Robinson Road



A significant part of Singapore’s commercial centre,1 Robinson Road stretches from Maxwell Road to Finlayson Green.2 The street was named after Francis William Robinson, the governor of the Straits Settlements from 1877 to 1879.3

History
Robinson Road was built on reclaimed land after the 1879 Telok Ayer reclamation project, but its distance from the sea has increased as more land was reclaimed subsequently.4 The government constructed Robinson Road – stretching from Collyer Quay to the docks at Tanjong Pagar – between Finalyson Green and Anson Road, in exchange for land to build a defence battery on Mount Palmer (now part of Tanjong Pagar).5

Description
For years, the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department and Chinese daily Sin Chew Jit Poh were located on Robinson Road.6

Crosby House, a seven-storey office complex, is a landmark at the corner of Robinson Road and McCallum Street. The office complex used to be owned by the Standard Chartered Bank and later by Singtel.7 In 2006, Singtel sold the property to joint-venture group Kajima-Lehman (Robinson) Development Pte Ltd.8

Buildings along Robinson Road include architecture built in the 1920s and 1930s, such as the curved Telecoms Building – previously known as the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company (1927) and then Cable and Wireless Building.9 The Telecoms Building was renamed Telecommunications Authority of Singapore Building and later became Ogilvy Centre.10 The building now houses the five-star hotel, So Sofitel Singapore.11

Another historical building in the vicinity is Lau Pa Sat (former Telok Ayer Market). A fully restored and preserved monument, the market was renamed Lau Pa Sat in 1989.12

Today, skyscrapers such as Robinson Point, Capital Tower and AIA Tower can be found along Robinson Road.13

Variant names
Heng-liong koi in Hokkien and heng-lung kai in Cantonese: referring to the business Chop Heng Long, which belonged to Lok Yu, a well-known towkay (“businessman” in Hokkien) who operated along Robinson Road.14

Lo-man-san kai: transliteration of “Robinson Street” in Cantonese.15



Author

Vernon Cornelius



References
1. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2011, June 28). URA launches tender for commercial site at Robinson Road/Cecil Street [News release]. Retrieved 2017, March 2 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: https://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/media-room/news/2011/jun/pr11-80
2. URA. (n.d.). URA Space. Retrieved 2017, March 2 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: https://www.ura.gov.sg/maps/
3. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 134. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Raja-Singam, S. D. (1939). Malayan street names: What they mean and whom they commemorate. Ipoh: The Mercantile Press, p. 135. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.5 RAJ)
4. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 134. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); National Heritage Board. (2015, October 24). View of Robinson Road at the junction of Cross Street. Retrieved 2017, April 9 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/learn/collections/listing/xxxx-00159
5. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 134. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Raja-Singam, S. D. (1939). Malayan street names: What they mean and whom they commemorate. Ipoh: The Mercantile Press, p. 135. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.5 RAJ)
6. Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). (1950, February 7). Workmen ‘fortifying’ headquarter of Singapore Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Robinson Road with metal gates as part of Singapore police security measures to provide all police stations with metal ‘aprons’ [Photograph]; Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). (1959, August 22). Robinson Road, Singapore, where Sin Chew Jit Poh is located [Photograph]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
7. Telecoms buys Crosby House for $30m. (1985, August 16). The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore Post. (2003). SingPost annual report 2002/03, p. 22. Retrieved 2017, March 2 from Singapore Post website: http://www.singpost.com/sites/default/files/SingPost%20Annual%20Report%202002-03_0.pdf

8. Tan, C. (2006, October 23). SingTel sells Robinson Rd site for $163m. The Business Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 134. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 456. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
10. A neo-classical home for TAS. (1993, February 9). The Business Times, p. 24; Lin, J. (2012, May 25). Preserving history. The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. So Sofitel Singapore. (n.d.). Oh so heritage: An iconic building. Retrieved 2017, April 17 from So Sofitel Singapore website: http://www.sofitel-so-singapore.com/heritage/
12. National Heritage Board. (2015, December 8). Former Telok Ayer Market (now known as Lau Pa Sat). Retrieved 2017, March 2 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-telok-ayer-market-now-known-as-lau-pa-sat
13. URA. (n.d.). URA Space. Retrieved 2017, March 2 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: https://www.ura.gov.sg/maps/
14. Firmstone, H. W. (1905). Chinese names of streets and places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, pp. 124–125. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)
15. Firmstone, H. W. (1905). Chinese names of streets and places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, pp. 124–125. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)



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.

Subject
Street names--Singapore
Urbanization--Singapore
Streets and Places
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings