New Bridge Road

New Bridge Road is a one-way street that begins from Coleman Bridge on the south of Singapore River and ends at the junction of Eu Tong Sen Street and Kampong Bahru Road.1 

Built in 1842, New Bridge Road got its name from Coleman Bridge, which was then a newly-constructed bridge over the Singapore River.2 The bridge links Hill Street on the north of Singapore River with New Bridge Road, which lies on the south of the river.3 Located near New Bridge Road was a large triangular block of two-storey shophouses known as Ellenborough Buildings. These shophouses were built for Tan Tock Seng, one of Singapore’s early pioneers, by John Turnbull Thomson between 1845 and 1847.4 About half of the block was demolished in 1986 to make way for the approach to the new Coleman Bridge.5 The rest of the Ellenborough Buildings were demolished in the mid-1990s to make way for the Clarke Quay Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Station.6

In 1975, flats built by the Singapore Improvement Trust in 1938 in the area were demolished and replaced by the Kreta Ayer Centre, which comprised Kreta Ayer Complex (now Chinatown Complex), Kreta Ayer Community Centre and People’s Theatre. The present Oriental Plaza on New Bridge Road was originally a theatre called the Palacegay, which was the called Toho Gekizyo during the Japanese Occupation (1942–45).The theatre was the first in Singapore to screen Chinese movies with sound in 1927. It was renamed Oriental Theatre in 1946, when the Shaw Brothers bought it after World War II.8

In the late 1980s, an eight-lane dual-carriageway was constructed to merge Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road.9 New Bridge Road, which is situated in the Bukit Pasoh and Kreta Ayer district of Chinatown, was accorded conservation status on 7 July 1989.10

Well-known Cantonese clan associations on New Bridge Road include the Kong Chow Wui Koon (previously located at Upper Chin Chew Street but re-established at New Bridge Road in 1924), as well as the Singapore Poon Yue Association that was established in 1879 with financial assistance from prominent Chinese merchant, Hoo Ah Kay.11

Hong Lim Park, developed on New Bridge Road in 1876, was one of the first neighbourhood parks in Singapore. Originally called Dunman Green, it was later renamed Hong Lim Green and then Hong Lim Park, in honour of Cheang Hong Lim, a prominent Chinese who bought and donated the land.12 In September 2000, the park was designated as the venue for the Speakers’ Corner.13 The Chinatown MRT Station, which was opened in 2003, is situated beneath New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen Street.14

On 10 March 2018, the New Bridge Road bus terminal along Eu Tong Sen Street was replaced by the new Kampong Bahru bus terminal in Spooner Road. The now defunct New Bridge Road bus terminal site is designated for Singapore General Hospital’s new wing, Elective Care Centre.15

Variant names
Sin pa-sat ma-ta chhucheng (Hokkien) and Sin pa-sat ma-ta liuchhin (Cantonese), both meaning “in front of the new market police station”.16 

 (Hokkien) and Ngau-chhe-shui (Cantonese), meaning “Kreta Ayer”, a reference to the fact that New Bridge Road is a part of Kreta Ayer in Chinatown.17

 (Cantonese), which means “second horse-carriage road”.18

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

1. Mighty Minds Street Directory (Singapore: Angel Publishing Pte Ltd., 2014), 37. (Call no. RSING 912.5957 MMSD)
2. Ray Tyers and Siow Jin Hua, Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & Now (Singapore: Landmark Books, 1993), 189 (Call no. RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 269. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
3. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 269.
4. Norman Edwards and Peter Keys, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 399 (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 113; Kamala Devi Dhoraisingham and Dhoraisingham S. Samuel, Tan Tock Seng: Pioneer: His Life, Times, Contributions and Legacy (Kota Kinabalu: Natural History Publications (Borneo), 2003), 23. (Call no. RSING 338.04092 KAM)
5. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 399.
6. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 113; Kannan Chandran, Historic Buildings No Bar to Progress,” Straits Times, 13 December 2006, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
7. “HDB to Build $12 M Kreta Ayer Complex,” Straits Times, 3 February 1978, 28; “Kreta Ayer Complex Gets New Name,” Straits Times, 29 September 1984, 13 (From NewspaperSG); Archives and Oral History Department, Singapore, Chinatown: An Album of a Singapore Community (Singapore: Times Books International, 1983), 128–29 (Call no. RSING 779.995957 CHI); Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 503; National Heritage Board, Palacegay Theatre, 1920s-1940s, photograph, National Museum of Singapore Collection.
8. Archives and Oral History Department, Singapore, Chinatown, 128–29.
9. “New $17M 8-Lane Carriageway,” Straits Times, 25 September 1987, 16; “Traffic Alert,” Straits Times, 19 March 1988, 14. (From NewspaperSG)
10. “Chinatown (Included Maxwell No. 38 and 39 Neil Road),” Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), accessed 24 October 2016.
11. Archives and Oral History Department, Singapore, Chinatown, 124, 127.
12. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 401; Death of Mr Cheang Hong Lim,” Straits Times, 11 February 1893, 2; S. Ramachandra, “The Story Behind Hong Lim Green,” Sunday Standard, 17 May 1959, 21; “A to Z of Cheang Hong Lim,” Straits Times, 29 April 2000, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Yap Chuin Wei, “Speakers’ Corner to Open on Sept 1,” Straits Times, 11 August 2000, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
14. Leong Chan Teik, “Staying on the Line,” Straits Times, 25 May 2003, 30. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Adrian Lim, “New Kampong Bahru Bus Terminal to Open on March 10,” Straits Times, 13 February 2018. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
16. H. W. Firmstone, “Chinese Names of Streets and Places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula,” Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42 (February 1905): 112­–113. (Call no. RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)
17. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 269–70.
18. Firmstone, “Chinese Names of Streets and Places,” 118–19.

The information in this article is valid as at September 2018 and correct as far as we can 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.


Heritage and Culture
Street names--Singapore
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