Singapore's cultural centres from early Singapore

In the early years soon after the founding of Singapore the British held their dramas and operas in the old Assembly Rooms at the foot of Fort Canning where Hill Street Police Station stands. When the old Assembly Rooms went into disrepair the trustees decided in 1854 to build a new one for the growing town of Singapore.

The foundation stone for the new Town Hall was laid by the Governor, Colonel W.J. Butterworth on 17 March 1955 and the building was completed in 1862 by John Bennett, the Municipal Engineer. To meet the cost of the building the government of India gave a grant of $3,000

Temporarily the Municipal Commissioners occupied some rooms for their offices in the Victoria Theatre.

In 1902 decision was taken by the government to build on to the Town Hall a Memorial Hall to Queen Victoria. The foundation stone for the Victoria Memorial Hall was laid by Govern Sir Frank Swettenham on 9 August 1902 and the building was completed in 1905. The older part became the Victoria Theatre. The Straits Trading Company donated a clock and chimes in 1906l; the clock chimes every hour but was silenced from 9 pm and 7 am. Because of complaints by the patrons of the Grand Hotel de L'Europe nearby. Renovations were carried out in 1915 when a crown was placed on Victoria Memorial Hall.

In February 1942 during the Battle for Singapore Victoria Memorial Hall became an improvised hospital when all hospitals were overcrowded with the wounded and the sick.

After the Japanese surrender in 1945 the Victoria Memorial Hall was used in March 1947 as the venue for trying the Japanese war criminals associated with the massacre of the Chinese; it was known as the Sook Ching Trial. Those tried included Major General Saburo Kawamura, Commander of the Syonan (Singapore) Garrison, and Colonel Masyuki Oishi, Head. Syonan Kempeitai (Military Police). They were found guilty and sentenced to death; five other Japanese received life sentences. The other venue where other Japanese war criminals were tried was the Goodwood Park Hotel.

General Elections were held in Singapore since 1948 and the Victoria Memorial Hall was used for the briefing of Election officials and for the counting of the ballot papers. The Victoria Memorial Hall was also the venue of several public meetings and the people's Action party held its inaugural meeting there on 21 November 1954. In the 1970s the Victoria memorial Hall was renovated to serve as a concert hall.