A Splendid Little Colony: British Singapore 1819 - 1963

Supreme Court and City Hall

The same Padang in the 1990s, with the grand Supreme Court (left) and City Hall (right) providing a splendid perimeter to the wide expanse of green lawn. This swathe of green has witnessed numerous “historic” events since 1819, yet remains essentially unchanged, providing Singapore today with a sense of continuity to the past.

In spite of numerous rumours, especially in the 1970s and 80s, that the vast green lawn was to be acquired by the government, it has thus far been spared. It now seems likely to remain as it is, an open public space which has seen momentous events in the past, such as the surrender of the Japanese, declaration of “Malaysia” and the unrest of the Maria Hertogh riots. One end of the field is occupied by the Singapore Cricket Club (1852), the other by the Singapore Recreation Club (1883). The former was opened for Europeans only; the latter was for Eurasians. This segregation was typical of social arrangements in colonial days. The present City Hall building was built in 1929, while the Old Supreme Court building was completed ten years later. Today, both buildings are home to the National Gallery.

A Splendid Little Colony: British Singapore 1819 - 1963

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by Stephen