Coleman Street


Coleman Street

 

Coleman Street, street, part of Singapore city's original town is located in the Downtown Core section within the Central area, and stretches from Armenian Street to St. Andrews Road. It was named after G. D. Coleman, the first architect in Singapore, Overseer of Convicts, and Superintendent of Public Works and topographical surveyor. Coleman's House stood along this street, and was later named after him. Since then, many notable buildings have arisen along this street including four hotels.

George Drumgoole Coleman (b. 1795, Ireland - d. 27 March 1844, Singapore) was Singapore's first architect and adviser to Raffles. He was responsible for the draft layout of Singapore Town, published in 1822. He was later made the first Overseer of Convicts and Superintendent of Public Works. In these capacities, he saw to the construction of many main roads and prominent public and private buildings. His extensive topographical survey of Singapore in 1829 led to one of Singapore's earliest known maps printed in 1836. He designed the first St. Andrew's Church.


In the 19th century, the street included landmark buildings such as Coleman's house, which was a two-storey brick house (14,500 sq ft with three large bedrooms) at 3 Coleman Street.  Coleman built the house in 1829 for his personal residence.  Coleman became ill in 1841 and on the advice of his doctor left Singapore for more temperate locations on 25 July 1841. When Coleman was away, his house was leased to Frenchman Gaston Dutronquoy who transferred his London Hotel to Coleman's house.  Later, Dutronquoy adapted the dining room of the house into a theatre and called it the Theatre Royal. London Hotel eventually moved to the former home of James Scott Clark at the corner of High Street. Thereafter No. 3 Coleman Street hosted a succession of residential abodes including, in the 1880s, the residence of wealthy Teochew gambier and pepper towkay Tan Yeok Nee, before the towkay built his mansion at Tank Road.

In 1865, Coleman's house became Hotel de la Paix, which boasted of comfortable first-class amenities including telephonic communication throughout the city and fine dining.  The hotel was also supposedly to host, in its taproom, Captain William Lingard's and author Joseph Conrad's lively exchanges in the 1880s. Then Coleman's House became the Burlington Hotel and, until the war in 1942, continued to change hands, becoming a hotel or boarding house at times. After the war it was leased to shopkeepers who lived upstairs. The building was demolished in 1965, occupied then by about 1000 squatters.  In its place, in 1971, the Peninsula Hotel and Shopping Centre was built. Opposite of the Peninsula Hotel is the Peninsula Plaza, built in 1981.  At this site once stood the residence of wealthy merchant Tan Kim Cheng, who remained there until his death in 1892. It then fell into the hands of property developer Manasseh Meyer who built the five-storey Meyer Mansions, an apartment block with offices and shops that could also be considered the 'first flatted residence' in Singapore. It was demolished in 1970.


The old Adelphi Hotel was also a prominent landmark along Coleman Street. Established in 1863 at Raffles Place, the hotel moved to No. 1 and 2 Coleman Street in the 1880s. The three-storey hotel was rebuilt around 1900 and boasted a 400-seater dining room.  Its popularity lasted until the late 1960s and it was closed down on 24 June1973 to make way for a new office block.  Currently, the Adelphi Complex, built in 1985, stands at the site of the old Adelphi Hotel.


Other significant buildings along this street are the Freemason Hall (or the Masonic Hall), the Philatelic Museum (which was previously the Methodist Book Room), the Excelsior Hotel, the Hotel Grand Plaza Park Royal (or Grand Park Hotel where the fashionable and famous Echigoya, the Japanese fabric and garments store, once stood here in the late 1950s to early 1960s.


Variant Names

Chinese names:
(1) In Hokkien/Teochew, Hiok Ni Sin Chu Au meant "the back of (Tan) Yeok Nee's new building". Tan Yeok Nee's first Singapore residence was at Coleman Street.
(2) In Hokkien Chin-seng chu-pi meant "beside Chin Seng's house".
(3) In Cantonese Chan-seng tai-ok fong pin meant "beside Chin Seng's big house". Chin Seng was the name on the seal of Tan Kim Cheng, a well-known citizen of Singapore.

Author

Vernon Cornelius

References
 
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(Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC)

Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988).
Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places (pp. 354-359). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 EDW)

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, 80.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5 FIR)


Raja-Singam, S.D. (1939). Malayan street names: What they mean and whom they commemorate. Ipoh: Mercantile Press.
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 RAJ)


Sheppard, M. (Ed.). (1982). Singapore 150 years (p. 211). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call No.: RSING 959.57 SIN)

Singapore days of old: A special commemorative history of Singapore published on the 10th anniversary of Singapore Tatler
(pp. 42, 169). (1992). Hong Kong: Illustrated Magazine.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN)

Singapore street directory and sectional maps
(p. 9). Singapore: Survey Department.
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 SIN)

Tan, B. C. (1976).
Street names in selected areas of Singapore: A study in historical geography (pp. 18, 69). Singapore.

(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TAN)

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, 80.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5 FIR)

Wong, Yoke-Sum. (n.d.) 
So small a community.  Retrieved March 17, 2006, from www.lancs.ac.uk/fss/sociology/staff/wong/vanda%20miss%20joaquim.doc



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.

Subject
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Events>>Historical Periods>>Founding of Modern Singapore (1819-1941)
Street names--Singapore
Historic sites--Singapore
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
Arts>>Architecture>>Residential buildings
_SingHeritage:Streets

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