In the 1840 s, the colonial government planned to make Singapore a major exporter of spices. The hills and land around Orchard Road were therefore sold to European merchants to be replanted with spice plantations. C. R.
Prin sep had an estate which covered Mt Sophia down to the Is tana Thomas Oxley's land stretched from Killin ey to Grange Road. William Scott was at Claymore (off Scotts Road) Charles Cairn e was on Cairn hill William Cuppage had Emerald Hill Thomas Hewetson owned Mount Elizabeth William Cuppage, a postal service officer, was the first owner of Emerald Hill. It was permanently granted to him in 1845 for his 5000 tree nutmeg estate. Erin Lodge and Fern Cottage were the 2 residences built by him. When he passed away in 1872, the neighbouring street was named after him. Edwin Koek, William's son-in-law, built a new house called Clare grove, and then the Hill was sold off in lots gradually.
By 1901, Emerald Hill Road was in its present state, and by 1940 there were over 100 residences there. Cold Storage started out in 1903 as a small depot that stored and sold primarily frozen meat from Australia. It was the product of the Industrial Revolution and Pax Britannica, in a time when Singapore was the "Clapham Junction of the Eastern Seas." With the knowledge and power of electricity and refrigeration, it allowed the colonial people, the Europeans in particular, to acclimatize to living in the tropics. It is also credited for changing the food consumption pattern of Singaporeans, bringing in products like Magnolia ice cream, SCS butter, Sunshine bread etc.
and being the first to bring ice cream to Singapore. During the British Military Administration, rationing was carried out there. It is the island's oldest established supermarket operator. In the old times, there was once an overhead railway bridge nearby and all traffic would come to a standstill whenever a train was passing. There was a belief that bad luck would befall anyone who was below the moving train.
Reflection: Commercial developments at Orchard Road began in the early 1900 s when Cold Storage was set up and distributed food supplies. Many motor workshops were set up around the Krama t Road area to service the growing number of vehicles. In the 1950 s, the famous CK Tang was officially opened in Orchard Road, while the hawker stalls and coffee shops at Koek Lane (named after Edwin Koek) were extremely popular eating hangouts. At Emerald Hill, many shop houses were built, mostly decorated in Peranakan style. Many of these are under URA's conservation plan today. Between the 1960 s and 1970 s, many more restaurants and entertainment outlets were set up in Orchard Road.
Hotels were also built to accommodate the booming tourist industry. As such, Orchard Road was transformed into a hotel, shopping and entertainment corridor. Development intensified from then, with the building of Mass Rapid Transit stations strengthening the growth of the area. As land value soared, it is inevitable that more and more people sold their share of properties there to developers, who further commercialized the area for profit's sake. Centre point, founded by an Englishman in Singapore, started off as a shop in the 19 th century and sold mainly basic food products.
It is now a major shopping centre in Orchard Road, and houses Cold Storage as well as Robinsons, a famous department store in colonial times. It is situated where the original old Colonial Cold Storage was. It is heartening to see that at least the URA is doing it's part in preserving part of our colonial past by retaining and conserving several properties in that area. However, when I attempted to interview people and find out more about the original Cold Storage in that area, few people knew about it, especially the younger generation. Even my parents had trouble remembering it. There is no hint of the old Cold Storage actually having been there at all.
In fact, looking at the photos of modern and colonial Orchard Road, they are VASTLY different and barely recognizable if not for the road layouts and taller buildings in the background. However, the retained names (Cuppage, Koek etc) actually provide a hint of some of the history of the area. Just that not many people know who William Cuppage or Edwin Koek are, and neither did I before this module. Maybe more could be done by the government to raise the awareness of people about the rich colonial history of that area by means of signboards / plaques . Some of these have been used to great effect in other parts of Singapore. References & Sources: Goh Chor Boon; Serving Singapore: A Hundred Years of Cold Storage, 1903-2003 Charles Burton Buckley; An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore 1819-1867 National Archives of Singapore web > Nepal News web > The Singapore House 1819 - 1942 web > Singapore - Orchard Road web > The Singapore Chronicle - Orchard Road web > Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority web.