Fullerton Square

by Cornelius-Takahama, Vernon

Fullerton Square, located in the Downtown Core of the Central Region, was named in honour of Robert Fullerton, the first governor of the Straits Settlements(1826–30).1 The former site of one of Singapore’s earliest fortifications, today Fullerton Square is a busy thoroughfare leading to the commercial centre, Raffles Place.2

Fort Fullerton used to stand on the site that is known today as Fullerton Square. The fort with the Artillery Barracks, a house for officers and barracks for soldiers was built in 1829 to defend the town of Singapore located at the mouth of the Singapore River. On Battery Point, where Fort Fullerton stood, 68-pounder guns guarded the river entrance. In 1859, the fort was enlarged nearly three times its original size at a cost of $840,000. The fort was demolished on 11 June 1873. In 1879, the Exchange Building was established on the same spot where the fort once stood, before being replaced by Fullerton Building in 1928.

In 1882, a Victorian-style fountain was installed in Fullerton Square to commemorate influential merchant Tan Kim Seng for his contributions to the city’s waterworks. After the fountain was moved to the Esplanade in 1929, the space became a carpark that served as the venue for many yesteryear election rallies.

Important buildings were soon erected around the square. Flint’s Building, which belonged to the prominent Flint family, was once located at the corner of Battery Road and Fullerton Square, where A. L. Johnston & Co. originally stood. One notable Flint family member was Captain William Flint, brother-in-law of Stamford Raffles.

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation acquired the site at the junction of Collyer Quay and Fullerton Square in 1890, and erected their first building there in 1892. It was demolished and replaced in 1925 by a new building. This second building was demolished to make way for the present building completed in 1982.6

Fullerton Building was for years the General Post Office as well as home to other government offices such as the Inland Revenue Department and the Singapore Chamber of Commerce.7 Developer Sino Land acquired Fullerton Building in 1997. A S$400-million facelift transformed Fullerton Building to what is known today as Fullerton Hotel.The Fullerton Hotel, which was officially opened by former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong on 1 January 2001, was gazetted as a national monument on 7 December 2015.

The Fullerton Heritage Gallery located in the hotel was officially launched on 8 July 2010. It was renovated and then reopened on 5 October 2016. The gallery showcases the history of the Fullerton Heritage Precinct, which covers Fullerton Hotel, Fullerton Waterboat House, One Fullerton, Clifford Pier, Customs House and Fullerton Bay Hotel.10


Vernon Cornelius-Takahama

1. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 9. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013)Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 131–132. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])

2. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore, 1819–1867 Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 675. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Ong, M. A., & Bay, P. (2001, Jan/Feb). Re-making of a classic. Skyline, p. 10. Retrieved 2016, November 2 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: https://www.ura.gov.sg/skyline/skyline01/skyline01-01.pdf
3. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 9, 118. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
4. Historic fountain. (1929, May 3). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 118–119. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
5. Khoo, B. L. (1973, February 2). No more ...those hoof-beats of the days gone by. New Nation, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 9, 118, 121. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 419–420. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Teo, T. W. (1979, June 2). 20-storey HSBC Singapore Hq coming upThe Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. A grand lady set to emerge. (2000, October 27). The Business Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Makeover of 72-year-old frail dame(2000, December, 14). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Zaccheus, M. (2015, December 7). Fullerton Hotel building is Singapore's 71st national monument. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Mathi, B. (2001, January 1). PM: Fullerton’s come a long wayThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. The Fullerton Heritage. (2016, September 26). A new heritage gallery opens in the Fullerton Hotel Singapore. Retrieved 2017, November 16 from The Fullerton Heritage website: http://thefullertonheritage.com/news/detail/a-new-heritage-gallery-opens-in-the-fullerton-hotel-singapore-singapores-71st-national-monument; Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. (2010, July 8). Speech by Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, at the opening ceremony of the Fullerton Heritage Gallery, 8 July 2010, 10.15am at the Fullerton Hotel Singapore. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/

The information in this article is valid as at 2018 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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