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Battery Road is a street located in the Downtown Core of the Central Region, running from Fullerton Square to Bonham Street/Chulia Street. Battery Road has remained the street where key banks and businesses set up their commerce.
Battery Road takes its name from the Battery Point of Fort Fullerton which was situated where Fullerton Square is today. Battery Point was where 56 and 68-pounder guns guarded the entrance to the Singapore River. Much of the Singapore River bank around where Fullerton Square is today was swampland until between 1822 to 1823, when Raffles personally supervised the filling and raising of the ground level of Battery Road and other streets leading up to Commercial Square (now Raffles Place), with earth and rocks from a nearby hill.
With its close proximity to the Singapore River, early Battery Road in the 1840s had many offices and godowns. Residents included Alexander Lawrie Johnston (his house stood where Chartered Bank is now), James C. Drysdale, Robert Bain, and William .H. Read (all of A.L. Johnston & Co.). In 1851, Tan Kim Seng, Justice of Peace, a wealthy and influential Straits Chinese merchant, elaborately entertained his friends at the opening of Kim Seng & Co.'s new godowns (occupied previously by Hamilton Gray & Co, and later Stiven & Co.) on Battery Road. The Reverend Benjamin Peach Keasberry had his Mission Press printing works here too. On 9 January 1883, a great fire badly damaged McAlister's business premises. At the corner of Battery Road/Collyer Quay, originally stood A. L. Johnston & Co., the site where the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank had had three structures built in 1892, 1925 and the latest completed in 1982. Next to it stood the Medical Hall which was prominent in 1890 and often seen in photographs of the 1920s.
Other financial and business institutions
The Straits Trading Building.
May Bank Chambers, which was in 1910 the Whiteaways Laidlaw Building with a three-storeyed department store "Whiteaways" and popular in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1965, three more storeys were added and it was renamed the Malayan Bank Chambers until the bank gained its current name.
Bank of China Building, in 1954, was one of the region's first skyscrappers and Singapore's first building to be air-conditioned.
Chartered Bank was originally sited in the corner of Battery Road and Flint Street from 1895 to 1904 until it moved to its present position on the corner of Bonham Street, which was then known as The Dispensary.
Shell Towers with Chartered Bank are two of the newer developments on Battery Road.
(1) In Hokkien Tho-kho au means "Behind the godowns". Tho Kho (godown) literally means "earth treasury".
(2) In Cantonese Dho-fu fa-yun pin means "Beside the garden, near the godowns".
Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819-1867 (pp. 88, 377, 554). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC)
Tyers, R. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then and now (p. 120). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)
The information in this article is valid as at 1999 and correct as far as we can 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.