Merchant Road connects New Bridge Road and Clemenceau Avenue. At Merchant Road's junction with Keng Cheow Street, it bifurcates into 4 one-way roads. Two roads lead into highways, while the other two connect Clemenceau Avenue and Eu Tong Sen Street.
Merchant Road used to connect New Bridge Road to Merchant Lane. .The road was originally called "Theatre Street" to describe the clustering of Chinese opera houses and its regular streetside performances in that area. It was renamed Merchant Road when many merchants congregated and lived around the area. Merchant Lane, officially named so in 1934 for similar reason, was removed by upgrading works in the 1990s. Subsequently, Merchant Road was given its present form and longer structure, which stretched from New Bridge Road to Clemenceau Avenue.
The most popular features of the road, when it was still Theatre Street, were the former Thong Chai Medical Institution built in 1892, and a small hawker-cum-market centre located here in the early 20th century. The Thong Chai Medical Institution, located at the junction of Merchant Road and Eu Tong Sen Street, is a landmark building from old Singapore. Chinese immigrants frequented this medical centre to get free medical treatment. The hawker-cum-market centre was razed down during redevelopment work that followed later. The Read Bridge, a pedestrian bridge in the vicinity of Merchant Road, connecting South Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, succeeded Merchant Bridge, a shorter structure, in the late 1880s. The Read Bridge was named after William Henry Macleod Read, a businessman and a popular public figure. Read Crescent Park is enclosed by the semi-circular Read Crescent, a short road, and it borders on Merchant Road on one side. A carpark is located opposite to this park. Behind the carpark are Masjid Omar Kampong Melaka and the Ministry of Manpower.
During the 1990s' upgrading work, the Urban Redevelopment Authority put up many sites on Merchant Road for sale. Most of the buildings on this road therefore were developed in the 1990s including the Merchant Court Hotel, Riverside Piazza, Merchant Square and Riverside point. Being in the vicinity of the Promenade and Boat Quay which are popular food alleys, Merchant Road too contributes to the gourmet atmosphere by the presence of restaurants and eating places found along the road.
(1) In Hokkien Sin koi-a khau and in Cantonese san kai hau, both meaning "new street mouth". Chin Hin Street, now deleted, used to connect to Merchant Road. Chin Hin street was referred to as a new street because of its recent construction then.
(2) In Hokkien Sin koi-a khau hi-hng koi means "the theatre street at the mouth of the little new street", a reference to the Chinese opera houses that were found there.
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore (pp. 86-87, 209). Singapore: Who's Who Publications.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN)
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places (pp. 401, 409, 503). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 EDW)
Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2003). Toponymics: A study of Singapore street names (p. 263). Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
(Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV)
Firmstone, H. W. (1905, January). Chinese names of streets and places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 4, 108,109.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5 FIR-[IC])
Number of completed private homes hit record high in February. (1993, April 9). The Straits Times, p. 44.
Tan, C. (1992, December 1). $120 m scheme to make it more pleasant to walk. The Straits Times, p. 3.
URA offers Merchant Road's 'Hakuei site' for sale again. (1993, May 28). The Straits Times, p. 48.
Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then and now (pp. 26-27). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)
Chin, S., & Tan, C. (1993, April 20). S'pore River waiting for new lease of life. The Straits Times, p. 25.
The information in this article is valid as at 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.
Places of interest
Streets and Places
Recreation>>Places of Interest
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings