Built in 1915, Tekka Market was one of the most prominent landmarks along Serangoon Road during the first half of the 20th century. The area where it was situated was known as tek kia kha to the Hokkiens, shortened to tek kah, meaning “the foot of the small bamboos” as bamboo once grew on either side of the Rochor Canal. Tekka also means “bamboo clumps” in Mandarin. Tekka Market was also known as Kandang Kerbau Market, with kandang kerbau meaning “buffalo enclosure” in Malay, due to the predominance of cattle-sheds in the area.
By the 1930s, Tekka Market had become very popular for its wide variety of fresh meat, vegetables and seafood. It was frequented mostly by people from the working class, hence it became known as the “people’s market.” The market’s former watchman remembers it as a bustling place where one could see Indian women jostling with houseboys who served the Europeans and wealthy Asians.
When Tekka Market was demolished in 1982, most of the store-holders relocated to the new Zhujiao Market across the street, with the new name being a hanyu pinyin rendition of “Tekka” in the Chinese transliteration system. However, the market was later renamed Tekka Centre in November 2000 to reflect the history of the place after public feedback that “Zhujiao” bore little resemblance to its old name.