About Serangoon North

Have you ever wondered why Serangoon stretches across so many neighbourhoods in Singapore?

Serangoon Road was one of the first major roads built in Singapore. A map of Singapore from 1828 described it as “the road leading across the island”. It was built as a link between the settlements in town and the Serangoon harbour, an important port on the Johor Straits.

The naming of Serangoon, and the places within it, constituted another puzzle. In archival materials, the name “Serangoon” has multiple variants including Sirangong, Seranggong, Serangon, Serangong, Saranggong and Sarangong. Some sources say the road was named after the Ranggong – a Malay name for a member of the stork species, a small marsh bird once common in the swamps of the Serangoon River (formerly the Rangon River). Others suggest that the name was derived from the Malay phrase di-serang dengan gong, meaning “to attack with gongs or drums”, a possible reference to gongs used to scare away animals from the forested area of Serangoon.

While we never uncovered a definite answer about its etymology, we discovered the rich history of the area, particularly Serangoon North. The former kampung of Hwi Yoh is one of the few areas in Singapore named after a trade. It once had a flourishing pottery industry, a rope-making factory, and tropical fish farms. Not far away, there were even crocodile farms.

Today, it continues to thrive with pet shops, singing birds and bird-lovers, and delicious local food. Above all, we have had privilege to meet a community of friendly residents who love their neighbourhood and feel their kampung spirit.

People of Serangoon

PHOTO CREDIT: Erfendi Dhahlan
Photo by Ammar “Ameezy”


“I make people smile with my crispy biscuit-like prata!”

Ramesh hails from Kollangudi, a small town in Tamil Nadu, India. He has been operating his prata shop in Serangoon North since 2008.

Photo by Ken Cheong

Mr Ang

"I'm happy doing this to pass my time. I want to do this for as long as I can."

Mr Ang Lu Seng is 81 years old and has been a resident in the Serangoon area for almost all his life. He started working at the provision shop on Rosyth Road in 1955 for the earlier owners, until acquiring the premises in the 1980s. Tee Seng Store is both his living quarters and business.

Photo by Lynn teo

Chua Soo Khim, Chua Soo Kim & Patsy Chua

"We hold the memory of our kiln dearly in our hearts. We are glad to continue the legacy our father left us and pass it on to the next generation."

The Chua siblings are a family of master potters and ceramicists. Their father, Chua Eng Cheow, built the 50-metre long dragon kiln in the former Hwi Yoh kampung in 1938. Their family business, Sam Mui Kuang Pottery, still operates at Jalan Kelulut today.

Photo by Michelle Yeo

Khoo Ee Hoon

“Memories make up our personal nostalgic history and creates chapters in our heart. Knowing the past adds colours to our footprints and helps us to savor the present.”

Ee Hoon spent a large part of her life working in theatre. Currently, she juggles between creative work and research in urban history and cemeteries in Singapore. She has been a resident of Serangoon since 1991.

Koh Nguang How

“I love my village because my mother was also born here. My childhood and teenage years in this village has given me many rich visual memories till this day.”

Koh Nguang How is an artist and a former resident of the village in Jalan Hwi Yoh from 1963-1981. He has created artworks based on the rope-making processes from a business owned by his maternal grandfather.

Ashirdahwani Asmawi & Heryawan Kamis

“Serangoon North: a haven for pets and where lovers meet and fall head over heels into each other...”

The aunt and uncle of filmmaker Ammar “Ameezy” in Lost & Found: Serangoon, Ashirdahwani Asmawi, Heryawan Kamis and their family have been residents of Serangoon North since 2005. One of the reasons why they have settled in the area is its colourful cluster of pet shops. They keep many varieties of birds and fishes in their home.

Dr. Yeo Kang Shua

Dr. Yeo is an architect and architectural historian. He was involved in the restoration of some of Singapore’s religious and institutional buildings and awarded the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2010 and 2014. His family operated tropical fish farms in Hwi Yoh and are the owners of the well-known Straits Aquarium business.

Special thanks to the following individuals and organisations for supporting Lost & Found: Serangoon, and for sharing their inspiring stories and rich memories of the neighbourhood in and around Serangoon North.

Aljunied-Hougang Town Council

Mr Ang Lu Heng, Tee Seng Store

Ms. Ashirdahwani Asmawi
& Mr Heryawan Kamis

The Chua family,
Sam Mui Kuang Pottery 三美光陶艺

Mr Koh Nguang How

Mr Lee Guang Peng,
Zhi Yuan Coffee Shop 际源咖啡店

Ms. Ryoto Mai and Mr Alan Wong,
The Japanese Association, Singapore

Chindamani Indian Restaurant

Dr N Vijayan,
Darma Muneeswaran Temple
தரும முனீஸ்வரன் ஆலயம்

Dr Yeo Kang Shua