Did you know that Sembawang used to be home to an important naval base for the British Empire? Or that it was once populated by rubber plantations owned by prominent pioneers such as Lim Chong Pang? Sembawang, which derived its name from the Mesua ferruginea or the Sembawang tree, has also been home to people from all walks of life – from seafaring villagers who dwelt in kampongs; Asian dockyard workers from Kerala and Hongkong who lived at quarters along Canberra Road; to British naval officers who stayed in black-and-white houses – adding to the area’s rich history and cultural diversity.
These lesser-known stories of Sembawang’s naval history and diverse communities are showcased in the National Heritage Board’s (NHB) new Sembawang Heritage Trail. The trail features 31 trail sites and nine heritage trail markers, which invite trail-goers to explore Singapore’s northern coastal town from when it was first mentioned in maps in the early-1800s, to the decades before and after World War II.
To explore the multi-faceted history of Sembawang, trail-goers can embark on three thematic, bite-sized routes according to their interests and in their own time. These routes are:
● Historical Landmarks of Sembawang (2 hours on foot and with public transport), 7km. This route takes trail-goers to sites that recall major milestones in Sembawang’s past.
● Communities of Sembawang (3 hours on foot and with public transport), 8km. This route explores former neighborhoods in Sembawang, including coastal villages and homes around the former naval base.
● From Dockyard to Shipyard (2.5 hours on foot and with public transport), 5km. This route takes trail-goers to various landmarks that were part of the former naval base.
A new trail to explore with the whole family plus learn about Singapore's naval history and its diverse surrounding communities.
Adventure lovers as well as those with a passion for history and culture.
The Sembawang Heritage Trail’s companion guide and map (the map is available in four languages) can be downloaded from NHB’s heritage portal, Roots.gov.sg. Printed copies of the guide will also be available for a limited period at Sembawang Community Club, Sembawang Town Council, and Canberra Community Club.
Main Image: Courtesy of National Heritage Board