by Thulaja, Naidu Ratnala
McCallum Street is named after Henry Edward McCallum, who served as a colonial engineer in Singapore during the 1890s. In 1895, the new McCallum Street was declared a public street.1 Located in Singapore’s central business district, the street is lined with modern skyscrapers such as the Singapore Exchange, Tokio Marine Centre, Oxley Tower, Bangkok Bank Building and a high-rise luxury residential tower.2
The colonial engineer Henry E. McCallum oversaw the construction of the first drill hall of the Singapore Volunteer Corps; the forts at New Harbour (now known as Keppel Harbour) and Pulau Blakang Mati (present-day Sentosa)3 and the Telok Ayer reclamation.4 McCallum was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1898, when he was the governor of Lagos.5 McCallum was also president of the Singapore Cricket Club from 1893 to 1895.6
McCallum Street is bounded by Telok Ayer Street on the west, Shenton Way on the east, and intersected by Cecil Street and Robinson Road.7 Prior to the reclamation of Telok Ayer Basin, McCallum Street was intersected by Raffles Quay and ended at the sea.8 The reclamation of Telok Ayer started during the early 1880s and was completed in 1932, with Shenton Way built on part of the reclaimed area.9
There were seven or eight houses on McCallum Street during the late 1800s.10 Reports show that property in the area had always been highly valuable. In 1894, 3,280 sq ft of land with frontage on McCallum Street was purchased for $1,800. More than three decades later in 1928, Syed Omar bin Shaik Alkaff bought 3,538 sq ft of land there for $28,500.11
On 15 January 1948, the colonial government announced the auction of 250,000 sq ft of government-owned land in the Telok Ayer reclamation area. The site included a lot at the eastern corner of McCallum Street and Robinson Road, and eight lots west of McCallum Street which fronted Robinson Road.12 Another auction of state land took place in 1952 for land lots along Shenton Way and Robinson Road. Of the 22 building lots available then, 17 were put on sale. However, the lots that started from McCallum Street were reserved for the government and City Council.13
During the 1970s, properties on McCallum Street together with the rest of the commercial area known as the Golden Shoe saw massive redevelopment. It began with the enactment of the Controlled Premises (Special Provisions) Act 1969. The legislation modified the Rent Control Act, which had been imposed in 1947 to protect tenants from unreasonable rent increases due to housing shortages after World War II. However, the Rent Control Act led to the fragmentation of land into small plots that were occupied by narrow shophouses, hindering the development of the area. The Controlled Premises (Special Provisions) Act allowed landlords to repossess their premises and to develop it.14
In 1972, private developers were invited to tender for a Shenton Way site near its junction, with McCallum Street as part of a new urban renewal scheme to enhance the shopping facilities of Shenton Way. According to the terms of the tender, the developer was to build an air-conditioned elevated bridge with escalators that brought shoppers to the ground level on either side of Shenton Way.15 Known as Golden Bridge, the structure connected three buildings: Shenton House, DBS Building and the Singapore Exchange.16 The bridge was demolished in 2015 and replaced by an open-air sheltered walkway.17
The properties at McCallum Street continued to be developed in pace with Singapore’s development. In 1989, a number of property firms bought as many buildings as possible along the stretch of Robinson Road between McCallum Street and Boon Tat Street with the intention of redeveloping the old buildings into modern office blocks with shopping space.18
Besides being home to businesses, McCallum Street also began to witness residential development. This trend started in 2004 when property giant Far East Organisation obtained provisional permission to convert Natwest Centre into a residential development.19
According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the development of residences in the city centre were meant to cater to the demand for inner-city living. In 2007, URA reported that two units at The Clift, a residential development on McCallum Street, were sold at the median price of S$2,100 per sq ft.20
McCallum Street used to be known as tit lok a-ek bue-tiau koi in Hokkien. It means “last street in Telok Ayer”, as the street had not been named at the time.21
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
1. Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publications, p. 208. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 251–252. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
2. Singapore Street Directory. (n.d). McCallum Street. Retrieved 2017, January 13 from Singapore Street Directory website: http://www.streetdirectory.com/sg/mccallum-street/20138_1.html
3. Walling, R. N. (1935, October 8). Fortress carved out of jungle. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Keppel Corporation. (2010). Heritage. Retrieved 2017, January 13 from Keppel Corporation website: http://www.kepcorp.com/en/content.aspx?sid=86; Corfield, J., & Corfield, R. (2006). Encyclopaedia of Singapore. Singapore: Talisman Publications, p. 72. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 COR-[HIS])
4. Mediaeval Singapore. (1922, August 11). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Sir Henry McCallum, K.C.M.G. (1898, August 1). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Singapore Cricket Club. (n.d). About Singapore Cricket Club. Retrieved 2017, January 13 from the Singapore Cricket Club website: http://scc.org.sg/about
7. Chua, B. H. (1989). The Golden Shoe: Building Singapore’s financial district. Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, pp. 28–29. (Call no.: RSING 711.5522095957 CHU)
8. Survey Department, Singapore. (1908–1915). Singapore. Resurvey town subdivision no. 2. block no. 3 [Map]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Quiet, please—in these parts. (1951, August 30). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Ministry of National Development. (1958, April 1). 1958 master plan: Central area programme map sheet 1/6 [Map]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Chua, B. H. (1989). The Golden Shoe: Building Singapore’s financial district. Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, p. 40. (Call no.: RSING 711.5522095957 CHU); Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 344. (Call no.: 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); Huang, S. (2013). The heart of a global city: The remaking of Singapore’s citycentre. In E. L. Ho, C. W. Woon & K. Ramdas (Eds.), Changing landscapes of Singapore: Old tensions, new discoveries. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 92. (Call no.: RSING 307.76095957 CHA); Mediaeval Singapore. (1922, August 11). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. 100 years ago. (1993, April 14). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Big property sale. (1928, August 2). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. 1,000,000 sq ft of offices planned down land for auction. (1948, January 15). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. S’pore to have $22,000,000 buildings on new road. (1952, February 8). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Chua, B. H. (1989). The Golden Shoe: Building Singapore’s financial district. Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, p. 23. (Call no.: RSING 711.5522095957 CHU); Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. Subsidiary legislation supplement. (1970, February 25). The Controlled Premises (Special Provisions) Act 1969 (Commencement) Notification (S 61/1970, pp. 117–118). Singapore: [s.n.]. (Call no.: RSING 348.5957 SGGSLS)
15. Shopping bridge and an arcade. (1972, August 5). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Lim, C. (2011, December 14). New lease of life for Shenton Way bridge. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Lin, M. (2015, February 17). Shenton Way’s Golden Bridge is coming down. The Straits Times. Retrieved from ProQuest via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
18. Lee, H. S. (1989, April 7). Robinson Rd stretch draws buyers. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Teo, J. (2006, February 14). CBD office block could go residential. The Straits Times, p. 20; Chan, F. (2005, November 14). Shenton Way offices draw interest. The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Paolo, D. A. (2007, September 19). Watch this space for more urban sanctuaries. Today, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Firmstone, H. W. (1905, January). Chinese names of streets and places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42, 108–109.
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 422, 445, 457, 509.
(Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
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.