Havelock Road

Singapore Infopedia

by Cornelius, Vernon


Havelock Road is a street located in the Central Region of Singapore.1 It starts where Kim Seng Road meets Outram Road, runs along and is almost parallel to the Singapore River, and stretches until Eu Tong Sen Street before it opens into Upper Pickering Street.2 Havelock Road was named by municipal commissioners at a meeting on 8 March 1858 in honour of General Sir Henry Havelock, one of the commanders and heroes of the 1857 Indian Mutiny.3 In the meeting minutes, the road was described as “the road from the stone bridge over Dalhousie canal to the police station on the River Valley road”.4 In the early days, Havelock Road was reputed to have been the centre of arrack manufacturing when an arrack distillery was located there.5

Key landmarks
In June 1886, the Chinese Protectorate moved from Boat Quay to its own building located at the junction of New Bridge Road and Havelock Road. The building was demolished in 1930,and on this site stood the Department of Social Welfare Building, which later became the Ministry of Labour Building in 1955.7 Since 1990, the building has been utilised by the judiciary, housing the Family Justice Courts.

The Geok Hong Tian temple is another building of historical significance located at Havelock Road. One of the oldest Chinese temples in Singapore, it was built in 1887 by Cheang Hong Lim, a prominent merchant who built several houses in the area.9

Another landmark located at Havelock Road is the Alkaff Bridge. The 55-metre long bridge, which extends across the Singapore River at Robertson Quay, was built in 1997. The bridge is named after Alkaff Quay, owned by the Alkaffs, a prominent family of Arabs from Yemen in Singapore. It was designed in the likeness of a tongkang (or bumboat), and was originally painted in battleship grey. In 2004, Filipino artist Pacita Abad used over 900 litres of paint and 52 different colours to decorate the bridge with vibrant multi-coloured circles.10

Located at 320 Havelock Road, The Warehouse Hotel, won the award for restoration and innovation in the Architectural Heritage Awards conferred by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in 2017.11 Built in 1895, the former warehouse along the Singapore River was restored into a 37-room boutique hotel that opened in January 2017.12 The building, which is made up of three warehouses, used to be a well-known nightclub called Warehouse Disco from 1986 to 1996. It was gazetted for conservation by the URA in 2013.13

The Havelock Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station on the Thomson-East Coast Line will be located near the Tan Boon Liat Building, Holiday Inn and Bukit Ho Swee housing estate. The station is expected to be completed by 2021.14

Variant names15
Chinese names: 
(1) In Hokkien, kong chioh-a means “stone-breaking”, or kong chioh koi meaning “break-stone street”. Stones for paving the roads used to be broken near the police station located there. 
(2) Another Hokkien name, hong lim pa-sat means “Hong Lim Market”, referring to the location near the police station where Cheang Hong Lim built a market, years ago. 
(3) Also in Hokkien, chiu-long lai, and in Cantonese, chau-long noi, which mean “within the spirit-depot district”.
(4) In Hokkien, chiu long lo, which means “spirits-shed street”, as arrack (or moonshine) was concocted there. 
(5) In Cantonese, Pak-khi-lin chik kai, which means “Pickering Strait street” or the “street in the same line as the Chinese Protectorate”. 
Indian name: In Tamil, masak arak sadakku, which means “arrack distilling street”.
Malay name: Jalan masak arak, which means “arrack distilling street”.

Vernon Cornelius-Takahama

1. Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore, “Master Plan 2014,” map, 2015.
2. Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 146. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
3. S. Durai Raja-Singam, Malayan Street Names: What They Mean and Whom They Commemorate (Ipoh: Mercantile Press, 1939), 108 (Call no. RQUIK 959.5 RAJ); “Municipal Commissioners,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), 1 April 1858, 6 (From NewspaperSG); Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Sir Henry Havelock,” accessed 22 September 2016.
4. “Municipal Commissioners.”
5. “’Some Singapore Street Names’,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 6 June 1934, 8 (From NewspaperSG); Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 145.
6. “Chinese Affairs in Malaya,” Straits Times, 15 May 1931, 15; Ray Tyres, “Pickering’s Progress,” New Nation, 20 July 1973, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
7. S. Ramachandra, Singapore Landmarks, Past and Present (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 1961), 14 (Call no. RCLOS 959.57 RAM); Norman Edwards and Peter Keys, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 400 (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); “Former Ministry of Labour Building (now Family Justice Courts),” National Heritage Board, accessed 22 September 2016.
8. National Heritage Board, “Former Ministry of Labour Building.”
9. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 146; “Giok Hong Tien Temple: Oldest Chinese Temples in Singapore,” Streetdirectory.com, accessed 20 October 2016.
10. National Heritage Board, Singapore River Walk Booklet (Singapore: National Heritage Board, 2016), 57–58.
11. “Architectural Heritage Awards,” Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore, accessed 9 July 2018.
12. “About,” The Warehouse Hotel, accessed 9 July 2018.
13. Walter Sim, “‘Locking in’ the Quay to Our Trading History,” Straits Times, 13 June 2014, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
14. Lim Yi Han, “Work Starts on 6 More Stations of Thomson-East Coast Line,” Straits Times, 8 March 2015, 17 (From NewspaperSG); “Location Maps and Station Entrances,” Land Transport Authority, accessed 9 July 2018.
15. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 145–46; 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): 90–91. (Call no. RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)

The information in this article is valid as at July 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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