McCallum Street

Singapore Infopedia


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

Later developments

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

Variant name
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. Peter K. G. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore (Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, 2000), 208 (Call no. RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 251–2. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
2. Singapore Street Directory, McCallum Street, map, accessed 13 January 2017.
3. R. N. Walling, “Fortress Carved Out of Jungle,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 8 October 1935, 4 (From NewspaperSG); “Our Heritage,” Keppel Corporation, accessed 13 January 2017; Justin Corfield and Robin S. Corfield, Encyclopaedia of Singapore (Singapore: Talisman Publications, 2006), 72. (Call no. RSING 959.57003 COR-[HIS])
4. “Mediaeval Singapore,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 11 August 1922, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
5. “Sir Henry McCallum, K.C.M.G.,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 1 August 1898, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
6. “About Us,” Singapore Cricket Club, accessed 13 January 2017.
7. Chua Beng Huat, The Golden Shoe: Building Singapore’s Financial District (Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, 1989), 28–29. (Call no. RSING 711.5522095957 CHU)
8. Survey Department, Singapore, Singapore. Resurvey Town Subdivision No. 2. Block No. 3, survey map, 1947, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. SP001948); “Quiet, Please—in These Parts,” Straits Times, 30 August 1951, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Ministry of National Development, Singapore, 1958 Master Plan: Central Area Programme Map Sheet 1/6, 1 April 1958, map, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. SP001172); Chua, Golden Shoe, 40; Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 344; S. Huang, “The Heart of a Global City: The Remaking of Singapore’s Citycentre,” in Changing Landscapes of Singapore: Old Tensions, New Discoveries, ed., Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho, Chih Yuan Woon and Kamalini Ramdas (Singapore: NUS Press, 2013), 92 (Call no. RSING 307.76095957 CHA); “Mediaeval Singapore.”
10. “100 Years Ago,” Straits Times, 14 April 1993, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
11. “Big Property Sale,” Straits Times, 2 August 1928, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
12. “1,000,000 Sq Ft of Offices Planned down Land for Auction,” Straits Times, 15 January 1948, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
13. “S’pore to Have $22,000,000 Buildings on New Road,” Straits Times, 8 February 1952, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
14. Chua, Golden Shoe, 23; The Controlled Premises (Special Provisions) Act 1969 (Commencement) Notification, Sp. S. 61/1970, Government Gazette. Subsidiary Legislation Supplement, 1969, 117–8. (Call no. RSING 348.5957 SGGSLS)
15. “Shopping Bridge and an Arcade,” Straits Times, 5 August 1972, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Cheryl Lim, “New Lease of Life for Shenton Way Bridge,” Straits Times, 14 December 2011, 14(From NewspaperSG)
17. Melissa Lin,“Shenton Way’s Golden Bridge Is Coming Down,” Straits Times, 17 February 2015. (From ProQuest via NLB’s eResources website)
18. Lee Han Shih, “Robinson Rd Stretch Draws Buyers,” Business Times, 17 April 1989, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
19. Joyce Teo, “CBD Office Block Could Go Residential,” Straits Times, 14 February 2006, 20; Fiona Chan, “Shenton Way Offices Draw Interest,” Straits Times, 14 November 2005, 19. (From NewspaperSG)
20. Derrick A. Paolo “Watch This Space for More Urban Sanctuaries,” Today, 19 September 2007, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
21. 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): 108–9. (Call no. RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)

Further resource
Norman Edwards and Peter Keys, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 422, 445, 457, 509. (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])

The information in this article is valid as of 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.

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