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Stamford Road, street, in the Museum Precinct of the Central Region. It is named after the Founder of Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. Part of Stamford Road was once called Hospital Street. In a later period, Stamford House and Shaw Building on the street was once the shopping hub of Singapore. The road stretches from the Esplanade to Fort Canning.
Part of this road stretch was once called Hospital Street because a convict hospital and lunatic asylum were situated between Stamford Road and Bras Basah Road. At the corner of Beach Road and Stamford Road once stood the Singapore Institution, later called Raffles Institution. In the late 1800s and the early years of the 20th century, Hotel van Wijk, made up of four bungalows, stood on Stamford Road between North Bridge Road and Victoria Street. It was listed as one of the premier hotels in town until the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) bought over the premises in 1931. Being right next to the original convent buildings, the bungalows were used to house St. Nicholas Girl's School in 1933. The CHIJ moved to new premises in Toa Payoh 1983 and these bungalows were later demolished, and half of the original 3.3 ha site of the old CHIJ premises is now occupied by Mass Rapid Transit Headquarters building (1991).
The key buildings that line the road today include Raffles City Tower, St. Andrew's Cathedral and Capitol Building. The Stamford House was built in 1904 as the Oranjie Building, its Venetian Renaissance-style designed by R A J Bidwell of Swan & Maclaren, and it was converted into the Oranjie Hotel in 1933 and was at one time used by the Japanese during WWII. It was renamed Stamford House in 1963, and today Stamford House stands as a beautifully restored and preserved building.
Eu Court, built in the late 20s in art deco style, was one of the oldest residential apartment buildings in Singapore. It stood opposite of Stamford Road, and its concept of housing shops on the ground floor and flats on the upper floors was still popular in modern residential flats built in Singapore in the 80s. Despite protests by the public, Eu Court was demolished in 1992 (it was a choice of retaining either Eu Court or Stamford House) for road widening aimed at preventing future traffic congestion in Hill Street. Today, Stamford Court stands at a portion of the site of the former Eu Court building.
Old landmarks that Singaporeans fondly remembered were the MPH Building (1908) and the National Library (1960). These are no longer; the National Library building has been demolished and the National Library now has a new building at Victoria Street, while the MPH Building has been converted to AIT Academy And Unicampus. The Singapore History Museum remains on the street and is being extensively redeveloped.
Running alongside Stamford Road is Stamford Canal. Its original name was the "fresh water stream" or "fresh water rivulet". In the days of Raffles, Stamford Canal was called Brass Bassa Canal or in Malay, Sungei Bras Bassa, which means fresh water stream. It was also briefly known as Raffles River. In the early days, wet rice brought in by boats was dried on the banks of Sungei Bras Bassa, hence the name Bras Basah Road which when translated from Malay means "wet rice". The Stamford Canal Bridge which links Armenian Street and Queen Street still exists. A pedestrian mall over Stamford Canal today conceals much of this waterway.
Chinese names: In Hokkien, lau chooi Koei meaning "flowing water road" or lau-chui khe, meaning "flowing-water ditch", a reference more to Stamford Canal which was notorious for often being stagnant.
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The information in this article is valid as at 2005 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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