Many of us may only know Bukit Panjang as the last stop on the Downtown Line, but this bustling town has a rich community heritage, from its early days as a cluster of rural villages surrounded by farmlands to the vibrant residential area it is today.

Read on as we turn up interesting snippets and facts about Bukit Panjang.

The tenth mile

Bukit Panjang, which translates to “long hill” in Malay, got its name from the long stretches of hills that is a topographical landmark in that area. And if you travel along Upper Bukit Timah towards the town, you will likely encounter Junction 10, a mixed-use integrated development.The ‘10’ in Junction 10 is actually a reference to chap kor or “tenth mile” in Hokkien, which was what the 10th milestone of Bukit Timah Road was colloquially called.

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Railway end point

In the mid-1800s, the area was made up of a number of settlements inhabited by gambier and pepper planters, but by the 1900s, the area was more known for its rubber and coconut plantations.

Another landmark during the era was the Bukit Panjang Railway Station, which was part of the Federated Malay States Railway, making it possible to travel from Bukit Panjang all the way to Kuala Lumpur. Although the railway station no longer exists, the Bukit Panjang Post Office which was located near the station is still operational today, just a short walk away from Junction 10.

The town with a can-do spirit

Because of its far-flung, rural location in the northwest of Singapore, Bukit Panjang in the 1950s developed quite an independent, can-do spirit when it comes to community self-help. Then Acting Colonial Secretary J. D. Higham noted the town’s “sense of belonging to a group” in his speech at the opening of Bukit Panjang Youth Club in 1954.

In those days, residents of Bukit Panjang would come together to lobby the government for better housing, work conditions and other bread-and-butter concerns. Other ground-up grassroot initiatives include the community pitching in to set up Bukit Panjang Government High (then called Bukit Panjang Secondary School) in 1957, raising funds and clearing land for the construction of Jamek Mosque (later renamed Al-Khair in 1963).

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When Bukit Panjang almost changed its name

In the 1980s, there was an initiative by the government to rename towns with “pinyinised” names, and Bukit Panjang was to be rechristened as Zhenghua. This met with considerable resistance from the community and eventually the town kept its Bukit Panjang moniker. Today, you can find the name Zhenghua preserved as the name of the flyover between Bukit Panjang Road and the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) as well as Zhenghua Park.

Bukit Panjang is not just rich in heritage but a thriving community rich in family-friendly amenities and services. Find out more about Bukit Panjang as a FFL @ Community (FFLC) town and how it can support your marriage and parenting journey.