Flint Street

Flint Street, in the downtown core within the central area, was named after Captain William Flint, the brother-in-law of Sir Stamford Raffles and Singapore's first Harbour-Master Attendant. The original Flint Street was renamed Prinsep Street according to the Municipal Council resolution of 8 March 1858. The current Flint Street was probably named before 1862, and it still stands today, stretching from Battery Road to Boat Quay.

Tanjong Tangkap was a popular reference given by merchants to the godowns of Alexander Laurie Johnston & Co., which was set up in 1820. Named so, because the godowns were the nearest to the river mouth and Johnston could catch the merchant captains for trade as soon as they sailed in. Tanjong Tangkap remained until 1848 when it was replaced by the Flints Buildings.

The Flints Buildings, a long rambling building standing at the corner of Battery Road, comprised a mass of houses that belonged to the Flint family.  Next to Cavenagh Bridge there used to be a famous lunchtime spot called the Emmerson's Tiffin Rooms.  Established in 1866 and occupying part of Flints Buildings, the Tiffin Rooms was owned by Charles Emmerson
(d. 1883) who first came to Singapore in 1860 as a vet (the first in the island). The Tiffin Rooms was very popular especially on Saturday afternoons and frequented by ships officers and others who dealt with the sea. Also a hotelier, Emmerson managed the Clarendon Hotel on Beach Road.  Emmerson's Tiffin Rooms also gained popularity for being the haunt of writer Joseph Conrad when he was in Singapore between 1833 and 1888.

The Flints Buildings, which also housed James Motion Jeweller, Watchmaker and Optician, was pulled down after a fire seriously damaged it in 1906.  It was replaced in 1910 by a block of office buildings belonging to the Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co, and within it was a three-storey department store called Whiteaways which was popular for shopping in the 1950s and 1960s.  In 1942, Maybank took over the building and named it Malayan Banking Chambers. In 1965, three more storeys were added to the building and it was renamed the Malayan Bank Chambers, or May Bank Chambers.  This building was demolished in 1998 to herald in the new 32-storey Maybank Tower.

Right opposite of Maybank Tower is the 18-storey Bank of China which has been there since 1954 and was one of the region's first skyscrapers and Singapore' s first building to be air-conditioned. Another bank, the Chartered Bank, had its premises in Battery Road on the corner of Flint Street from 1895 until 1904.

Variant names
Chinese names: 
(1) In Hokkien, tho kho bue.
(2) In Cantonese, the-fu me means "the end of the godowns", as Flint Street marked the end of the godowns stretch on Boat Quay.

Vernon Cornelius

Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819-1867 (pp. 667, 689, 690). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC)

Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places (pp. 285, 415, 416). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 EDW)

Sheppard, M. (Ed.). (1982). Singapore 150 years (p. 212). Singapore: Times Books International: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.
(Call No.: RSING 959.57 SIN)

Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then and now ( p.116). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)

Further readings
Raja, S. S. D. (1980). Place-names in Peninsular Malaysia (p. 105). Kuala Lumpur: Archipelago Publishers.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5 RAJ) 

Firmstone, H. W. (1905, February). Chinese names of streets and places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42, 88.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5 FIR-[IC])

The information in this article is valid as at 1999 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.

Street names--Singapore
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