by Cornelius-Takahama, Vernon
Named after Singapore’s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles,1 Stamford Road is a street in the Museum Precinct of the Central Region. It stretches from the Esplanade to Fort Canning.2
In the 1840s, part of Stamford Road was called Hospital Street3 because a convict hospital and lunatic asylum were situated between Stamford Road and Bras Basah Road.4
Stamford Road was also known as “flowing water road”, or lau-chui khe in Hokkien. This was because Stamford Canal, located alongside this road, overflowed its banks at high tide.5 The canal was notorious for often containing stagnant water.6 In the days of Raffles, the canal was called Brass Bassa Canal or sungei beras bassa in Malay. It was also briefly known as Raffles River.7 As part of the government’s policy to beautify the urban environment, most of the five-kilometre long canal went “underground”. Buildings and pedestrian malls were built on top of it.8
Demolition and conversion
The Singapore Institution, which was later renamed Raffles Institution, once stood at the corner of Beach Road and Stamford Road.9
Eu Court, one of Singapore’s first apartment buildings, was built in the late 1920s by businessman Eu Tong Sen.10 To prevent traffic congestion on Hill Street, Eu Court was demolished in 1992, despite protests by the public, to make way for road widening.11
In the early 20th century, Hotel van Wijk stood on Stamford Road, between North Bridge Road and Victoria Street. It consisted of four bungalows and was listed as one of the premier hotels in town until the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus bought over the buildings in 1931. Being next to the original convent buildings, the bungalows were used to house St Nicholas Girls’ School in 1933. In 1983, the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus moved to its new premises in Toa Payoh and the bungalows were later demolished. Half of the original 3.3-hectare site of the old Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus’s premises along Stamford Road was subsequently taken over by the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit’s headquarters.12
Other former landmarks on Stamford Road include the Malaya Publishing House (MPH) Building which was opened in 1908,13 and the National Library Building which was opened in 1960.14 While the National Library Building was demolished in 200515 and the National Library relocated to Victoria Street, the MPH Building has been converted into the AIT Academy and Unicampus.16
Built in 1904 as the Oranjie Building, the Stamford House’s Venetian Renaissance style was designed by R. A. J. Bidwell of Swan & Maclaren. In 1933, the building was converted into the Oranjie Hotel. It was also used by the Japanese during World War II. Renamed Stamford House in 1963, it is currently a restored and preserved building.17
The key buildings that line Stamford Road today include Raffles City Tower, St Andrew’s Cathedral and Capitol Building.18
The National Museum of Singapore19 was extensively redeveloped in 2003 and remains a prominent landmark on Stamford Road.20
Singapore’s first city campus, the Singapore Management University (SMU) was established at Stamford Road in 2000.21 It officially opened in 2006.22 Stamford Road from Queen Street to Bencoolen Street was realigned in 2006 for redevelopment of Fort Canning tunnel to connect Marina Bay to the Orchard Road shopping belt.23
1. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2004). Toponymics: A study of Singapore street names. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, p. 359. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
2. Wright, A., & Cartwright, H. A. (Eds.). (1989). Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya: Its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources. Singapore: G. Brash, p. 234. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 TWE)
3. Singapore rediscovered: A visual documentation of early Singapore. (1983). Singapore: The Museum, p. 30. (Call no.: RSING 769.4995957 SIN)
4. Grylls, V. (2016). Singapore, then and now. London: Pavilion, p. 42. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 GRY-[HIS])
5. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2004). Toponymics: A study of Singapore street names. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, p. 359. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
6. 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, pp. 130–131. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS
7. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 57, 59, 68, 72. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
8. Chng, G. (1984, 22 April). The disappearing canal. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 62. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
10. UIC poised to spend $52m on development of Eu Court site. (1994, April 7). The Straits Times, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Yeoh, B. S. A., & Kong, L. (Eds.). (1995). Portraits of places: History, community and identity in Singapore. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 38. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 POR-[HIS]); Chuang, P. M. (1991, May 8). Decision to demolish Eu Court final. The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 62. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Untitled. (1906, February 16). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore and Straits directory for 1906 [Microfilm no.: NL 1182]. (1906). Singapore: Printed at the Mission Press, p. 115.
13. Grylls, V. (2016). Singapore, then and now. London: Pavilion, p. 44. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 GRY-[HIS]); Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 58. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
14. Cultural awakening. (1960, November 13). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Sng, S. (2012, October 1). Revisit a national treasure. The Straits Times, p. 16. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. Tom, K. (2005, July 21). Lend me your ears. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Tan, W. (2003, June 30). Private school to move into ex-MPH building next month. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Rashiwala, K. (2014, May 10). SMU signs lease for former MPH Building. The Business Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
17. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 61. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
18. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 61. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
19. National Museum of Singapore (2017). About us. Retrieved 2017, September 30 from National Museum of Singapore website at National Museum of Singapore website: http://nationalmuseum.sg/about-nms/the-building
20. Singapore History Museum. (2003, November 18). Today, p. 25; Chow, C. (2003, April 26). One last look. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Singapore Management University (2018). About. Overview. SMU Profile. Retrieved 2018, September 26 from Singapore Management University website https://www.smu.edu.sg/about/smu-profile
22. Tan, S. E. (2006, January 20. SMU takes flight tonight. The Straits Times, p. 69. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. New toad tunnel to open by end-2006. (2006, March 30). New Paper, p. 14. Lin, Yanqin (2006, March 30). Cutting through the hill to Orchard Today, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
The information in this article is valid as at 24 November 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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