Fort Road

Singapore Infopedia


Fort Road, in the eastern part of Singapore connects Mountbatten Road to the East Coast Parkway, and connects to this expressway at the Tanjong Rhu Flyover.1 The road was named in the 1920s after the now demolished Fort Tanjong Katong.2 On the grounds of the fort presently stands Katong Park, which is a marked historic site.3

Fort Road is situated within the Katong precinct. The area was developed by European settlers who started coconut plantations there in the 19th century.4 Today, many coconut trees can be found along Fort Road – a legacy of its history.5 In the late 1860s, the area was inhabited predominantly by Eurasians, Arabs and Malays. They were a mixed community of Anglo-Indians, Anglo-Chinese as well as people of Portuguese and Dutch descent from Malacca.6

Fort Road was likely named after an old fort on the site of Katong Park. Fort Tanjong Katong was commissioned by the British War Office, and completed in August 1879 to protect Singapore’s eastern shores against seaborne attacks.7 The fort was demolished after the World War I, and Katong Park was constructed in its place in the 1930s.8

One of Singapore's oldest parks, the 2.8-hectare Katong Park originally faced the sea, and was popular with families and courting couples in the 1950s and ’60s. It was also the only public park with swimming facilities at the time. The park’s sea frontage was lost when reclamation work in East Coast began in 1966. The park experienced an eventful episode on 24 September 1963 when three bombs exploded on its grounds, marking the beginning of Konfrontasi (or Confrontation, 1963–66) with Indonesia which opposed the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, of which Singapore was then part of.9

The park’s history was almost forgotten until an East Coast resident, who had heard stories about an old military fort in the area, spotted patches of white stone on the ground in 2001, and alerted the National Parks Board. More than three years after the discovery, excavation work finally began after a groundbreaking ceremony on 24 October 2004 to unearth the remnants of the fort. The archaeological project, which also involved members of the public in the dig, was initiated by the Mountbatten Citizens’ Consultative Committee with the aim of raising awareness about Singapore’s rich history.10 Katong Park was designated a historic site on 3 November 1998.11

The layout of Fort Road is rather intricate, involving a number of connecting roads and side roads. It is linked to the Tanjong Rhu Flyover as well as East Coast Parkway. Tanjong Rhu Flyover, a six-lane carriageway, built in the late 1980s, was opened to traffic in February 1990 with Fort Road extended to connect to it. Prior to the construction of the flyover, Fort Road terminated at East Coast Parkway.12

Although a few large mansions reflect the laid-back seaside life along Fort Road up to the early 20th century,13 the street today is lined with high-rise condominiums. Katong Community Centre is located at the junction of Mountbatten Road and Fort Road, while EtonHouse International Research Pre-school is located on the opposite side flanked by Mountbatten and Arthur roads.14

In 2014, the Land Transport Authority announced the development of the Thomson–East Coast Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line, with Katong Park MRT station located at the junction of Fort Road. The station is expected to open in 2023.15

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

1. Norman Edwards and Peter Keys, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 388 (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Eunice Low, et al., Life in Katong (Singapore: National Library Board, 2002), 4 (Call no. RCLOS q959.57 LIF-[HIS]);, Fort Road, map, accessed 30 Augusrt 2016.
2. Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 128. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
3. Serene Goh, “The Big Dig,” Straits Times, 25 October 2004, 1; Julyn Kang, “Fort Road's 'Fort' Discovered,” Straits Times, 1 March 2001, H9. (From NewspaperSG)
4. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 388.
5. Low, et al., Life in Katong, 2; Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 387.
6. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 388.
7. Goh, “The Big Dig”; Tay Tsen Waye, “Work Begins to Unearth Fort,” Today, 25 October 2004, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Peter K. G. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore (Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, 2000), 87 (Call no. RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Julyn Kang, “Another New Chapter for Historic Park,” Straits Times, 1 March 2001, H9. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Kang, “Another New Chapter for Historic Park.” 
10. Tay, “Work Begins to Unearth Fort.” 
11. Kang, “Fort Road's 'Fort' Discovered.” 
12. “Tanjong Rhu-ECP Flyover Opens,” Straits Times, 25 February 1990, 17. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Lily Kong and T. C. Chang, Joo Chiat: A Living Legacy (Singapore: Joo Chiat Citizens' Consultative Committee in association with National Archives of Singapore, 2001), 29. (Call no. RCLOS q959.57 LIF-[HIS])
14. Streetdirectory, Fort Road.
15. Land Transport Authority, “Joint News Release by the Land Transport Authority & Singapore Land Authority – Thomson-East Coast Line: New MRT Links in the East,” media release, 15 August 2014; Low Youjin, “New MRT Station along Thomson-East Coast Line, Will Open in Tandem with Founders’ Memorial,” Today, 7 January 2019; “Thomson-East Coast Line,” Land Transport Authority, accessed 20 April 2020.

Further resources
Mathew Yap, “Flyover for ECP, Fort Rd Junction,” Straits Times, 11 November 1987, 13. (From NewspaperSG)

Seven Fort Road Bungalows to Be Sold for More Than $48M,” Straits Times, 14 November 1996, 54. (From NewspaperSG)

The information in this article is valid as at May 2020 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


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