by Cornelius-Takahama, Vernon
Havelock Road is a street located in the Central Region of Singapore.1 It starts where Kim Seng Road meets Outram Road, runs along and is almost parallel to the Singapore River, and stretches until Eu Tong Sen Street before it opens into Upper Pickering Street.2 Havelock Road was named by municipal commissioners at a meeting on 8 March 1858 in honour of General Sir Henry Havelock, one of the commanders and heroes of the 1857 Indian Mutiny.3 In the meeting minutes, the road was described as “the road from the stone bridge over Dalhousie canal to the police station on the River Valley road”.4 In the early days, Havelock Road was reputed to have been the centre of arrack manufacturing when an arrack distillery was located there.5
In June 1886, the Chinese Protectorate moved from Boat Quay to its own building located at the junction of New Bridge Road and Havelock Road. The building was demolished in 1930,6 and on this site stood the Department of Social Welfare Building, which later became the Ministry of Labour Building in 1955.7 Since 1990, the building has been utilised by the judiciary, housing the Family Justice Courts.8
The Geok Hong Tian temple is another building of historical significance located at Havelock Road. One of the oldest Chinese temples in Singapore, it was built in 1887 by Cheang Hong Lim, a prominent merchant who built several houses in the area.9
Another landmark located at Havelock Road is the Alkaff Bridge. The 55-metre long bridge, which extends across the Singapore River at Robertson Quay, was built in 1997. The bridge is named after Alkaff Quay, owned by the Alkaffs, a prominent family of Arabs from Yemen in Singapore. It was designed in the likeness of a tongkang (or bumboat), and was originally painted in battleship grey. In 2004, Filipino artist Pacita Abad used over 900 litres of paint and 52 different colours to decorate the bridge with vibrant multi-coloured circles.10
Located at 320 Havelock Road, The Warehouse Hotel, won the award for restoration and innovation in the Architectural Heritage Awards conferred by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in 2017.11 Built in 1895, the former warehouse along the Singapore River was restored into a 37-room boutique hotel that opened in January 2017.12 The building, which is made up of three warehouses, used to be a well-known nightclub called Warehouse Disco from 1986 to 1996. It was gazetted for conservation by the URA in 2013.13
The Havelock Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station on the Thomson-East Coast Line will be located near the Tan Boon Liat Building, Holiday Inn and Bukit Ho Swee housing estate. The station is expected to be completed by 2021.14
(1) In Hokkien, kong chioh-a means “stone-breaking”, or kong chioh koi meaning “break-stone street”. Stones for paving the roads used to be broken near the police station located there.
(2) Another Hokkien name, hong lim pa-sat means “Hong Lim Market”, referring to the location near the police station where Cheang Hong Lim built a market, years ago.
(3) Also in Hokkien, chiu-long lai, and in Cantonese, chau-long noi, which mean “within the spirit-depot district”.
(4) In Hokkien, chiu long lo, which means “spirits-shed street”, as arrack (or moonshine) was concocted there.
(5) In Cantonese, Pak-khi-lin chik kai, which means “Pickering Strait street” or the “street in the same line as the Chinese Protectorate”.
Indian name: In Tamil, masak arak sadakku, which means “arrack distilling street”.
Malay name: Jalan masak arak, which means “arrack distilling street”.
1. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2015). Master plan 2014. Retrieved 2016, September 22 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: https://www.ura.gov.sg/maps/?service=MP
2. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 146. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
3. Raja Singam, S. D. (1939). Malayan street names: What they mean and whom they commemorate. Ipoh: Mercantile Press, p. 108. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.5 RAJ); Municipal Commissioners. (1858, April 1). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2016). Sir Henry Havelock. Retrieved 2016, September 22 from Encyclopaedia Britannica website: https://global.britannica.com/biography/Henry-Havelock
4. Municipal Commissioners. (1858, April 1). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Sagittarius. (1934, June 6). “Some Singapore street names”. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 145. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
6. Chinese affairs in Malaya. (1931, May 15). The Straits Times, p. 15; Tyres, R. (1973, July 20). Pickering’s progress. New Nation, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Ramachandra, S. (1961). Singapore landmarks, past and present. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, p. 14. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 RAM); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 400. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); National Heritage Board. (2015, June 26). Former Ministry of Labour Building (now Family Justice Courts). Retrieved 2016, September 22 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-ministry-of-labour-building-now-family-justice-courts
8. National Heritage Board. (2015, June 26). Former Ministry of Labour Building (now Family Justice Courts). Retrieved 2016, September 22 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-ministry-of-labour-building-now-family-justice-courts
9. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 146. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); Streetdirectory. (2016). Giok Hong Tien Temple: Oldest Chinese temples in Singapore. Retrieved 2016, October 20 from Streetdirectory website: http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/singapore/travel/65/giok_hong_tien_temple__oldest_chinese_temples_in_singapore.php
10. National Heritage Board. (2016). Singapore River Walk Booklet. Singapore: Author, pp. 57–58. Retrieved 2018, July 9 from National Heritage Board website: https://roots.sg/Roots/visit/trails/singapore-river-walk
11. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2018). Architectural Heritage Awards. Retrieved 2018, July 9 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: https://www.ura.gov.sg/-/media/Corporate/Get-Involved/Conserve-Built-Heritage/AHA/2017/portfolio_320%20Havelock%20Road.pdf?la=en
12. The Warehouse Hotel. (2018). About The Warehouse Hotel. Retrieved 2018, July 9 from The Warehouse Hotel website: http://www.thewarehousehotel.com/about
13. Sim, W. (2014, June 13). ‘Locking in’ the Quay to our trading history. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Lim, Y. H. (2015, March 8). Work starts on 6 more stations of Thomson-East Coast Line. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva; Land Transport Authority. (n.d.). Location maps and station entrances. Retrieved 2018, July 9 from Land Transport Authority website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/dam/ltaweb/corp/PublicTransport/files/tsl-station-maps.pdf
15. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 145–146. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); 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, 90–91. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)
The information in this article is valid as at July 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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