HISTORY OF HOLLAND VILLAGE
How it all began….
During the late 1930s and 1945, Holland Village was being developed into an expatriate centre under the British rule. As it was being established as a military village, the early retail outlets existed to cater to the retail, social and recreational needs of the British soldiers and their families living in and around the Pasir Panjang Base. This military base, the largest in the 1940s, was located along a ‘corridor’ between Pasir Panjang and Holland Road. The development of Holland Village was largely influenced by the British Civilians and military personnel, after all Holland Village existed to provide for the Britons settling there. Locals contributed significantly to the growth of Holland Village in terms of providing retailers, supplying workforce and also serving as the local clientele.
How it flourished….
As the population around Holland Village began to increase in the 1950s and 1960s, it provides an engine for quick economic growth and expansion to suit the demands of the suburban population. The British military presence prevailed in Holland Village with the rise of high-rise apartments and terrace houses built specially for them in Chip Bee Garden. It is therefore not surprising why Holland Village has a reputation of a ‘Western’ village.
Local population expansion also contributed to the thriving business Holland Village is in. This was manifested by the construction of Holland Road market and shop houses along Lorong Mambong, and the building of an open-air theatre (Eng Wah Theatre). This theatre was later demolished in 1985 to make way for a residential cum commercial centre, which subsequently was redeveloped into the present Holland V Mall. These shop houses served to satisfy the grocery, sundry and other retail needs of the local community. A number of unique localized coffee shops called kopitiams were also established at the same time.
Establishment of an Expatriate Centre
In 1971, two major events affected the development of Holland Village. Firstly, thousands of British soldiers were repatriated between 1971 and 1976, adversely affecting Chip Bee, so much so that it became a ‘ghost town’. However, the retail scene in Holland Village did not suffer as badly as expected. This was because Holland Village had begun to attract a new clientele, comprising of nearby local residents in the newly constructed Holland HDB Estate, suburbanites in the Holland and Tanglin area, and the large and still growing number of expatriates employed in the educational and commercial sectors. Accordance to the 1985 master Development Guide Plans by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, close to 650 units were set aside just for local citizens.
The second major event was the building of the Holland Road Shopping Centre, providing a pleasant shopping experience while retaining most of its colonial influences. It was aimed at the growing expatriate market. Tremendous progress in the transportation network in the Village contributed significantly to the late expansion of the Holland Village. Public car parks were built, road network around the area also improved with the introduction of the MRT in Buona Vista. It was at this stage when the reputation of the Village as an expatriate centre became firmly established.
Today, Holland Village is the heart of the Holland Road community. With the new MRT station as part of the Circle Line to be ready in early 2011, it will no doubt become more popular than ever.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT HOLLAND VILLAGE
- Holland Road is named after Hugh Holland, an early Tanglin architect.
- Lorong Mambong. Lorong refers to an alley, a lane or path. The meaning of Mambong is unclear. It could be Mampung, meaning porous, cellular, not solid, empty of content (as in jackfruit). Or it could be Mambang, meaning a ghost.
- Lorong Liput: Liput means flooding, swamping or overcoming.
- HV Mall used to be an open-air cinema.
- Blocks 11 and 12 of Holland Avenue sit on a hill which used to be a cemetery.
- The wet market is the only one in Singapore that is under the Ministry of Environment.
- The Joo Ann Poh shop at 273 Holland Avenue is one of the oldest shops at Holland Village.
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