A Brief History of Punggol – From Marshland to Modern Heartland

Punggol as a heartland residential area only came to existence in the early 2000’s

 

Located in the northeast part of Singapore, Punggol is one of the newest residential towns in Singapore and was marketed as a “waterfront town of the 21st century” by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Built on reclaimed land taken from marshland and the sea, Punggol New Town has one of the fastest-growing residential populations in Singapore.

 

One of Singapore’s first estates

While Punggol has been developed to become one of the most modern estates on the island, the area was actually believed to have one of the oldest settlements in Singapore.

Kampong Punggol, which was situated around the Punggol jetty, was believed to have existed over 200 years ago even before the landing of Raffles in 1819.

The Malay community of Punggol were mainly fishermen who made a living off the waters surrounding the marshland, while the Chinese immigrants were mostly rubber tappers and poultry and pig farmers.

A bustling marketplace and distribution centre once stood along Punggol Road, where villagers had traded fresh farm produce.

 

Bloody history

In the 80’s through the 90’s, seafood restaurants adorned the Punggol coastline and the Punggol Point area was famous for its fresh seafood, especially crabs.

Many of the younger Singaporeans know the place today as Punggol Point Park, which was officially opened in December 2011.

However, many current residents probably do not know that Punggol Point was actually the site of a massacre by the Japanese occupation forces during the Second World War. Punggol Beach was one of the execution sites where 400 male Chinese youth were rounded up and killed by Japanese soldiers.

This unfortunate event was part of the Sook Ching massacre that saw tens of thousands of Chinese men exterminated by Japanese firing squads.

 

Reclamation and Punggol 21 plan

Following the end of the war, Punggol was revived, and in the 80’s, the government began reclaiming land in Punggol as part of the Northeastern Coast Reclamation Scheme, which saw the reclamation of 875 ha of shallow foreshore and swampland at the northeastern coast of Singapore from Pasir Ris to Jalan Kayu (including Punggol).

In the 90’s, the government announced the Punggol 21 development plan, which would see the erection of high-quality public and private housing estates with all the facilities of a modern HDB town – which is Punggol New Town as we know it today.

Coney island, a small islet off the Punggol coast that is connected to the mainland by a bridge, has been earmarked as Singapore’s 9th nature park.

 

A green future

Positioned by the HDB as Singapore’s first eco-town, Punggol offers residents environmentally-friendly facilities and services, including the Punggol Waterway Park which is a defining landmark in the estate.

The park has been divided into various zones to cater to different interests such as nature trail walking and water sports. The park is traffic-free and visitors can take a walk from the park to the old Punggol Road to reminisce about Kampong Punggol.

This 1993 photograph shows the Straits of Johor at Punggol Point (at Punggol Road). 

From the Lee Kip Lin Collection. All rights reserved. Lee Kip Lin and National Library Board, Singapore 2009.

This is a 1992 photograph showing the former Punggol Point jetty on Punggol Road. This area was famous for its seafood restaurants in the 30’s.

From the Lee Kip Lin Collection. All rights reserved. Lee Kip Lin and National Library Board, Singapore 2009.

 

Curious about the history of Punggol? Check out the following links:

Punggol Matilda House

http://remembersingapore.wordpress.com/punggol-matilda-house/

 

A Zoo In Punggol?

http://remembersingapore.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/a-zoo-in-punggol/

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