First market built by the Municipal Commission; Telok Ayer the landing point of Chinese emigrants from junks in early Singapore and the centre of

Chinatown

.  This market was gazzeted as a national monument on 6 july 1973

In 1822 Stamford Raffles instructed that a market be built on a site selected by Colonel Farquhar, the Resident of Singapore. By 1825 the first wet market, an octagonal structure in Victorian style was constructed. It cost the Settlement a sum of $4,316. It was designed by George Drumgold Coleman, Singapore’s first architect. By the year 1841 the market was found inadequate for the growing population in

Chinatown

 and a decision to demolish it was then taken.

Plans for a new market were prepared by James MacRitchie, the Municipal engineer; he proposed a similar octagonal structure to occupy an area of 5500 square metres. A Glasgow company submitted a tender for a cast iron building for ₤13,200.

Three thousand cast iron parts were shifted out to Singapore from Glasgow and assembled at the present site at Robinson Road on land reclaimed in 1880. Work on the foundation was carried out between 1891 and 1893. Telok Ayer Market was completed in 1894; it was a distinctive octagonal structure with 8 entrances and surmounted by fan shaped patterns. A fountain was also erected in the centre of the market and it stood there from 1895 to 1901 when it was removed to Orchard Road Market in 1902. The author is unable to trace the eventual fate of that fountain.

Opposite Telok Ayer Market stood Telok Ayer Police Station designed by Sir Henry McCallum. The building was demolished in 1957 and the first multi-storey car park was built on the site.

In 1986 Telok Ayer Market which had operated as a food centre was dismantled and the 3000 cast iron pieces were tagged and logged into a computer for restoration; by 1989 the restoration was completed at a cost $6.8 million.

The Singapore Tourist Promotion Board called for tenders for the use of Telok Ayer Market and Scotts Holdings won a 30 year lease for a $8.3 million project which would transform the Market into a festival market place with retail stalls, food courts, restaurants and entertainment.

Telok Ayer Market, which is now known as Lau Pa Sat would now serve Singaporeans especially those in

Chinatown

 in its new role and should regain its past glory.