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Johnston’s Pier is completed Mar 1856

Johnston’s Pier, which was located opposite Fullerton Square at Collyer Quay, was completed in March 1856.[1] It was named after Alexander Laurie Johnston, a Scottsman who had arrived in Singapore at around the same time as Sir Stamford Raffles. Johnston was one of early Singapore’s most prominent businessmen, and established the first merchant firm, A. L. Johnston & Co., on the island in 1820.[2] The red beacons placed above the pier led many local Chinese of Hokkien origin to name the pier ang teng beh tau (literally “red lantern harbour” or “red lantern landing place”). The pier was also known as Lampu merah in Malay (“red lamp”).[3]

By the 1920s, the pier could no longer handle the increased traffic from ships.[4] In June 1933, Johnston’s Pier was closed and the red beacons transferred to a new pier named Clifford Pier, which was located opposite Change Alley a short distance away.[5] Many European residents and merchants, including members of the Straits Settlements (Singapore) Association, were unhappy over the decision by then Governor of the Straits Settlements Sir Cecil Clementi to name the new pier after Sir Hugh Clifford, his predecessor (1927–1929), and wanted Johnston’s name reinstated. However, their protests fell on deaf ears.[6] Johnston’s Pier was demolished by November 1935, shortly after Clifford Pier opened.[7]

References
1. [Untitled]. (1856, April 8). The Straits Times, p. 6; A glimpse into the colourful past of the Red Lamp Pier. (2004, January 26). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. [Some sources state that the pier was completed in 1855.]
2. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore (pp. 63, 615). Singapore: Oxford University Press. Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC; [Untitled]. (1855, March 6). The Straits Times, p. 5; The Straits Times, 8 Apr 1856, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; About Singapore. (1935, March 28). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. How should Chinese street names be translated into Chinese? (1935, July 14). The Sunday Times, p. 4; Pier lights. (1933, June 2). The Straits Times, p. 3; Johnston’s Pier. (1932, August 30). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Modern pier for Singapore. (1929, October 23). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Sir Hugh Clifford: Name given to new Singapore pier. (1932, June 11). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 8; Permanently closed!: Fate of Johnston’s Pier. (1933, June 2). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 8; The new pier. (1933, July 22). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 13; The Straits Times, 2 Jun 1933, p. 3; The Straits Times, 29 Oct 1929, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Protests against renaming pier. (1932, August 10). The Straits Times, p. 12; No reason why it should be Johnston’s Pier: Governor refuses to alter decision. (1932, August 11). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 14; The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 11 Jun 1932, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Johnston’s Pier dies hard. (1935, April 22). The Straits Times, p. 11; Johnston’s Pier goes under – but not far under. (1935, November 24). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

 

The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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