Waterloo Street is a one-way street that begins at Stamford Road and ends at the Rochor Canal at Rochor Canal Road. It forms junctions with Bras Basah Road, Middle Road and Albert Street.1 Named to commemorate the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, its landmarks include the Maghain Aboth Synagogue, Sri Krishna Temple and Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple.
Waterloo Street was originally named Church Street after Thomas Church, resident councillor of Singapore from 1837 to 1856. As it caused confusion with another street of the same name near Raffles Place, the municipal council changed its name to Waterloo Street in 1858.2 The name was chosen to commemorate the Duke of Wellington’s victory over the French at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.3
Today, Waterloo Street is part of the Bras Basah.Bugis Precinct, the arts, culture, learning and entertainment district in the city’s centre.4 Part of Waterloo Street was converted into a pedestrian mall in 1998.5 In 2017, the Urban Redevelopment Authority announced that a road lane along the other half of Waterloo Street would be reclaimed for wider sidewalks and slated for completion by 2020. This is part of the government’s initiative to build a more car-lite city centre.6
For the most part, Waterloo Street runs parallel to Bencoolen Street and Queen Street.7 Religious buildings line this street, reflecting the multicultural community that had populated this area. The Hindus established the Sri Krishna Temple in 1870, while the early Jewish community built Maghain Aboth Synagogue in 1878. Then in 1884, the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple was set up by the Chinese.8 Originally situated at the junction of Waterloo Street and Middle Road, the Kampong Kapor Methodist Church was relocated to Kampong Kapor Road in 1930.9 The Church of Saints Peter & Paul, built between 1869 and 1870, however, still remains.10 The Catholic presence is also reflected in community buildings such as the Catholic Welfare Centre.11
Waterloo Street evolved into a popular location for arts organisations in the 1990s.12 The street has become home to establishments such as the Dance Ensemble Singapore, Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore and Stamford Arts Centre.13 The Singapore Art Museum, located at the junction of Waterloo Street and Bras Basah Road, was formerly the campus of St Joseph’s Institution.14
Other properties along Waterloo Street include the South East Asia Hotel, Waterloo Centre, Skyline Building, GSM Building, Albert Centre, Fu Lu Shou Complex, Bencoolen Building and the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisation Centre.15
Mang-ku-lu chai-tng koi in Hokkien, which literally means “the street in Bencoolen where the vegetarian hall is”.16
Kun-yam miu chai-thong in Cantonese, which means “the vegetarian hall near the temple of the goddess Kun Yam or Kwan Im”.17
Krishnan kovil sadakku, meaning “street of Krishnan Temple”, a reference to the Sri Krishna Temple.18
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
1. Norman Edwards and Keys Peter, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 289. (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
2. Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 398 (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); Saran Singh, The Encyclopaedia of the Coins of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei 1400–1986 (Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia Numismatic Society, 1986), 449 (Call no.: RSING 737.49595 SAR); “Municipal Commissioners,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), 1 April 1858, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
3. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 398.
4. Bras Basah.Bugis, Precinct Map, map, accessed 3 April 2018.
5. Tan Hsueh Yun, “URA to Build $8 Million Mall At Albert, Waterloo Streets,” Straits Times, 2 October 1996, 3; “Road Closure,” Straits Times, 14 July 1997, 23. (From NewspaperSG)
6. Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore, “A “Walk Cycle Ride” City Centre Takes Shape,” press release, 28 May 2017.
7. G. Byrne Bracken, Singapore: Sketches of the Country’s Architectural Treasures... Journey Through Singapore’s Urban Landscape (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2014), 78. (Call no. RSING 915.957 BYR-[TRA])
8. Edwards and Peter, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 262–63, 271, 289.
9. Earnest Lau and S. E. Jesudason, Lest We Forget 1894–1994 (Singapore: Kampong Kapor Methodist Church, 1994), 29. (Call no. RSING 287.095957 LAU)
10. Wan Meng Hao and Jacqueline Lau, Heritage Places of Singapore (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2009), 56–58. (Call no. RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
11. “Catholic Welfare Centre to Undergo Renovation,” CatholicNews 62, no. 6 (25 March 2012).
12. “Arts Council Gets Pick of 38 ‘Homes’ for Artists,” Straits Times, 28 May 1993, 25. (From NewspaperSG)
13. “Bras Basah.Bugis – Celebrating the City,” Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore, 2012.
14. Bracken, Sketches of the Country’s Architectural Treasures, 78, 84; Edwards and Peter, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 273–74.
15. Mighty Minds Street Directory (Singapore: Angel Publishing Pte Ltd., 2015), map 111C. (Call no. RSING 912.5957 MMSD)
16. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 398.
17. 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): 140–41. (Call no. RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)
18. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 398.
The information in this article is valid as at April 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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