Robinson Road


Robinson Road is a street in the Downtown Core of the Central Area, stretching from Maxwell Road to Finlayson Green. It is a significant part of Singapore's commercial centre. It was named after Sir Francis William Robinson, Governor of the Straits Settlements (1877 - 1879). His administration was noted for the Water Works Department and the opening of the Tanjong Pagar Docks.

In exchange for land at Mount Palmer (now Tanjong Pagar) to build a defence battery, the government built Robinson Road, stretching from Collyer Quay to the docks, between Finalyson Green and Anson Road. Robinson Road sits on reclaimed land but has moved some distance from the sea as more land was reclaimed later. Robinson Road was perhaps built between 1882-1884 and could have opened for the public a few years later. By 1900, despite the presence and size of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company nearby, Robinson Road (and Cecil Street for that mater) was hardly developed. 

Sited along the road are fine examples of architecture built in the 1920s and 1930s including the former curved Telecoms Building which was previously known as the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company (1927), and later Cable and Wireless Building serving as the companys headquarters.  The Telecoms Building was known as Telecommunications Authority of Singapore (TAS) Building before becoming The Ogilvy Centre today.   Another revival in the area is the Lau Pa Sat (formerly the Telok Ayer Market), which is a fully restored and preserved monument and was renamed so in 1989.  On this road also, for years the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had its headquarters, and so did the Chinese daily, Sin Chew Jit Poh. Crosby House, a seven-storey office complex, is still a landmark at the corner of McCallum Street.  It was the former home of Standard Chartered Bank before it was acquired by Singapore Telecom, which had turned it into its headquarters by April 1989.  In December 2002, SingPost sold Crosby House to SingTel.

Today the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Building and the Singapore Airlines Building are among the newer developments here. The Robinson Road Park Garden adds the breath of greenery in the midst of the concrete jungle.

Variant Names
Chinese names:
(1) In Hokkien, known as Heng-liong koi and its Cantonese parallel, Heng-lung kai, referring to "Chop Heng Long", the stamp belonging to Lok Yu, a well-known towkay who operated along this street.
(2) In Cantonese, it was transliterated to lo-man-san kai or "Robinson Street".

Vernon Cornelius

Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore (p. 265). Singapore: Who's Who Publications.  
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN)

Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1996). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places (p. 456) Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 EDW)

Samuel, D. S. (1939). Malayan street names: What they mean and whom they commemorate (p. 135). Ipoh: Mercantile Press
(Call no.: RSING 959.5 RAJ)

Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then and now (p. 134). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)

Wong, Y-S. (n.d.)
Captain Whalleys Walk. Retrieved August 5, 2005, from's%20walk.doc

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
Streets and Places
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings

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