Magazine Road

by Thulaja, Naidu Ratnala

Magazine Road connects Havelock Road and Merchant Road.1 The road probably got its name due to its association with the old ammunition storage ground at Havelock Road.2

Magazine Road was a busy commercial area in early Singapore due to its proximity to the Singapore River. It used to be part of Kampong Melaka. The buildings on the road today reflect the architectural influences of the Arabs, the Peranakans, the Malays and the Indonesian immigrants.3

The Omar Kampong Malacca Mosque was built on this road in 1820 and rebuilt in 1855. An office block and a dome-shaped minaret were added in 1982 and 1984.4 In 1876, the Tan clan began constructing the Tan Si Chong Su temple (also known as the Po Chiak Keng) to serve as an assembly hall and a Chinese school, Po Chiak School. Completed in 1878,5 the temple also stores ancestral tablets commemorating the dead of Tan clan.6 The temple was gazetted as a national monument in 1974.7

Another landmark on this relatively short street is Central Mall, which is popular for its night clubs.8 The shopping centre used to host Central Market, a weekend flea market.9

Variant names
Tan-seng-ong koi in Hokkien and chhan-sheng-wong kai in Cantonese, both of which mean “Tan Seng Ong temple street”, a reference to the Tan clan temple on the street.10


Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

1. Mighty Minds Street Directory (Singapore: Angel Publishing Pte Ltd., 2014), map 132B. (Call no. RSING 912.5957 MMSD)
2. Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 244. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
3. Norman Edwards and Peter Keys, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 408–09. (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
4 “Upgrading for Oldest Mosque Here,” Straits Times, 30 May 2009, 47. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 398, 409; Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 244; Preservation of Monuments Board, Singapore, Tan Si Chong Su Temple Preservation Guidelines, vol. 1 (Singapore: Preservation of Monuments Board, 1992), 4–5 (Call no. RSING 363.69095957 TAN); Chen Zhaomou 陈昭谋, Xinjiapo bao chi gong ji chen shi zongci yibai nian wu zhounian jinian tekan 新加坡保赤宫曁陈氏宗祠一百廿五周年纪念特刊 [The 125th Anniversary Commemorative Issue of the Po Chi Palace Cho Chan Ancestral Hall in Singapore] (Singapore: Bao Chi Palace Chen Ancestral Hall, 2001), 42–43. (Call no. Chinese RCLOS 369.25957 XJP-[LKH])
6. Sit Yin Fong, “$2 M Makeover for Tan Clan Temple,” Straits Times, 23 April 1994, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
7. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 398.
8. Conrad Raj, “The Sultan’s Up and Down Swings,” Business Times, 23 March 2007, 32. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Elisabeth Gwee, “Flea to Central Mall for Bargains on Weekends,” Straits Times, 7 January 2000, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
10. 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): 106–07. (Call no. RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)

The information in this article is valid as of 2017 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 

Historic buildings--Singapore
National monuments
Street names--Singapore
Streets and Places