Site of old bakery; Cathay building headquarters of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Commander, South-east Asia Command in 1945 and Singapore's first skyscraper.

Cathay building stood on the site of an old bakery and Victorian building managed by Teo Ho Lye and Louis Moulteni from Poland. Moulteni came to Singapore in the 1880s and started his confectionery.

The Victoria building was demolished in 1934 and the land sold to the Loke family.

Cathay building designed by Frank Brewer was completed in 1939. It became Singapore's first skyscraper and second multi-storey building; the first was the High Street Police Station. The building housed the Cathay Cinema which exists today but the hotel was converted into an office complex.

Opposite Cathay building is Dhoby Ghaut (Ghaut is of Indian origin; one meaning is a stair-case) referring to the terraced rocks upon which the Indian dhobies in the early years washed the clothes for their customers. They used water from a stream Sungai Bras Basah which flowed along Bras Basah Road.

In early 1941 Colonel Alan Ferguson Warren of the Royal Marines came to Singapore to train guerillas to infiltrate into Malaya. He made Cathay building the headquarters of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) Orient Mission and a base for his operations.

In February 1942 before the British surrendered to the Japanese, Cathay was one of the buildings where hundreds of British army deserters sought refuge from constant Japanese aerial and artillery bombardment. The Field Survey Company also used the roof of Cathay building to spot enemy guns. On 9th February 1942 crowds gathered at Cathay for the official evacuation from Singapore.

The local staff employed in Cathay building remained loyal and brave and continued working each day despite the bombing of their homes and families members being killed. It was just before the British surrender that they were paid off and sent home.

Lt General Percival on his way to meet Lt General Yamashita, flew a large Union Jack atop Cathay building to indicate that he (Percival) had agreed to a ceasefire. The unconditional British surrender took place at Ford Motor Works in Bukit Timah on 15 February 1942.

Old Singaporeans would remember that soon after the British Surrender the Japanese military authorities beheaded looters. In front of Cathay building were heads of 5 persons who had been beheaded and the gruesome spectacle was a prelude to what was to come.

During the Japanese Occupation Cathay building was used as one of the Japanese military establishments.

Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Commander, South-east Asia Command (SEAC) arrived in Singapore in September 1945 to accept the surrender of the Japanese. He established his headquarters in Cathay building and hoisted the national flags of the Allies - Britain, United States of America, China, France and the Netherlands. Mountbatten promulgated from Radio Malaya functioning in Cathay building the implementation of the British Military Administration which lasted until 31 March 1946 when civil government was restored. On 1 April 1946 Singapore was separated from Penang and Malacca and the 9 Malay States to become a separate Colony of Singapore. The Malay States, Penang and Malacca became the Malayan Union.