Scotts Road

Scotts Road is located in the central region of Singapore. It stretches from its junction with Orchard Road to where it meets Newton Circus. It was named after Captain William G. Scott, Harbour Master and Post Master of Singapore, who owned property and plantations on and around the area where Scotts Road now stands.

William G. Scott (b. 3 May 1786–d. 18 December 1861, Singapore) was a first cousin of the famous novelist Sir Walter Scott, and Master Attendant (Harbour Master) and Post Master of Singapore.1 One of the most respected residents here at the time, he was known for his benevolence, hospitality and kind-heartedness. He owned Claymore Estate, which housed the third largest nutmeg plantation in Singapore.2 In 1848, he was said to have about 5,200 nutmeg trees. The plantation stretched from the Orchard Road/Scotts Road corner (where Shaw House stands today) to where the Tanglin Club is now.3 His home was a small attap house called “Hurricane Cottage”, where he grew all kinds of fruit and plants including arrowroot, betel-nut, purple cocoa, rambutan, duku, mangosteens and durians.4

A Freemason, Scott was recorded as a member of the first Masonic Lodge in Singapore. Called Zetland Lodge in the East, No. 748, the Masonic Lodge started initiation in 1846. Scott’s portrait hung in the Lodge premises.5

Also affectionately known as “Hurricane Billy”, Scott died on 18 December 1861, and was buried at the old Christian cemetery in Fort Canning.6 

Scotts Road subsequently became an upmarket residential area, as plantation land around the area gave way to private residential housing. Until 1984, grand villas occupied the area. Their early 20th-century architecture, complete with porte-cochere for horse-drawn carriages, high ceilings and verandahs, made for a distinctive and splendid streetscape.7

Being at the heart of the Orchard Road district, Scotts Road hosts distinctive buildings like the Shaw House, which opened on 22 November 1958, and the old Lido Cinema, officially opened on 6 February 1959.8 Since then, Shaw House and Shaw Centre have been continuously renovated to match the expectations of downtown shoppers.9 Another distinctive building from the post-war era was the Tropicana, Singapore’s first theatre-restaurant and nightclub. It did not survive, however, and in its place today stands Pacific Plaza, a retail-cum-office block.10

Today, Scotts Road is dotted with many five-star hotels like Goodwood Park Hotel, Grand Hyatt Hotel and Singapore Marriott Hotel (formerly Dynasty Hotel).11 Popular shopping and entertainment complexes include Tangs Plaza, Scotts Square and Far East Plaza, and other note-worthy occupants include The American Club.12 Scotts Tower, which was constructed in the 1980s, has been rebuilt into a stunning high-rise residential condominium.13 At both ends of Scotts Road are the Newton and Orchard Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations.14

Variant names
Hokkien: Tang-leng ma-ta-chhutui-bin
Cantonese: Tang-leng ma-ta-liu tui-min
Scotts Road is  “Opposite Orchard Road Police Station”.15


Vernon Cornelius-Takahama

1. Alan Harfield, Early Cemeteries in Singapore (London: British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia, 1988), 163 (Call no. RSING 929.5095957 HAR); Walter Makepeace, Gilbert E. Brooke and Roland St. J. Braddell, One Hundred Years of Singapore, vol. 2 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1991), 113. (Call no. RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
2. Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984), 310, 406 (Call no. RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Harfield, Early Cemeteries in Singapore, 163–64.
3. Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 310, 406; Norman Edwards and Peter Keys, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 252 (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Mighty Minds Singapore Street Directory (Singapore: Mighty Minds Pub., 2015), 109D, 110A, 110C. (Call no. RSING q912.5957 MMSSD)
4. R. E. Hale, The Balestiers: The First American Residents in Singapore (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2016), 125, 238 (Call no. RSING 959.57030922 HAL-[HIS]); Harfield, Early Cemeteries in Singapore, 163–64; Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 310.
5. Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 311, 437;Untitled: Masonic,” Straits Times, 10 January 1854, 4; “Lodge Zetland in the East, No. 748,” Straits Times, 2 January 1855, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
6. Harfield, Early Cemeteries in Singapore, 163–64.
7. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 252.
8. “Opening Date,” Straits Times, 12 November 1958, 5; “Two New Theatres in Shaw Circuit,” Straits Times, 30 January 1959, 4; “Scott Will Open New Theatre: Functional But Tasteful, Lido Is Last Word in Luxury,” Straits Times, 6 February 1959, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
9. “Lido Landmark,” Straits Times, 4 February 2005, H8; “Reinventions are a Shaw Thing,” Straits Times, 15 July 2015, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
10. “$140M Building for Tropicana Site,” Straits Times, 14 November 1990, 44. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 252; Kalpana Rashiwala, “$30M Facelift for Dynasty,” Straits Times, 27 May 1994, 48. (From NewspaperSG)
12. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 252; Mighty Minds Singapore Street Directory, 109D, 110A, 110C.
13. Vincent Fong, “Scotts Tower Sold,” Singapore Monitor, 19 October 1983, 18 (From NewspaperSG); Clara Chow, “City & Country: Price Snips or Real Bargains?” Edge Singapore, 6 July 2015. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
14. Mighty Minds Singapore Street Directory, 109D, 110A, 110C.
15. 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): 126–27. (Call no. RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)

The information in this article is valid as at Dec 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.


Street names--Singapore
Streets and Places