince Edward Road — named after the royal who visited Singapore only once, in 1922.

Parsi Road was named after the Parsi community who immigrated to Singapore in the late 1820s. Their claim to the area comes from an anonymous buyer of part of Mount Palmer (owned by John Palmer below) when the owner went bankrupt.

The buyer then converted the piece of land into a Parsi burial ground (as you can see in the 1846 Map of Singapore Town below).

Speaking of the owner of Mount Palmer, John Palmer must have been one of the few lucky ones to have a road named after him – Palmer Road — by sheer virtue of bring a prominent figure in the Indian community.

However contrary to popular belief, Palmer Road was not strictly named after Palmer himself.

The name ‘Palmer Road’ was actually shortened from Palmer Battery Road — derived from the Fort Palmer overlooking the Eastern Entrance to Keppel Harbour.

Now you know, make sure you vote wisely.


Top images adapted from and British Library Flickr page.

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