Tanglin Halt Singapore

With a mix of modern skyscrapers and 1-storey shophouses, Singapore is known for its juxtaposition of old and new. However, in a bid to better prepare our Little Red Dot for the future, we’ve had to say goodbye to some of our beloved estates – and Tanglin Halt joined that list in 2021.

Demolition works are still in progress till the end of 2024 to make way for developments like a new hawker centre, market, and polyclinic. New flats are also being built to meet the demand of public housing in the neighbourhood. While we wait for that, here’s a glimpse into Tanglin Halt’s past:

What happened to Tanglin Halt?

Tanglin Halt is in the process of being demolished to make way for new HDB flats and amenities.

Is Tanglin Halt Market still open?

Yes, it is still in operation. The market will be torn down once the new Tanglin Halt Hawker Centre & Market is fully operational.

What is Tanglin Halt known for?

The estate was one of the first ones to be built by HDB in the 1960s. The apartment blocks were nicknamed “chap lau chu”, which is the Hokkien term for 10-storey blocks.

The history behind the district

tanglin halt - satellite estate
Image credit: Redwire

Contrary to its name, Tanglin Halt isn’t actually situated in Tanglin. Built in 1962, it is in fact one of the first five districts of Queenstown a.k.a. Singapore’s very first satellite state. Fitted with all kinds of facilities like a swimming and sports complex, fresh food market, and town hall, Queenstown was completely self-sufficient – the first of its time.

Cross-country KTM trains from Malaysia would also speed past flats and come to a stop near the present junction of Tanglin Halt and Tanglin Halt Close, giving rise to the “halt” in its name.

However, another name for this estate that your ah ma and ah gong might know about is “Ang Chia Keng”. Hokkien for “red vehicle village”, this name was given because of the red riot vehicles that would enter and park in the neighbourhood during the 1964 race riots.

tanglin halt - $1 note
Image credit: The Long And Winding Road

Brimming with history, one of the area’s iconic landmarks is none other than its 10-storey residential flats. The first of its kind in Singapore, it was affectionately known by residents and taxi drivers as “chap lau chu”, which is quite literally “10-storey building” in Hokkien. Even though these have since been demolished, the flats’ iconic architecture is forever immortalised on the back of Singapore’s old 1-dollar notes.

In the district was also the Tanglin Halt Industrial estate, where many residents would work. Housing a Van Houten chocolate factory, the smell of rich chocolate would often waft through the air, bringing joy to many of the residents next door.

tanglin halt - industrial estate
The Industrial Estate was also home to factories like Singapore Electronics which produced the very first black and white television in 1964
Image credit: Roots

Buildings slated for demolition

Tanglin Halt Road blocks

tanglin halt - 10-storey blocks chap lau chu
Image credit: Uchify

While many of these sights have already been lost in time, some remnants of the estate’s past can still be visited, albeit not for long. One of the spots that you should check out ASAP is the Tanglin Halt Road residential blocks

The flats are painted in aesthetic pastel shades and have unique rooftop features unlike any of today’s BTOs, so head down to get some interesting shots for the ‘Gram.

Tanglin Halt Market

It’s no secret that we Singaporeans love our local delights and this neighbourhood boasts some of the best hawker stalls across the nation. The smaller of the 2 food markets in the estate, Tanglin Halt Market only has 28 stalls but has a steady stream of regular customers no matter the time of day.

tanglin halt - tanglin halt market
Image credit: @9000_others via Instagram

One of the popular stalls to check out is Guangzhou Mian Shi Wanton Mee, which was featured in the local film Wonton Mee by Eric Khoo. If you’re craving something sweet, the famous Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake which uses a decades-old yeast starter is also located in this market. 

This hawker centre will only be demolished by the end of 2024, but that isn’t to say your favourite hawkers will then retire. HDB has plans to shift hawkers over to the new hawker centre and market that is being built at the old site of Tanglin Halt Food Centre.

As for the former tenants of Tanglin Halt Food Centre, most of them have moved to the new 2-storey Margaret Drive Hawker Centre. P.S. For even more grub, visit the Margaret Market next door, which has a number of cafes and eateries, in addition to retail shops and even a gym.

Visit this historical estate before it’s gone for good

Thankfully, there is still one piece of good news – Tanglin Halt is not completely gone yet. Before we lose yet another vital part of Singapore’s history to make way for new developments, you can still drop by and give this old estate a visit.

If you’ve missed your chance, don’t worry, you can still step back in time by visiting the My Queenstown Museum. It’s an upcoming permanent exhibition of old photos and artefacts from former residents. You can visit the museum for free at Block 30A Margaret Drive in the near future.

Cover image credit: @Uchify, @9000_others via Instagram
Originally published on 13th June 2021. Last updated by Raewyn Koh on 11th January 2024.

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