Naming Circle Line 6: Heritage Along The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

This is the second in a series of commentaries about the naming of Prince Edward, Cantonment and Keppel MRT stations on the Circle Line

Let new establishments reflect the past and the nostalgia it evokes, but not in an obvious way.

Cantonment MRT station will be built next to the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, and many online have suggested renaming the MRT station after the railway station.

However, when Popspoken spoke to Yale-NUS Urban Studies student Sean Cham, he disagreed that the MRT station should be named after the former railway station.

“I personally don’t think the station should be named after the railway station. For one, it might confuse commuters with the already existing Tanjong Pagar MRT station,” said the 22-year-old.

“Secondly, I think Tanjong Pagar Railway Station should exist in and of itself,” he added.

Having been gazetted as a national monument, Singaporeans recognise the former railway station and there is no need for a new public structure to be named after it.

So why not have the name reflect the intangible qualities of the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station?

Sean added that the station’s name can reflect the nostalgia that the former railway station represents.

“I definitely think the MRT station’s new name should reflect the history and heritage of the land it sits on, or perhaps other aspects of the station that the older generation remembers.”

Image: National Archives of Singapore
Image: National Archives of Singapore

The former railway station was a community of its own, with a small convenience store – the Habib Railway Book Store – for adults to peruse newspapers and children to stock up on snacks and candies for the journey.

A canteen on the platform curbed the hunger of travellers and at one time, the upper floors of the railway station housed a luxurious hotel that operated for more than 60 years.

In those days, children used to frolic in the train yard.

Generations of Singaporeans were sown in the station as many of Singapore’s pioneers stepped into the country through the arrival platform to start new beginnings.

The intangible emotions of nostalgia, pride and awe that the railway station symbolises can be tangibly represented through the upcoming MRT station.

Image: Urban Redevelopment Authority
Image: Urban Redevelopment Authority

Cantonment MRT station will not only be located next to a national monument; it will be built near the starting point of a path that cuts through the island – The Rail Corridor.

Starting south at the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and ending North at Woodlands Checkpoint, The Rail Corridor stretches 24km and covers about 100 hectares of land.

Although most of the tracks and railway equipment have been removed, wild plants and trees remain, transforming it into a green corridor for residents to hike, cycle and dabble in nature photography.

This shows that a strip of land, used to make way for an older form of transportation, can have a new lease of life and meaning.

By naming the MRT station after the historical railway turned green space, it would put the rail corridor on the Singapore map.


Header Image: Urban Redevelopment Authority

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