Yan Kit Road
Yan Kit Road, a one-way street, connects Craig Road to Cantonment Road. Named after a noted Dentist Look Yan Kit, it lies in the Central Business District and is also a part of Chinatown. It was considered a safe residential area in the late 19th and early 20th century when its surrounding roads were mired in infamy.
Look Yan Kit, a Cantonese dentist trained in Hong Kong came to Singapore in 1877 and soon became a wealthy and popular figure with a rich clientele. He owned two rubber plantations and 70 houses and was one of the founding fathers of the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital constructed in 1910. Yan Kit Swimming Pool along the road is also named after Look Yan Kit. It was the oldest and smallest public swimming pool in Singapore until it was redeveloped into an Olympic size pool in the late 1990s. Located opposite to the Tanjong Pagar Community Centre, it is currently a part of a National Trades Union Congress's club house.
The road begins with the Poo Thor Jee Temple, a Buddhist temple housing the Buddhist Free Clinic within its premises. Running next to it is a portion of the Duxton Plain Park, a beautiful and well landscaped park measuring almost 1 hectare in size that was established before World War II to serve as a railway reserve. Lying opposite to it is the Vanda Miss Joaquim Park, named after the National flower of Singapore, Vanda Miss Joaquim. Many pre-war shophouses on this street were sold in the late 1990s to a property developer to pave way for new development. In its place today stands a private residential complex. Lined with residential units, shops, eating places, shops and commercial centres today, Yan Kit Road was one of the few roads of Chinatown that enjoyed a similar safe and quiet atmosphere during the late 19th and early 20th century. Though located in the part of Chinatown with a notorious reputation, mainly because other roads near it such as Craig road earned infamy due to its lowly settlers, Yan Kit Road however was considered a secure residential place. Lower middle class homes lined the street then and the street was mainly accessed through the Cantonment Road end avoiding the seedy areas of Duxton Road and Craig Road.
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore (p. 330). Singapore: Who's Who Publications.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN)
Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2003). Toponymics: A study of Singapore street names (p. 413). Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
(Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV)
Lim, S. J. (1995, November 17). Branching through the island. The Straits Times, Life, p. 3.
RDC unit buys property for $26.5m. (1997, January 10). The Straits Times, Money, p. 79.
Yan Kit Road was a relatively safe locality. (1997, December 23). The Straits Times, Forum, p. 34.
Tan, B. H. (1989, April 5 ). The pioneers of Tanjong Pagar. The Straits Times, Land Preservation, p. 5.
Come discover this quiet Chinatown park. (1998, December 16). The Straits Times, Forum, p. 47.
The information in this article is valid as at 2003 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.
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