Date of Construction: 1926-1929
Date of Gazette: 14 February 1992
Address: St.Andrew’s Road Singapore 178958
Architect: A.Gordon and F.D.Meadows, Municipal Council of Singapore
Singapore was proclaimed a city in 1951, by a Royal Charter granted by King George VI. It had come a long way as a town under a municipal government. The Municipality began its life as a series of ad hoc committees formed by merchants to look after roads, street-lighting (using coconut and animal oil), police work and vehicular traffic. It was not until 1856 that a proper Municipal Council was established. The amenities it provided included water-supply from reservoirs, roads and bridges, markets, and street-lighting, with gas by 1864, and electricity by 1906.
Since its establishment, the Municipality carried on for more than 70 years, without a proper building of its own. From 1856 to 1893, it shared room in the Town Hall with a theatre, and the library and museum. The space there was so cramped that the Town Hall came to be described as the “Black Hole of Singapore”. The municipal offices were moved to a building in Finlayson Green in 1893.
It was only in 1930 that the magnificent neo-classical building facing the Padang was erected and since then numerous historic events have taken place before its noble facade. On its steps, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten accepted the Japanese Surrender in September 1945. Since Singapore’s self-government, it has provided a splendid stage where the President of the Republic, members of the government and of the foreign legations viewed the National Day parade. As a building, the City Hall is an enduring monument. As an institution, however, the Municipal/City Council was seen as having had its day, and its cumbersome self was laid to rest in 1963, while its functions were allocated to the Public Utilities Board and other government bodies.
Adapted from Edwin Lee’s Historic Buildings of Singapore (1990)
More information on this monument can be found in Singapore Infopedia, National Library Board.