Albert Street



Albert Street, located in the Rochor area, begins from the junction of Queen Street and New Bugis Street and ends at Selegie Road. It was named after Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria of England.1 Hindus have performed the annual firewalking ceremony of Theemithi on this street until the ritual was moved to the Sri Mariamman Temple in 1840.2

History
Albert Street forms junctions with Waterloo Street, Bencoolen Street, Prinsep Street and Short Street. In March 1858, the municipal commissioners of Singapore named the street in honour of Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria of England.3 Prior to this, the street was just an unnamed side road located between Selegie Street and Waterloo Street that led to Rochor Road.4 Theemithi, the Hindu firewalking ceremony was originally performed on this street because of the street's proximity to Serangoon Road and the presence of a large Indian community. The ritual was later moved to the Sri Mariamman Temple on South Bridge Road in 1840.5 In the early days, the street was a part of Kampong Bencoolen, an enclave of Muslims from Bencoolen, Sumatra.6


Albert Street was originally lined with two-storey shophouses, and was famous for its Chinese restaurants, bars, medicine shops and food stalls.7 The most sought after eatery along this street was the Wing Seong Restaurant, commonly called Fatty's Restaurant. It moved to Albert Complex in 1986.8 Albert Street has been converted into a pedestrian mall and is no longer open to vehicular traffic. The Bugis-Rochor area is now an arts and entertainment hub.9

Key features
Such is the fame of Albert Street that many of its buildings have taken on the name of the street. The Albert Court Hotel is made of pre-war conservation shophouses and features Peranakan interior décor and furniture.10 Albert Court is a mall made up of two rows of 30 refurbished shophouses, most of them eateries.11 The 20-storey Burlington Square, which comprises an office building, retail space and three residential towers, stands at the junction of Albert and Bencoolen streets.12

Other commercial buildings on Albert Street include Sim Lim Square, Fu Lu Shou Complex and Albert Centre.13

Variant Names14
Chinese names:
(1) Kam kong mang ku lu (Hokkien) or “Kampong Bencoolen”  which means "Bencoolen Village".
(2) Ba mua lu koi (Hokkien) which means “the street where sesame seeds are squeezed for their oil”.
(3) Mo ma-yau kai (Cantonese) or “grind oil of sesamum street” which means “the street where oil is expressed from sesamum”.

Tamil name: Thimiri thidal which means “the place where people tread on fire”.



Author

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja



References
1. Samuel, D. S. (1991). Singapore's heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Elixir Consultancy Service, p. 231. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM)
2. Sanmugam, E., et al. (Eds.). (2009). Sacred sanctuary: The Sri Mariamman Temple. Singapore: Sri Mariamman Temple, p. 15. (Call no.: RSING 294.535095957 SAC); Leong, W. K. (1998, October 8). Walking on fire for his dead parents. The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013).  Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV)
4. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore (Vol. II). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 667. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
5. Sanmugam, E., et al. (Eds.). (2009). Sacred sanctuary: The Sri Mariamman Temple. Singapore: Sri Mariamman Temple, p. 15. (Call no.: RSING 294.535095957 SAC); Leong, W. K. (1998, October 8). Walking on fire for his dead parents. The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV)
7. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 282. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 EDW); Samuel, D. S. (1991). Singapore's heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Elixir Consultancy Service, p. 231. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM)
8. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013).Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV); Pereira, A. (1986, March 30). Fatty passes his wok to Skinny after 47 years. The Straits Times, p. 1; Fernandez, M. (1986, November 1). New $35-million shopping centre. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Fernandez, M. (1986, November 1). New $35-million shopping centre. The Straits Times, p. 12; Williams, A. (1995, September 9). Bugis-Rochor area to be arts, entertainment hub. The Straits Times, p. 48; Yeo, S. (1996, October 1996). Yippee! No cars, but what about business? The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. New hotel sports '30s style. (1995, July 20). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Sit, Y. F. (1995, November 27). Albert Court? Where's that? The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Rashiwala, K. (1998, July 2). Wing Tai set to launch Burlington Sq project. The Straits Times, p. 63. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Fernandez, M. (1986, November 1). New $35-million shopping centre. The Straits Times, p. 12; Lim, S. N. (1983, December 30). New shopping belt at Rochor Road area. The Business Times, p. 2; Lim, S. N. (1982, December 28). Another project from Goldhill Developments. The Business Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013).Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 282. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 EDW); Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who's Who Publications, p. 3. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN); 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, 53–208, pp. 54–55. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS); Sagittarius. (1933, July 9). Singapore street names. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as 2003 and correct as far as we can 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
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
Streets and Places
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places

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