Stamford Road

Singapore Infopedia

by Cornelius, 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.

In the 1840s, part of Stamford Road was called Hospital Streetbecause 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.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

Significant developments
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

Existing landmarks

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

Vernon Cornelius

1. Victor R. Savage Brenda S.A. Yeoh, Toponymics: A Study of Singapore Street Names (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 2004), 359. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
2. Arnold Wright and H. A. Cartwright, ed., Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya: Its History, People, Commerce, Industries, and Resources (Singapore: G. Brash, 1989), 234. (Call no. RSING 959.5 TWE)
3. National Musand eum, Singapore, Singapore Rediscovered: A Visual Documentation of Early Singapore (Singapore: National Museum, 1983), 30. (Call no. RSING 769.4995957 SIN)
4. Vaughan Grylls, Singapore, Then and Now (London: Pavilion, 2016), 42. (Call no. RSING 959.57 GRY-[HIS])
5. Savage and Yeoh, Study of Singapore Street Names, 359.
6. 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): 130–31. (Call no. RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)
7. Ray Tyers and Siow Jin Hua, Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & Now (Singapore: Landmark Books, 1993), 57, 59, 68, 72. (Call no. RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
8. Grace Chng, “The Disappearing Canal,” Straits Times, 22 April 1984, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 62.
10. “UIC Poised to Spend $52M on Development of Eu Court Site,” Straits Times, 7 April 1994, 37. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Brenda S.A. Yeoh and Lily Kong, eds., Portraits of Places: History, Community and Identity in Singapore. (Singapore: Times Editions, 1995), 38 (Call no. RSING 959.57 POR-[HIS]); Chuang Peck Ming, “Decision to Demolish Eu Court Final,” Business Times, 8 May 1991, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
12. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 62; Untitled,” Straits Times, 16 February 1906, 5 (From NewspaperSG); Singapore and Straits Directory for 1906 (Singapore: Printed at the Mission Press, 1906), 115. (Call no. RRARE 382.09595 STR; microfilm NL1182)
13. Grylls, Singapore, Then and Now, 44; Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 58.
14. “Cultural Awakening,” Straits Times, 13 November 1960, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Sonia Sng, “Revisit a National Treasure,” Straits Times, 1 October 2012, 16; Kristina Tom, “Lend Me Your Ears,” Straits Times, 21 July 2005, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Wendy Tan, “Private School to Move Into Ex-MPH Building Next Month,” Straits Times, 30 June 2003, 3; Kalpana Rashiwala, “SMU Signs Lease for Former MPH Building,” Business Times, 10 May 2014, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
17. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 61.
18. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 61.
19. “About Us,” National Museum of Singapore, accessed 30 September 2017.
20. “Singapore History Museum,” Today, 18 November 2003, 25; Clara Chow, “One Last Look.” Straits Times, 26 April 2003, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
21. “About: Overview,” Singapore Management University, accessed 26 September 2018.
22. Tan Shrz Ee, “SMU Takes Flight Tonight,” Straits Times, 20 January 2006, 69. (From NewspaperSG)
23. “New Road Tunnel to Open By End-2006,” New Paper, 30 March 2006, 14. Lin, Yanqin, “Cutting Through the Hill to Orchard,” Today, 30 March 2006, 4(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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