Keppel Road

Keppel Road, street, major road thoroughfare in the Tanjong Pagar sub-zone of the Bukit Merah area, located within the Central Region. The road was developed by reclaiming mangrove swamps and mudflats from Tanjong Pagar to Telok Blangah. Opened on 3 May 1886, it was first called the New Harbour Road, and later named after Admiral Sir Henry Keppel who paid several visits to Singapore between 1832 to 1899. His recommendations during those visits include many developments to the port of Singapore.

In George D. Coleman's tenure as Architect, Surveyor, Executive Engineer of government, and also Superintendent of Indian Convict labourers from 1833, one of the earliest projects he launched was the laying and building of roads. In preparation for an anticipated new port, with the help of Indian convict labour, an access road was then laid across mangrove swamps and mudflats from Tanjong Pagar to Telok Blangah. This road that lead up to what eventually became the New Harbour, was opened on 3 May 1886, and concurrently named Keppel Road after Sir Henry Keppel. Until it was officially named and opened, Keppel Road was known as the "New Harbour Road". It was also in 1886 that steam trams began to ply along Keppel Road, from Pasir Panjang through Telok Blangah village to Tanjong Pagar Docks, and then along Anson Road, Cecil Street, to Collyer Quay. One of Henry Keppel's major contributions had been to recommend Singapore as a coaling station when he sailed in 1848. He surveyed the new harbour of Singapore and the plans for the original Keppel Harbour were based on his recommendations.

In 1864 the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company was established, and by 1899, it amalgamated with the New Harbour Dock Company. On 19 April 1900, on one of Admiral Keppel's final visits to Singapore, the New Harbour was officially renamed Keppel Harbour by the Acting Governor, Sir Alexander Swettenham. By 1912 the Singapore Harbour Board were put in-charge of port operations until the Port of Singapore Authority was established in 1964. Much Port related activities, Industrial Complexes and storage houses have been situated along Keppel Road for more than a hundred years. A vast area on the stretch is occupied by the Tanjong Pagar Port, the world's busiest port and an important revenue earner for Singapore; and conveniently near, the 1930s Singapore Railway Station with its unique architecture. Keppel Road is also the vital link between Singapore's town business centre and the industrial and commercial activities in the West Coast. Today the flyovers of the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) link to the East Coast Parkway (ECP) and begin at Shenton Way junction; and turn-off at Keppel viaduct. Keppel Road stretches from Shenton Way to the Telok Blangah Road/Kampong Bahru Road junction.

Vernon Cornelius-Takahama

Bogaars, G. (1956). Tanjong Pagar Dock Company 1864-1905 (pp. 189, 250) [Microfilm: NL 10999]. Singapore: G. P. P.
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.51 BOG)

Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819-1867 (p. 493). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC)

Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places (p 325). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 EDW)

McNair, John F. A . (1899). Prisoners their own warders (pp. 43-44). Westminster: A. Constable.
(Call no.: RSEA 365.95957 MAC) 

Samuel, D. S. (1939). Malayan street names: What they mean and whom they commemorate (pp. 115-116). Ipoh: Mercantile Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5 RAJ)

Singapore: Portrait of a port: A pictorial history of the port and harbour of Singapore 1819-1984 (pp. 14, 124-125). (1984). Singapore: MPH Magazines.
(Call no.: RSING 779.93871095957 SIN)

Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then and now (p. 142). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)

Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1993). Bukit Merah planning area: Planning report 1993 (pp. 4, 6, 8). Singapore: The Authority.
(Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN) 

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
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