Orchard Road Market

Singapore Infopedia


Built in 1891, the Orchard Road Market, known colloquially as “Tang Leng Pa Sat” or “Tanglin Pa Sat”, used to occupy the site where Orchard Point is located today.1 The Orchard Road Market was known to sell the freshest goods at higher prices compared to other markets in Singapore,2 which was attributed to its wealthier European clientele.3 The market was torn down by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and replaced by Orchard Point in 1982. Its stalls were resettled in Cuppage Centre in 1978.4

The site where the Orchard Road Market once stood was part of William Cuppage’s estate of Emerald Hill by 1837. Cuppage’s son-in-law, lawyer Edwin Koek, purchased the estate after Cuppage’s death in 1872. The original structure on the site was called Koek’s Market and consisted of a small, open wooden construction with a zinc roof. Soon after its completion in 1880, it was leased to the municipal authorities and became known as Orchard Road Municipal Market. In 1890, the municipality purchased the land. Having been found inadequate, the building was then demolished and a new one built in its place by the municipality in 1891.5

Known as Orchard Road Municipal Market in the early days, the new market originally only had one wing.6 In 1910, an additional wing and a concrete frontage were added.7 As the area was prone to flooding, the structure was raised a few years later. In 1930, a second building was constructed in front of the existing one at a cost of $25,000. A proposal to rebuild the market into a two-storey building in 1950 was rejected by the Municipal Commissioners as it was deemed not urgent, although repair works were approved.8 The renovations and additions notwithstanding, the Orchard Road Market retained its original cast-iron structure into the 1970s.9

A six-metre-tall cast-iron fountain made in Glasgow, Scotland was once placed in front of the Orchard Road Market.10 It originally stood in the centre of Telok Ayer Market (today’s Lau Pa Sat), but was relocated to Orchard Road Market in 1902.11 The fountain, which had once disappeared from public view but was later discovered and restored, was moved to the courtyard of Raffles Hotel.12 As of 2020, the fountain still stands in the recently refurbished hotel’s Palm Garden.13

After the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s plan to transform the Orchard area into a shopping, hotel and entertainment hub was unveiled in 1978, the site of the market was earmarked for redevelopment into a multi-storey, air-conditioned complex. In the same year, stalls from the market were resettled into a new building called Cuppage Centre, built in 1975 for housing hawker and market stalls in the vicinity.14 On 30 September 1995, the market in Cuppage Centre closed permanently to make way for office and retail space, with most stallholders opting to give up their licences.15

Marsita Omar

1. Ray K. Tyers, Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & Now, with revisions and updates by Siow Jin Hua (Singapore: Landmark Books, 1993), 164 (Call no. RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Stephen Sim, “Singapore Streets Have Nicknames,” Straits Times, 29 September 1949, 8; Jackie Sam, “Orchard Road in Retrospect,” Singapore Monitor, 21 October 1884, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Florence Tan, “Market That Pleases,” New Nation, 15 November 1975, 7; Rav K. Dhaliwal and Florence Tan, “Where the Cheaper Markets Are,” New Nation, 12 January 1974, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
3. “Don’t Aid the Black Market,” Singapore Free Press, 19 May 1947, 4; “Price Chief Flays Orchard Road Market ‘Ring’,” Malaya Tribune, 5 June 1948, 1; “2 Reasons for High Food Prices,” Singapore Standard, 30 March 1951, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
4. Tyers, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 162, 164; “‘New Look’ Plan by URA for Orchard Rd,” Straits Times, 2 December 1978, 13. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Tyers, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 164; Lee Kip Lin, Emerald Hill: The Story Of A Street in Words and Pictures (Singapore: National Museum, 1984), 4 (Call no. RSING 959.57 LEE-[HIS]); Lily Kong, Conserving the Past, Creating the Future: Urban Heritage in Singapore (Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, 2011), 140. (Call no. RSING 363.69095957 KON); Sam, “Orchard Road in Retrospect.”
6. Gretchen Liu, Singapore: A Pictorial History 1819–2000 (Singapore: Archipelago Press in association with the National Heritage Board, 1999), 129 (Call no. RSING 959.57 LIU-[HIS]); Tyers, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 164.
7. Archives & Oral History Department and Sin Chew Jit Poh, Singapore Retrospect through Postcards, 1900–1930 (Singapore: Sin Chew Jit Poh and Archives and Oral History Department, 1982), 72. (Call no. RSING 769.4995957 SIN)
8. “$250,000 Market Plan Shelved,” Singapore Free Press, 21 September 1950, 5; “Plan for Two-floor Market Rejected,” Straits Times, 21 September 1950, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Tyers, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 162, 164.
10. Gretchen Liu, Raffles Hotel (Singapore: Landmark Books, 1992), 212. (Call no. RSING 647.94595701 LIU)
11. Liu, Singapore: A Pictorial History, 129; Liu, Raffles Hotel, 212.
12. Liu, Raffles Hotel, 212; “Raffles Hotel,” National Heritage Board, accessed 26 April 2021.
13. Wong Ah Yoke, “Suite Staycation: Make a Date with Raffles Hotel, the Grand Old Dame of Singapore,” Straits Times, 30 August 2020.
14. “‘New Look’ Plan by URA for Orchard Rd”; Wong Ai Kwei, “How the Cuppage Road Area Was Reborn,” Straits Times, 25 January 1985, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Lee Yee Hwa, “Most Cuppage Road Market Stallholders to Give Up Licences,” Straits Times, 27 September 1995, 35. (From NewspaperSG)

Further resources
Francis Dorai and Jessie Yak, “Party Time at the Raffles,” BiblioAsia 12, no. 4 (Jan–Mar 2017).

The information in this article is valid as at April 2021 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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