Mohamed Sultan Road
by Thulaja, Naidu Ratnala
Mohamed Sultan Road stretches from the junction of Saiboo Street and Martin Road to River Valley Road. The road is home to several conserved shophouses and national monuments like the Hong San See temple. The area was once a street of busy night spots1 as it was a popular district for nightlife activities, with clubs, pubs and restaurants.2
The street was officially given its name in 1898.3 In the 1980s, the road was lined with derelict godowns.4 Shophouses and godowns were a necessary part of this trading infrastructure as goods that were taken from ships in Singapore Harbour had to be stored for redistribution.5 However, the history of many of the warehouses, factories and shophouses that lined this street had been lost to time. Little is known except that most of them were once purely homes to the residents of this area in pre-war Singapore. Many establishments were set up in the shophouses that had been gazetted for conservation. As part of the conservation, the façades of the shophouses are preserved and their interiors renovated and structurally reinforced.6 One of the key architectural features of the buildings along Mohamed Sultan road is “the corner façade treatment which has a roof pediment with decorative moulded plaster festoons”.7
Mohamed Sultan Road became known for its nightlife activities when the bar, Front Page, first opened along this road in 1991.8 Since then, many bars and pubs began to occupy the conserved shophouses. In 2002, Mohamed Sultan Road was a hive of nightlife activity with up to 19 bars and clubs.9 However, after the introduction of no-parking zigzag lines in November 2003, patron numbers started dwindling. As a result many of the bars and pubs moved out.10
Walking along the road one can see commercial or residential properties such as the Seng Kee Building, the Le Mercier House, Lam Ann Building and the Gainurn Building at the junction of River Valley Road and Mohamed Sultan Road. The Gainurn Bulding was built by C. K. Tang, and its name is a variation of his father’s name, Tan Gang Urn. The Lam Ann building, located next to the Hong San See temple, is owned by the Singapore Lam Association.11
The Hong San See temple on Mohamed Sultan Road was built between 1908 and 1912 as a replacement to the original 1829 Hong San See temple on Tras Street in Tanjong Pagar.12 Owned and managed by the Nan Ann Huay Kwan, the temple was used as a meeting place for immigrants from Nan Ann town in Fukien Province of China.13 It incorporated Taoist and Buddhist architectural styles and is a designated national monument since 1979.14
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja & Aisyah Hamid
1. Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publications, p. 212. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS])
2. Lee, K. L. (2009). Mohamed Sultan Road, at Kim Yam Road: General view [Image of Photograph] [Online]. Retrieved from PictureSG.
3. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2003). Toponymics: A study of Singapore street names. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, p. 266. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-TRA])
4. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 356. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
5. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2016, July 28). Nos. 72-13 Mohammed Sultan Road. Retrieved 2016, October 24 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: https://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/conservation/conservation-xml.aspx?id=RBSQ
6. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 356. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
7. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2016, July 28). Nos. 72-13 Mohammed Sultan Road. Retrieved 2016, October 24 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: https://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/conservation/conservation-xml.aspx?id=RBSQ
8. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 356. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
9. Leow, G. (2006, May 6). Moham From hip to homey. The New Paper, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Zul Othman. (2005, November 5). Ghost town. Today, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Tan, C. W. (2009). Lam Ann Building: General view [Image of Photograph] [Online]. Retrieved from PictureSG.
12. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: a guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 251. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
13. National Heritage Board. (2015, December 8). Hong San See. Retrieved 2016, October 24 from National Heritage Board website: https://roots.sg/Roots/Content/Places/national-monuments/hong-san-see
14. Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Dhoraisingam S Samuel, p. 124 (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS])
The information in this article is valid as at 2016 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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