Clarke Quay

Image (C) Amin Rad

Former Centre for entrepot trade and hub of Singapore’s

Until the 1970s the Singapore River hummed with activities. Many bumboats carried various cargoes from the ships on the outer roads to the warehouses on its banks. The River ends at Clarke Quay which is just behind the hotel (New Otani Hotel).

Clarke Quay was named after Sir Andrew Clarke, the Governor of the Straits Settlements who was responsible for the signing of the famous Pangkor Treaty in 1874 by which the British intervened in the Malay States, first with Perak and later with the rest of the Malay States. By this Treaty British indirect rule over the Malay States was established.

The bridge that links the banks is Read Bridge (originally Merchant Bridge) named after the well-known bussinessman W.H.M. Read. It was officially declared open by the Governor in April 1889. A lane is named after the wealthy Chinese pioneer and timber merchant Tan Tye; there is also Cannery Lane where pineapple canneries were located.

On one side of Clarke Quay is one of the earliest Agency houses, the Paterson Simons which built their godowns here in 1893. On the other side is the godown of the Towkay Tan Yoke Nee who built the classical Chinese house in Clemenceau Avenue,  for many years the headquarters of the Salvation Army.

Along the Singapore River next to the River View Hotel is the “Warehouse” (a godown converted to a disco) – an ingenious idea. The author discovered that on 21 February 1852 the prominent Chinese businessman Tan Kim Seng had set a precedent; he held a ball on the first floor of his warehouse in Battery Road. There was a great deal of mirth when two queques were interlocked during a Waltz.

Clarke Quay is to be restored to its past glory. Those who walk there to enjoy the restaurants and other attractions will bring life to sleepy Clarke Quay

Clarke Quay is a reminder of the boatmen who toiled day and night to make Singapore the centre of entrepot trade in South-east Asia and also of the enterprising merchants who made this possible.

Get more information on current attractions in Clarke Quay