Ever since the temporary closure of the Bukit Timah Rail Corridor for improvement works in 2019, I stopped going to The Rail Mall, which served as both the start and end points of my 10Km hiking trail. While training for the 36Km Coast-to-Coast trail, I worked out a new 10Km trail that started at Beauty World MRT Station and ended at The Rail Mall. That was how I returned to this little spot after more than a year.
The set of railway murals at The Rail Mall were completed in September 2019 and showcased scenes that were specific to Bukit Timah's history. They were painted on the walls of the two rows of shops that faced the carpark.
9th Mile Fuyong Estate
Fuyong estate was developed by philanthropist Mr Lee Kong Chian in 1950s to provide affordable modern housing. It was named as "Fuyong" (芙蓉) after Mr Lee's birthplace village in China. The mural depicts a zinc roof that was a characteristic of old village houses. Under the roof are a provision shop and a coffee shop.
The Last Train
Not long ago, trains used to run from Tanjong Pagar Station to Woodlands with one stop at Bukit Timah Station. KTM Train No. 6543 was the last train to call at the station on 30 June 2011. The railway ceased operations thereafter.
At the other end of the carpark, on the wall of the other strip of The Rail Mall, was another set of murals. The largest artwork featured a wooden house with traditional attap roof. It looked so realistic from afar that I did not realised it was painted.
Gambier was a crop that was cultivated in Singapore and there were a number of gambier plantations in Bukit Timah. As time passed, gambier were gradually replaced by pineapple and rubber due to their higher demands. The mural depicts plantation coolies harvesting, boiling and sun-drying the gambier.
The Last Tiger
Wild tigers once dominated the forests of Singapore. Due to deforestation, the tigers were forced to prowl the plantations and villages, resulting in attacks on plantation workers. As attacks increased, the British government gave rewards for the capturing of tigers. The last wild tiger was said to be shot at 10th Mile Choa Chu Kang Village in October 1930.
I learnt more of Singapore's history through Yip's murals. Theses murals will be another reason to be at The Rail Mall other than to hike at the nature park or to dine at the eating places here.