Bukit Timah Estate is located in Singapore’s Central Region. The name Bukit Timah originated from a corruption of the name of the Temak tree, which grows in the area.1 Bukit is Malay for “hill”, while Timah is Malay for “tin” – thus the mistaken belief that tin can be found on the hill.2

Bukit Timah, which comprises eight sub-zones, covers an area of 1,732 ha.3 Bukit Timah Hill is the highest hill in Singapore, and the area also holds Singapore’s primary rainforest reserve – Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.4 Many premier residential estates designated as Good Class Bungalow Areas are located in Bukit Timah, making the area one of the most sought-after places to live in Singapore.5

John Prince, the acting resident of the Incorporated Settlement, first explored Bukit Timah on 28 June 1827 in preparation for the construction of Bukit Timah Road. He discovered an area of dense jungle infested with tigers, and Indian convicts were deployed to kill the animals.6

In March 1843, a road leading to the top of Bukit Timah Hill (519 ft) was completed. By 1845, Bukit Timah Road had extended beyond Bukit Timah to as far as Kranji.7 Two tigers were shot in the Bukit Timah area in 1896.8 By the turn of the century, the area had been cleared although it remained rural with a spread of old kampong (village) housing and a few inhabitants. In the 1900s, the sparsely populated land was famed for large industries such as the Cold Storage Dairy Farm, Ford Assembly Plant, and Eveready Batteries, as well as premier schools such as the University of Singapore (later the National University of Singapore), Chinese High School, Singapore Chinese Girls' School, and Anglo-Chinese School.9 Other developments such as the railway route, Hindhede Granite Quarry and Bukit Timah Turf Club were also located in the area.10

During World War II, the Japanese army's onslaught culminated in their victory with the conquest of Bukit Timah Hill. When Lieutenant-General Percival surrendered at the Ford Factory off Bukit Timah Road, the Japanese army displayed its victory by marching down this road.11

In the early 1960s, the Public Works Department first converted Bukit Timah Road into a dual-carriageway road. Both Bukit Timah Road and Dunearn Road were subsequently widened, and flyovers were built at important junctions. These are at Adam Road/Farrer Road, Newton Circus and Whitley Road.12