Singapore’s Grandfathers’ Roads – Legacies of Our Pioneers

Last weekend, a campaign called “Is this your grandfather’s road?” was carried out at Tiong Bahru estate to discourage motorists from parking illegally and obstructing the traffic. The “grandfather’s road” phrase has been always a popular and catchy one, and seems a good fit to use in an old housing estate where all its roads were named after Chinese pioneers.

A question comes to mind: What are the roads in Singapore that were named after the early pioneers of Singapore?

They could be political figures like colonial governors, engineers and surveyors. Others were respected community leaders, philanthropists and wealthy businessmen who had contributed generously to the local education, healthcare or charitable causes. There are more than 200 roads that were named after the early pioneers; some of the famous ones include Aljunied Road, Boon Lay Way, Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim and Eu Tong Sen Street.

The list of the street names is largely segregated into their respective districts in Singapore:

  • North-East (Hougang/Upper Serangoon)
  • North-East (Punggol/Sengkang)
  • North (Ang Mo Kio)
  • North (Yishun/Sembawang)
  • South (Boat Quay/Clarke Quay)
  • South (Bukit Merah/Queenstown/Telok Blangah)
  • South (Buona Vista/Pasir Panjang)
  • South (Chinatown/Tanjong Pagar)
  • South (City Hall)
  • South (Jalan Besar/Rochor)
  • South (Outram)
  • South (Raffles Place/Shenton Way)
  • South (River Valley)
  • South (Tiong Bahru)
  • Central (Balestier)
  • Central (Bukit Timah Road/Holland Village)
  • Central (Farrer Road/Thomson)
  • Central (Orchard/Tanglin)
  • East (Bedok/Eunos)
  • East (Changi/Pasir Ris/Tampines)
  • East (Geylang/Kallang/Paya Lebar)
  • East (Joo Chiat/Katong)
  • East (Siglap)
  • West (Choa Chu Kang/Lim Chu Kang)
  • West (Clementi/Ulu Pandan)
  • West (Jurong/Tuas)

North-East (Hougang/Upper Serangoon)

Alkaff Avenue

Alkaff Avenue, located between Upper Serangoon Road and MacPherson Road, was named after Syed Shaik bin Abdul Rahman Alkaff (1880-1948) (also see Alkaff Quay).

Aroozoo Avenue

Aroozoo Avenue, as well as the nearby Simon Road, was named after Dr Simon Aroozoo (1850-1931), also known as Dr Max Simon (also see Simon Road), a prominent Eurasian of Portuguese descent and philanthropist well-known for his charitable contributions to Singapore’s educational and healthcare causes.

Dr Simon Aroozoo had worked a total of 57 years at Guthrie and Co since he was 16 years old. He was the good friend and colleague of Gan Eng Seng, a well-known early Hokkien businessman (颜永成, 1844-1899). The two families were closely associated; Dr Simon Aroozoo helped to manage Gan Eng Seng’s estate at Upper Serangoon after the latter’s death in 1899, and his grandson Percival Frank Aroozoo (1900-1969) was the headmaster of Gan Eng Seng School between 1938 and 1955.

Dr Simon Aroozoo died of pneumonia in 1931 and was buried at Bidadari Cemetery.

Florence Road

Florence Road was named after Florence Yeo, wife of Lim Ah Pin (also see Lim Ah Pin Road).

Francis Thomas Drive

francis thomasFrancis Thomas Drive, which leads to the St Andrew’s Junior and Secondary Schools, was named after Francis Thomas (1913-1977), the Minister of Labour Front government and Minister for Communication and Works between 1955 and 1959. He was also the Principal of St Andrew’s School from 1963 to 1974.

Francis Thomas Drive was officially opened in 1980 by Francis Thomas’ wife Catherine Lee Eng Neo.

Lim Ah Pin Road

Lim Ah Pin (林亚柄) was a famous vermicelli manufacturer, nicknamed the “bee hoon king”, in the early half of the 20th century. Before making his fortune through vermicelli, he had worked as a bus conductor and fruit seller. Lim Ah Pin was a generous man in his community; he built several houses and schools for the people living in the Upper Serangoon vicinity.

Lim Ah Pin was converted to Catholic because of his wife Florence Yeo. Their residence used to stand along Upper Serangoon Road, at a location where the parallel roads of Lim Ah Pin Road and Florence Road exist today.

A few public amenities had carried the names of Lim Ah Pin, such as the defunct Lim Ah Pin Library and Lim Ah Pin Clinic. The Lim Ah Pin Road Post Office is still functioning till this day.

Lim Tua Tow Road

The road was named after Teochew merchant and landowner Lim Tua Tow (林大头), who was said to have settled here in the early 20th century. Also known as “ow gang gor kok jiok” (Hougang five milestone), Lim Tua Tow Road was once a bustling street filled with provision shops, mama kiosks, food stalls and Chinese medicine stores. The popular Lim Tua Tow Market used to serve the residents living in the vicinity until the early 1990s.

lim tua tow road 1980s

Pillai Road

Officially named in 1957, Pillai Road was named after Naraina Pillai, the first Indian to arrive at Singapore in 1819. He first worked as a clerk at the colonial administration before becoming a cotton trader. A wealthy Narina Pillai had numerous contributions to the society. He acquired the land at South Bridge Road for the construction of Sri Mariamman Temple in 1827, which remained as Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple today. His reputation as a community leader also saw Naraina Pillai appointed as the chief of Indians from Cholamandalaman to settle disputes and conflicts among the local Tamils.

Pillai Road was often mistaken to be named after P. Govindasamy Pillai (1887-1980), a South Indian businessman famous for his generosity. He was also the owner of PGP stores, a once-popular retail chain in Singapore, Malacca and Johor Babru. In 1937, Govindasamy Pillai helped to establish the Indian Chamber of Commerce. He was later appointed as a Justice of Peace.

Poh Huat Road

Poh Huat Road was probably named after Tan Poh Huat, an early Chinese merchant.

Simon Road

Simon Road was named after prominent Eurasian of Portuguese descent Dr Simon Aroozoo (1850-1931), who also had Aroozoo Avenue named after him (also see Aroozoo Avenue).

Surin Avenue

The Surins and the Aroozoos (also see Aroozoo Avenue) were prominent and wealthy Eurasian families living at the Upper Serangoon vicinity before the Second World War. They were closely tied to each other; Elizabeth Surin was Lawrence Aroozoo’s mother-in-law. However, the two families were embroiled in a legal battle in the mid-1930s after Elizabeth Surin’s death in 1921. Lawrence Aroozoo was charged for misusing her mother-in-law’s money and properties, and the case was made even more dramatic when he fell out with his wife Amelia Aroozoo and son Jonathan Aroozoo.

Wan Tho Avenue

loke wan tho (1913-1964)Kuala Lumpur-born Loke Wan Tho (陆运涛, 1913-1964) was a well-known film businessman who made the Cathay Organisation and Cathay Cinema successful. The Cathay Organisation was in dire straits after the Second World War. With new investors, Loke Wan Tho was able to change the fortune of his family business in just a few years. By 1948, his cinema chain was extended from Singapore to Malaysia, Thailand and Borneo, and he set up film studios for the making of Malay and Chinese movies.

Loke Wan Tho was unfortunately killed in an air crash at Taiwan in 1964. He was only 49 then.

cathay cinema and hotel 1954

Wolskel Road

Wolskel Road was possibly named after H. Wolskel, a Municipal Commissioner in the 1920s.

Teck Chye Terrace

Teck Chye Terrace was named after Chinese Chamber of Commerce’s Secretary Lim Teck Chye in 1929. He was the previous owner of the plot of land adjacent to Lim Tua Tow Road, where Teck Chye Terrace exists till today.

North-East (Punggol/Sengkang)

Cheng Lim Farmway (defunct)

cheng lim farmway 1980sUntil the early 2000s, there existed a small network of roads, off Punggol Road, called Cheng Lim Farmway. There was a total of six farmways, a term used to describe the roads leading to farms.

Cheng Lim Farmway was named after Goh Cheng Lim (吴振林), a Straits-born Chinese businessman, ship owner and founding director of Kim Hock Hoe Ltd. He used to live in a grand bungalow at the now-defunct Sungei Pus at Punggol in the early 20th century. In 1907, his residence was attacked by 15 armed gang robbers, creating a sensational headline then.

Goh Cheng Lim’s daughter was married to the son of another Straits-born Chinese Seah Seng Kang, Victoria School’s Head Master in the 1920s. It was unknown whether Lorong Sengkang, which gave rise to the naming of Sengkang New Town in the 1990s, had any links to Seah Seng Kang.

The name of Cheng Lim LRT Station, located at the junction of Archorvale Street and Sengkang East Road, was taken after the expunged roads.

Jalan Kayu

One version of the origin of Jalan Kayu’s name is that it was named after C.E Wood, the British planner who oversaw the construction of Seletar Airbase in the late 1920s. To recognise his contribution for transforming a land of forests and swamps into a functional airstrip, the Singapore Rural Board decided name the road leading to the airbase as Jalan Kayu, where Kayu means wood in Malay.

jalan kayu 1970s

North (Ang Mo Kio)

Munshi Abdullah Avenue

munshi abdullah (1796-1854)Munshi Abdullah Avenue, one of the roads within the Teachers’ Housing Estate in Ang Mo Kio, was named after Malacca-born Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir (1796-1854), a well-known Muslim author of Arab, Indian and Malay descent. Munshi Abdullah (Munshi refers to “teacher”) was widely respected as the father of modern Malay literature.

By the time he was 14 years old, Munshi Abdullah was already an accomplished Malay scholar. Other than his native Malay language, he could speak and write Arabic, Tamil, Hindustani and English. Arriving at Singapore in 1819, Munshi Abdullah taught Malay to the Indian soldiers and British missionaries, merchants and officials.

Munshi Abdullah was also the author of “The Hikayat Abdullah” (The Story of Abdullah), a book that described the life of the people in Singapore in the older days. He died in Jeddah, Ottoman Empire, on his journey to Mecca.

teachers estate munshi abdullah avenue

North (Yishun/Sembawang)

Bah Soon Bah Road

Bah Soon Bah Road was named after Bah Soon (峇顺), the Peranakan name of Lim Nee Soon (also see Nee Soon Road).

Bah Tan Road (defunct)

teo bah tanBah Tan Road, one of the roads at Chong Pang Village, was named after Teo Bah Tan, an early Chinese rubber plantation owner and trader. Teo Bah Tan was the fifth son of Teo Lee (also see Teo Lee Road), brother of Teo Eng Hock (also see Eng Hock Road) and was the great-grandfather of Teo Chee Hean, the current Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore.

The Teo family was closely related to Lim Nee Soon; Teo Bah Tan and Teo Eng Hock were Lim Nee Soon’s uncles (also see Nee Soon Road).

Chong Kuo Road

The short Chong Kuo Road, located near the junction of Sembawang Road and Mandai Road, was named after Lim Chong Kuo (林忠国, 1902-1938), the eldest son of famous rubber and pineapple tycoon Lim Nee Soon (also see Nee Soon Road).

In 1923, Lim Chong Kuo married Tan Lay Ho, second daughter of another prominent Chinese businessman Tan Kah Kee. They held a grand wedding at Tenah Merah’s Garden Club with many distinguished guests invited.

When Lim Nee Soon died in China in 1936, Lim Chong Kuo flew over to attend his father’s state funeral held by the Nanking government. He himself, however, died two years later at a relatively young age of 36.

Chong Pang Road (defunct)

Expunged during the demolition of Chong Pang Village and development of Sembawang housing estate, Chong Pang Road was named after Lim Chong Pang (林忠邦, 1904-1956), son of well-known rubber and pineapple tycoon Lim Nee Soon (also see Nee Soon Road).

Lim Chong Pang himself was also a prominent businessman, especially in properties and real estate. He later ventured into the local film industry, and owned several cinemas at Nee Soon and Geylang. In 1929, Lim Chong Pang was appointed as a member of the Singapore Rural Board to serve for public interest. It was a position he had held for nine years. He was also a Justice of Peace and part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce. After his death, Lim Chong Pang was buried at Bukit Brown Cemetery, and the Westhill Estate was renamed as Chong Pang Village in honour of him.

In 1924, Lim Chong Pang married Lee Poh Neo daughter of Lee Chong Guan, another famous Chinese businessman (also see Choon Guan Street).

chong pang road 1980s

Eng Hock Road (defunct)

teo eng hock (1871-1958)Eng Hock Road was named after Teo Eng Hock (张永福, 1871-1958), the second son of Teo Lee (also see Teo Lee Road) and brother of Teo Bah Tan (also see Bah Tan Road).

Teo Eng Hock was a well-known Teochew rubber merchant and planter, who also owned factories to manufacture rubber goods. A firm supporter of Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s revolutionary ideas, he co-founded the Singapore branch of Tung Meng Hui (Chinese Revolutionary League) in 1906, and used his villa Wan Qing Yuan (晚晴园), originally intended for his mother Tan Poh Neo, to act as its headquarters.

Teo Eng Hock’s daughter Teo Soo Kim was the first woman barrister in Hong Kong.

Hock Chwee Road (defunct)

The expunged Hock Chwee Road at the former Chong Pang Village was named after Chia Hock Chwee (谢福水, 1895-1956), the father-in-law of Lim Chong Pang (also see Chong Pang Road). Educated at Raffles Institution, Chia Hock Chwee instead chose to be a fisherman and lived a secluded life.

Nee Soon Road

lim nee soon (1879-1936)Nee Soon Road was named after Lim Nee Soon (林义顺, 1879-1936), one of Singapore’s most well-known Chinese pioneers. Born in a shophouse at Beach Road, Lim Nee Soon was educated at the St Joseph’s Institution and Anglo-Chinese School, after which he started picking up skills in the booming rubber industry. By 1911, Lim Nee Soon was able to establish his own plantations and factories at present-day Yishun and Sembawang, snapping up huge acres of lands formerly used for growing gambier and pepper.

At the same time, Lim Nee Soon also cultivated pineapple plantations to inter-crop with his rubber business. His investment in pineapples flourished, earning him the nickname of “Pineapple King”. By late 1920s, Lim Nee Soon’s properties and plantations could be found at Seletar, Kangkar, Choa Chu Kang and Johor. When the global depression hit in the 1930s, Lim Nee Soon was able to let go most of his rubber ventures.

A charitable person who donated regularly to schools and hospitals, Lim Nee Soon was made a Justice of Peace in 1925, and served in the Singapore Rural Board. He was also the President of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce in the 1920s.

lim nee soon pineapple cultivation

Lim Nee Soon was a keen supporter of Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s revolutions, giving large sums of money to start newspapers and support uprisings in Qing China. When he died while on a holiday trip in Shanghai in 1936, the Nanking (Nanjing today) government decided to honour Lim Nee Soon with a state funeral and a burial place near Dr Sun Yat-Sen.

There are other roads named after Lim Nee Soon’s wife and sons (also see Peck Hay Road, Chong Kuo Road and Chong Pang Road).

Stephen Lee Road (defunct)

father stephen leeStephen Lee Road is one of the rare roads in Singapore with a Chinese Christian name. It was named after Father Stephen Lee, an early local Chinese Catholic priest who helped the Teochew refugees from Swatow, China, to settle at Mandai in the early 20th century. The area was later known as the Catholic Village. In recognition of his efforts, the government named the long winding road to Jalan Ulu Sembawang as Stephen Lee Road.

Stephen Lee Road used to be flanked by durian plantations in the eighties. Today, the road is off-limit to vehicular access, and is part of the Park Connector Network (PCN) in Mandai.

Teo Lee Road (defunct)

The expunged Teo Lee Road at the former Chong Pang Village was named after Teo Lee (1833-1899), father of Teo Eng Hock and Teo Bah Tan (also see Eng Hock Road and Bah Tan Road).

Teo Lee’s father had arrived from China as a pepper merchant in the early 19th century, whereas Teo Lee himself worked as a cloth trader and opened a shop at Beach Road. He later married Tan Poh Neo, the granddaughter of Tan Hong Khuay, who was the mayor of Muntok, Indonesia.

South (Boat Quay/Clarke Quay)

Angus Street

Angus Street was named after Whampoa and Company co-partner Gilbert Angus, who was also a auctioneer, landlord, nutmeg and betel nut plantation owner and Municipal Commissioner.

Gilbert Angus used to own properties at White House Park, a high-end residential district off Stevens Road today. His private residence the Whitehouse was built in the mid-19th century, with John Fraser as his neighbour (also see Fraser Street).

sg road names - clarke quay map v3

Chin Hin Street (defunct)

The now-defunct Chin Hin Street was said to be named after Leow Chye Heng (廖正兴, 1874-1931), a wealthy Teochew businessman and philanthropist.

First arrived at Singapore in the late 19th century, Leow Chye Heng worked as apprentice, hawker and rubber plantation worker, before he made his fortune and established a commercial bank. He later became one of the founders of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and was also appointed as a Justice of Peace and Municipal Commissioner. Throughout his life, Leow Chye Heng had donated generously to education in Singapore and China.

Chin Hin Street used to link to Tew Chew Street before it was expunged after the 1980s. The site is now occupied by Swissotel Merchant Court. There was another saying that Chin Hin Street was named after Hokkien merchant Lim Chin Hin (林振兴) instead.

Clarke Quay/Clarke Street (defunct)

andrew clarke (1824-1902)Officially named in 1896, Clarke Quay and Clarke Street were named after Sir Andrew Clarke (1824-1902), the Governor of the Straits Settlements between 1873 and 1875.

Born in England, Andrew Clarke spent many years at India, Australia, New Zealand and Africa before arriving at Singapore to take over the governor post from Colonel Harry St George Ord. One of Andrew Clarke’s major accomplishments was the signing of the Treaty of Pangkor in 1874, which allowed the British to rule the Malay States indirectly.

Cumming Street

Cumming Street was named after James B. Cumming (1858-1899), co-partner of Fraser and Cumming Co. Born in Jedburgh, Scotland, James Cumming did business in Johore in 1881, before setting up Fraser and Cumming in Singapore with his friend John Fraser (also see Fraser Street). The company had well-diversified interests in sawmills, construction materials, brickworks and even insurance.

Like John Fraser, James Cumming also acted as the secretary of the Lodge Zetland. He died near his bungalow at Changi in 1899, leaving behind his wife and two sons.

Fisher Street

Fisher Street was possibly named after H.K.C Fisher (1864-1918), a former manager of the Straits district of the East Extension Telegraph Company at Keppel Harbour. H.K.C Fisher was based in Singapore in 1912, working to establish the local wireless communications, until his retirement and departure for Australia in 1917.

Both H.K.C Fisher and his wife were well-known in Singapore for their charitable acts, especially in the welfare of the stationed troops.

Hong Lim Quay (defunct)

Hong Lim Quay was renamed as Boat Quay in the early 20th century. It was named after Hokkien businessman Cheang Hong Lim (章芳琳, 1825-1893) (also see Cheang Hong Lim Street).

Boat Quay was closed to vehicular access in the nineties as restaurants and pubs were opened and lined up along the road.

Keng Cheow Street

The street was named after Tan Keng Cheow (陈庆照), a Hokkien businessman and the boss of a steam laundry factory at Stevens Road in the 1880s. He was also a one-time owner of the grand Spring Grove House at Grange Road, previously owned by Hoo Ah Kay (Whampoa).

keng cheow street 1977

Ord Road (defunct)

harry ord (1819-1895)Ord Road was named after Colonel Harry St George Ord (1819-1895), the Governor of the Straits Settlements between 1867 and 1873. Officially opened in 1886, the road was linked to Ord Bridge and both of them were formerly known as ABC Road/Bridge.

Ord Bridge exists till today, but Ord Road was expunged in the eighties. The road was connected to Magazine Road and Hong Lim Quay (also defunct) at the southern side of Singapore River.

Read Street (defunct)/Read Crescent

Read Bridge and its connecting road Read Street were named after early Scottish William Henry Macleod Read (1819-1909), who was the owner of A.L. Johnston & Company, and was well-known for his massive contributions to the political and social aspects of Singapore.

In his 46-year stay at the colony, William Read had served as the Treasurer of Raffles Library, First Special Constable, first Consul for Holland, Chairman of Singapore Chamber of Commerce and member of the Legislative Council. William Read returned to England in 1887, where he died in 1909 at age 91.

Read Street used to be connected to River Valley Road. The road was later expunged and Read Bridge was closed to vehicular access, but a short road named Read Crescent still exists on the southern side of Singapore River today.

Solomon Street

Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Abraham Solomon (1798-1884) came to Singapore in 1836, becoming one of the colony’s earliest Jewish settlers. He established a trading office, which also served as his residence, at the Boat Quay area. As he became successful in his business, Abraham Solomon’s influence grew in the local Jewish community. He took part in the construction of the first synagogue at Synagogue Street.

Abraham Solomon had a sad ending, as he lost much of his fortune in opium speculation in his later years. He died in 1881, and was buried at the former Jewish Cemetery in Orchard Road.

Tan Lye Place

Tan Lye Place was named after Tan Lye, also known as Tan Keng Lye (陈泰, or 陈清泰) (1839-1898). Born in Tung An, Fujian province of China, he arrived at Singapore at age 21 and later became a wealthy businessman in shipping and timber.

Well-known as the Pineapple King, Tan Lye owned vast pineapple plantations at Nee Soon, producing the popular Hin Choon & Co and Istana brands of preserved pineapples that were exported to Shanghai, Hong Kong, and even England and America in the 19th century. One of his companies Tan Tye & Company was located near today’s Clarke Quay. Tan Lye was conferred official titles by the Qing court for his donations.

There was previously a Tan Lye Alley.

South (Bukit Merah/Queenstown/Telok Blangah)

Gillman Flyover

webb gillman (1870-1933)Gillman Flyover, part of Alexandra Road that spans over the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE), had its name taken after the nearby Gillman Barracks, a former British army barracks named after General Sir Webb Gillman (1870-1933), who spent a few months in Singapore in 1927 with his team of artillery and engineering officers to study the feasibility of a new naval base at the island colony.

Jalan Bukit Ho Swee/Taman Ho Swee

tay ho swee (1834-1903)The roads were named after the old housing estate of Bukit Ho Swee, which in turn was named after Tay Ho Swee (戴河水, 1834-1903). Tay Ho Swee’s father was one of the earliest Chinese in Singapore to cultivate opium farms. Born in Singapore in 1834, Tay Ho Swee received his education both in Chinese and English. He ventured into shipping business after that, and owned many ships that plied between Singapore, Trengganu (Malaya) and SongKhla (Siam).

Tay Ho Swee later took over his father’s business in opium, gambier and pepper. His plantations covered much of present-day Bukit Ho Swee and Outram Hill.

Mount Faber Road

Leading to the summit of the hill at Telok Blangah, Mount Faber Road was named after Mount Faber, which in turn was named after British Superintendent Engineer Captain Charles Edward Faber. Arriving at Singapore in September 1844, one of Captain Charles Faber’s duties was to build a road and a signal station at Telok Blangah Hill. The facilities were completed a year later, and the hill was renamed after him.

Captain Charles Faber went on to handle several other projects such as the construction of the Ellenborough Market and the foundation of the Outram Road Goal. Some of his works, however, attracted criticisms due to reliability issues and poor workmanship.

Pender Road

Pender Road was named after Sir John Denison Pender (1855-1929), the chairman of Eastern Telegraph Company, a British firm that specialised in laying of cables in the seas and had its main central office in Singapore since 1894.

Ridout Road

Ridout Road was named after Major-General Sir Dudley Howard Ridout (1866-1941), who was stationed at Singapore between 1915 and 1921 as the highest-ranking British military officer in the Straits Settlements.

Seah Im Road

ang seah imNamed in 1907, Seah Im Road was named after Ang Seah Im (汪声音, undetermined-1927), a wealthy Hokkien towkay from Tong Ann, China, who had businesses in tin mining and rubber. He owned several properties in Singapore and Malaysia, one of which was at Telok Blangah.

Ang Seah Im was buried at Bukit Brown Cemetery after his death.

Spooner Road

The short lane off Kampong Bahru Road was named after Charles Edwin Spooner (1853-1909), the State Engineer of the Public Works Department and the head of the Federated Malay States Railways in 1901.

Stirling Road

Located in the old Queenstown housing district, Stirling Road was named after William G. Stirling (1887-undetermined), the Assistant Protectorate of the Chinese during the colonial period. William Stirling came to Singapore in 1907, at an age of 20. He joined the government service and later became an expert in the Chinese secret societies. In 1934, William Stirling invented synchrisiscope, a device capable of revolutionising criminal detection.

William Stirling’s wife was the daughter of a Chinese merchant.

Swettenham Road

frank swettenham (1850-1946)Swettenham Road was named after Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham (1850-1946), the first Resident-General of the Federated Malay States and the Governor of the Straits Settlements from 1901 to 1904.

Born in Derbyshire, England, Sir Frank Swettenham was sent to Singapore in 1871. Fluent in Malay after spending many years in Malaya, he played an important role in the British intervention in the Malay states in the 1870s. Port Klang of Selangor was originally named after him as Port Swettenham.

Wishart Road

Charles Wishart (undetermined-1905) was manager of the New Harbour Dock Co, who arrived at Singapore in 1860. The Wishart family, living at their Kingston House at Keppel Harbour, was well-known in the community. One of Charles Wishart’s sons was the chief engineer of British vessel S.S Borneo. Also named Charles Wishart, he unfortunately died of a heart attack at an age of only 33 on his way to Siam (Thailand today) in 1900.

South (Buona Vista/Pasir Panjang)

Siok Wan Close

A short lane along Pasir Panjang Road, Siok Wan Close was named after Khoo Siok Wan, sometimes known as Khoo Seok Wan (邱菽园, 1874-1941), a local Hokkien businessman who inherited the family business from his father in the late 19th century.

Khoo Siok Wan was keen in the politics in Qing China; he himself took the imperial examination in 1890. After inheriting his father’s will, Khoo Siok Wan donated large amount of money to support the Reform Movement in China. In Singapore, he was a firm supporter and contributor to the local female education cause.

Khoo Siok Wan was near to bankruptcy in the early 20th century after giving away his money and living an extravagant lifestyle. He died of leprosy in 1941.

Yew Siang Road

The short lane off Pasir Panjang Road was named after Chia Yew Siang (谢有祥, 1867-1930), a Chinese merchant who owned Chop Hong Hoe and lived at Pasir Panjang. He was also one of the thirteen members of the China Republican Party (Singapore branch), and was buried at Bukit Brown Cemetery after his death.

Zehnder Road

hugh ransome stanley zehnderZehnder Road, located off South Buona Vista Road, was named after Hugh Ransome Stanley Zehnder, a lawyer who owned the legal firm Zehnder Brothers in the early 20th century.

Hugh Zehnder was promoted to the rank of Major and awarded the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E) after spending many years in the Singapore Voluntary Corp (SVC). He was also appointed as the representative of the Eurasians at the Legislative Council in 1936.

South (Chinatown/Tanjong Pagar)

Ann Siang Hill/Ann Siang Road

chia ann siang (1832-1892)

The history of Ann Siang Hill dated back to the 19th century when it was known as Scott’s Hill and Gemmil’s Hill, named after British Charles Scott and John Gemmil after they bought the lands in the vicinity (also see Gemmill Lane). In the early 20th century, the place became known as Ann Siang Hill after its acquisition by wealthy Hokkien businessman Chia Ann Siang (谢安祥, 1832-1892).

Born in Malacca, Chia Ann Siang came to Singapore in 1848 at age 16. He started working at a British trading firm called Boustead & Company, and was promoted to the position of chief produce storekeeper after eight years.

In the early 1860s, Chia Ann Siang left Boustead & Company to venture into timber business, and later became a partner of Geok Teat & Company at Battery Road. He was buried at Bukit Brown Cemetery after his death in 1892.

ann siang hill and club street 1980s

Anson Roadedward anson (1826-1925)

Anson Road was named after Major-General Sir Archibald Edward Harbord Anson (1826-1925), the Acting Governor of the Straits Settlements from 1879 to 1880 and the last Lieutenant Governor of Penang.

Cheng Cheok Street (defunct)

Cheng Cheok Street was named after shipping merchant Khoo Cheng Cheok (邱正潮), whose brother Khoo Cheng Tiong was a famous rice merchant and president of Thong Chai Medical Institution in the early 19th century.

Cheng Cheok Street was expunged in the seventies, with its site occupied by Tanjong Pagar Plaza.

Cheng Tuan Street (defunct)

Formerly located off Tanjong Pagar Road, Cheng Tuan Street was named after Tan Cheng Tuan (陈正端, 1864-1902), owner of a ship supplies firm called Cheng Tuan & Co, and the Director of China Mutual Life Insurance Co.

He was appointed as the Municipal Commissioner in 1897, succeeding Tan Jiak Kim, and participated in the Singapore Voluntary Infantry (Chinese section).

Choon Guan Street

lee choon guan (1868-1924)Lee Choon Guan (李浚源, 1868-1924) was a Straits-born Chinese businessman, philanthropist and co-founder of the Chinese Commercial Bank in 1912. A Justice of Peace and the member of the Chinese Advisory Board, Lee Choon Guan was keen in contributing to the social and educational causes in Singapore. He donated hundreds of thousands to institutions such as the Raffles College and Methodist College.

During the First World War, Lee Choon Guan and his friend Lim Peng Siang (also see Peng Siang Quay) donated a fighter plane to the British Air Force. The plane Malaya No. 6, was also named “Choon Guan Peng Siang” in honour of them.

Lee Choon Guan’s father Lee Cheng Yan and son Lee Peng Seng were also prominent figures in the business world and community (also see Cheng Yan Place and Peng Seng Road).

choon guan street 1982

Eng Kiat Road (defunct)

Eng Kiat Road was named after Malacca-born Wan Eng Kiat (1835-1919), who came to Singapore in 1851. Working as a storekeeper at Messrs Puttfarcken & Co, Wan Eng Kiat made his fortune through his investment in properties.

Erskine Road

Erskine Road was said to be named after Mount Erskine, a small hill that once stood in this vicinity, and was owned by J.J Erskine, a Member of Council in Penang. J.J Erskine had lived in Singapore in 1824 at Mount Erskine.

Officially named in 1907, Erskine Road started as a private road between 124 and 125 South Bridge Road. There was another saying that it was instead named after Samuel Erskine of Howarth Erskine and Co in the 1870s.

Eu Tong Sen Street

eu tong sen (1877-1941)The long Eu Tong Sen Street, the main road to Chinatown, was named after Penang-born Cantonese businessman and philanthropist Eu Tong Sen (余东璇, 1877-1941). Educated in China, Eu Tong Sen returned to Malaya to took over the family business after his father’s death. He first made his fortune through tin mining, earning him the nickname of “King of Tin”. Eu Tong Sen later diversified into rubber, medical shops and properties. By age 30, he was one of the richest men in Southeast Asia.

A generous person, Eu Tong Sen donated much to education and other causes, including relief and war funds. Some of his legacies were the establishment of the Cantonese Lee Wah Bank, the building of Tien Yien Moh Toi Theatre (Majestic Theatre today) and the construction of his private residence Eu Villa, one of the largest mansions in Singapore in the 20th century.

In 1919, Wayang Street was officially renamed as Eu Tong Sen Street after he donated a fighter plane and a tank to support the British in the First World War.

eu tong sen street 1970s

Jiak Chuan Road

Jiak Chuan Road was named after Tan Jiak Chuan (陈若铨, 1858-1909), grandson of philanthropist Tan Kim Seng (also see Kim Seng Road) and cousin of Tan Jiak Kim (also see Jiak Kim Street). He was also the only son of Tan Beng Gum, the former President of the Chinese Temple association at Malacca.

Described as a quite gentleman, Tan Jiak Chuan duly ran the business of mining firm Kim Seng & Co, allowing his cousin Tan Jiak Kim to concentrate on public affairs. In 1908, after his return from Malacca, Tan Jiak Chuan fell ill and suffered from hyperpyrexia. He died shortly after that, and left behind various funds for the Raffles Institution, Chinese Free School and Tan Tock Seng Hospital. He was buried at the Tan family burial ground at Alexandra Road.

Kee Seng Street

Kee Seng Street, off Tanjong Pagar Road, was named after Cheong Kee Seng (1880-1932), an early local businessman, auctioneer, real estate agent and member of first Rotary Club of Singapore.

Keong Saik Road

Tan Keong Saik (陈恭锡, 1850-1909) was born in Malacca, educated in Penang, and came to Singapore to work as a shipping clerk at Messrs Lim Kong Wan & Sons, and later as a storekeeper at Borneo Company. His experience in the shipping trade allowed him to become the Straits Steamship Co Ltd’s director until his death in 1909.

Tan Keong Saik was appointed as a Justice of Peace and Municipal Commissioner due to his massive contributions to the social and intellectual life of the local Chinese community. An early advocate of education for Chinese girls, Tan Keong Saik strongly supported Po Leung Kuk, an association established in 1888 to look after the interest of teenage girls and women in Singapore.

Lee Choon Guan was one of his son-in-laws (also see Choon Guan Street).

keong saik road 1950s chinatown.sg

Keppel Road

henry keppel (1809-1904)Officially opened in 1886 as New Harbour Road, the road was later renamed as Keppel Road after Admiral Sir Henry Keppel (1809-1904), who visited Singapore several times in the 19th century and was credited with his recommendations of building a deep water harbour at the southern end of Singapore mainland. At his last visit of Singapore in 1900, a 92-year-old Sir Henry Keppel was given the top honour by the Straits Settlement government when Keppel Road was officially named after him.

There is also a short Keppel Hill off Telok Blangah Road.

Lim Teck Kim Road

lim teck kim (1882-1938)

Lim Teck Kim (林德金, 1882-1938) was a Chinese businessman who owned a trading company named Lim Hoe Chiang Co Ltd (林和昌公司), in which Hoe Chiang Road, parallel to Lim Teck Kim Road at Tanjong Pagar, was named after. Beside Lim Hoe Chiang Co Ltd, Lim Teck Kim also ventured into pineapple, tobacco and coffee businesses, and had established the popular Happy Valley amusement park in 1924 at the junction of Tanjong Pagar Road and Cantonment Road.

Lim Teck Kim died in 1938, leaving behind 11 sons and 13 daughters. He was buried at Bukit Brown Cemetery. Lim Teck Kim Road was named after him in 1929.

Maxwell Road

Maxwell Road was named after Sir William Edward Maxwell (1846-1897), the Acting Governor of the Straits Settlements between 1893 and 1894.

The Maxwell Road in Penang was also named after him.

Mistri Road

navroji mistri (1885-1953)Mistri Road was named in 1955 after India-born Navroji R. Mistri (1885-1953), a Parsi merchant most remembered for his generous contributions to the medical causes in Singapore. Coming to Singapore in 1909, Navroji Mistri spent many years working at a dock and aerated water company. In 1925, he started his own business, selling soda water which later expanded to the whole of Malaya.

In 1952, Navroji Mistri donated $950,000 to build a hospital block for sick children whose parents could not afford the medical fees. At his death, he gave half of his wealth to charities in Singapore, Malaya and India.

Peck Seah Street

seah peck seahPeck Seah Street was named after Seah Peck Seah (佘柏城, undetermined-1939), fourth son of early Teochew merchant and leader Seah Eu Chin’s (also see Seah Street) and brother of Legislative Councillor and Municipal Commissioner Seah Liang Seah (also see Liang Seah Street).

Seah Peck Seah himself was also a prominent businessman and a Justice of Peace. He was the owner and business partner in several companies such as Ho Hong Steamship Company and Chin Huat Hin Oil Trading Company.

Smith Street

Smith Street was named after Sir Cecil Clementi Smith (1840-1916), the 15th Governor of the Straits Settlements, who also had Clementi Road and Cecil Street named after him (also see Clementi Road).

Spottiswoode Park Road

Spottiswoode Park Road had its name taken after the Spottiswoode Park Estate, which in turn was named after Charlie Spottiswoode (1812-1858), an English businessman who owned Spottiswoode & Co and lived in this vicinity.

spottiswoode park estate 1980s

Teck Lim Road

Ong Teck Lim (王德霖, 1875-1911) was a local Hokkien businessman, tapioca trader, Justice of Peace and Municipal Commissioner. He had contributed much to education and the Anglo-Chinese School.

teck lim road

Teo Hong Road

Teo Hong Road was named after Teo Hong (赵翁, also known as 赵芳, 1847-1942), a Hokkien carpenter and contractor from Lam Ann, China. He was involved in several major projects in the early 20th century, such as the Fullerton Building, Ministry of Labour building (both completed in 1928), Joo Chiat market, Tanglin Hill quarters and the new Marine Police Station. Teo Hong was also a pineapple plantation owner at Jurong.

His former residence was situated at present-day Teo Hong Road.

Tian Lye Street (defunct)

Named after Lee Tian Lye (1842-1921), a manufacturer of coral lime and rattan fenders at Tanjong Pagar, the expunged Tian Lye Street was probably located where his company was.

Yan Kit Road

Canton-born Chinese Loke Yan Kit (陆寅杰, 1849-1931) had learned dentistry in Hong Kong before coming to Singapore in 1877. Building a good reputation among his patients and friends, including the Sumatran Rajas and Johore Sultan, he later became an investor in properties and rubber plantations. Loke Yan Kit was also one of the founders of Kwong Wai Shui Hospital in 1910.

A popular swimming pool named Yan Kit Swimming Complex existed along Yan Kit Road between 1952 and 2001.

South (City Hall)

Bernard Street (defunct)

Bernard Street and Farquhar Street used to be short links located between Rochor Road and Tan Quee Lan Street. Bernard Street was named after Francis James Bernard, the son-in-law of William Farquhar (also see Farquhar Street). One of the earliest British to arrive at Singapore, he was appointed as the Marine Store Keeper in 1819. Francis Bernard was also first chief of the Singapore Police and the founder of the Singapore Chronicle.

Both Bernard and Farquhar Streets were expunged in the mid-nineties.

Carver Street

Located between Victoria Street and North Bridge Road, Carver Street was named after a well-known lawyer, R. Carver, who was a partner in the legal firm of Donaldson and Burkinshaw in the early 20th century. Established since November 1874, Donaldson and Burkinshaw is one of the oldest law partnerships in Singapore.

Cashin Street

Cashin Street is situated next to Carver Street and was probably named after E. Cashin, a lawyer’s clerk to J.A. Solicitor in the 1880s.

Coleman Street

Coleman Street was named after Irishman George Drumgoole Coleman (1795-1844), the first architect in Singapore, who was placed in-charge of Singapore’s infrastructure after its founding as a trading post. He was also appointed as the Superintendent of Public Works in 1833, and carried out many major projects, such as the original St. Andrew’s Church.

George Coleman died in 1844 and was buried in the old Fort Canning Cemetery. After his death, his widow was remarried to William Napier.

Farquhar Street (defunct)

william farquhar (1774-1839)Farquhar Street was named after William Farquhar (1774-1839), the First Resident of Singapore between 1819 and 1823 and also the Sixth Resident of Malacca. Able to speak Malay fluently, William Farquhar was instrumental in the negotiations between the British and the Malay Temenggung in establishing Singapore as a trading post.

William Farquhar developed Singapore significantly for four years after Sir Stamford Raffles left for Bencoolen (also see Raffles Avenue). However, he and Sir Stamford Raffles had many differences and was later sacked due to “negligence of plans”. After 1823, William Farquhar returned to Scotland for retirement.

Liang Seah Street

seah liang seah (1850-1925)Built in 1926, Liang Seah Street, off Beach Road, was named after Seah Liang Seah (佘连城, 1850-1925), second son of prominent Teochew merchant and leader Seah Eu Chin (also see Seah Street).

After his education at St Joseph’s Institution, Seah Liang Seah joined and took over his father’s company, Eu Chin and Co. Like Seah Eu Chin, Seah Liang Seah was a charitable leader in the local Chinese community. He was also a member in the Legislative Council and Municipal Commission, and was well-known to be a staunch supporter of the British government.

Nicoll Highway

john fearns nicoll (1899-1981)Nicoll Highway was named after Sir John Fearns Nicoll (1899-1981), the third Governor of Singapore from 1952 to 1955. Before his appointment at Singapore, Sir John Nicoll had served as a Colonial Secretary at Trinidad, Fiji and Hong Kong. During his tenure as the governor, Singapore was facing numerous public unrest. The push for a self-government was also imminent. In 1955, David Marshall (1908-1995) led his Labour Front party to success in the first Legislative Assembly elections and became Singapore’s first Chief Minister.

The construction of Nicoll Highway, including Merdeka Bridge, began in 1954 and was officially opened in August 1956.

merdeka bridge 1960s

Seah Street

seah eu chin (1805-1883)Seah Street was named after local Teochew merchant Seah Eu Chin (佘有进, 1805-1883), nicknamed “King of Gambier” due to his large plantations in gambier and pepper.

Seah Eu Chin came to Singapore in 1823, working his way up from a clerk and accountant to a trader. In less than twenty years, he became one of the wealthiest Chinese in Singapore. He was appointed as a Justice of Peace in 1867, regularly helped to settle disputes and conflicts between rival Chinese communities. Seah Eu Chin was so influential that the local Chinese knew him as “Emperor Seah” (佘皇帝). He also founded the Ngee Ann Kongsi in 1830 to look after the welfare and religious matters of the local Teochews.

Seah Eu Chin had four sons, namely Seah Cheoh Seah (佘石城) , Seah Liang Seah (佘连城), Seah Song Seah (佘松城) and Seah Peck Seah (佘柏城). Many streets in Singapore were named after Seah Eu Chin and his family members (also see Eu Chin Street, Liang Seah Street and Peck Seah Street).

Stamford Road

Stamford Road was named after Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles (1781-1826) (also see Raffles Avenue).

Tan Quee Lan Street

Located off Beach Road, Tan Quee Lan Street was named after Tan Quee Lan (陈桂兰, undetermined-1904), a local Hokkien merchant and fruit plantation owner at Bukit Timah. Tan Quee Lan owned many properties at Bukit Timah Road and Tanjong Katong, which were put up for auctions after his death. He was also the owner of the Chwee Lan Teng Club at Club Street.

There once existed a small hill called Quee Lan Hill, also named after Tan Quee Lan. Club Street was named after the clubs along the road, some of which were Tan Quee Lan’s businesses. He left behind two sons (Tan Swee Kim and Tan Soon Kim) and three daughters after his death in 1904.

South (Jalan Besar/Rochor)

Adis Road

Adis Road used to be a private road leading to one of the most magnificent houses in Singapore in the early 20th century. It was named after Jewish businessman Nissim Nissim Adis (1857-1927), son of a Calcutta merchant. The grand residence, called the Adis Lodge, was built in 1907 at the top of Mount Sophia at a hefty cost of $300,000.

Born in India, Nissim Adis ventured into stock broking business at Hong Kong in 1888 and Singapore in 1893, netting large amount of fortune. He later became the proprietor of the Grand Hotel de l’Europe, one of the grandest hotels in Singapore during that era. A shopping complex called Adis Building was built beside the hotel.

Adis Lodge was later sold to prominent Chinese towkay Eu Tong Sen, who replaced the property with his own splendid house called Eu Villa, built in 1917 and lasted until 1980. Nissim Adis returned to India, where he died in 1927.

Angullia Road (defunct)

Angullia Road was named after prominent Indian Muslim businessman Ahmad Mohamed Salleh Angullia (1875-1939), who was a landowner at the Rochor area in the early 20th century. He also owned lands at Orchard, where Angullia Park is located today (also see Angullia Park).

Belilios Road

Little India’s Belilios Road was named after I.R Belilios, a Calcutta-born Indian merchant of Jewish decent who was actively engaged in cattle trading along the Serangoon River in the 1840s. The booming cattle trades also saw rise to the naming of other roads in the vicinity such as Buffalo Road and Kerbau Road (kerbau is buffalo in Malay).

Cattle trading in the Little India would last until the early 20th century, when the swamps, important to cattle rearing, were drained and filled to build roads and buildings.

Beng Swee Place (defunct)

tan beng swee (1828-1884)Beng Swee Place, off Waterloo Street, was named after Tan Beng Swee (陈明水, 1828-1884), son of prominent Peranakan businessman Tan Kim Seng (also see Kim Seng Road) and father of Tan Jiak Kim (also see Jiak Kim Street).

Born in Singapore, Tan Beng Swee joined his father’s company at an early age. He also served as the Magistrate of Police. A generous man, Tan Beng Swee donated large sums of money to Tan Tock Seng Hospital and later became part of their management committee. He was buried in Malacca after his death.

Birch Road

Birch Road was named after James Wheeler Woodford Birch (1826-1875), the Colonial Secretary of the Straits Settlements between 1870 and 1874 and the first British Resident of Perak in 1874. One year after his appointment in Perak, James Birch was assassinated by the followers of a Malay chief, who was rumoured to be unhappy with his arrogant style of administration.

Cheang Jim Chwan Place (defunct)

cheang jim chwan (1878-1940)Cheang Jim Chwan Place, located opposite the junction of Prinsep Street and Selegie Road, was named after Cheang Jim Chwan (章壬全, 1878-1940), son of prominent Hokkien businessman Cheang Hong Lim (also see Cheang Hong Lim Place). The road was expunged in the nineties.

A Cheang Jim Chwan Street also previously existed and was renamed by the Municipal Commissioners as Covent Street in 1915. Pasir Panjang Hill, near Buona Vista Road and home to high-end residences today, was known as Jim Chwan Hill in the old days.

Cheang Teo Road (defunct)

Cheang Teo Road was named after Cheang Sam Teo (章三潮), father of famous businessman Cheang Hong Lim (also see Cheang Hong Lim Place).

Cheang Sam Teo was an early Hokkien merchant who controlled much of Singapore’s opium trade from 1847 to 1863, after an agreement with the Teochew leader Tan Seng Poh. The fierce rivalry in the 1870s, however, forced the British colonial government to carry out a series of crackdowns on opium trade, forcing his son Cheang Hong Lim to switch to properties and other businesses.

Cheng Yan Place

lee cheng yan (1841-1911)Cheng Yan Place was named after Lee Cheng Yan (李清渊, 1841-1911), father of prominent businessman Lee Choon Guan (also see Choon Guan Street) and grandfather of Lee Peng Seng (also see Peng Seng Road).

Lee Cheng Yan himself was a Malacca-born Peranakan businessman who arrived at Singapore in 1858. He started a trading firm called Lee Cheng Yan & Co, and went on a business trip, one of the earliest for Straits Chinese, at England to check out the British manufacturing plants. In 1890, Lee Cheng Yan founded the Straits Steamship Company with other local businessmen Tan Jiak Kim and Tan Keong Saik.

A leader among the Hokkien people, Lee Cheng Yan played a part in the community as a Justice of Peace and member of Chinese Advisory Board. He focused largely on education, and served as a board member and trustee for several early Chinese schools, including the famous Tao Nan School.

Crawford Street

Originally known as Market Street, Crawford Street was renamed in 1858 after John Crawfurd (1783-1868), the Second and last Resident of Singapore between 1823 and 1826.

John Crawfurd was a Scottish colonial administrator first started as a surgeon at the East India Company. He was sent to Penang, Dutch East Indies (Indonesia today) and Siam (Thailand today) before appointed as the British Resident of Singapore in 1823. Three years later, he was again sent on an envoy mission to Burma (Myanmar today). John Crawfurd eventually returned to the United Kingdom in the 1830s and died in London in 1886.

There is also a short Crawford Lane and Crawford Bridge nearby.

Desker Road

desker road 1980sDesker road was named after Andre Filipe Desker (1826-1898), an early Eurasian of Dutch descent who came to Singapore from Malacca in 1840.

He had a large butchery business in mutton, and his sheep pens used to line up in the Jalan Besar vicinity, stretching from Rowell Road to Cuff Road. Andre Desker was also a charitable person who donated generously to the local Catholic churches and schools.

Andre Desker’s great-grandson Barry Desker was a pioneering Singapore diplomat and one of the country’s first President’s Scholars in the 1960s.

Fraser Street

John Fraser (undetermined-1907) might be unfamiliar to most Singaporeans, but the company he co-founded more than a century ago has become a world famous brand in soft drinks. It was Fraser & Neave (F&N), established in 1875 by John Fraser and David Chalmers Neave.

Born in Scotland, John Fraser came to Singapore in 1865 to work at the Chartered Mercantile Bank. A few years later, he set up several companies, including F&N, with his friends and business partners. Another of his successful ventures Fraser & Cumming was established with his fellow Scottish James Cumming (also see Cumming Street). In 1897, John Fraser retired and went back to Britain, where he died ten years later.

Today, Fraser Street is a minor road that circles Parkview Square.

fraser & neave products 1980s

MacKenzie Road

MacKenzie Road is named after Reverend H.L. MacKenzie (undetermined-1900), a well-known Presbyterian missionary in Singapore who had travelled frequently to Taiwan and Swatow, China on mission trips in the late 19th century.

McNally Street

Located along the Lasalle College of the Arts, McNally Street was named after Brother John Joseph McNally (1923-2002), an Irish Catholic missionary who was also the founder and President Emeritus of the institution.

brother john jospeh mcnally (1923-2002)Born in Ballintubber, Ireland, in 1923, Brother Joseph McNally moved to Singapore in 1946 to teach at the St. Joseph’s Institution. After almost 40 years of teaching at various schools in Malaya (later Malaysia) and Singapore, he established the Lasalle College of the Arts, originally known as St. Patrick’s Arts Centre, in 1984. The college was relocated several times, from St. Patrick School, Telok Kurau and Goodman Road to present-day McNally Road.

Brother Joseph McNally died in 2002, during a visit to his Irish hometown. McNally, a new road built between Short and Prinsep Streets, was named in his honour in 2007.

Mount Sophia/Sophia Road

Mount Sophia was originally called Bukit Seligi. It was later known as Flint’s Hill when the first Master Attendant of Singapore Captain William Flint, also Sir Stamford Raffles’ brother-in-law, had his private residence built there (also see Flint Street).

William Flint apparently renamed the hill in the 1820s as Mount Sophia (or Sophia Hill), named after Raffles’ second wife Lady Sophia Hull Raffles (1786-1858) (also see Raffles Avenue), and his daughter Mary Sophia Anne (1823 -1858).

12 mount sophia tower house

Niven Road

Niven Road was named after Lawrence Niven, a nutmeg plantation supervisor who also served as the first Superintendent of the Botanic Gardens between 1860 and 1875.

Swee Hee Lane (defunct)

Located off Short Street in the Selegie vicinity, Swee Hee Lane was named after Yeo Swee Hee (1863-1909), a Straits-born Chinese proprietor of the Cold Storage deport at Orchard Road in the late 19th century. After his graduation from the Raffles Institution, Yeo Swee Hee worked in several local firms such as Messrs Huttenbach Brothers and Co. He was also a member of the Straits-Chinese British Association, Chinese Voluteer Corps and Chinese Recreation Club. A well-known figure in the local European and Eurasian communities, Yeo Swee Hee died in 1909, leaving behind his widow, four sons and six daughters.

Syed Alwi Road

Formerly known as Syed Allie Road, Syed Alwi Road was named after Syed Ali bin Mohammed Al-Junied (1814-1858), nephew of highly-respected Arab businessman Syed Omar bin Ali Al-Junied (also see Aljunied Road).

syed alwi road 1986

Tessensohn Road

Tessensohn Road was named after Edwin Tessensohn (1857-1926), a community leader among the local Eurasians. Born and educated in Malacca, Edwin Tessensohn came to Singapore in 1884 to work at Messrs Boustead and Co, where he worked at its shipping department for 37 years before retiring in 1921.

A well-like and respected Eurasian leader, Edwin Tessensohn had served as a Legislative Councillor, Municipal Commissioner and Justice of Peace. He was also the President of the Singapore Recreation Club and the Eurasian Association, as well as the prominent member of the Catholic Club. After his death, Edwin Tessensohn was buried at the Bidadari Cemetery.

Veerasamy Road

Veerasamy Road was renamed twice in its history; it was originally called Inche Lane, and was renamed Jalan Tambah in 1910. In 1927, the road was renamed again as Veerasamy Road, in honour of Dr N. Veerasamy Naidu (1865-1926), one of Singapore’s first Indian doctors and a leader in the local Indian community.

After his education at Raffles School, Dr Veerasamy became a medical practitioner for 40 years. He was later appointed as a Municipal Commissioner and Justice of Peace. Dr Veerasamy was buried at his family burial ground at Bedok after his death in 1926.

veerasamy road 1990s

Weld Road/Upper Weld Road

frederick weld (1823-1891)Weld Road was named after the 14th Governor of the Straits Settlement Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld (1823-1891). He held a number of posts before his appointment as the Straits Settlements Governor; he was the Premier of New Zealand, and the Governor of Western Australia and, later, Tasmania.

After his arrival at Malaya, Sir Frederick Weld was credited with the development of railway and telegraph systems in Perak. Many places in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand were named after him.

South (Outram)

Cheang Jim Hean Street (defunct)

The expunged Cheang Jim Hean Street was named after Cheang Jim Hean (章壬宪, 1873-1901), son of well-known busiessman Cheang Hong Lim (also see Cheang Hong Lim Place).

Cheang Jim Hean continued the support of Cheang Jim Hean Free School at Havelock Road, established by his father, in 1892 to provide free education for more than 100 students. He made an annual donation of $1,200 to keep the school going. Cheang Jim Hean died of an illness, at a relatively young age of 28, in his home “Annan Bank” at River Valley, and was buried at the Cheang family’s burial ground at Alexandra Road.

Cheang Jim Hean Road was renamed by the Municipal Commissioners as Calcutta Road in 1915.

Lim Eng Bee Lane (defunct)

The expunged Lim Eng Bee Lane was possibly named after Lim Eng Bee (林荣美), a local Chinese merchant in the 19th century. A portion of it was closed in 1918 at the request of wealthy Cantonese merchant Eu Tong Sen to built a Chinese theatre (also see Eu Tong Sen Street). Eu Tong Sen agreed to build another road as replacement and paid for the removal of sewer from the lane. By the fifties, Lim Eng Bee Lane was listed on the map at the back of Pearls Centre.

MacAlister Road

The MacAlister Road within the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) was named after George Hugh K. MacAlister, the principal of King Edward VII College of Medicine from 1918 to 1929.

mcalister terrace at mcalister road

South (Raffles Place/Shenton Way)

Benjamin Sheares Bridge

benjamin sheares (1907-1981)The longest (1.8km) and tallest (20m) bridge in Singapore, spanning over the mouth of Singapore River as part of East Coast Parkway (ECP), Benjamin Sheares Bridge was completed in 1981 at a cost of $177 million. It was named after Dr Benjamin Henry Sheares (1907-1981), the Second President of Singapore between 1971 and 1981.

Born in a family of British, Chinese and Spanish descent, Dr Benjamin Sheares studied in St Andrew’s School and Raffles Institution before becoming an obstetrician and gynaecologist. He died in his tenth year of presidency, and was buried at the Kranji State Cemetery.

After the opening of the new Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) in December 2013, a stretch of the East Coast Parkway (ECP) located behind the Marina Bay Sands was renamed as Sheares Avenue.

benjamin henry sheares tomb at kranji cemetery

Bonham Street

samuel bonham (1803-1863)Bonham Street was named after Sir Samuel George Bonham (1803-1863), the fourth Governor of the Straits Settlements from 1836 to 1843. After his tenure at the Straits Settlement, he was appointed as the third governor of Hong Kong in the mid-1850s.

Fort Canning was also known as Bukit Tuan Bonham in Malay.

Cecil Street

Cecil Street was named after Sir Cecil Clementi Smith (1840-1916), the 15th Governor of the Straits Settlements, who also had Clementi Road and Smith Street named after him (also see Clementi Road).

There were other suggestions that Cecil Street was instead named after Lord Robert Cecil, the leading consul to the successful Tanjong Pagar Dock Company arbitration case.

cecil street 1980

Cheang Hong Lim Place

cheang hong lim (1825-1893)The Cheangs was one of the most well-known Chinese families in Singapore in the 19th century, with a host of streets named after their members. Cheang Hong Lim (章芳琳, 1825-1893) was a Hokkien landowner with large parcels of lands stretching from present-day Tanglin Road and Kim Seng Road and Hong Lim Park. He was also a major opium farmer, and was appointed twice as a Justice of Peace in the 1880s. Extremely generous to the community, it was said that he had given out almost $500,000 of his money to the poor and needy.

In the mid-19th century, Cheang Hong Lim established a trading company named Wan Seng (苑生) at present-day Raffles Place. The road Cheang Wan Seng Place was named after it. There was also a Cheang Wan Seng Road, but it was renamed as Taiping Road, and was later expunged. In 1915, a number of roads and landmarks taken after Cheang Hong Lim were renamed, including Cheang Hong Lim Lane (became Hare Street and Covent Row) and Hong Lim Quay (became Boat Quay).

cheang hong lim street 1993

Cheang Hong Lim Place was constructed in the late 1990s. The adjacent Cheang Hong Lim Street was expunged soon after that, becoming part of a pedestrian mall.  There was also a Cheang Hong Lim Private Road. Other landmarks such as Hong Lim Park, Hong Lim Complex and Hong Lim Food Centre still carry the name of Cheang Hong Lim today.

Cheang Hong Lim had a total of five sons, namely Cheang Jim Hean (also see Cheang Jim Hean Street), Cheang Jim Kheng (also see Cheang Jim Kheng Street), Cheang Jim Chwan (also see Cheang Jim Chwan Street), Cheang Jim Seong (also see Jim Seong Road) and Cheang Jim Siew.

Collyer Quay

Collyer Quay was named after Colonel George Chancellor Collyer, who arrived at Singapore in 1858 and was appointed as the Chief Engineer in 1862. He oversaw the completion of the sea wall from Fort Fullerton and old Telok Ayer Market, and was heavily involved in the town planning and the Tanjong Pagar Dock.

D’Almeida Street

The D’Almeida Street at Raffles Place was named after early Portuguese merchant and surgeon Dr Jose d’Almeida Carvalho E. Silva (1784-1850), who was born in Macau and came to settle at Singapore in 1825. Beside the owner of a trading company d’Almeida & Co, Jose d’Almeida was also a pioneer planter in sugar, coffee, coconut and cotton.

A generous and sociable person, Dr Jose d’Almeida was popular among his European friends. When he died in 1850, his funeral was attended by almost all the merchants in the city. Jose d’Almeida was buried at the Fort Canning Hill Cemetery after his death.

Dr Jose d’Almeida’s youngest son, also named Jose d’Almeida (1812-1894), had a road named after him too. It was the now-defunct Almeida Road that led to Mount Victoria in today’s Orchard district.

De Souza Street (defunct)

Named after Manoel de Souza (1816-1889), a local Eurasian businssman and landlord, De Souza Street was located adjacent to Finlayson Green at Raffles Place. It was expunged in the eighties. There is also a De Souza Avenue off Jalan Jurong Kechil (also see De Souza Avenue).

Finlayson Green

Finlayson Green was named after John Finlayson (1850-1907), manager of Messrs Boustead & Co for 25 years and the Chairman of Tanjong Pagar Dock Company between 1883 and 1895. He also served as the chairman of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce in 1891. John Finlayson departed Singapore in 1897 and returned to Britain for his retirement.

Flint Street

Existed since the mid-19th century, Flint Street was named after Captain William Flint (1781-1828), Singapore’s first Master Attendent and the brother-in-law of Sir Stamford Raffles (also see Raffles Avenue).

Fullerton Road/Fullerton Square

robert fullerton (1773-1831)Sir Robert Fullerton (1773-1831) was the first Governor of the Straits Settlements, established in 1826 with Singapore, Malacca, Penang and Dinding (Manjung today). As he was also the Governor of Penang, the capital of the Straits Settlements was chosen to be located at Penang, before it was shifted to Singapore in 1832.

The newly formed Straits Settlements took orders from British India, but Sir Robert Fullerton would reform the tax structure to make the new government more independent. He also oversaw the construction of Fort Fullerton for the defense of Singapore city.

Gemmill Lane

Now a small lane at Club Street, Gemmill Lane was named after John Gemmill, a merchant, banker and Singapore’s first auctioneer who built and lived at the top of a small hill, known as Gemmill’s Hill, in the vicinity. Gemmill’s Hill was later bought by wealthy Chinese businessman Chia Ann Siang in the late 19th century (also see Ann Siang Hill).

John Gemmill donated the Gemmill Fountain, now Singapore’s oldest public drinking fountain, just before he returned to London in 1864.

sg road names - raffles place map v2

Geok Teat Street (defunct)

The expunged Geok Teat Street was named after Malacca-born Tay Geok Teat (郑玉瓞, 1832-1906), a Chinese businessman who co-owned Geok Teat & Co with Chia Ann Siang (also see Ann Siang Hill). The trading firm had its godowns along Battery Road.

Tay Geok Teat, together with Lee Cheng Yan (also see Cheng Yan Place), became one of the first Straits Chinese to visit Britain on a business trip. He previously owned many properties at Amoy Street, Havelock Road and Pasir Panjang Road.

George Street

The George Street off Pickering Street was named after W.R George, a British trader and owner of the Singapore Free Press in the mid-19th century.

McCallum Street

Constructed and opened in 1895, McCallum Street was named after Major Sir Henry Edward McCallum (1852-1919), the Colonial Engineer of the Straits Settlements in the late 19th century and the designer of the National Museum. He later left Singapore to assume his positions as the Governor of Lagos, Natal and Ceylon.

Prince Street (defunct)

prince street sign

Prince Street was almost as old as the history of modern Singapore, with its existence dating back to the early 19th century. It was named after John Prince, the British Resident Councilor in Singapore in the 1820s.

In the early seventies, the government sold the plot of land along Prince Street for $2.55 million. At its site, a 28-storey office called Ocean Building was built. Ocean building lasted for 40 years before it was demolished and replaced by Ocean Financial Centre.

Raffles Avenue/Raffles Boulevard/Raffles Quay

stamford raffles (1781-1826)The roads were named after Raffles Place, which was originally known as Commercial Square but was renamed in 1858 after Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles (1781-1826). Sir Stamford Raffles was probably Singapore’s most famous personality; his name was used in many landmarks, buildings, schools, libraries and hospitals. He and William Farquhar (also see Farquhar Street) arrived at Singapore in January 1819. Impressed by the island’s strategic location and its potential of a deep water harbour, Sir Stamford Raffles negotiated with Sultan Hussein, the ruler of Johor, to establish a trading post and British settlement.

After devising a town plan for Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles, still the Governor-General of Bencoolen (Bengkulu today), returned to Sumatra for two years. He went back to Singapore in 1822 and was unsatisfied with William Farquhar’s development of the city. This resulted in a clash between the two British leaders, and the conflict lasted until Sir Stamford Raffles’ retirement and return to England in 1824, where he died two years later.

raffles place 1966

Robinson Roadwilliam francis robinson (1834-1897)

Built in the 1880s, Robinson Road was named after Sir William Cleaver Francis Robinson (1834-1897), the 11th Governor of the Straits Settlements between 1877 and 1879, a relatively short stint compared to his tenure as the Governor of Southern and Western Australia.

Shenton Way

shenton thomas (1879-1962)Sir Shenton Whitelegge Thomas (1879-1962) was the last Governor of the Straits Settlements (1934-1942 & 1945-1946), a position which he held for two terms before and after the Japanese Occupation. Although committed to the defense of Malaya, Sir Shenton Thomas could not prevent the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in 1942. He became a prisoner-of-war at Changi Camp, before being transferred to other POW camps at Formosa (Taiwan today) and Manchuria.

After the Second World War, Sir Shenton Thomas returned to London but continued as the Governor of the Straits Settlements until 1946, when the Straits Settlements were dissolved into the Federation of Malaya, Malayan Union and Crown Colony of Singapore.

Stanley Street

South (River Valley)

Alkaff Quay (defunct)

The defunct Alkaff Quay, formerly located near the Robertson Bridge, was named after Syed Shaikh bin Abdul Rahman Alkaff (1880-1948), head of the Alkaffs, a prominent and famous Arab family in Singapore.

alkaff lake gardens 1940sTwo of the Alkaff family’s legacies were the Alkaff Lake Gardens and Alkaff Mansion. Opened to the public in 1929, the Japanese-themed Alkaff Lake Gardens was once a popular place of interest in Singapore. It was occupied by the Japanese invading forces during the Second World War. After the war, a financially-strapped Alkaff family sold the gardens to Sennett Realty Company for $2 million. The lake was eventually filled up and the gardens demolished in the 1960s.

Alkaff Mansion, on the other hand, was built at the top of Telok Blangah Hill in 1918 by Syed Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Alkaff, nephew of Syed Shaikh Alkaff. It was also sold, along with Alkaff Lake Gardens, by the family after the war.

Alkaff Quay was officially named in 1907 and lasted until the eighties. Today, there is an Alkaff Bridge, built in 1997 near Mohamed Sultan Road, and Alkaff Avenue off MacPherson Road.

Cheang Jim Kheng Street (defunct)

Parallel to Kim Seng Road, Cheang Jim Kheng Street was named after Cheang Jim Kheng (章壬庆, 1876-1939), second son of well-known businessman Cheang Hong Lim (also see Cheang Hong Lim Place). The road was renamed as Covent Alley by the Municipal Commissioners in 1915.

Chionh Ke Hu Park (defunct)

Chionh Ke Hu Park was a short lane, off River Valley Road, that led to the residence of Chionh Ke Hu (蒋骥甫, undetermined-1964), a well-known local rubber merchant and owner of Bin Seng Company Limited. It was renamed as Jalan Mutiara in the sixties.

Choa Lam Street (defunct)

The expunged Choa Lam Street was located off Chin Swee Road, and was named after Choa Lam (蔡南), a Hokkien businessman who set up a Chinese medicine store at Amoy Street in the mid-19th century and lived at Bukit Timah Road 4½ Milestone.

In 1866, Choa Lam ventured into the shipping sector with other businessmen such as Cheang Hong Lim and Tan Kim Tian. At the peak of their business, they owned more than 100 ships carrying cargos around Southeast Asia.

Ho Puah Quay (defunct)

Located beside Peng Siang Quay at River Valley, which was named after his son Lim Peng Siang (also see Peng Siang Quay), Ho Puah Quay was named after Lim Ho Puah (林和坂, 1841-1913). Born in Amoy, China, Lim Ho Puah came to Singapore at an young age. He started working in a big shipping company called Wee Bin & Co, showing flashes of brilliance and intelligence. Valued by his towkay Wee Bin, Lim Ho Puah later married his daughter, and became the brother-in-law of Wee Boon Teck, another prominent Chinese businessman in the 19th century (also see Boon Teck Road).

When Wee Boon Teck died in 1888, Lim Ho Puah became the owner of Wee Bin & Co. He remained as the company’s sole suriving partner until it was liquidated in 1911. Lim Ho Puah was also appointed as the Justice of Peace and served as a member of the Chinese Advisory Board.

Both Ho Puah Quay and Peng Siang Quay were expunged in the eighties.

Jiak Kim Street

tan jiak kim (1859-1917)Jiak Kim Street, off Kim Seng Road and home to famous club Zouk, was named after Tan Jiak Kim (陈若锦, 1859-1917), son of Tan Beng Swee (also see Beng Swee Place) and grandson of prominent Peranakan businessman Tan Kim Seng (also see Kim Seng Road).

The first President of Chinese British Association, Tan Jiak Kim was made a Justice of Peace and received CMG honour from the British. He actively pushed for the establishment of King Edward VII Medical School and was part of the management committee of Po Leung Kuk Orphanage and Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

jiak kim bridge

Kay Poh Road

Kay Poh Road, often misunderstood as “busybody road”, was in fact named after Wee Kay Poh (黄继宝), an early Chinese Hokkien who first started as an apprentice at A.L. Johnston & Company before he made his fortune through landowning and opium and liquor businesses.

Kim Seng Road

tan kim seng (1805-1864)Kim Seng Road was named after Tan Kim Seng (陈金声, 1805-1864), an early Peranakan businessman, plantation owner, tin miner, philanthropist and public benefactor. Born in Malacca, Tan Kim Seng came to Singapore to set up Kim Seng & Co, and became extremely wealthy by 1840.

He donated generously to the education cause and public works in Singapore, including a $13,000 donation for the building of Singapore’s first public waterwork. Appointed as a Justice of Peace in 1850 and Municipal Commissioner in 1857, Tan Kim Seng was also Singapore’s first Chinese magistrate, who helped to settle many riots in the Chinese community during his tenure.

kim seng road 1977

Kim Yam Road

The eldest son of wealthy Teochew merchant Wee Ah Hood (also see Ah Hood Road), Wee Kim Yam (黄金炎, 1855-1914) was also a prominent businessman himself. He served a position in the committee of the Straits Chinese British Association, and was also a member of the Teochew Chui Huay Lim Club. Chui Huay Lim Club is currently one of Singapore’s oldest clubs, with a history dated back to 1845.

Peng Siang Quay (defunct)

lim peng siang (1872-1944)Lim Peng Siang (林秉祥, 1872-1944) was an Amoy-born Hokkien businessman who arrived at Singapore in the 1890s. He studied at the St. Joseph’s Institution, and later took over his father Lim Ho Puah’s shipping company Wee Bin & Co (also see Ho Puay Quay). Wee Bin & Co, Singapore’s largest shipping company in the early 20th century, was established by Wee Bin and handed to his son Wee Boon Teck (also see Boon Teck Road). When Wee Boon Teck died at a relatively young age of 38, the company was passed to Lim Ho Puah, the husband of Wee Bin’s daughter.

In 1904, Lim Peng Siang started his own trading company Ho Hong Group with his brother Lim Peng Mao, and invested extensively in banking, shipping, rice trading, coconut plantations and cement. Serving as the president of Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce between 1913 and 1916, Lim Peng Siang was a well-respected figure in the Chinese community, having donated actively to the anti-war efforts.

Peng Siang Quay was originally located beside the Singapore River near the junction of present-day Kim Seng Road and Havelock Road, where Waterfront Plaza is standing today. It was expunged in the eighties.

Teck Guan Street (defunct)

Teck Guan Street was named after Tan Teck Guan (also named Tan Teck Gein) (陈德源), son of Tan Tock Seng (also see Jalan Tan Tock Seng) and father of Tan Chay Yan (also see Chay Yan Street).

A wealthy tapioca farm owner in Malacca, Tan Teck Guan was also working as an astronomer and biologist for the British and Australian. He was later conferred Justice of Peace by the colonial government. There is a Tan Teck Guan Building standing in the vicinity of Singapore General Hospital today. It was built in 1911 as a medical school for local students to study western medicine. The cost of its construction was sponsored by Tan Chay Yan, who had the building named after his father.

Expunged in the late 1990s, Teck Guan Street used to run through the lands owned by Tan Teck Guan between River Valley Road and Robertson Quay. The road was originally known as Tampenis Road, sharing the same name with another road in Tampines. It was renamed as Teck Guan Street at the request of Tan Chay Yan in 1907.

tan teck guan building

South (Tiong Bahru)

Chay Yan Street

tan chay yan (1871-1916)Chay Yan Street was named after Malacca-born Tan Chay Yan (陈齐贤, 1871-1916), grandson of Tan Tock Seng (also see Jalan Tan Tock Seng) and son of Tan Teck Guan (also see Teck Guan Street).

After Tan Chay Yan inherited his father’s tapioca plantations, he used the lands to invest heavily in rubber with huge success, and became the first major rubber plantation owner in Malaya. At age 21, he was appointed as the Municipal Commissioner and later Justice of Peace.

Tan Chay Yan was an active philanthrophist in local education and healthcare causes. He also sponsored the British during First World War, and founded Tung Meng Hui branch at Malacca in support of Sun Yat-Sen’s revolution.

Eng Hoon Street

Eng Hoon Street was named after Malacca-born local merchant Koh Eng Hoon (许行云, 1823-1880), who came to Singapore at age 17. Koh Eng Hoon became successful and wealthy through his trading company Chop Soon Bee. His son, however, ran the firm into bankruptcy after his death.

sg road names - tiong bahru map v3

Eng Watt Street

Malacca-born merchant See Eng Watt (薛永发, undetermined-1884) was a local Chinese pioneer of shipping. He was a business partner in many companies, such as Eng-watt, Moh-guan & Brothers and Chong San, Seng Chai & Co.

See Eng Watt was also the second son of See Hoo Keh, co-founder of Thian Hock Keng Temple. His wife Ong Joo Ee Eeo died in 1918, and had a grand funeral that was attended by many well-known figures in the Chinese community.

Eu Chin Street

Eu Chin Street was named after prominent Teochew merchant and Chinese community leader Seah Eu Chin (佘有进, 1805-1883) (also see Seah Street).

Guan Chuan Street

Guan Chuan Street was named after local merchant and Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce member Soh Guan Chuan (苏源泉). He was also one of the founding members of Keng Tak Huay, a social organisation that aimed to assist one another in times of crisis. Keng Tak Huay used to own several shophouses in the city area.

Kim Pong Road

low kim pong (1837-1909)Kim Pong Road was named after Low Kim Pong (刘金榜, 1837-1909), a Hokkien businessman, philanthropist and leader in the local Chinese community. Arriving at Singapore in 1858, he started as a general trader before setting up a Chinese medicine store called Ban San. Low Kim Pong’s status and reputation grew as his business prospered, while he remained a generous person.

In 1906, along with other Chinese leaders, Low Kim Pong founded the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce (SCCC). Also a devout Buddhist, he donated and raised funds for the construction of Siong Lim Temple, one of Southeast Asia’s largest Buddhist monasteries during that era.

tiong bahru kim pong road

Kim Cheng Street (defunct)

tan kim cheng (1829-1892)Tan Kim Cheng (陈金钟, 1829-1892) was one of the few pioneers in Singapore to have two separate roads named after him. One was the expunged Kim Cheng Street at Tiong Bahru, while the other is Tan Kim Cheng Road along Farrer Road.

The eldest son of Tan Tock Seng (also see Jalan Tan Tock Seng), Tan Kim Cheng was an extremely influential Chinese community leader who had established extensive businesses in rice mills, tin mining, saw mills and shipping. One of the richest and most powerful Chinese in Southeast Asia during his era, Tan Kim Cheng’s business empire covered from Singapore and Malaya to Siam (Thailand today) and Vietnam.

Having very close ties with the Siam royal court, Tan Kim Cheng was appointed as the first Consul-General for Siam in 1886. He also turned out as the consul for Japan and Russia. In Singapore, he became the Justice of Peace (in 1865), Magistrate (1872) and Municipal Commissioner (1888).

Kim Cheng Street was initially known as Kim Ching Street (Tan Kim Cheng was also known as Tan Kim Ching). It became a pedestrian walkway after the Tiong Bahru Market was renovated in 2006. Although the road is technically “non-existent” today, some of the flats at Tiong Bahru still bear the address of Kim Cheng Street.

kim cheng street

Kim Tian Road

Tan Kim Tian (陈金殿), or Tan Kim Tean, was a China-born local businessman who made his fortune through shipping and steamship building in 1866. He owned Tan Kim Tian and Son Steamship Co, the first shipbuilding company in Singapore to be set up and owned by a Chinese.

Tan Kim Tian also established the Natural Hot Springs Pool at Malacca in 1884, which has become a tourist attraction today.

Lim Liak Street

lim leack (1804-1875)Lim Liak Street was named after local tin and shipping businessman Lim Leack (林烈, 1804-1875), who came to the Straits Settlements from China in 1825. He established an importing business, selling food and other products to the local Chinese immigrants.

Lim Leack later ventured into steamship, tin, tapioca and properties, including a piece of land at Tiong Bahru. He died in Hong Kong in 1875, leaving behind his wife and four sons.

Moh Guan Terrace

Commonly known as Tiong Bahru gor lau (五楼) due to its unique five-storey flats, Moh Guan Terrace was named after Malacca-born local pepper and gambier businessman See Moh Guan (薛茂元, undetermined-1879). He was also a relative of See Eng Watt (also see Eng Watt Street).

Peng Nguan Street

Peng Nguan Street was named after Lim Peng Nguan (林炳源), father of wealthy rubber and pineapple tycoon Lim Nee Soon (also see Nee Soon Road). Lim Peng Nguan had migrated to Singapore from China in the 1860s, and started his business at Beach Road.

Seng Poh Lane/Seng Poh Road

Seng Poh Road and Seng Poh Lane were named after Tan Seng Poh (陈成保, 1830-1879), a Perak-born Chinese trader, Municipal Commissioner and Justice of Peace. He came to Singapore in 1839 with his elder sister, who had married to Seah Eu Chin, one of the most influential Chinese businessmen in Singapore then (also see Seah Street).

Tan Seng Poh received his education in Singapore and later worked in Seah Eu Chin’s trading firm, where he became the manager after Seah Eu Chin’s retirement. He also invested into other businesses such as cotton, tea and even gunpower, but it was the opium monopoly that made Tan Seng Poh an extremely wealthy man.

Sit Wah Road

Built and named in 1905, Sit Wah Road was named after an early Chinese pioneer Seet Wah (薛华).

Tiong Poh Road

Khoo Tiong Poh (邱忠坡, 1830-1892) was a Fujian-born Chinese who came to Singapore in his early 20s. Establishing a shipping company called Bun Hin & Co (万兴轮船公司), Khoo Tiong Poh was said to have owned more than ten ships sailing between Singapore, Penang, Swatow and Amoy.

Yong Siak Street

Yong Siak Street was named after Teochew trader Tan Yong Siak (陈永锡, 1831-1914), who actively supported Sun Yat-Sen’s revolution. One of the founders of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Tan Yong Siak had numerous businesses at present-day Boat Quay, and was granted British citizen in 1897.

Central (Balestier)

Ah Hood Road

Ah Hood Road, off Balestier Road, was named after Wee Ah Hood (1828-1875), a Teochew tycoon, junk owner, gambier and pepper planter. Nicknamed the “Pepper King”, he owned one of the four classic Chinese mansions in Singapore known as House of Wee Ah Hood. The grand residence was later bought by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and was demolished in 1961.

Wee Ah Hood’s eldest son Wee Kim Yam (also see Kim Yam Road) was also a prominent businessman.

Balestier Road

Joseph Balestier (1788-1858) was the first American consul to Singapore, serving between 1837 and 1852. He was first appointed in 1833 as the American consul to Riau, which was then under the Dutch control. He, however, lived in Singapore and commuted to Riau regularly. Recognising the importance of Singapore as an emerging trade center, he urged the United States of America to establish trade relationships with the British in Singapore.

Joseph Balestier was also a major sugarcane plantation owner at areas around present-day Balestier. His venture, however, was not successful, and after hit by family tragedies in the death of his wife and son, Joseph Balestier returned to the United States in the late 1840s.

Boon Teck Road

Boon Teck Road, located opposite Balestier Hawker Centre, was named after Wee Boon Teck (黃文德, 1850-1888), who inherited trading company Wee Bin & Co from his father Wee Bin (1823-1868). Wee Bin & Co, located at Market Street, became one of the largest importers of products from the Dutch East Indices in the early 20th century.

A generous and sociable person, Wee Boon Teck largely supported the improvement of healthcare in Singapore, especially Tan Tock Seng Hospital, with his donations.

boon teck lodge

Jalan Tan Tock Seng

tan tock seng (1798-1850)Tan Tock Seng (陈笃生, 1798-1850) was one of the most well-known pioneers in Singapore. Born in Malacca, he came to Singapore in 1819 at an age of 21. Tan Tock Seng started by selling vegetables and other fresh produce, before becoming wealthy through properties.

The first Chinese Justice of Peace appointed in the British colony, Tan Tock Seng was a community leader who helped to settle disputes among the local Chinese population. He also contributed generously, including a large $7,000 donation to the construction of a hospital for the poor and homeless. It would later become Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Tan Tock Seng was the father of Tan Kim Cheng (also see Kim Cheng Street), Tan Teck Guan (also see Teck Guan Street) and grandfather of Tan Chay Yan (also see Chay Yan Street).

old tan tock seng hospital

Kim Keat Road

Kim Keat Road was named after Malacca-born Choa Kim Keat (undetermined-1907), who arrived at Singapore in 1886 and engaged in tin business with the Straits Trading Company. After making his fortune, he built many bungalows and villas at Balestier, Pasir Panjang and Katong.

In 1897, despite popular support, Choa Kim Keat rejected the position of being a Municipal Commissioner, citing poor health.

sea breeze lodge at marine parade

Whampoa Road

whampoa hoo ah kay (1816-1880)The housing district of Whampoa was named after Canton-born Hoo Ah Kay (胡亚基, 1816-1880), better known as Whampoa. Arriving at Singapore in 1830, Hoo Ah Kay took over his family’s provision shop at Boat Quay after his father’s death. By 1840, his business, called Whampoa & Co, grew rapidly when it became one of the suppliers to the British Royal Navy. With his success, Hoo Ah Kay also ventured into other businesses such as ice-making and bakery.

Hoo Ah Kay’s rise in the status in the society saw him appointed as the Consul of China, Japan and Russia, as well as the extraordinary member of Executive Legislative Council, the first and only local Chinese to assume the position. For his social contributions, Hoo Ah Kay donated much to the education causes for girls. His grand Whampoa House, with beautiful gardens and artificial lakes, was a legend at Serangoon, where he would open up his premises to the public during the Chinese New Years.

Other than Whampoa Road, there are also Whampoa Drive, Whampoa North, Whampoa South, Whampoa East and Whampoa West.

Central (Bukit Timah Road/Holland Village)

Anamalai Avenue

The Ananmalai Avenue, off Sixth Avenue, was named after A.R Anamalai Chettiar, founder of the Chettiar Trading Club at Tank Road in the 1920s. Born in Tamil Nadu, India, Anamalai Chettiar became a prominent leader and philantrophist in the Chettiar community in Singapore. He also owned many properties at the area bounded by Bukit Timah Road and Sixth Avenue.

The local Chettiar community was well-known for their successful money lending business, which gave rise to many roads in Singapore named after them, such as Arnasalam Chetty Road, Narayanan Chetty Road, Muthuraman Chetty Road (all three are near Mohamed Sultan Road), Meyyappa Chettiar Road (at Potong Pasir) and Vulthuraman Chetty Road (defunct).

Cheong Chin Nam Road

Cheong Chin Nam (张振南) was the son of Dr Cheong Chun Tin, Singapore’s first Chinese dentist (also see Chun Tin Road). He was also the owner of trading firm Cheong Chin Nam & Co that donated an acre of land at Jalan Jurong Kechil in the 1920s for the construction of Tuan Cheng Public School (later Seh Chuan High School).

Cheong Chin Nam Road is located opposite of Bukit Timah Shopping Centre and Beauty World.

Chun Tin Road

Chun Tin Road was named after Singapore’s first Chinese dentist Dr Cheong Chun Tin (张春田). Born in Hong Kong, Dr Cheong Chun Tin studied and obtained his qualification from San Fransisco, before coming to Singapore to start his private practice in 1869.

He was also the father of Cheong Chin Nam (also see Cheong Chin Nam Road).

De Souza Avenue

Named after Manoel de Souza (1816-89), a local Eurasian businssman and landlord, De Souza Avenue is a short road off Jalan Jurong Kechil. Formerly, there was also a De Souza Street at Raffles Place (also see De Souza Street).

Eng Neo Avenue

One of the few roads in Singapore to be named after a female pioneer, Eng Neo Avenue had its name taken from Tan Eng Neo (陈英娘, 1859-1941), who inherited the lands at Bukit Timah around present-day Eng Neo Avenue after his husband Gaw Boon Chan, a business partner of Chew Boon Lay, was murdered in 1911. Gaw Boon Chan had bought the estate as early as 1900.

In 1939, the Bukit Timah Rubber Estate Ltd built a private road around the estate owned by Tan Eng Neo. The road eventually became a public road after 1976 as Eng Neo Avenue. Tan Eng Neo was buried at Bukit Brown Cemetery after her death.

Ewe Boon Road

Located between Bukit Timah Road and Stevens Road, Ewe Boon Road was named after See Ewe Boon (薛有文), a local Hokkien businessman and Hongkong and Shanghai Bank’s commission agent.

His son See Teong Wah was also a prominent businessman and banker, who became the President of General Chinese Trade Affairs Association between 1919 and 1920, and later President of Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce from 1923 to 1924.

Garlick Avenue

Garlick Avenue, linking to Old Holland Road, was named after Dr George Herbert Garlick (1886-1958), the principal medical officer for the Johor state between 1917 and 1940s. He received numerous honours, such as the King’s Silver Jubilee award (1935), Coronation Medal (1937) and the conferment of the title Dato in 1938. Dr George Garlick later became the Director of the Royal Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association.

Gentle Road

Gentle Road was nafmed after Alex Gentle (1841-1924), a former long-time resident of colonial Singapore who worked as a broker and accountant. He also served as the Coroner, chairman of the Municipality and the honourary secretary of the Straits Settlements Association in 1888.

Halifax Road

Halifax Road was named after F.J Halifax, the President of the Municipal Commission in the early 20th century.

Holland Road

Often mistaken for naming after the Dutch community in Singapore, the long Holland Road was actually named after Hugh Holland, an early resident, architect and amateur actor who used to lived at Tanglin area. The road was officially named in 1907, while the likes of Holland Avenue, Holland Close and Holland Drive did not appear until 1972.

Newton Road

Newton Road was named after Howard Newton (1852-1897), the Deputy Executive Engineer in the Water Department of the Singapore Municipality. Howard Newton was also an amateur vocalist, regularly participating in concerts and musical services at the Cathedral. He died of cholera shortly after leaving for a position at Bombay, British India, leaving behind his wife and four children.

Oei Tiong Ham Park

oei tiong ham (1866-1924)Oei Tiong Ham Park at Holland Village was named after Oei Tiong Ham (黄仲涵, 1866-1924), an Indonesia-born wealthy Chinese businessman who built a huge business empire in Southeast Asia. Nicknamed the “Sugar King of Java”, Oei Tiong Ham was highly regarded by the Dutch and was made the leader of the Chinese community at Semarang.

After inheriting his father Oei Tjie Sien’s business in 1890, Oei Tiong Ham turned it into a trading firm known as Oei Tiong Ham Concern (OTHC) which dealt with almost everything ranging from opium, sugar, coffee, rubber to pawnshops, logging and postal services. By the early 20th century, Oei Tiong Ham had become the biggest sugar merchant in Southeast Asia.

In 1920, Oei Tiong Ham left Semarang and settled at Singapore, shifting his main business operations to the British colony. He contributed generously to the local education causes, including the building of a hall at Raffles College. At the time of his death, his wealth was so enormous that it was reported to have exceeded Æ’200 million (in Dutch guilder). Oei Tiong Ham Concern continued to flourish after his death but was seized and nationalised by the Indonesian government in 1964.

Jalan Haji Alias

The road was named after Malay community leader Haji Alias. Jalan Haji Alias used to be part of a large village called Kampong Tempeh, made up of many Malay and Indonesian families.

Central (Farrer Road/Thomson)

Adam Road

Named after Frank Adam (1856-1925) in 1922, Adam Road now serves as an important link between Upper Thomson/Lornie Roads and Bukit Timah/Dunearn Roads.

Born in Scotland, Frank Adam conducted his sugar business at Java, Indonesia, before arriving at Singapore in 1901. Holding management positions at several companies such as the Straits Trading Company and Pulau Brani Tin Smelting Works, Frank Adam also served as the president of the St. Andrew’s Society. In 1923, he retired from his positions and returned home to Scotland. He died in 1925 in a nursing home.

In the same vicinity, there are also Adam Park, Adam Drive and Adam Flyover.

Andrew Road

Andrew Road was named after Sir John Andrew Caldecott (1884-1951) (also see Caldecott Close).

Bo Seng Avenue

lim bo seng (1909-1944)A small lane off Whitley Road, Bo Seng Avenue was named after local war hero Lim Bo Seng (林谋盛, 1909-1944). Born in Fujian, China, Lim Bo Seng came to Singapore at age 16 and studied at the Raffles Institution. He took over his family’s biscuit and brickwork businesses after his father’s death in the 1929.

Lim Bo Seng participated in the China Relief Fund during Japan’s invasion of China in the late 1930s. When the war came to Malaya, he helped the British government in setting up defenses around the island of Singapore. After Singapore’s fall to the enemies, Lim Bo Seng escaped and joined the resistance group for intelligence collection.

In 1944, Lim Bo Seng was unfortunately captured and tortured to death at the Batu Gajah Jail. After the war, his remains were brought back to Singapore and buried at the MacRitchie Reservoir with full military honours. A Lim Bo Seng Memorial was built at the Esplanade Park in 1954.

lim bo seng tomb at macritchie reservoir

Braddell Road

The long Braddell Road, linking Upper Serangoon Road to Lornie Road, was named after Sir Thomas Braddell (1823-1891), an Irish lawyer, sugar plantation owner and the first Attorney-General of Singapore between 1867 and 1883.

He was the father of Sir Thomas de Multon Lee Braddell and Robert Wallace Lee Braddell, founders of the early famous legal firm Braddell Brothers. Sir Thomas Braddell’s eldest grandson, Dato Roland St. John Braddell, was born in Singapore and served as a Municipal Commissioner from 1914 to 1929.

Bukit Brown Road (defunct)

In 1923, the Municipal Commission decided to rename the road leading from Bukit Timah Road to Bukit Brown as Bukit Brown Road. Bukit Brown and its cemetery were named after George Henry Brown (1826-undetermined), a British shopowner, trader and broker who arrived at Singapore in 1840s. He was also the owner of early trading company Brown, Knight & Co.

bukit brown cemetery sikh statue

Caldecott Close

andrew caldecott (1884–1951)Andrew Road, Caldecott Close and John Road are home to Mediacorp Broadcast Centre. The names came from Sir John Andrew Caldecott (1884-1951), the Chief Secretary and Colonial Administrator of the Straits Settlement in the 1930s. He was later appointed as the Governor of Hong Kong and Ceylon.

Sir Andrew Caldecott had married twice, first to Olive Mary (undetermined-1943) in 1918 and then Evelyn May in 1946. Olive Road, linked to both Andrew Road and Caldecott Close, was named after Olive Mary (also see Olive Road).

mediacorp caldecott broadcast centre

Farrer Road

Farrer Road was named after R.J. Farrer (1873-1956), who arrived at Singapore in 1896. Holding many important positions in Malayan cities such as Penang, Kelantan and Ipoh, R.J. Farrer was also the President of Municipal Commissioners and was placed in-charge of many projects at City Hall, Gunong Pula Waterworks, St. James Powerstation and the Elgin Bridge. He died in his home at St. John Islands in 1956 and was buried at the Bidadari Cemetery.

John Road

John Road was named after Sir John Andrew Caldecott (1884-1951) (also see Caldecott Close).

Kheam Hock Road

Kheam Hock Road is a small road that cuts through the abandoned Bukit Brown Cemetery. It was named after Tan Kheam Hock (陈谦福, 1862-1922), due to his efforts in making the cemetery a public burial place for all Chinese in Singapore.

Born in Penang, Tan Kheam Hock plied his trade at Calcutta, India, before arriving at Singapore in 1899. A businessman with diversified interests in various sectors such as tin, rubber and insurance, he was also the Justice of Peace, Municipal Commissioner and the member of the prestigious King Edward VII Medical College.

Lornie Roadj lornie

Lornie Road was named after James Lornie (1876-1959), Chairman of the Singapore Rural Board in the 1910s. He was later appointed as the British Resident of Selangor between 1927 and 1931.

Olive Road

It was named after Olive Mary, the first wife of Sir John Andrew Caldecott (also see Caldecott Close).

Onraet Road

rene onraet (1887-1952)Onraet Road was named after René Henry de Solminihac Onraet (1887-1952). Born in India, René Onraet became a police cadet at the Straits Settlements Police Force in 1907. His talents in languages; he was able to speak English, Malay, Mandarin and Hokkien fluently, allowed him to work as an undercover to bust some of the biggest gambling dens in Chinatown.

By the early 1920s, René Onraet was promoted to the rank of superintendent and worked on the cracking down of communist elements in Singapore. He returned to the United Kingdom to join the British Army before the Second World War, and died in Hampshire in 1952.

former police training school at onraet road

Sime Road

john simeLocated off Lornie Road and leads to the Singapore Island Country Club, Sime Road was named after John Sime, a Scottish who first came to Asia in 1903 to work at the National Bank of India. In 1910, he arrived at Singapore to establish a commercial house Sime Darbys. Passionate about sports, John Sime focused on the local development of cricket, rugby and golf, and was appointed as the president of the Singapore Cricket Club and the captain of the Singapore Golf Club. He was also in-charge of the planning and building of the Bukit Timah golf course.

John Sime was also a member of the Legislative Council and actively involved in public affairs and charities. After 27 years in Singapore, he returned to Britain in 1937.

Tan Kim Cheng Road

Tan Kim Cheng Road was named after prominent businessman and community leader Tan Kim Cheng (陈金钟, 1829-1892) (also see Kim Cheng Street).

Tan Sim Boh Road

Tan Sim Boh Road is located off Thomson Road and was named after a famous Singaporean lawyer in the 1920s and 1930s. Better known as S.B. Tan, Tan Sim Boh graduated from Cambridge and worked at the Messrs Donaldson and Burkinshaw law firm after returning to Singapore. He was later appointed as the Municipal Commissioner in 1934, and served positions in the Singapore Improvement Trust, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Board of Licensing Justices.

In 1937, he left his legal profession and entered the business world, joining “pineapple king” and well-known businessman Lee Kong Chien’s company.

Thomson Road/Upper Thomson Road

John Turnbull Thomson (1821-1884) was a Colonial Engineer and Surveyor who arrived at Malaya in 1838, and was responsible for many public works including roads, bridges, markets, reservoirs, harbours, cathedrals, mosques, hospitals, prisons and lighthouses.

John Thomson returned to England in 1853, and migrated to New Zealand three years later, where he helped to survey many unexplored parts of its islands.

upper thomson road shophouses

Wallace Way

alfred wallace (1823-1913)Wallace Way, a small lane off Lornie Road leading to some private residence beside the greenness of Bukit Brown, was named after British naturalist and biologist Alfred Russell Wallace (1823-1913), who lived at Bukit Timah between 1854 and 1862, using Singapore as a base for his huge collection of 125,000 specimens from around Malay Archipelago. Often dubbed as the “Father of Biogeography”, Alfred Wallace had published some of his evolution ideas with Charles Darwin in the mid-1850s.

The Wallace Trail at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve was also named in honour of him.

Wong Chin Yoke Road

This public-restricted road was named after Wong Chin Yoke (王振玉, undetermined-1943), a war hero and Chinese police chief of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) before the Japanese Occupation.

In 1942, he led ten of his men to Indonesia to start an underground movement against the Japanese, but was unfortunately betrayed and killed. His ashes were eventually flown back from Jakarta to Singapore in 1954 and were buried at the Chinese Cemetery at Thomson Road with full police honours. The road at the former police academy at Mount Pleasant was named in his honour two years later.

Central (Orchard/Tanglin)

Almeida Road (defunct)

No longer existing today, Almeida Road used to lead to Mount Victoria, where the residence of Jose d’Almeida (1812-1894) stood (also see D’Almeida Street)

Anderson Road

john anderson (1858-1918)Anderson Road was named after Sir John Anderson (1858-1918). Born in Scotland, Sir John Anderson was appointed as the Governor of the Straits Settlements between 1904 and 1911. In 1916, he left the colony to assume the position of the Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka today), where he died there two years later.

The Anderson Bridge near the mouth of the Singapore River was also named after him, after Sir John Anderson officiated the opening of the bridge in 1910.

anderson bridge

Angullia Park

ahmad mohamed aalleh angullia (1875-1939)In the late 19th century, local-born wealthy Indian Muslim businessman Ahmad Mohamed Salleh Angullia (1875-1939) was the owner of a large piece of land at present day’s Angullia Park, near the Orchard MRT Station, where the road was named after his legacy. A Justice of Peace and Municipal Commissioner, Ahmad Angullia also served in the Indian Merchants’ Association and Indian Chamber of Commerce.

Ahmad Angullia also owned properties at the Rochor area and Upper Serangoon Road. A street at Rochor was named after him, although it no longer exists today (also see Angullia Road). His lands at Upper Serangoon Road were donated for the construction of Masjid Haji Yusoff.

Anthony Road

Located off Clemenceau Avenue, Anthony Road was possibly named after P.A Anthony, general manager and chief engineer of the Federated Malay States Railway between 1910 and 1924. Other than the railway systems in Malaya, P.A Anthony was also tasked with the working of the railways in other British colonies, such as Australia and Palestine.

Cairnhill Road

Charles Carnie, an early nutmeg plantation owner in the 1840s, named the hill where his mansion stood as Carnie’s Hill, which later became Cairnhill. The house was demolished in 1884, but the name stayed on till today.

There are also Cairnhill Circle and Cairnhill Rise.

cairnhill circle 1980s

Cavenagh Road

william cavenagh (1820-1891)Cavenagh Road was named after Major General Sir William Orfeur Cavenagh (1820-1891), the seventh Governor of the Straits Settlements from 1859 to 1867. Sir William Cavenagh was also the last Straits Settlements Governor to report to the Governor-General in Calcutta, India. After him, the succeeding governors would report directly to London.

The Cavenagh Bridge at Raffles Place was also named in his honour.

Cheang Teo Road (defunct)

The expunged Cheang Teo Road was named after Cheang Sam Teo (章三潮), father of prominent Chinese merchant Cheang Hong Lim (also see Cheang Hong Lim Place) and a merchant in tea and wine.

Cuppage Road

The Postmaster of the postal service in the 1840s, William Cuppage (undetermined-1872), which Cuppage Road was named after, also owned Emerald Hill and large nutmeg plantations at present-day Orchard Road.

One of William Cuppage’s son-in-laws was Edwin Koek, who had the nearby Koek Road named after him (also see Koek Road).

Cuscaden Road

Cuscaden Road was named after William Andrew Cuscaden, who was the Chief Inspector of the Straits Settlements Police in 1883, and later held the rank of Inspector General of Police from 1905 to 1913.

There is also a short Cuscaden Walk nearby.

Fort Canning Road

Fort Canning Road, as well as its surrounding Canning Link, Canning Rise and Canning Walk, were named after Fort Canning Hill, which in turn was named after Charles John Canning, 1st Earl Canning (1812-1862), the Governor-General of India between 1856 and 1862.

Hong Lim Private Road (defunct)

The expunged Hong Lim Private Road was named after prominent Chinese merchant Cheang Hong Lim (also see Cheang Hong Lim Place).

Hullet Road

rw hulletBuilt in 1914, , Hullet Road was named after R.W Hullet at the request of Dr Lim Boon Keng (also see Boon Keng Road), who was R.W Hullet’s student. R.W Hullet had lived in Singapore for more than three decades, serving as the principal of Raffles Institution between 1872 and 1906.

To mark the centenary of the founding of Raffles Institution, a library named Hullett Memorial Library was established in 1923. It was also named in honour of R.W Hullet.

Jervois Road

william francis jervois (1821-1897)Jervois Road was named after Sir William Francis Drummond Jervois (1821-1897), the 10th Governor of the Straits Settlements from 1875 to 1877. Served as a British army officer in his early days, Sir William Jervois was sent to work on the colony defense at Canada and India. After his brief stint as the Governor of the Straits Settlements, he was appointed as the Governor of Southern Australia and New Zealand, before returning to London in 1889 for retirement.

Jim Seong Road (defunct)

The expunged Jim Seong Road was named after Cheang Jim Seong (章壬松), fourth son of prominent Chinese merchant Cheang Hong Lim (also see Cheang Hong Lim Place).

Kay Siang Road

Kay Siang Road, off Tanglin Road, was named after Straits Chinese Wee Kay Siang (黄继祥, 1858-1925), whose parents arrived at Singapore from Malacca. He had worked for Messrs Brinkermann and Co for 52 years, and also served as the director of Kwong Yik Banking Company in the early 20th century. Wee Kay Siang supported educational causes in Singapore by donating generously to the King Edward Medical School and other institutions.

Wee Kay Siang’s reputation, however, took a hit in 1911 when he disregarded the law by whipping two coolies from his carriage, and claimed that he was a privileged man after being stopped by an inspector.

Koek Road

Koek Road was named after Edwin Koek, a lawyer and the son-in-law of nutmeg plantation owner William Cuppage (also see Cuppage Road). After taking over William Cuppage’s plantations and properties at Emerald Hill in the late 19th century, he invested heavily in orchard, but failed and became a bankrupt.

Napier Road

Napier Road was named after William Napier (1804-1879), Singapore’s first lawyer and the co-founder of the Singapore Free Press. The original Tyersall House beside the Botanic Garden was built by him, but the grand mansion was destroyed in a fire in 1890. William Napier retired back to England in 1857, but his firm Drew & Napier continued to flourish even till today.

William Napier’s wife was Maria Frances, the widow of Irish architect George Coleman (also see Coleman Street).

Oxley Road

Oxley Road was named after Dr Thomas Oxley (1805-1886), an Irish surgeon who arrived at Singapore from Penang in 1830. Dr Thomas Oxley was a keen botanist and one of the founders of Agricultural and Horticultural Society. Also the owner of large nutmeg plantations in the vicinity near present-day Orchard Road, he returned to England in 1857 after nutmeg sector collapsed.

The plantations owned by Dr Thomas Oxley was known as Oxley’s Estate. He owned two grand mansions called Grange House and Killiney House, in which Grange Road and Killiney Road were named after.

Paterson Hill/Paterson Road

Paterson Hill and Paterson Road were named after W.R Paterson, who arrived at Singapore in 1849 and joined trading firm Ker, Rawson and Co.

sg road names - orchard map v2

Peck Hay Road

Peck Hay Road was named after Wee Peck Hay (阮碧霞, 1884-1942), first wife of Lim Nee Soon (also see Nee Soon Road) and mother of Lim Chong Kuo (also see Chong Kuo Road).

Unlike other roads in the north of Singapore that were named after Lim Nee Soon and his family, Peck Hay Road was located off Clemenceau Avenue, near the Newton MRT Station. This was because Lim Nee Soon’s grand residence, the “Marsiling Villa”, once stood in this vicinity.

Ridley Park

Ridley Park was named after Sir Henry Nicholas Ridley (1855-1956), a British botanist and the first Director of the Botanic Garden from 1888 to 1911. Known as the father of the rubber industry, Sir Henry Ridley came to Singapore in 1888 and did researches on the potential of rubber and rubber-tapping methods. This led to the boom of the rubber industry in the region, and by the 1920s, Malaya became the top rubber producer in the world.

Saunders Road

In 1927, Saunders Road was officially named after Charles James Saunders (1869-1941), a Legislative Councillor, District Judge and Official Assignee in the Straits Settlement government service.

Charles Saunders also served as the Chinese Protectorate in the late 19th century, and was well-received by the local Chinese population due to his knowledge of Cantonese, Hokkien and Kheh dialects. He returned to England in 1923, after retiring from almost three decades in the civil service.

Scotts Road

Scotts Road was named after Captain William G. Scott (1786-1861), the Harbour and Post Master of Singapore in the early 19th century. He also owned huge plantations that covered much of present-day Orchard Road, producing cocoa, nutmeg, durians, rambutans and mangosteens. Captain William Scott was buried at the Christian Cemetery at Fort Canning after his death.

Both Claymore Road and Claymore Drive were named after his residence and plantations in the vicinity.

junction of scotts road and orchard road 1980s

Stevens Road

Stevens Road was possibly named after E.S Stevens, who was appointed as the Assistant Superintendent of Police of the Straits Settlements in 1881.

Winstedt Road

richard winstedt (1878-1966)Winstedt Road appeared in around 1940, but the origin of its name was unknown. It was possibly named after Sir Richard Olaf Winstedt (1878-1966), a colonial administrator, scholar and an expert in the history and language of Malaya.

In the early 20th century, Sir Richard Winstedt ventured into Perak, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan to study Malay culture and traditions. In 1931, he became the General Adviser in Johor, and also worked as the Director of Education and Legislative Councillor in the Straits Settlement. Sir Richard Winstedt also helped to establish the Raffles College and served as its first president.

Zubir Said Drive

zubir said (1907-1987)Situated between The Cathay and the School of the Arts, Zubir Said Drive was named in honour of the composer of Singapore’s national anthem Zubir Said (1907-1987). Also fondly known as Mr Mari Kita, Zubir Said was born in Central Sumatra, Indonesia, in the early 20th century. A brilliant self-taught talent in musical instruments, Zubir Said came to Singapore in 1928 to carve a career in music.

Zubir Said’s works were first performed at Victoria Theatre in 1957. A year later, one of his songs was selected as Singapore’s official song by the City Council. It was called Majullah Singapura, later becoming the national anthem of Singapore. In his career, Zubir Said had received many prestigious awards, including the Public Star Service and Jasawan Seni Award. He died in 1987 at an age of 80, leaving behind a son and four daughters.

East (Bedok/Eunos)

Jalan Eunos

mohamed eunos (1876-1933)Born in a wealthy Sumatran family, Mohamed Eunos bin Abdullah (1876-1933) was educated at Raffles Institution and worked at the Singapore harbour before becoming an editor at Utusan Melayu, a local Malay newspaper, in 1907. In his forties, Mohamed Eunos’ increasing influence in the Malay community saw him appointed as a Justice of Peace, Municipal Commissioner and Legislative Councillor.

Dubbed as the father of modern Malay journalism, Mohamed Eunos actively pushed for Malay nationalism, interests and better education in Malaya. His efforts would later act as the foundation for Malaysia’s fight for independence. Mohamed Eunos was buried at the Bidadari Cemetery after his death.

jalan eunos flats 1979

Jalan Ishak

Jalan Ishak was named after Ishak bin Ahmad, father of Singapore’s first President Yusof bin Ishak (1910-1970). Born in Malaya, Ishak bin Ahmad was educated in English and later worked as at the Malayan Administrative Service. He became the first non-European to assume the position of director at the Fisheries Department in the 1920s.

Teo Kim Eng Road

The minor road, adjacent to Foo Kim Lin Road and off Bedok Reservoir Road, was named after Teo Kim Eng (张金荣), a Teochew businessman who first came to Singapore at age of nine to help out in his uncle’s provision shop. In 1913, he established Chop Guan Choon (源春号) at Kling Street (Chulia Street today), dealing with wine, tobacco and coffee tradings.

After the war, Teo Kim Eng acquired large parcels of lands around Jalan Guan Choon (named after his trading firm Chop Guan Choon, but was later expunged due to development of Pasir Ris new town), and spent $300,000 building an exquisite villa near the sea. Designed with a swimming pool and surrounded by fruit plantations, he often lent his villa to schools and Chinese clans for alumni gatherings or meetings.

East (Changi/Pasir Ris/Tampines)

Elias Road

The long Elias Road in Pasir Ris was named after wealthy Jewish businessman Joseph Aaron Elias (1881-1949). Born in Calcutta, India, Joseph Elias came to Singapore and developed acute business sense at an young age. An inspirational entrepreneur, he held investments in various sectors such as aerated water, refrigeration, cinemas, newspapers, tiles-making, tin and rubber production.

amber mansion 1960sJoseph Elias and his family owned many properties in Singapore, including the grand Elias Mansion, Amber Mansion (at the junction of Orchard and Penang Roads) and an exquisite resort bungalow in Pasir Ris, in which Elias Road led to. Amber Mansion and Amber Road in the Tanjong Katong vicinity were named after his mother Amber Elias (also see Amber Road).

Joseph Elias was appointed as a Justice of Peace and Municipal Commissioner in the 1920s.

Hun Yeang Road

The quiet and forgotten Hun Yeang Road, located at the former Old Tampines Road, was once home to a Chinese kampong called Hun Yeang Village. Both the village and road were named after Khoo Hun Yeang (邱汉阳, 1860-1917), a Penang-born Chinese who managed his father’s opium and spirit farm in Malaya before coming to Singapore to work at the Singapore Opium and Spirit Farm between 1899 and 1906.

There is also a Khoo Hun Yeang Road in Kuching, Malaysia.

hun yeang road shophouses

Koh Sek Lim Road

The long road off Upper Changi Road East was named after Malacca-born Koh Sek Lim, who also had Xilin Avenue named after him in his hanyu-pinyin name (also see Xilin Avenue).

Koh Sek Lim was a wealthy Chinese pineapple and coconut plantation owner in the early 20th century. In the 1930s, he got into legal trouble after beating up one of his wives, putting her into a gunny bag and threatening to throw her into the sea.

Siak Kuan Road (defunct)

Once home to Kampong Padang Terbakar, Siak Kuan Road was a long village road linking Koh Sek Lim Road and Somapah Road.

kampong house at siak kuan road 1985It was named after Ho Siak Kuan (何式均, 1866-1946), a Chinese translator who had served for the Straits Settlement Government for more than four decades. When he eventually retired in the 1920s, Ho Siak Kuan became the first Chinese to be awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.).

Siak Kuan road was paved with granite in a gotong royong exercise by the Singapore Polytechnic students in 1971. It was expunged in the nineties.

Xilin Avenue

One of the rare instances in which a Singapore street was named after the hanyu-pinyin name of a local Chinese pioneer, instead of his dialect name, Xilin Avenue was named after Malacca-born Koh Sek Lim, a rich pineapple and coconut plantation owner in the vicinity in the early 20th century. There is a Koh Sek Lim Road nearby (also see Koh Sek Lim Road).

East (Geylang/Kallang/Paya Lebar)

Aljunied Road

syed sharif omar bin ali aljunied (1792-1852)

Officially named in 1926, Aljunied Road was named after prominent Arab merchant and philanthropist Syed Sharif Omar bin Ali Al-Junied (1792-1852) and his family. Syed Omar Ali’s uncle Syed Mohammed bin Harun Al-Junied was the first Arab to came to Singapore. Said to be a close friend of Sir Stamford Raffles, he arrived and settled at the island in 1819 from Palembang, Indonesia.

The Al-Junied family, highly respected by the Malays in Singapore as the direct descendants of Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam, would later become the most prominent Arab families in Singapore along with the Alkaffs and Alsagoffs. An honourable and generous person, Syed Omar Ali donated much of his lands for the construction of mosques, a hospital and a burial ground. He was buried at the Muslim Cemetery at Victoria Street after his death in 1852.

Syed Omar Ali’s nephew Syed Ali bin Mohammed Al-Junied, also had a road named after him (also see Syed Alwi Road).

Boon Keng Road/Upper Boon Keng Road

lim boon keng (1869-1957)Officially named in 1929, Boon Keng Road was named after Dr Lim Boon Keng (林文庆, 1869-1957), a Straits-born Chinese who studied English and later Western medicine. He later became a doctor as well as a businessman who owned rubber plantations at Yio Chu Kang. Dr Lim Boon Keng was also the first Chinese to be awarded the Queen’s Scholarship in 1887.

Also a director of Ho Hong Bank and Chinese Commercial Bank, and the first president of China’s Amoy University in 1921, Dr Lim Boon Keng was appointed as a Justice of Peace and Municipal Commissioner through his active contributions in social improvement and education.

During the Second World War, the Japanese forced Dr Lim Boon Keng to head the Overseas Chinese Association and raise $50 million for Japan’s war efforts. The humiliating incidents taunted Dr Lim Boon Keng, as he lived in bitterness until his death in 1957. He was buried at the Bidadari Cemetery.

Davidson Road

Davidson Road was probably named after James Guthrie Davidson, the British Resident of Selangor (1875) and Perak (1877).

Today, Davidson Road is a part of the industrial estate, situated at the junction of Upper Paya Lebar Road and MacPherson Road, that consists of many roads named after important figures of the colonial era.

Guillemard Road

laurence guillemard (1862–1951)Sir Laurence Nunns Guillemard (1862–1951) served as the Governor of the Straits Settlements between 1919 and 1927, and the High Commissioner for Malaya.

Trained in finances, Sir Laurence Guillemard became the governor without any prior experience in administration. But he was able to tackle Malaya’s post-First World War issues by pushing for reforms in the Federal Government and the Malayan Civil Service. His other achievements were the budget surplus from the Opium Reserve Fund, and the improvements in the Penang Hill Railway and Johor Causeway.

Howard Road

Howard Road was named after a Municipal Commissioner W. Howard.

Irving Road

Irving Road, and its link Irving Place, was named after C.J Irving, the Resident Councilor of Malacca in 1879, and Penang between 1883 and 1887.

Kim Chuan Road

Ng Kim Chuan (黄金泉, 1885-1958) was a Straits Chinese businessman who established rubber and coconut factories at Paya Lebar in 1920. Sent to China for education when he was 12, Ng Kim Chuan returned to Singapore in 1908, and worked at a trading firm. After he made his fortune, Ng Kim Chuan built a grand house at the end of present-day Kim Chuan Road. He also contributed to public affairs by building roads and bridges for the community.

Prominent businessman Tan Lark Sye (陈六使, 1897-1975) had his rubber plant built at Kim Chuan Road before the Second World War. In 1942, the factory was used by the Japanese as an inspection point, where truckloads of local Chinese civilians were captured and and sent to Punggol End for massacre.

Koo Chan Road (defunct)

Located off Geylang Road, the expunged Koo Chan Road was named after Chan Koo Chan (曾举荐, 1794-undetermined), a local Hokkien businessman and community leader who came from Tong Ann, China, and established a trading and commission agency Chan Koo Chan & Co and Chop Jiew Wan in the mid-19th century.

A charitable man, Chan Koo Chan actively donated to the society and Chinese temples. He was also one of the directors of early Chinese institution Cui Ying School (萃英书院, 1854-1954). Chan Koo Chan owned large parcels of land in Kallang, where one of his residence stood until the eighties. Koo Chan Road was the road which led to his house.

Chan Koo Chan’s sister was one of Tan Tock Seng’s wives (also see Jalan Tan Tock Seng). When he went back to China for two years, Chan Koo Chan’s firms were ruined by the poor management of his son-in-law. It was said that the business failure was a devastating blow to him and hastened his death.

MacPherson Road

Macpherson Road was named after Lieutenant Colonel Ronald MacPherson (1817-1869), the Lieutenant Governor and the first Colonial Secretary of the Straits Settlements in 1867. Educated in engineering, Lt-Colonel Ronald MacPherson designed and built many government and civil buildings, such as the Town Hall (Victoria Theatre today) and St Andrew’s Cathedral. He was also appointed as the Captain Commandant of the Singapore Volunteer Rifle Corps when it was formed in 1854.

McNair Road

john frederick mcnair (1828-1910)Born in England, Major John Frederick Adolphus McNair (1828-1910) left for British India at age 17 and became fluent in Hindustani. He was later posted to Malacca and Singapore as a colonial engineer for Public Works. Major John McNair was also placed in-charge of the Indian convicts who were deployed in the construction of many roads and buildings in early Singapore, such as the St Andrew’s Cathedral, General Hospital, Istana and Parliament House.

Thoughout his career, Major John McNair had hold many important positions in the Straits Settlements, such the Chief Commissioner, Colonial Secretary and Resident Councillor. He returned to England after his retirement in 1884.

Shaw Road

Shaw Road was named after Captain Edward Wingfield Shaw, the Resident Councillor of Malacca from 1868 to 1879. Before his arrival at Malaya, Captain Edward Shaw served as an officer at the British Royal Navy, and was posted to West Africa, Gold Coast, Leeward Islands and Montserrat.

In 1879, Captain Edward Shaw was appointed as the Resident Councillor of Penang but he died ten days after he assumed his new post. He was replaced by C.J Irving.

Westerhout Road

Westerhout Road was named after Newbold Benjamin Westerhout (1866-1938), a local Eurasian of Dutch descent with a prestigious family background, where his grandfather J.D Westerhout was the Assistant Resident of Malacca in 1843.

Newbold Westerhout had worked at the solicitor firm Messrs Donaldson and Burkinshaw for 47 years, and served as the chairman of the Clerical Union at Rangoon Road in the 1930s. The Clerical Union aimed to look after the welfare of Asian clerks in Singapore. He was buried at the Bukit Timah Cemetery after his death.

East (Joo Chiat/Katong)

Amber Road

The road was named after Amber Serena Balzar Elias, mother of prominent Jewish businessman Joseph Elias (also see Elias Road). In the seventies and eighties, there existed a Malay village known as Kampong Amber, located between Amber and East Coast Roads.

Butterworth Lanewilliam butterworth (1801-1856)

Butterworth Lane, off Tanjong Katong Road, was named after Butterworth of Penang, which in turn was named after Colonel Major-General William John Butterworth (1801-1856), the fifth Governor of the Straits Settlements between 1843 and 1855.

Cheow Keng Road

Cheow Keng Road was named after prominent Hainanese businessman and director of the Sze Hai Tong Bank Wee Cheow Keng (王绍经). His family lives in a large house along Joo Chiat Road that still stands today.

In the 1930s, Wee Cheow Keng’s two wives were involved in a stunning alleged poisoning case.

Dunman Road

Dunman Road was named after Thomas Dunman (1814-1877), who arrived at Singapore in 1840 and worked in a merchant firm, before joining the police force in 1843. After rising in his rank over the years, he became Singapore’s first Commissioner of Police, a position which he held from 1856 to 1871.

Thomas Dunman was well-known for his efficiency in tackling the crime rate of the society. He also established the pension system for retired policemen. In 1877, he retired from the police force and became a coconut plantation owner at Katong. Thomas Dunman was also the founder of Tanglin Club in 1865.

Ean Kiam Place

tan ean kiam (1881-1943)Ean Kiam Place, a short lane off East Coast Road, was named after Tan Ean Kiam (陈延谦, 1881-1943), who was born in Amoy, China, and came to Singapore in 1899 at age 18.

He established a trading company called Joo Guan Co and later ventured into rubber plantations, where he made his wealth. Tan Ean Kiam was also one of the founders of the Overseas Chinese Bank. The bank was later merged with Ho Hong Bank and Chinese Commercial Bank in 1932 to become the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited (OCBC), in which Tan Ean Kiam served as its managing director until 1943.

An active donator to social causes in Singapore and China, Tan Ean Kiam was unfortunately captured and tortured by the Japanese during the Second World War. Upon his death, he left behind Tan Ean Kiam Foundation that donated regularly to the charities, healthcare and education in Singapore.

Fowlie Road

Fowlie Road was named in 1934 after Dr P. Fowler, a doctor and Municipal Commissioner in the early 20th century.

Everitt Road

Everitt Road was named after Sir Clement Everitt (1874-1934), senior partner of legal firm Sisson and Delay and a member of the Legislative Council. Arriving at Singapore in 1905, Sir Clement Everitt spent 22 years at Singapore before returning to England for retirement in 1927.

Joo Chiat Road

chew joo chiat (1857-1926)

Chew Joo Chiat (周如切, 1857-1926) was a prominent Chinese merchant and philanthropist who first came to Singapore as a penniless 20-year-old man. Striving hard to achieve his dreams and with a good business sense, Chew Joo Chiat started from a small business to become a major plantation owner in nutmeg, gambier, rubber and coconut. He was later nicknamed the “King of Katong” as he owned large parcels of lands at the present-day Joo Chiat and Katong areas in the 1920s.

Originally known as Confederate Estate Road, it was nothing more than a dirt track that cut through Chew Joo Chiat’s plantations and linked Geylang Serai to the East Coast seaside. In 1917 it was renamed Joo Chiat Road when Chew Joo Chiat opened it to public access.

Koon Seng Road

cheong koon seng (1880-1932)Named after Cheong Koon Seng (钟坤成, 1880-1932), Koon Seng Road was well-known for its Peranakan shophouses. In the seventies, it was also notoriously famous for the triads and gang fights.

One of the first thirteen students to study at the Anglo-Chinese School, Cheong Koon Seng later became a successful businessman, auctioneer, real estate agent and member of first Rotary Club of Singapore. He was also the owner of the Theatre Royal and Star Opera Company at North Bridge Road.

Koon Seng Road was officially named in 1934, two years after Cheong Koon Seng’s death.

Kuo Chuan Avenue

Kuo Chuan Avenue was named after Lee Kuo Chuan (李国专, 1854-1915), father of famous businessman and philanthropist Lee Kong Chian (李光前, 1893-1967). In the late 20th century, Lee Kuo Chuan left his Nan Ann hometown and traveled to Singapore with his baby son. He was formerly a tailor in China but could not make ends meet.

Helping out in a provision business, Lee Kuo Chuan worked hard to enable Lee Kong Chian to have a good education in English and Chinese. He eventually retired and returned to China in 1912, while Lee Kong Chian went on to become a successful and wealthy person.

Marshall Road

The road was officially named in 1934 after Captain H.T Marshall, the Municipal Commission’s first chairman appointed in 1856. Also the Superintendent of the Peninsular & Orient Steam Navigation company Limited, he was largely responsible for the colony’s outgoing mails, freights and passages in the mid-19th century.

Meyer Road

manasseh meyer (1846-1930)Highly-respected Jewish businessman Sir Manasseh Meyer (1846-1930) first arrived at Singapore in 1861. He was born in Baghdad, Iraq, before having his education at Calcutta of India. When he was in his early 20s, Sir Manasseh Meyer ventured to Myanmar for business for six years. He returned in Singapore in 1873 to establish a trading company called Meyer Brothers, and later diversified his investment into properties.

Sir Manasseh Meyer served as the Municipal Commissioner between 1893 and 1900. He contributed generously to the local Jewish community and other educational causes. Two of his notable contributions were the Maghain Aboth Synagogue (at Waterloo Street) and Chesed-El Synagogue (at Oxley Rise).

Meyer Road and the Manasseh Meyer Building of the National University of Singapore (NUS) were named after him.

Mountbatten Road

louis mountbatten (1900-1979)Mountbatten Road was named after Lord Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten (1900-1979), the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and Governor-General of India. The great-grandson of Queen Victoria, Lord Louis Mountbatten served as the naval commander and, later, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Southeast Asia war theatre. At the end of the Second World War, he formally accepted the surrender of the Japanese at the Municipal Building (City Hall today) in Singapore.

Lord Louis Mountbatten was tragically killed in 1979 by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Still Road/Still Road South

Still Road was named after Alexander William Still (1860-1931), the Chief Editor of the Straits Times between 1908 and 1926. Prior to his arrival at Singapore in 1908, Alexander Still was already an experienced journalist at Aberdeen, Preston and Birmingham. The rubber industry at Malaya was still at its infancy in the early 20th century, and Alexander Still’s comments on the policies and restrictions of the rubber exports earned him recognition of being an expert in the subject. He also actively highlighted local social issues, including pushing for higher education for the Chinese, Malay and Indian population in Singapore, and was nicknamed “The Thunderer” due to his strong opinions and straightforward character.

Alexander Still died at the Hampstead Hospital in London in 1931.

Thiam Siew Avenue

wee thiam siew (1894-1972)Thiam Siew Avenue was named after local millionaire industralist Wee Thiam Siew (1894-1972). Born in 1894, Wee Thiam Siew worked at his father’s shophouse at Rochor Road as early as seven years old. After his education at St. Joseph’s and Raffles Institution, he worked as a telegraphist for five years, before taking over his father’s business and restructuring it into an agent for British and American tobacco businesses.

Wee Thiam Siew later diversified his investments into real estate and hotels. He built his first hotel, the Seventh Storey Hotel, at Rochor Road in 1953. The Hollywood Theatre and the $4-million Lion City Hotel was also owned by him.

East (Siglap)

Jalan Hajijah

kampong hajijah 1980sThe road was named after Madam Hajijah, owner of a large plot of land at now-defunct Kampong Hajijah, a Malay village of 30 houses which was also named after her.

A generous philanthropist who contributed her properties to build the original Kampong Siglap Mosque, Madam Hajijah was also well-respected for helping others in the community at Siglap. She died before the Second World War.

Frankel Avenue

In 1878, an American Abraham Frankel (1853-1928) and his Russian wife Rosa (1849-1945) arrived at Singapore. Abraham Frankel became a landowner, owning 100 acres of land in areas known as Frankel Estate today. He also opened a bakery at Victoria Street, and, later, became the owner of A. Frankel & Co, the largest furniture company in Singapore.

Abraham Frankel had a daughter named Anna born in Singapore. The family returned to the United States before the Second World War.

sg road names - siglap map

Kee Sun Avenue

Named after prominent Cantonese businessman, Justice of Peace and Chinese Advisory Board member Ching Kee Sun, the little street today lies next to the St. Andrew’s Autism Centre. There was also a Kee Sun Road in the 1930s, which led to Ching Kee Sun’s grand mansion that faced the sea before the land reclamation at East Coast.

Along with other prominent Cantonese figures in the community, Ching Kee Sun had actively donated to the war fund against the Japanese during the Second World War.

Parbury Avenue

Parbury Avenue was named after Municipal Commissioner and Legislative Councillor George Parbury (1876-undetermined).

Sennett Road

c.w.a sennettSennett Road, along with six other roads (Sennett Avenue, Close, Drive, Lane, Place and Terrace), was named after former Commissioner of Lands and President of Singapore Rural Board C.W.A Sennett (1890-undetermined). He later switched to property development and established Sennett Realty Company in the 1940s, deemed as the pioneer in the development of housing estates in Singapore. By the 1950s, it had built as many as 550 houses.

In 1949, Sennett Realty Company bought the abandoned Alkaff Gardens for $2 million and developed the Sennett Estate. The company, however, was wound up in 1957 due to the land acquisition plans by the government.

Tay Lian Teck Road

tay lian teck (1897-1942)Tay Lian Teck (1897-1942) was a prominent figure in the business, and later political, world. Educated at the Victoria Institution in Kuala Lumpur, Tay Lian Teck became the managing director of Ho Hong Group and board member of other Singapore companies. His rise in the political world began in the early thirties, when Tay Lian Teck was made a municipal commissioner, the Justice of Peace and Legislative Councillor in a span of three years between 1932 and 1935.

He died in February 1942 in an air raid during the invasion of the Japanese, leaving behind his wife and two daughters.

Woo Mon Chew Road

Woo Mon Chew (胡文钊) was a leading contractor in Singapore and Malaya in the 1930s and 40s, responsible for the building of the iconic terminal building of Kallang Airport in 1937. He was also involved in the construction of the Hill Street Police Station and other major projects, and was the owner of a trading house at 18 Hamilton Road. Although plagued by a bribery case in the early 1940s, Woo Mon Chew remained well-respected in the community for his generous donations to education in Singapore.

Woo Mon Chew was one of the seven original donating founders, along with Tan Lak Sye (陈六使), Yong Yit Lin (杨溢璘), Lee Leung Ki (李亮琪), Lee Choon Seng (李俊承), Ang Eng Ann (洪永安) and Ong Guan Hin (王源兴), of the famous exclusive Ee Hoe Hean Club (怡和轩俱乐部).

West (Choa Chu Kang/Lim Chu Kang)

Lorong Ah Thia

Today, Lorong Ah Thia is a short forgotten road off Upper Bukit Timah Road.

It was named after Chia Ah Thia (谢亚厅, 1862-1930), who arrived at Singapore at an young age and made his fortune through large rubber plantations stretching from Mandai to Bukit Panjang in the early 1910s. The wealthy Chia Ah Thia bought many properties at the 10th milestone of Bukit Panjang Road, owning almost 7,590 sq ft of land in the vicinity. After his death, he was buried at Bukit Brown Cemetery, leaving behind two sons and two daughters. Lorong Ah Thia was officially named in his honour in 1938.

Neo Tiew Road

neo tiew (1883-1975)Neo Tiew (梁宙, 1883-1975) was a Chinese pioneer and community leader who had contributed significantly to the development of Lim Chu Kang, including the construction of schools, roads, markets and clinics. For his tireless and generous efforts, Neo Tiew was awarded the Order of the British Empire from the colonial government, and was later appointed as the Chairman of the Rural Council.

Neo Tiew had a large multi-generation family. He had several great great grandchildren upon his death in 1975. He was buried at Boo Lim Cemetery in Choa Chu Kang.

The little Neo Tiew housing estate, existed between 1979 and 2002, also bore his name.

neo tiew abandoned estate

West (Clementi/Ulu Pandan)

Albert Winsemius Lane

albert winsemius (1910-1996)Albert Winsemius Lane is one of the most recent roads in Singapore to be named after a pioneer. It was named after Dr Albert Winsemius (1910-1996), a Dutch economist who led the United Nations team to study the industrialisation of Singapore in the sixties. Appointed as the Chief Economic Advisor in 1961, he helped to draw up 10-year development plans for the newly-independent nation. Dr Albert Winsemius also helped oil refinery giants Shell and Esso in establishing their facilities at Singapore. In 1984, after 25 years of service, Dr Albert Winsemius retired and returned to Holland.

Located near the junction of Clementi and Ulu Pandan Roads, Albert Winsemius Lane leads to the Aquatic Science Centre, which will be soon renamed as Van Kleef Centre.

Clementi Road

cecil clementi smith (1840-1916)Originally known as Reformatory Road, Clementi Road was renamed in 1947 in honour of Sir Cecil Clementi Smith (1840-1916), the 15th Governor of the Straits Settlements between 1887 and 1893, who also had Clementi Road and Smith Street named after him (also see Clementi Road and Smith Street).

Also the Lieutenant Governor of Ceylon, Sir Cecil Smith was credited for his strict control of Chinese secret societies in Singapore. When the well-liked governor left Singapore in 1893, the local Chinese community petitioned for his governance for another term.

Cecil Smith’s nephew, called Cecil Smith (1875-1947) as well, was the Governor of the Straits Settlements from 1929 to 1934. He was, however, not as popular as his uncle due to his tough measures against the anti-colonial and communist movements.

Heng Mui Keng Terraceheng mui keng

Heng Mui Keng Terrace is located within the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Kent Ridge campus and was named after a Teochew businessman Heng Mui Keng, who once owned properties along the Pasir Panjang Road.

Hon Sui Sen Drive

hon sui sen (1916-1983)Also located with the NUS Kent Ridge Campus, Hon Sui Sen Drive was named after Benedict Hon Sui Sen (韩瑞生, 1916-1983), Singapore’s Finance Minister between 1970 and 1983. He was also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Havelock, and the first chairman of the Economic Development Board (EDB).

Born and educated in Penang, Hon Sui Sen came to Singapore in 1935 and worked in the public sector for more than four decades. He was credited for doubling Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and national reserves in a span of 20 years, and leading the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) to become the biggest bank in the country.

Wan Way

Wan Way was named after Wan Fook Weng, an educationist and former principal of Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC) between 1986 and 1997. The small lane within the campus was named in his honour when Wan Fook Weng retired in 1997.

West (Jurong/Tuas)

Chin Bee Road

Chin Bee Road was named after Chew Chin Bee, grandson of Chew Boon Lay (also see Jalan Boon Lay). Working for prominent banker Seow Sieu Jin (1907-1958) in the fifties, Chew Chin Bee later became a banker himself at Overseas Chinese Bank Corporation (OCBC). He had donated generously to education, including bursaries to the Singapore Polytechnic.

Chin Bee was part of Jurong’s development of an industrial area in the sixties. By the eighties, a network of roads emerged within the industrial estate, including Chin Bee Road, Second Chin Bee Road, Third Chin Bee Road, Fourth Chin Bee Road, Chin Bee Avenue and Chin Bee Drive.

Chin Chong Road (defunct)

Chin Chong Road was named after Chew Chin Chong (周振聪, 1910-1949), grandson of Chew Boon Lay (also see Jalan Boon Lay) and brother of Chew Chin Bee (also see Chin Bee Road). The road was expunged in the seventies.

Chua Keh Hai Road (defunct)

Located near West Coast Road, the expunged Chua Keh Hai Road was named after Chua Keh Hai (蔡克谐, undetermined-1939), a member of the Municipal Commission, Chinese Advisory Board and Straits Chinese Consultative Committee. He was also a Justice of Peace and the secretary of Ho Hong Bank. Chua Keh Hai was buried at the Bukit Brown Cemetery after his death.

Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim

ahmad bin ibrahim (1927-1962)Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim was named after Penang-born Ahmad bin Ibrahim (1927-1962), a political Malay leader who was voted as an Assemblyman for Sembawang in the Legislative Assembly elections in 1955.

jalan ahmad ibrahim 1970sWhen the People’s Action Party (PAP) formed the self-government after winning the 1959 elections, he was appointed as the Health Minister. Ahmad Ibrahim was re-appointed as the Labour Minister two years later, but he died in 1962 due to an illness. He was only 35 then.

Jalan Boon Lay/Boon Lay Way

chew boon lay (1852-1933)The main roads of Jalan Boon Lay and Boon Lay Way, as well as the housing estate of Boon Lay, were all named after Chew Boon Lay (周文礼, 1852-1933), a prominent Hokkien businessman who was born in Changchow of Amoy province, China. He had worked briefly in Siam (Thailand today) before coming to Singapore in a junk. After the huge success in his venture of Ho Ho Biscuits, Chew Boon Lay was nicknamed the Biscuit King. He also had vast investment in rubber plantations and brickworks.

There was a legendary tale on how Chew Boon Lay’s junk nearly sunk on his way to Singapore. The boat was saved by a black snake, which apparently plugged the leaking hole and prevented the boat from sinking.

Chew Boon Lay’s grandsons Chew Chin Bee and Chew Chin Chong also had roads named after them (also see Chin Bee Road and Chin Chong Road).

Lien Ying Chow Drive

lien ying chow (1907-2004)

In 2008, a section of Nanyang Drive was renamed as Lien Ying Chow Drive to mark the significant contributions of Lien Ying Chow to the Nanyang Technological University (and former Nantah).

A Teochew born in Canton, China, Lien Ying Chow (连瀛洲, 1907-2004) ventured to Hong Kong in 1918 and Singapore two years later. He first worked as a shop assistant, and started his own company Wah Hin & Co. at age 22. In his mid-30s, he was appointed as the president of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI). During the Second World War, Lien Ying Chow escaped to Australia and participated in the anti-war efforts in China. He returned to Singapore with an established reputation, and was one of the first person to receive Singapore citizenship in 1957.

Lien Ying Chow founded the Overseas Union Bank (OUB) in 1947, which was acquired by the United Overseas Bank (UOB) in the early 2000s. He also had vested interests in properties, hotels and even soft drink business. A well-respected figure who had contributed extensively to charity, education and ambasssadorial ties, Lien Ying Chow’s name was said to be named after an island between China and Japan. In his later years, he was better known as George Lien.

Others (Roads named after Royal and Noble Figures)

The following roads were named after (mostly) British royalties and noblemen.

Albert Road (Rochor)

Named in 1858 after Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel, 1819-1861), the Consort of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.

Alexandra Road (Queenstown)

Named in 1864 after Queen Alexandra of Denmark (Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia, 1844-1925), the Consort of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom.

Connaught Drive (City Hall)

Named in 1907 after Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn (Arthur William Patrick Albert; 1850-1942), son of Queen Victoria. It was originally known as New Esplanade Road.

Dalhousie Lane (Rochor)

Probably named after the Marquis of Dalhousie (James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, 1812-1860), who was also the Governor-General of India between 1848 and 1856. He visited Singapore in 1850 and also had Dalhousie Pier named after him.

Duke’s Road, King’s Road, Prince Road and Prince of Wales Road (all Farrer Road)

Named after King George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert, 1865-1936), grandson of Queen Victoria and the King of the United Kingdom from 1910 to 1936. Before his coronation, he held the titles of the Duke of York, Duke of Cornwall and Prince of Wales.

Duchess Road, Queen’s Road and Princess of Wales Road (all Farrer Road)

Named after Mary of Teck (Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes, 1867-1953), the Consort of King George V. She also held the titles of Duchess of York and Princess of Wales.

Ellenborough Street (Boat Quay)

Named in 1845 after the First Earl of Ellenborough (Edward Law, 1790-1871), who was also the Governor-General of India from 1841 to 1844. Ellenborough Street was expunged in the early 2000s, and was replaced by Far East Organisation’s Central today.

ellenborough street 1980

Empress Place (City Hall), Queen Street (Rochor), Victoria Street (Rochor) and Victoria Park Road/Close (Farrer Road)

Named after Queen Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria, 1819-1901), the Queen of the United Kingdom between 1837 and 1901 and the Empress of India.

victoria street 1970s

King Albert Park (Bukit Timah)

Named after King Albert I of Belgium (Albert Léopold Clément Marie Meinrad, 1875-1934). The King Albert Park Estate was developed as an exclusive residential district in 1939.

King George’s Avenue (Jalan Besar) and Prince George’s Park (Clementi)

Probably named after King George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert, 1865-1936), the King of the United Kingdom from 1910 to 1936 and the Emperor of India.

Margaret Drive (Queenstown)

Named after Princess Margaret (Margaret Rose, born 1930), the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II.

Prince Charles Crescent (Queenstown), Prince Charles Rise (Bukit Timah) and Prince Charles Square (Queenstown)

Named after Prince Charles (Charles Philip Arthur George, born 1948), the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II. He was crowned as Prince of Wales in 1958. Prince Charles Rise was expunged when Princess Elizabeth Estate was demolished in the nineties.

Prince Edward Road (Raffles Place)

Named after Prince Edward (Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, 1894-1972). He was conferred as the Prince of Wales in 1911, and later became Edward VIII, the King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India in 1936. He, however, abdicated after just 326 days to marry an American divorcee. The controversial royalty was later made the Duke of Windsor.

In 1922, Prince Edward visited Singapore and Hong Kong, and had the roads in both former British colonies named after him.

Philip Walk (Bukit Timah) and Prince Philip Avenue (Queenstown)

Named after Prince Philip (Philip Mountbatten, born 1921), the Consort of Queen Elizabeth II.

Princess Anne Hill (Bukit Timah) and Princess Anne Close (Queenstown)

Named after Princess Anne (Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise, born 1950), the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II. Princess Anne Hill was expunged when Prince Elizabeth Estate was demolished while Princess Anne Close disappeared due to the development of the condominium Tanglin View.

Princess Elizabeth Drive (Bukit Timah)

Named after Princess Elizabeth (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born 1926), before she ascended the throne in 1953 as Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom. Princess Elizabeth Drive was renamed Elizabeth Drive after Princess Elizabeth Estate was demolished.

Others (Roads named after Generals and WWI Veterans)

While the streets in Tiong Bahru were mostly named after local Chinese pioneers, and those at Queenstown had strong British royal flavour, many roads at Jalan Besar instead give us a reminder of Singapore’s colonial past. In the 1920s, the Municipal Commission decided to name the streets at Jalan Besar after British and French generals, admirals and military veterans during the First World War, who had little or no direct influence to the history of Singapore.

Allenby Road (Jalan Besar)

Named after Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby (1861-1936), a British Field Marshal who fought in the Second Boer War (1899-1902) and First World War (1914-1918).

Beatty Road (Jalan Besar)

Named after David Richard Beatty (1871-1936), a British naval Admiral who took part in the Boxer Rebellion in Qing China (1900) and First World War.

Cavan Road (Jalan Besar)

Named after Frederick Rudolph Lambart (1865-1946), Earl of Cavan, a British Field Marshal who was involved in the Second Boer War and First
World War.

Foch Road (Jalan Besar)

Named after Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929), the Marshal of France who fought in the First World War.

French Road (Jalan Besar)

Named after John Denton Pinkstone French (1852-1925), a British Field Marshal who fought in the Second Boer War and First World War.

Hamilton Road (Jalan Besar)

Named after Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton (1853-1947), a British army general who fought in the First Boer War (1880), Second Boer War, Russo-Japanese War (1905) and First World War.

Haig Road (Tanjong Katong)

Named after Douglas Haig (1861-1928), 1st Earl of Bemersyde and Chief Commander of the British Expeditionary Force in France from 1915 to 1918. He remained a controversial figure after two million British soldiers perished under his command, earning him a nickname of “Butcher Haig”.

Havelock Road (River Valley)

Named after Major General Sir Henry Havelock (1795-1857), a British army general who was involved in the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-1826), Sikh Wars (1845-1846) and the Indian Rebellion (1857).

Horne Road (Jalan Besar)

Named after Henry Sinclair Horne (1861-1929), a British army general during the First World War.

Jellicoe Road (Jalan Besar)

Named after John Rushworth Jellicoe (1859-1935), a British naval Admiral who was involved in the Boxer Rebellion and First World War.

Kitchener Road (Jalan Besar)

Named after Horatio Herbert Kitchener (1850-1916), a British Field Marshal who took part in the Franco-German War (1870), Second Boer War and First World War.

Maude Road (Jalan Besar)

Named after Sir Frederick Stanley Maude (1864-1917), a British army commander who fought in the Second Boer War and First World War.

Outram Road (River Valley)

Named in 1858 after Sir James Outram (1803-1863), a British army general who fought in the First Anglo-Afgan War (1839-1842), Anglo-Persian War (1856-1857) and the Indian Rebellion.

Petain Road (Jalan Besar)

Named in 1928 after Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain (1856-1951), a controversial figure who first gained popularity and respect due to his heroics as a French Marshal during the First World War. Philippe Pétain later became the Prime Minister of France, but his reputation took a hit when his government gave up resistance against the invasion of Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

Sturdee Road (Jalan Besar)

Named after Sir Frederick Charles Doveton Sturdee (1859-1925), a British naval Admiral during the First World War.

Townshend Road (Jalan Besar)

Named after Major General Sir Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend (1861-1924), who led a British campaign against Iraq during the First World War.

Tyrwhitt Road (Jalan Besar)

Named after Sir Reginald Yorke Tyrwhitt (1870-1951), a British naval Admiral during the First World War.

(All the maps are credited to Google Maps)

Published: 09 January 2014

Updated: 17 April 2014

Posted in Cultural, Historic | 17 Comments

A Forgotten Past – Two Decades of Chaos

The quiet night of 8th December 2013 would be remembered for years to come, as Singaporeans were shocked by the news of a riot erupting at Little India. Most expressed disbelief, as riots and violent strikes were almost unheard of in Singapore of the modern age.

According to reports, the Little India riots were sparked off by a fatal accident, in which a private bus knocked down and killed an Indian national at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road. More than 400 South Asian workers gathered and set fire to the ambulance that arrived at the scene. Beer bottles were thrown and windscreens smashed. A few police cars were overturned and burnt. In total, 25 emergency vehicles were damaged, and 39 policemen, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) personnel and auxiliary officers were injured in the chaos.

little india riots3 2013

little india riots2 2013

The shocking riots reminded us of the 1950s and 1960s, the most chaotic and unstable period in the history of post-war Singapore.

11 December 1950 – Maria Hertogh Riot

riots 1950During the Second World War, a Dutch girl named Maria Hertogh was adopted by an Indonesian family. She was given a new name in Nadra, and was converted into a Muslim. After the war, the Hertoghs returned to seek their parental rights over Maria.

When the custody of Maria Hertogh was ruled in favour to her biological Dutch parents, it caused uproar among the crowds waiting for the verdict outside the court. It soon became a full blown riot, as the Malays and Muslims felt that they were being discriminated. Many Europeans and Eurasians in Singapore were attacked by the rioters. By the third day, 18 had perished and more than 170 were injured.

13 May 1954 – National Service Riots

The National Service Ordnance introduced by the colonial government in 1954 was rejected by the Chinese community who thought they were discriminated by the British. Believed to be incited by communist elements, some 500 Chinese middle students marched to the Government house in protest, resulting in a violent clash with the police. 26 were injured and 45 were arrested.

The situation, however, worsened in the following week, as more than 2,500 students locked themselves at Chung Cheng High School. Facing the massive demonstration by the students, the colonial government eventually backed down and “postponed” the bill.

12 May 1955 – Hock Lee Bus Riotsriots 1955

A violent riot happened on the 12th of May 1955 when the Chinese middle school students joined the dismissed workers of the bus companies in protests.

The bus workers had been demonstrating since late April by preventing the buses from leaving their garages. The two-day clashes with the police resulted in four deaths; two policemen, a journalist and a student, and a further 31 injuries.

The riot ended after the Hock Lee Bus Company agreed a settlement with the bus workers’ union.

24 October 1956 – Chinese Middle Schools Riots

riots 1956When the Singapore Chinese Middle School Students Union (SCMSSU) was forced to close down in 1956, hundreds of students gathered and protested at the Chinese High School and Chung Cheng High School. On the 26th of October, the police forced their ways into the schools and dispersed the students using tear gas.

The angry students took to the streets, throwing stones at the police and overturning the cars. The government quickly implemented curfews and arrested more than 900 students. But the riots, by then, already caused 13 deaths and 100 injuries.

09 September 1961 – Robinsons Strike

More than 200 Robinsons’ workers put on a strike outside the famous departmental store at Raffles Place, accusing the management of unfair and abusive treatment. 32 were charged by the police for obstruction.

01 November 1961 – City Council Strike

Angered by the government’s non-recognition of their union, the City Council workers went on a strike, threatening to stop the water and electricity supplies, and garbage and nightsoil collections. The strike soon became a clash with the police, with a lorry and many bicycles smashed.

The strike ended after a week, with 22 workers arrested, but by then, there was a large accumulation of refuse and nightsoil in the city and rural areas.

22 April 1963 – City Hall Protest

Around 100 people marched to the City Hall, demanding to meet Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and protesting their unhappiness over the government’s arrest of left-wing politicians and trade unionists. The crowd attacked some of the policemen and journalists, before being forced to disperse by the police reinforcement.

01 January 1964 – Ice Cream Vendors’ Strike

When the two main ice cream suppliers Cold Storage Creameries and Fitzpatricks raised their prices, some 300 ice cream vendors went on a strike for two days.

21 July 1964 – Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday Riots

riots 1964On the 21st of July 1964, tens of thousands of Malays gathered at Padang to celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday.

During their march to Geylang, the groups got into conflicts with the police, which worsened to riots by the evening. During the clashes, the marching Malays and the Chinese bystanders also got into verbal wars.

The riots claimed more than 400 injuries and 22 casualties. Thousands were arrested, while the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) of Malaysia and People’s Action Party (PAP) of Singapore blamed each other for the violence.

02 September 1964 – Racial Riots

riots2 1964When a Malay trishaw rider was stabbed to death at Geylang Serai, there were rumours that the murderers were Chinese secret society members. It quickly escalated into another racial riot between the Malays and Chinese. 12 were killed and over 100 were injured in the 5-day riot.

The two racial riots in 1964 represented the worst and most chaotic period in post-war Singapore.

30 April 1965 – May Day Demonstration

Top leaders of communist-linked unions gathered at Wayang Street to announce their defiance of police ban on their May Day Rally. The Special Forces quickly detained nine men, but it could not prevent 5,000 youths from gathering and protesting at various parts of Singapore, including the Farrer Park area, on the 1st of May. The protests soon turned into clashes with the police. Fortunately, there were no casualties and injuries, but a total of 271 people were arrested.

12 July 1967 – Pulau Senang Riot

A penal reform experiment on Pulau Senang ended in disaster, when the 300 inmates on the island turned against their guards due to the “unfair” deportation of 13 detainees. Daniel Stanley Dutton, a police superintendent and the in-charge of the island prison, was killed along with three of his assistants.

The trial dragged for two years before 18 inmates were hanged for their roles in the riot.

31 May 1969 – Racial Riots

The devastating effect of the 13 May Incident in Malaysia spilled over to a newly-independent Singapore two weeks later. At Kuala Lumpur, violent clashes had occurred between the Malaysian Malays and Malaysian Chinese.

Fueled by rumours, the Malay mobs and the Chinese triads in Singapore began attacking one another. The seven-day clashes left four people dead and some 80 injuries. The Internal Security Department (ISD) stepped in to quash the conflicts together with the police. Ethnic tensions remained high in the next few years but the authority was able to prevent such destructive riots from happening again.

20 years of chaos (1950-1969) were then followed by four decades of stability and progress. The Little India Riots were Singapore’s first major riots in more than 40 years. This unfortunate and unexpected incident served as a good reminder to us that social peace and harmony should never be taken for granted.

Published: 09 December 2013

Posted in Historic | 5 Comments

Singapore Trivia: The Firsts and Lasts (in Everyday Life)

A brief record of Singapore’s firsts and lasts of common things that are associated with our everyday life.

1821 – First General Hospital

The history of Singapore’s first general hospital was almost as old as the country’s colonial history. The Singapore General Hospital has its roots dated back to 1821, when it was a simple wooden shed at Bras Basah Road. The hospital was shifted numerous times in the 19th century, until it settled at Outram Road in 1882.

The hospital received its current name, as well as a bigger building, on 29 March 1926 when it had a grand opening officiated by the Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Lawrence Nunns Guillemard (1862-1951).

1822 – First Market

Singapore’s first market on record was a small fish market situated at the north end of the present-day Market Street, where the sheltered river banks ensured the constant and busy tradings of market produce. It was replaced by a newer and bigger one in 1834. The new market lasted until 1894, when it was demolished due to the Telok Ayer Basin land reclamation. In its replacement, another market was constructed and it became the popular Lau Pa Sat today.

May 1839 – First Hotel

The London Hotel, located between High Street and Coleman Street, was opened by prominent British entrepreneur Gaston Dutronquoy in 1839. Also known as the Dutronquoy’s Hotel, it was Singapore’s first hotel, completed with restaurants, a small theatre and even a photographic studio. Gaston Dutronquoy himself was also Singapore’s first recorded photographer.

October 1858 – First Post Office

The functionality of a post office started as soon as Sir Stamford Raffles established a trading post in Singapore, but it was not until 1858 before the Post Office became a separate entity from the Marine Office, and functioned independently.

1891 – First Fire Station

Contrary to popular belief, the Central Fire Station at Hill Street, built in 1909, is not the first fire station in Singapore. It is neither the second as the first and second fire station in Singapore belonged to the Cross Street Fire Station and Beach Road Fire Station, completed in 1891 and 1893 respectively. Unfortunately, both fire stations were not preserved till this day.

January 1903 – First Railway Station

tank road station 1906The demolished Tank Road Station was the first railway station in Singapore, located at the city end of the Singapore-Kranji railway line.

It served as the main rail terminus until it was replaced by the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in May 1932.

1904 – First Cinema

The Paris Cinema was Singapore’s first ever cinema when it was opened in 1904 at Victoria Street. Owned by an Indian jewellery company, it screened four movie slots per day at prices of 10c and 50c per ticket. Singapore’s first fully air-conditioned cinema, the Cathay Cinema, was opened in 1939.

1906 – First Passenger Lift

Famous businessman and philanthropist Loke Yew (1845-1917) installed Singapore’s first recorded electric passenger lift in his Winchester House at Collyer Quay in 1906. Winchester House was demolished in 1989 to make way for the construction of Hitachi Tower.

21 March 1919 – First Chinese Secondary School

The Nanyang Chinese High (Middle) School was founded on 21 March 1919 by prominent Chinese businessman and philanthropist Tan Kah Kee (1874-1961).

chinese high school 1960Originally located at a private bungalow at Niven Road, and later at its own campus off Bukit Timah Road, it was also the first Chinese-medium secondary school in Southeast Asia set up by the native Chinese community. Today, it is well-known as the Hwa Chong Institution.

1929 – First International Airport

Seletar Airport became Singapore’s first international airport when it was completed in 1929. Officially opened on 1 January 1930 as a Royal Air Force base, it received its first commercial flight a month later.

old kallang airportSeletar Airport continued to serve as both a military and civil airport until 12 June 1937, when Kallang Airport opened as Singapore’s first aerodrome solely for civil purposes.

Kallang Airport operated for almost 20 years, before being replaced by Paya Lebar Airport, opened on 20 August 1955.

10 January 1930 – First Public Swimming Pool

Officially opened on 10 January 1930, Mount Emily Swimming Pool was the first swimming pool in Singapore catered for the public.

mount emily swimming complex 1960sLocated at Upper Wilkie Road, it was converted from a municipal reservoir and proved to be extremely popular in its early days. In 1983, the swimming complex, after years of outdated facilities and low usage, was finally shut down and demolished.

December 1936 – First Public Housing

The first block at Tiong Bahru, Singapore’s first public housing built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT), was completed and occupied by December 1936.

Mainly three- to five-storey tall, the Tiong Bahru pre-war flats still exist today. One of them, Block 78 at Guan Chuan Street, also possesses Singapore’s sole remaining public air-raid shelter.

1939 – First Skyscrapercathay building 1955

The Cathay Building, completed in stages between 1939 and 1941, was Singapore’s first skyscraper, standing at a height of almost 80m. It was also once the tallest building in Southeast Asia.

Its 1300-seat Cathay Cinema, Singapore’s first fully air-conditioned cinema, had a grand opening on 3 October 1939, with more than a thousand fans packed into the theatre to catch the premier of “The Four Feathers”.

10 April 1943 – First State Lottery

singapore first state lottery konan saiken 1943During the Japanese Occupation, the Japanese government, in a bid to increase revenue, introduced Singapore’s first state lottery called Konan Saiken. With the top prize fixed at $50,000, tickets were sold to the public at $1 each. It was also compulsory for every government personnel to buy the lottery tickets.

1952 – First Satellite Town

The development of Queenstown, Singapore’s first satellite town, stretched from 1952 to 1968. Named after Queen Elizabeth II, it was first developed by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) before taken over by its successor the Housing and Development Board (HDB).

May 1953 – First Community Centre

The Serangoon and Siglap Community Centres shared the honour of being the first community centres to be officially opened in Singapore.

27 October 1954 – First Polytechnic

singapore poly at prince edward road 1962The Singapore Polytechnic (SP) was the first polytechnic to be established in Singapore after the Singapore Polytechnic Ordnance was passed in the Legislative Council on 27 October 1954. Its first classes, however, were only officially conducted three years later on borrowed premises, before its campus at Prince Edward Road was completed at an approximate $5.2 million and opened in 1959.

Singapore Polytechnic was relocated to its current site at Dover Road in 1978.

1956 – Last Street Gas Lamp

The streets of Singapore were mainly powered by the piped gas supplied by the Kallang Gas Works since 1862. It reached its peak in the 1930s, when there were more than 4,000 gas-fuelled street lamps in Singapore. Most of them were destroyed in the Second World War.

The last gas lamp in Singapore was turned off in 1956. On the other hand, electric street lighting was introduced as early as 1906.

30 March 1960 – First Tamil Secondary School

Umar Pulavar Tamil High School, Singapore’s first Tamil secondary school, was opened on 30 March 1960 by former Education Minister Yong Nyuk Lin. Prior to 1960, there were no secondary education for Malay and Tamil streams.

umar pulavar tamil high school at maxwell road 1960sNamed after famous 17th century Tamil Muslim poet Umar Pulavar, the school’s history went back to March 1946, when Singapore’s Indian Muslim community and Kadayanallur Muslim League set up Tamil classes at a Tanjong Pagar shophouse. Moving to its own building at Maxwell Road in 1950, Umar Pulavar Tamil School was upgraded to a high school a decade later. It was then relocated to Rangoon Road in 1975, where it operated for a further seven years before closing due to dwindling student enrollment.

14 October 1961 – First Malay Secondary School

sang nila utama secondary school crestIn the following year, Sang Nila Utama Secondary School was established, becoming Singapore’s first pure Malay-medium secondary school. With an initial 18 teachers and 447 students, the school was officially opened on 14 October 1961.

In 1968, English stream classes were introduced in the school. By the early eighties, most Malay secondary schools in Singapore saw a decline in their student intakes after the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) plan to phase out all non-English-medium primary and secondary schools. Sang Nila Utama Secondary School was eventually shut down in 1988.

Singapore’s first Malay primary school had a much longer history; it was established at Telok Blangah back in 1856.

1962 – First Crematorium and Columbarium

The first crematorium and columbarium in Singapore was at Mount Veron, opened in 1962 and eventually closed in 2004.

15 February 1963 – First Television Broadcast

television singapura 1963

An one-hour-and-40-minute program by the Television Singapura was aired in the evening of 15 February 1963.

It was a significant milestone, as the first television broadcast in Singapore was viewed by thousands of people at the Victoria Memorial Hall, Princess Elizabeth Walk and various community centres. The second TV channel came on air six months later, and the daily transmission increased from an hour to several hours.

31 May 1963 – First Public Housing Complexselegie house 1963

The Selegie House was Singapore’s first public housing complex, completed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and officially opened by former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 31 May 1963.

Costing $3.8 million in construction, the housing complex was made up of three blocks of 10-storey and 20-storey flats, dozens of shops and a restaurant.

Equipped with modern sanitary services, electricity, water and gas supplies, the units, in the formats of two-room, three-room and four-room, were mainly available for rental for the lower income.

04 June 1964 – First Multi-Storey Carpark

The Market Street Carpark was the first multi-storey carpark in Singapore, officially opened in 1964 by former Minister for National Development Lim Kim San after three years of construction.

market street multi-storey carpark 1960sLocated at the junction of Cross Street and Cecil Street, the carpark charged an hourly rate of 5c, as compared to the rate of 2c at other public open-air carparks. Its monthly season parking was fixed at $30.

Market Street Carpark was shut down in 30 June 2011 after 48 years of operation, and was subsequently demolished.

15 November 1965 – First Underground Carpark

Singapore’s first large-scaled underground carpark at Raffles Place was officially opened by former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 15 November 1965. Able to accommodate 250 cars for late night shoppers, it also possessed a rooftop garden known as Raffles Place Park, which was designed with a giant flower clock donated by watch-maker Seiko.

The underground carpark was demolished in 1990 due to the construction of the Raffles Place MRT Station.

1966 – First Fast Food Restaurant

a&w logoIt was not McDonald’s or KFC, but A&W (Alan & Wright) that arrived in Singapore in 1966 as the country’s first ever fast food restaurant. Americans Al and Geri Lieboff seized the opportunity to introduce the franchise when they came to Malaysia and Singapore in the sixties. The hamburgers, coney dogs and A&W’s signature root beer soon became a hit among Singaporeans.

09 August 1966 – Singapore’s First Stamps

first stamps of republic of singapore 1966

A set of postage stamps was officially issued by the new Republic of Singapore to commemorate its 1st anniversary of independence. The images of HDB flats and industrial estates were used in their backgrounds to portray a developing Singapore.

12 June 1967 – Singapore’s First Series Dollar Notes

singapore-first-dollar-notes-orchid-series-1967In April 1967, the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Singapore, was established. Two months later, Singapore had its first set of dollar notes, replacing the British Malayan currency that had been in circulation for decades.

Although there was a total of nine denominations ($1, $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 and $10,000), the less commonly used $25, $500 and $10,000 dollar notes were issued to the public only a few years later.

20 November 1967 – Singapore’s First Series Coins

singapore-first-coins-marine-series-1967Like the dollar notes, Singapore soon had its first set of coins, known as the “Marine Series”, at the end of 1967.

It consisted of six denominations, ranging from 1-cent to 1-dollar, that bore designs of marine animals such as lionfish and sea horse. Its $1 coin was also Singapore’s largest coin in circulation.

1970 – First Flyover
toa payoh flyover 1970

The construction of Toa Payoh Flyover began in 1968, and was completed two years later at an estimated cost of $3m.

Spanning 1.2km long, its objective was to relive traffic congestion at the stretch between Jalan Toa Payoh and Thomson Road.

14 May 1970 – First Junior College

national junior college 1969The construction of the National Junior College began as early as 1967. Completed 15 month later, it started admitting its first batch of students in January 1969, although the first junior college of Singapore would be officially opened only in May 1970.

In 1997, it shifted from Linden Drive to the current campus at Hillcrest Road.

1971 – First Hawker Centre

The first hawker centre, Yung Sheng Food Centre, was built in 1971 to relocate the street hawkers. It was later merged with Corporation Drive Market and Food Centre to become Taman Jurong Market & Food Centre.

The last hawker centre, completed in 1985, was the Block 505 Market & Food Centre at Jurong West Street 52, before the government’s recent announcement that ten new hawker centres will be built by 2017.

14 July 1971 – First Drive-In Cinema

The Jurong Drive-in Cinema at Yuan Ching Road was, in fact, Singapore’s first and only drive-in cinema till date. Opened by Jek Yuen Thong, former Minister for Culture, the cinema was one of the successful ventures of the Cathay Organisation.

drive-in cinema at yuan ching road 1971Situated next to the Japanese Gardens, the large compound had no problem accommodating as many as 900 cars and an additional 300 audience.

After 15 years of operation, the drive-in cinema was shut down on 30 September 1985 due to poor attendance.

June 1972 – Last Firecrackers Allowed in Public

Firecrackers had been an indispensable part of the Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore for many years. They were also used intensively during businesses’ opening ceremonies, foundation stones’ laying and even at the official openings of the early HDB flats.

children letting off firecrackers 1971In 1970, cracker-related fires claimed a total of six casualties and 68 injuries, leading to a partial ban of firecrackers. The ban was temporarily lifted in the Chinese New Years in 1971 and 1972, but when two policemen were attacked by a group of youths letting off firecrackers without a permit, the government decided to introduce the Dangerous Fireworks Act.

After the bill was passed in the parliament in June 1972, a total ban was implemented nationwide, and all wholesalers, retailers and members of the public had to surrender their firecracker possessions.

1974 – First Condominium

The 52-unit Beverley Mai, located at Tomlinson Road, was Singapore’s first condominium. Occupying a site of almost 77,000 square feet, it was completed in 1974, fitted with modern facilities such as a swimming pool.

The condominium fetched over $200m in 2006 through a collective en-bloc sale.

1977 – First Expressway

The Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) is the first expressway in Singapore. Planned and built in several stages over a period of almost 30 years, PIE stretches 43km across the island from Changi to Tuas.

pan-island-expressway-at-bukit-timah-1975The idea of the expressway was proposed in 1964 by the Public Works Department. Five years later, the first section of PIE, linking up Thomson and Paya Lebar, was completed. By 1979, $81 million had been spent on PIE which had connected Jalan Eunos to Jalan Anak Bukit.

Today, there are 11 expressways in Singapore, including the latest Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) that will be opened in December 2013.

13 June 1977 – First Double-Decker Bus Service

A fleet of 20 double-decker buses of model Leyland Atlanteans was launched by the Singapore Bus Service (SBS) in June 1977.

sbs leyland atlantean an68 1980s

The route of the new service, numbered 86, plied between Shenton Way and Tampines Way Terminal (now defunct), and its official opening ceremony was officiated by then Senior Minister of State for Communications Ong Teng Cheong.

During the first few days of their debut, the buses were almost empty as the public feared the double-deckers would topple when making a turn.

April 1978 – First Bus Interchange

The rapid development of the Jurong industrial estates in the seventies saw a need to improve the transport and infrastructure at the western side of Singapore. After the big merger of the private bus companies to form the Singapore Bus Services (SBS) in 1973, many of the overlapping bus routes abolished to improve the overall efficiency of the bus system.

jurong bus interchange 1978The plan of having regional bus interchanges to replace multiple small terminus was also taking shape. In April 1978, the Jurong Bus Interchange, first of its kind in Singapore, was opened. It was quickly followed by the construction of other bus interchanges elsewhere, such as Bedok (1979), Ang Mo Kio, Clementi (both 1980), Hougang and Bukit Merah (both 1981).

The operation of the Jurong Bus Interchange lasted until 1990. Upon its closure, most of its bus services were relocated to Boon Lay Bus Interchange.

November 1985 – First Food Court

With its official opening in November 1985, the Picnic Food Court, located at the basement of the now-defunct Scotts Shopping Centre, represented the beginning of Singapore’s “new-generation” food centres. The following years quickly saw the emergence of other food courts in the city such the Funan Centre Food Paradise and Orchard Towers’ Hawaii Food Paradise.

scotts-shopping-centre-picnic-food-court-1985Equipped with more comfortable tables and chairs, air-conditioning and even music, the food courts received mixed reviews from the customers.

However, not all new food courts had enjoyed brisk businesses. While many appreciated the cleanliness and better hygienic conditions as compared to the hawker centres, others were put off by the higher prices of the food.

26 May 1986 – First Sale of Computerised 4D

Call it beh pio (horse ticket) or wan zi piao (ten-thousand number ticket), there is no doubt that 4D (4-Digit) is Singapore’s most popular betting game. Its history traced back to the 1950s, but the first computerised 4D was sold by the Singapore Pools on 26 May 1986.

Subsequently, the state lottery operator also launched Wednesday draws starting from 9 August 2000 and the ibet system on 16 June 2005.

December 1986 – Last Street Hawker

The last street hawker in Singapore was relocated at the end of 1986. By then, there were more than 100 hawker centres, built between 1971 and 1985, in the country. The government stopped building hawker centres after that.

January 1987 – Last Nightsoil Bucket
nightsoil-bucket-1980s

Nightsoil bucket latrines and trucks were part of Singapore’s sewerage and sanitary system in the early days. Almost 6,500 such latrines still existed in Singapore in 1975. By the mid-eighties, the number had dropped to about 2,000. 90% of the homes in the new housing estates were fitted with modern sanitation.

The last nightsoil bucket was cleared in January 1987, and the system was eventually phased out.

1988 – Last Pig Farm

ponggol pig farmersPig farms used to be abundant in Singapore, especially in the sixties. In mid-1970s, the government decided to consolidate all the pig farms, most of them originally located at Choa Chu Kang and Lim Chu Kang, to Punggol.

In the early eighties, the goverment mooted the idea of closing all the pig farms in Singapore, due to the environmental threat from the pig waste and the high cost of pollution control.

In April 1985, the decision to phase out pig farming was made. A campaign called “Eat Frozen Pork” was introduced to the public, while the phasing out exercise was carried out in stages in the following years. By 1988, all of Singapore’s existing pig farms officially walked into history.

2012 – Last GEC Traffic Light

last gec traffic light at old serangoon bus interchange 2012The last General Electric Company (GEC) traffic light in Singapore was finally switched off in 2012, after the old Serangoon Bus Interchange had closed a year earlier. Making their debuts since 1948, GEC traffic lights had been a common sight, serving Singapore roads well for more than 60 years.

By the early 2000s, the aging model was gradually replaced by the new LED traffic lights fitted by ATS Traffic Pte Ltd.

30 April 2012 – Last Paging Service

The beeps of pagers were last heard at the end of April 2012, after Sunpage, the remaining paging provider service in Singapore, decided to stop the paging service totally.

last paging service 2012A type of telecommunication service that stretched almost 20 years, the pagers were hugely popular until the late nineties, when they were gradually replaced by the mobile phones. By the 2000s, the pagers were limited to those who need to be on standby or on-call duty, such as doctors and military personnel.

Published: 23 November 2013

Posted in General | 2 Comments

View Road and its Forgotten Former Hospital

Geographically, it is located at a relatively quiet and forgotten spot within the vicinity of Woodlands and Marsiling. In paranormal aspect, it was once rumoured to be one of Singapore’s most haunted places, although it was less well-known than the Old Changi Hospital. Meet the View Road Hospital, a former mental institution operated between 1975 and 2001.

Lying off Admiralty Road West, View Road is a small lane that leads to a small hilltop covered with greenery. Its name was derived from the excellent views one could enjoy at the summit, overlooking the nearby dockyard and Johor Straits. An interesting trivia of View Road is that its Chinese name was translated as 美景路 (literally means “beautiful scenery road“), according to the Singapore Street Directory of 1998. However, this coincides with the Chinese translation of Mei Chin Road in Queenstown. It could well be a case of human error that two different roads existed with the same name.

map of view road hospital 1988

In the seventies and eighties, View Road was accompanied by other minor roads in the vicinity such as Hawkins Road, Rimau Road and Ratus Road, all of which had vanished today. Hawkins Road was then known for the refugee camp, set up in 1978 to house the Vietnamese boat people who had escaped from their country in turmoils. The camp was closed in mid-1996 after the last batch of boat people was repatriated to Vietnam, and the road itself became defunct after that.

Rimau Road, in which rimau refers to tiger in Malay, was probably named after Batu Rimau Gurkha, a barrack that sat on the hilltop in the sixties and seventies and served as the housing quarters for the naval base’s Gurkha police contingent.

view road

In the late sixties, the Ministry of Health was seeking an alternate location to build a secondary mental institution due to the overcrowding issue at Woodbridge Hospital. The 2,029-capacity main hospital had exceeded its average daily occupancy, hitting a peak of 2,654 in 1969. During this period, the British Bases Conversion Unit handed the three-storey Batu Rimau Gurkha Barrack to the Ministry of Health, and the premises, with its lush surroundings, was deemed ideal for the rehabilitation of the less severely ill psychiatric patients.

In 1973, the project of converting the former barrack into a hospital was drawn. A $530,000 budget was approved for the new 250-capacity hospital with a targetted 48 employees. Tenders were soon carried out by the Public Works Department to install laundry equipment, boiling points and pipelines.

view road2

view road3

View Road Hospital was officially opened in August 1975, and became one of the 13 government hospitals in Singapore in the seventies and eighties (The others were Alexandra Hospital, Changi Hospital, Kandang Kerbau Hospital, Middleton Hospital, Middle Road Hospital, Sembawang Hospital, Singapore General Hospital, St. Andrew’s Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Toa Payoh Hospital, Trafalgar Hospital and Woodbridge Hospital).

With the admission of the first batch of psychiatric patients after its official opening, an intensive rehabilitation program was introduced. The program, consisted of learning of new trades such as laundry, toy-making, farming, woodwork and tailoring, aimed to help the patients in seeking employment after their discharge.

view road hospital

In 1984, another rehabilitation program called the Day Release Scheme was launched to help the patients adapt to the outside life. By the nineties, almost a third of the 250 patients at View Road Hospital was placed under the scheme, which allowed them to leave the hospital during daytime and work in factories, nurseries and gardens. They would then return to the hospital in the evenings.

The all-male hospital received its first batch of female patients in 1990. The premises was given a thorough upgrading in the following year, and its bed capacity was increased to 290 by 1994.

view road hospital3

While View Road Hospital stayed relatively undisturbed, its nearby surroundings had changed significantly in the late nineties. With Woodlands Avenue 4 extended to link directly to Admiralty Road West, the vicinity was segregated into different industrial zones. By the 2000s, the area was filled with industrial buildings, driving centre, bus depot and workers’ dormitories. A Park Connector Network (PCN) was also developed by the National Parks Board.

view road hospital2

View Road Hospital was eventually shut down in 2001, and was left abandoned for many years until its conversion into a foreign workers’ dormitory named View Road Lodge in 2008. Its bluish outlook was replaced by a new orange appearance. The occupants, however, would last only four years before the premises became emptied once again. It is now under the charge of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

Since its first closure in 2001, the View Road Hospital was plagued by many haunted stories and rumours. Years of abandonment and neglect had, time after time, attracted groups of youths in their spook hunting and thrill seeking activities. The former hospital, however, was gradually forgotten over time.

Below are some of the photos taken by other urban explorers in 2006 and 2007.

view road hospital 2006

view road hospital2 2006

view road hospital3 2006

view road hospital 2007

view road hospital2 2007

Published: 05 November 2013

Posted in Exotic | 12 Comments

The Last of the Street Barbers in Singapore

In the old days, it was well-known as the busy “Barber Street” filled with street barbers, yet the narrow back alley off Aliwal Street today is nothing but a quiet and forgotten lane unnoticed by most passers-by having their lunch at the Jalan Sultan vicinity.

aliwal street barber2

While most of the other street barbers have retired or switched to other businesses, one continues to ply his trade here. Mr Tan Boon Kee, 68, is the remaining street barber at Aliwal Street, where he works from 9am to 6pm daily except Wednesdays and Sundays.

aliwal street barber3

Under the makeshift tentage, Mr Tan used to have another street barber operating beside his outdoor “shop”. After that barber retired in 2009 due to some health issues, Mr Tan becomes one of the few survivors of this declining local trade that can no longer be found in other parts of Singapore except Aliwal Street, Kim Keat Lane, Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown.

A large rectangular mirror, left behind by the retired barber, still hangs on the wooden structure of the tentage.

aliwal street barber4

It had been a rather busy Saturday morning for Mr Tan today. He had not yet taken a break as there were several regular customers of his, most of them elderly men, waiting patiently for their hair cuts. One was quietly reading his newspapers. Another one was occasionally speaking to Mr Tan about the rising cost of food and living. Other than that, only the snipping sounds of scissors and clippers filled the quiet back alley.

aliwal street barber5

aliwal street barber6

Mr Tan’s trusted barbering tools such as the scissors, clippers, blades and brushes are kept neatly in the small box-shaped cupboard. It also contains a calender and a small clock to remind him of the date and time. A FM radio that broadcasts old Chinese songs accompanies Mr Tan when the business is quiet and the day is slow.

Other items include a broom, which is used to clear the hair on the ground, and stacked plastic chairs ready to serve more customers. There is also a seat cushion to be placed on the old fashioned chair when its leather seating gets too warm.

aliwal street barber7

Taking about 15 to 20 minutes per head, Mr Tan made sure his customer’s hair was neatly trimmed, followed by a clean shaving of facial hair around the lips, cheeks, ears and forehead. The unsightly nose hair would also be taken care of. All these services for a price of only $6.

aliwal street barber8

Rain or shine, Mr Tan used to do his barbering six days a week, resting only on Wednesdays. Business used to be much better in the past, even though there were more competitors. Today, he tends to slow down his pace, as years of continuous standing have taken a toll on his legs. Although he is now taking home only half of what he could earn in the past, Mr Tan is contended that he can still carry on what he has been doing for the last twenty years.

kim keat lane street barber

At Kim Keat Lane, a similar old reclining chair, cupboard and table were chained together and lined up against the wall of the five foot way of an old shophouse. Apparently they belonged to another street barber named Ah Lim, who was probably having his weekly off-days.

kim keat lane street barber2

Perhaps in another couple of years, the street barbers, like many other local sunset industries, will eventually and inevitably vanish in history. But meanwhile, you can show your support by dropping by for a haircut or a chit chat.

Published: 20 October 2013

Posted in Nostalgic | 2 Comments

Heritage Tour around Colonial Changi

Changi, best known for the internationally famous airport Singaporeans are proud of. Or, to some, that delicious nasi lemak at the hawker centre of Changi Village. But Changi is much more than that. More than a dozen buildings and landmarks with significant heritage can still be found in this vicinity with a rich vibrant past.

Colonial History

Development of Changi

Changi was originally well-known for its coconut and sago plantations in the 19th century. Its actual development only began in the 1920s after the Army Council in London approved a proposal to convert Changi into a defensive fortress of Singapore. In summary, a colonial Changi could be divided in three phrases: Artillery Base (1927-1942), Japanese Occupation (1942-1945) and Royal Air Force (RAF) Changi (1946-1971).

temple hill 1945

In 1927, prominent British general Webb Gillman (1870-1933), who had Gillman Barracks named after him, surveyed the Changi area. It was a land of swamps and forests, with three hilly areas later known as Fairy Point Hill, Battery Hill and Temple/Changi Hills. The only accessible route from the city was an unpaved track that ended at the rural police station at the old Changi Village.

japanese hotel at changi 1928Buildings were few at Changi in the 1920s. Other than the attap houses at Changi Village, there was a Chinese temple at Temple Hill (hence its name), a Public Works Department (PWD) government building, a grand bungalow owned by wealthy Jewish businessman Sir Manasseh Meyer (1843-1930) and a Japanese hotel by the sea that housed prostitutes. The wooden hotel by the sea was later bought by the British to serve as a temporary Officers’ Mess for the Royal Engineer team.

Soon, the Chinese coolies and Indian labourers were roped to clear the forests and fill the swamps. The development took three years, with the workers constantly battling against bees, mosquitoes, snakes, heat and the thunderstorms. In 1928, the Royal Engineers, assisted by the Federated Malay States Railway, began to construct a network of railway lines, known as the Changi Railway. The pier was also built in 1928 for loading and unloading of construction materials, largely granite from Pulau Ubin.

construction-of-new-road-1928The early permanent roads built in Changi were the New Road, Quarry Road and Artillery Road, all of which reflected the historic significance of the early development of Changi. After the war, they were renamed as Netheravon Road, Cranwell Road and Martlesham Road respectively, after other RAF stations in the United Kingdom.

The construction of Changi was suddenly put to a halt in 1930 when Britain was hit by the Great Depression. However, with Japan’s ambitions in the east began surfacing in the early 1930s, the British resumed the work on the Changi defense. By the mid-1930s, the basic military facilities at Changi were ready. The Royal Engineers moved into the Kitchener Barracks, whereas the Robert Barracks were reserved for the Royal Artillery. Selarang Barracks became home for the Gordon Highlanders, the infantry battalion from Scotland. The Anti-Aircraft Regiment later arrived to live at the India Barracks located on the east side of Changi Road.

Sport facilities, cinemas, clubhouses and schools were also built for the welfare and the benefits for the military personnel and their families. By 1941, the development of Changi as a self-contained base was completed. It took 15 years for Changi to transform from a swampy land of forest to a modern military base.

Second World War

british pows marching to changi 1942On 7th February 1942, the Japanese captured Pulau Ubin but did not attempt to land at Changi. The monster 15-inch guns installed by the British bombarded Johore with little effect. It was a tactical ruse deployed by the Japanese, as they instead advanced from the western side of Singapore. With the invaders rapidly closed in to the city areas, the British had to withdraw the troops at Changi to defend the city.

With the fall of Singapore, Changi was turned into a gigantic prison camp. More than 50,000 Allied prisoners-of-war (POWs) were marched to Changi by late Febuary 1942. Batches of POWs were soon dispatched to the borders of Thailand and Burma for the construction of the infamous Burma Railway, also known as the “Death Railway”. It would represent a death sentence for those who were sent there, as many of them did not survive to return.

A New Air Base

When Changi was occupied by the invading forces after the British surrendered Singapore in February 1942, the Japanese forced thousands of POWs to build an airstrip. It took more than year before the new runway was ready for the first aircraft to take off in late 1944. After the war, the airstrip was not destroyed by the returning British forces. Instead they capitalised on it and handed the airfield over to its Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1946. This permanently changed the face of Changi, as it evolved from an artillery base to an air base.

map of raf changi 1965

The withdrawal of British military presence from Singapore began in 1968. The Seletar Air Base was taken over by the Singapore government a year later. But the British was keen to hold on to RAF Changi until 1971.

raf changi and netheravon road 1960s

The final closure arrived on the 15th of December 1971, when the treaties were signed for a complete handover to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The history of colonial Changi finally came to an end.

The Selarang Barracks was renamed as Selarang Camp, whereas the Roberts and India Barracks became part of Changi Camp (now Changi Air Base). Majority of the former Kitchener Barracks was placed under the management of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

Changi & Trees

Changi was likely to be named after the trees that were abundant in the vicinity in the 19th century. The disputes, however, arose from the species of the trees in which the name originated from. The legendary Changi Tree, or sindora wallichii, was a gigantic 76m-tall tree that became an obvious landmark at Changi and had to be blown off by the British with explosives in order to avoid being used by the Japanese as a map marker.

changi tree 1936Another species was the timber tree named Chengal, or neobalanocarpus helmii, suggested by Henry Nicholas Ridley (1855-1956), an English botanist who served as the first director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, to be the actual origin of the name Changi. Chengal, however, was abundant in Peninsula Malaysia but not in Singapore. The third possibility was Chengal Pasir, or hopea sangal, but most of the Chengal trees were cleared during the construction of the military base.

The last Chengal Pasir tree in Singapore, standing at Halton Road and estimated to be more than 150 years old, was tragically chopped off without approval by a property company in 2002.

Selarang Barracks

Selarang Barracks Incident

In the mid-1930s, the British decided to reinforce Changi Garrison with the construction of a military camp at Loyang. It was named Selarang Barracks upon its completion in 1938 and was mainly used to house the infantry troops from Scotland. The camp, like others, fell into the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army when Singapore surrendered in 1942.

While the nearby Changi Prison was used to detain the British civilians, the Japanese used the Selarang and Roberts Barracks to imprison the Australian, Dutch and some of the British POWs. In early September 1942, four POWs were recaptured when they attempted to escape from the Changi Prison. In a bid to prevent such cases from occurring again, the Japanese wanted the POWs at Selarang Barracks to sign a “no escape” pledge, but was rejected by majority of the Allied forces’ POWs.

selarang barracks incident 1942As they had not signed the Geneva Convention, the Japanese had no qualms punishing and torturing the POWs. Under the orders of Lieutenant General Shimpei Fukuye, some 17,000 POWs were forced to gather at the parade square of the 800-capacity barracks. For four days, the POWs had to endure without sanitation and limited water supply. This was later known as the notorious “Selarang Barracks Incident” (other names include “Selarang Square Squeeze” or “Changi Incident”). At the same time, the four captured escapees were dragged to Changi Beach for execution.

The situation at Selarang Barracks’ parade square worsened by each day. The lack of food and water failed to break the POWs’ resistance, but the poor hygienic conditions caused diseases to spread, resulting in rising fatality. To prevent more losses of his men, senior Allied officer Colonel E. B. Holmes persuaded the POWs to sign the “no escape” pledge using false names. The rest of the POWs were eventually allowed to return to their respective barracks.

selarang camp old2

Camp’s Redevelopment

Selarang Barracks came under the British’s control again at the end of the Second World War. It was later used as a base by the Australian Army units from the ANZUK forces, before taken over by the SAF upon the withdrawal of the British military presence in 1971. The 42nd Battalion Singapore Armoured Regiment was housed at Selarang Camp until its retirement in 1984. In the same year, the 9th Singapore Division/Infantry made the camp their new home after six years at Tanglin’s Loewen Road Camp.

selarang camp old3

Demolition of the aging colonial buildings began in 1987. Due to the growing demands and expansion of the unit, the premises of the camp underwent an extensive $50-million redevelopment in 1991, adding new cookhouse, canteen, training centre and other facilities. The new Selarang Camp also welcomed the 9th Direct Support Maintenance Battalion (9 DSMB) as part of its family in the early nineties.

selarang camp

Most of the colonial buildings in Selarang Camp, including the three blocks at the parade square, were torn down in the 1987 redevelopment project. The only sole survivor is the double-storey block currently used by the 9 Div/Infantry as their headquarters, Officers’ Mess and heritage centre. For more than 70 years, it stands as testimony to Selarang’s colonial-to-modern transformation.

selarang camp4

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selarang camp2

The building was briefly used as a hospital by the Australian troops between 1942 and 1945, when Selarang Barracks became a POW camp. The stone signage hanged on the main entrance bears the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom and the initials “G.R.” (stands for George Rex) which refers to King George VI (1895-1952).

selarang camp3

The other remnant of Selarang Camp’s colourful colonial past is the Garrison Church Bell. The bell was originally mounted on a 30-foot tall structure as part of the Garrison Church, which was built in 1961 as a replacement for the St. Xavier Chapel. The former chapel had held a significant place in many British veterans’ hearts as it served as a place of solace by many POWs during the Japanese Occupation.

selarang camp7

The Garrison Church, however, was demolished in 1987 along with other colonial buildings at Selarang Camp as part of the camp’s redevelopment plans. The bell was then shifted to Sungei Gedong Camp, before it finally returned to its original site in July 1999. It is now mounted on a smaller structure that resembled the original design.

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selarang camp9

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The 9th Singapore Division underwent a transformation in January 1995. Joined by the Singapore Infantry Regiment, it became a full army unit supported by both active soldiers and the national servicemen. A new symbolic sculpture was created to commemorate the successful merger. The panther represents the 9th Singapore Division whereas the soldier with his M16 and bayonet is synonymous with the camp’s infantry history.

selarang camp8

Today, the parade square that had witnessed the horrific incident still exists but the surrounding buildings have been changed to the modern types. Over the years, many British veterans have paid their visits to the camp. To some, the memories and the emotional scars inflicted by the war years still linger after several decades.

Changi Murals

Block 151

The original Changi Murals are located at the three-storey Block 151 of Roberts Barracks, off Martlesham Road. There were once many similar blocks along the road, such as Block 126, 128, 131 and 144, which were utilised as stand-in operation theatre and sick bays for dysentery patients during the war. Most of them were torn down by the early 2000s, with only Block 151 and its murals preserved by Mindef. The building, however, is off-limit to the public except during special visits.

changi murals7

In the seventies and eighties, Block 151 was occupied by the SAF Boys’ School. The school was established by then Defence Minister, Dr Goh Keng Swee, in 1975 to take in 14- to 17-year-old teenagers, providing them with facilities in studying and training, and, later, the opportunity in joining the SAF as regular specialists and non-commissioned officers.

changi murals8

The school, however, was closed in 1984 due to the lack of premature school leavers. The intake had dropped to 140 from an average of 500 in its final two years. In the same year, a new recruitment concept, known as the SAF Education Centre, was launched. Its Learn-As-You-Earn (LAYE) Scheme provided studies, Basic Military Training and life-coping skills to promising young men who had chosen a regular combat specialist career. The education centre would last until December 2002.

changi murals5

Stanley Warren

Stanley Warren (1917-1992) was the artist of the famous Changi Murals. He was originally an painter before being posted to Malaya as a bombardier of the 15th Field Regiment Royal Artillery during the Second World War. When Singapore surrendered, Stanley Warren was imprisoned as a POW at Bukit Timah before being moved to Changi in a critically ill state.

Block 151 was used as a hospital and chapel for the POWs during that period, and despite being very sick, a religious Stanley Warren started his Christian-themed mural works, motivated by the encouragements from the chapel pastor and his imprisoned comrades, who risked their life in searching for the coloured materials used for the paintings.

changi murals2

The work on the first mural “The Nativity” started in October 1942, and was finished in time for Christmas that year. In the following seven months, a weak yet determined Stanley Warren continued another four pieces of art (“Ascension“, “Crucifixion“, “Last Supper” and “St. Luke in Prison“). By May 1943, the last mural “St. Luke in Prison” was completed.

The murals played an important role during the Second World War, as they gave hope to the Allied POWs, including Stanley Warren himself, through prayers and worships. The Japanese, however, soon discovered the wall murals and attempted to conceal them with layers of distemper. One mural was partially destroyed when a doorway to a larger office was built. Stanley Warren was subsequently transferred to Woodlands Hospital until the end of war.

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changi murals3

Stanley Warren returned to England after the war, believing that his works were destroyed by the Allied bombings. He continued his life as an art teacher at a school. In 1958, the murals were rediscovered by the RAF servicemen, and the investigations and search for the original artist were carried out. It took more than a year before Stanley Warren was finally identified.

changi murals

Plagued by the terrible memories of the war, Stanley Warren initially refused to come to Singapore. After much persuasion by the RAF, Stanley Warren eventually agreed to return for the restoration of the murals.

changi murals11He made three trips back to Singapore in December 1963, July 1982 and May 1988 for the restoration works. The work in 1982 was an extensive one. The officers and men from the SAF Boys’ School, which was occupying Robert Barracks during that period, was roped in to provide help to Stanley Warren.

Scaffolding were set up for the restoration works at the top portions of the walls. A bed was also placed inside the room for Stanley Warren to rest during breaks.

changi murals9

The fifth mural “St. Luke in Prison” was never restored as Stanley Warren lost his original sketch and could not remember the details. The original drawing was later discovered in 1985, owned by Stanley Warren’s former prison mate Wally Hammond, but by 1988, a 71-year-old Stanley Warren could only complete the restoration of the fourth mural. It was his third and last trip to Singapore.

changi murals4

When asked about his feelings and experiences about the war, Stanley Warren replied: “There is no problem that cannot be solved without war… I hope that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) would never have to find themselves firing the first shot in anger. War is never good.” In February 1992, Stanley Warren passed away in his home in England at an age of 75.

changi murals6

Fairy Point

Old Command HQ

The grand double-storey Neo-Classical-styled building standing at the top of Fairy Point Hill was constructed in 1935 as part of the Changi air and naval defence in the north-eastern front of Singapore. Housing the Royal Engineers, it overlooked the Kitchener Barracks built in the late 1920s around the Fairy Point area. In the sixties, the building was converted into an Officers’ Mess for the RAF personnel.

changi commando barracks2

After the withdrawal of the British in 1971, the building was briefly utilised as a venue of retreats and seminars by private companies and organisations. It was later taken back by the SAF to be their command headquarters. Now popularly known as the old Command HQ or former Commando Barracks, the dominant building was give the conservation status in 2002. The premises is now part of a hotel development at Fairy Point.

changi commando barracks3

Colonial Bungalows

They were once the residences of the senior British officers. Others were used as club houses. Built in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the group of colonial bungalows along Andover, Catterick and Luchars Roads formed part of the Kitchener Barracks meant for the Royal Engineers. Like Selarang and Roberts Barracks, Kitchener Barracks were captured by the Japanese as POW camp during the war.

changi fairy point chalet2

The refurbished bungalows at Fairy Point now belong to the resort group Aloha Changi, and are available for rentals as venues of wedding, family parties or company retreats. The group also owns some of the other colonial bungalows scattered around Biggin Hill, Cranwell, Netheravon and Halton Roads.

changi fairy point chalet

Johore Battery

changi historic area 1942-2002Monster Guns

Installed in 1938 as part of the coastal defence of Singapore, the Johore Battery was once deemed formidable with its three huge 15-inch naval guns supported by a network of ammunition storage tunnels. The battery got its name from Johor Sultan’s £400,000 monetary gift to the British to install the guns.

The three “Monster Guns” were placed in a straight line facing the southeastern direction along the coast. The coast has since been reclaimed and extended, forming the runways of Changi Airport today. Two of the big guns had firing arcs of 270°, and could be turned in the opposite directions, whereas the third one could only fire out to the sea. All three, however, were proved ineffective during the war.

The Johore Battery was also supported by four smaller 6-inch guns installed at Changi Battery, Beting Kusah Battery, Changi Outer (Palm) A.T.M.B. Battery and Changi Inner (School) A.T.M.B. Battery. All the guns were controlled by the Changi Fire Command located at the top of Changi Hill. Ammunition was delivered from the pier at Fairy Point by the railway, but the tracks were heavily damaged during the beginning of the war.

johore battery

Demolitions

When Singapore fell, the three 15-inch guns were destroyed by the British to prevent them falling into the hands of the Japanese. Despite their return after the war, Johore Battery was never rebuilt. The emplacement remains of the second gun were removed when the RAF airfield was further developed in 1948. The third gun remnants were demolished during the massive land reclamations in 1975 catered for the development of Changi International Airport.

The ammunition storage tunnels of the first gun remained sealed until their rediscovery in 1991 by the personnel from the Singapore Prisons Department (now Singapore Prison Service). A replica of Johore Battery was built in 2002 at the original site of the first gun.

Other Landmarks

Changi Prison (Former)

The last of the four prisons to be built by the British, the Changi Prison was completed and operationalised in 1936 as a maximum-security civilian prison. When it fell into the Japanese’s hands during the Second World War, the prison acted as the headquarters of the notorious Kempeitai. It was also used to house 3,000 British civilians living in Singapore, five times the 600-capacity of the prison.

changi prison 1960s

Several chapels were built by the POWs during the occupation. In 1988, a replica of the Old Changi Prison Chapel and Museum was commissioned by the Singapore government to remember those who had suffered and died during the darkest period in the country’s history. It was later replaced by the Changi Museum in 2001.

In 2004, the old Changi Prison was demolished and replaced by a new state-of-the-art prison facility. Its iconic entrance gateway, formerly known as the Gaol Gates, was retained and reinstalled at the new Changi Prison.

Changi Hospital (Old)

The British built the Royal Air Force (RAF) Hospital in 1935 with the primary objective to serve the Royal Engineers, Royal Artillery and the Gordon Highlanders stationed at the Kitchener, Robert and Selarang Barracks respectively.

In the next 60 years, the hospital experienced several ups and downs. After being occupied by the Japanese as a prison camp, it was returned to the British at the end of the war, and was later converted into an ANZUK hospital in 1971 to serve the Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom military personnel.

old changi hospital2

old changi hospital

The Singapore government took over the hospital in 1975, and renamed it as the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Hospital. A year later, it became known as Changi Hospital after its merger with the nearby Changi Chalet Hospital. Its operations lasted until 1997 after which the hospital was vacated till today. It would later become the infamous Old Changi Hospital which many Singaporeans are familiar of due to its fair share of supernatural stories.

Hendon Cluster

The British built their administrative buildings at Hendon Road between 1930 and 1936. The blocks of 35, 36 and 42, in particular, played important roles in the colonial history of Changi.

The 35- and 36-numbered blocks functioned as the Far East Air Force Headquarters after the war, housing both the RAF Malaya and Singapore. RAF Changi became the central focus of military operations, especially during the Malayan Emergency years, when its squadrons were heavily involved in the anti-communist operations. Meanwhile, Block 42 served as the post-war headquarters of the Royal Engineers, which had largely contributed to the development of Changi in the 1920s and 1930s.

hendon road blocks

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The Hendon cluster consists of about nine colonial buildings, all of which have been left empty since the late 1990s. Their current owner SLA has put up a number of the buildings for lease and redevelopment into hotels, spa boutiques, restaurants and sports facilities.

hendon road blocks3

Biggin Hill Blocks

The twin blocks of 52 and 53 at Biggin Hill were built as early as 1928, serving as the quarters for the married soldiers. Other blocks, intended for the unmarried military personnel, were completed at a much later time, in around mid-1930s.

Biggin Hill held a significant place in the hearts of some war veterans as it was the site of the “Changi University”, a makeshift university founded in 1942 by a group of scholars from Raffles College and other institutions. They provided seven faculties of courses to some 2,000 prisoners-of-war undergraduates locked in Changi. Using books and materials from other libraries, the lectures were conducted for a short six months before the university was forcefully shut down by the Japanese. After its closure, the majority of the lecturers and students were sent to Siam (now Thailand) for forced labour. Many of them died and did not return.

biggin hill blocks

biggin hill blocks2

The blocks are currently being used as part of a nursing home called Orange Valley.

Civil Service Club

One of the oldest buildings at Changi, the club bungalow was built in the early 20th century by wealthy Jewish businessman Sir Manasseh Meyer (1843-1930), who contributed much of his wealth to the society, especially the Jewish community in Singapore. His Changi bungalow was purchased by the British in 1933 to be served as a school for the families of the military personnel stationed in the vicinity.

changi civil service club

During the Japanese Occupation, the building, like many others in Changi, was used to house some of the POWs. After the war, it became a transit hotel for the RAF pilots, before being converted into a clubhouse today. The Civil Service Club is currently undergoing an intensive renovation.

The Turnhouse

The Art Deco-styled single-storey building called The Turnhouse was built by the British in 1934, possibly for recreational purposes. The road leading to it was called Turnhouse Road, named after the building itself. Since 2007, it has been leased to Ponggol Choon Seng, a famous seafood restaurant best remembered for its extremely popular outlet at the old Punggol Jetty in the eighties.

the turnhouse

Manston Road Blocks

The three similar triple-storey blocks of 79, 80 and 81 were built in 1938 around the out-of-bound Manston Road. Consisted of infant school, junior school and a publication centre, the area was well designated for the families of the RAF personnel in the sixties.

The blocks are now used by the Singapore Technologies (ST) Logistics and 708 Squadron.

changi air base block 79

changi air base block 80

Changi Air Base Medical Centre (Former)

Located at a gentle slope beside Digby Road, the three single-storey blocks numbered 137, 137A and 137B were built in 1941, as indicated on the facade of the main block. The premises used to serve as the Roberts Barracks’ dental centre and station sick quarters during the sixties.

changi air base medical centre

Little information was known about the functionality of the buildings between the early seventies, after the withdrawal of the British forces, and the mid-nineties, but the premises was reused and officially reopened as the Changi Air Base Medical Centre in June 1996. This last until the 2000s when it was vacated and abandoned.

changi air base medical centre2

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The forgotten buildings rapidly fell into disrepair after a couple of years, gradually being taken over by nature as the overgrown greenery creeps their way onto the pavements and corridors. Leftover medical items, fallen trays and dilapidated furniture could still be found inside the rooms.

Today, Digby Road appears quiet and serene, constantly lying under the shadows cast by the thick canopies of the trees on both flanks of the streets. The trees, no matter how tall they grow, can no longer match the height of the legendary Changi Tree that once stood proudly nearby.

changi air base medical centre4

Changi Village Road

First existed as a long unmetalled muddy track in the early 20th century, the road was the only accessible path between the city and the old Changi Village. It was later named Changi Road when the vicinity was being developed into a military base in the 1930s. The road was over 8km long, spanning between present-day Expo and the new Changi Village. Changi Road was renamed as Changi Village Road in the eighties, and a portion of it was absorbed into Changi Air Base in the early 2000s and became restricted to public access.

changi village road

The old Changi Road 14th milestone is now the junction of Changi Village Road and Loyang Avenue, where the Sree Ramar Temple stands.

Sree Ramar Temple

Sree Ramar Temple started as a small shrine under a tree in its present site. Ram Naidu, a personnel from the British Indian Army, managed to secure the land from the British in 1946 to build a permanent temple called Raman Temple. It was dedicated to Hindu deity Rama, and the temple became popular with the Indian workers of RAF. Facing the east and overlooking the sea, it was believed that the temple acted as the guardian of the village. Almost forced to relocate in the 1980s, the temple managed to secure its premises through the appeals by its devotees. Today, it becomes a part of Changi’s rich heritage.

sree ramar temple

Heritage Tour Map

changi heritage tour map v2

Some of the colonial buildings left behind the British in the Changi vicinity were demolished in the past years. Most are left intact, although many have been vacated and abandoned for many years. In recent years, there are many development plans drawn for this vicinity. While it may look beneficial to turn the buildings into commercial entities such as hotels or boutiques, it is also important to seek a balance between redevelopment and preservation.

(Editor’s Note: Appreciation to Mindef for the heritage tour around Selarang Camp and Changi Air Base West organised on 14 September 2013)

Published: 20 September 2013

Posted in Historic | 24 Comments

Kampong Spirit and Gotong Royong

The phrase “kampong spirit” has been mentioned frequently in recent years, especially in the media or used by the community leaders in their speech. Another phrase “gotong royong“, a term widely used in the sixties and seventies but relatively unknown to the younger generations, is also occasionally making its rounds, most notably by current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a book launch at Kampong Radin Mas early this month.

Definition of Gotong Royong

So what is gotong royong? Originated from Indonesia, the phrase is translated into English as “cooperation in a community” or “communal helping of one another”, but the closet interpretation is perhaps “mutual aid”. Gotong royong involves the spirit of volunteerism, and working together for the benefits of the residents living in the same community. It promoted a selfless approach that proved beneficial to the building up of cultural identity among the people.

gotong royong at kembangan 1971

Community Spirit in Other Countries

In other parts of the world, the promotion of community spirit has been a social policy for many governments. It takes on many names such as gadugi (Native American), talkoot (Finnish), bayanihan (Filipino), harambee (Kenyan), imece (Turkish) and meitheal (Irish). For centuries, the dream of building an idealistic society, otherwise known as the utopia, was heavily sought after, but often resulted in catastrophic failure when the method used was too extreme. China’s state policy (in 1958) of a peoples’ commune, where everything from kitchens and tables to farms and food were shared and distributed among the people, was one of the examples.

national servicemen kampong clearance 1971

In Southeast Asia, nationalism was on the rise after the Second World War. Indonesia’s first president Sukarno actively pursued the idea of gotong royong as a way of Indonesian life in a newly-independent nation. In Malaysia, gotong royong was embraced as part of a collaborative practice in the Malay traditions and customs, and was even determined as one of the important socio-economic values in its National Cultural Policy in 1973.

Gotong Royong in Singapore

Singapore of the sixties and seventies provided the ideal environment for the growth of the spirit of gotong royong. Fresh from independence, Singapore was struggling with its economy and national identity.

singapore poly freshmen gotong royong 1967

The horrors of bus strikes and school riots appeared vivid in the people’s minds, and the racial tension was still high. The rural areas, though, were relatively more peaceful and harmonious. Residents living in multi-racial villages continued to look out for each others in the turbulent years.

The kampong spirit was more than just little aspects of daily life such as borrowing a few pinch of salt and a couple of eggs or sharing a dish. The neighbours were able to share and help out one another based on trust and friendship, forging bonds and strong ties within the community.

gotong royong by national youth leadership training institute 1970s

Gotong royong, on the other hand, was promoted through the voluntary works by the national servicemen, students and committee members, that included clearing paths, paving roads, filling up potholes and repairing houses that were damaged by thunderstorms or floods. The filth and stench might put off, but majority of the volunteers would be touched by the overwhelming appreciation and gratitude shown by the kampong residents.

Time Changes

As Singapore began to ramp up its public housings and new townships in the late seventies, many residents living in the kampongs were resettled at the new HDB flats. The government tried to encourage the practice of neighbourhood watch, as the flat owners now lived closely to one another, shared by the long common corridors. It could be considered an alternate form of community spirit, but even so, the spirit was gradually diluting as time passed.

Dubbed as one of the four Asian tigers (or little dragons), Singapore was enjoying its high growth and economic success in the eighties and nineties. The standard living of an average Singapore family improved, and a younger generation of competitive Singaporeans began to pursue the so-called materialistic 5C dream (Cash, Car, Credit card, Condominium and Country club membership). Long hours of work resulted in lesser interactions between neighbours; every family became contended to live in their cozy worlds behind closed doors.

As Singapore entered into the new millennium, the society geared up its competitive nature and focused more on results and profits. This did create a more efficient system, but it also widened the gaps between the people. More became self-centred and individualistic. The massive influx of foreigners further divided the society. For the first time since independence, Singapore’s own unique culture and identity, forged and strengthened through decades of nation building, faced the risks of dilution.

We will then have to ask ourselves: can the kampong spirit and gotong royong spirit be truly revived again?

Published: 17 September 2013

Posted in Nostalgic | 5 Comments