|Telok Ayer Walkabout will take you to Gan Eng Seng School, Chinese Methodist Church, Al-Abrar Mosque, Thian Hock Keng Temple, Telok Ayer Street, Telok Ayer Green, Nagore Durgha Shrine, Ying Fo Fui Kun, Fuk Tak Chi Museum, Far East Square and Chui Eng Free School.
One of four sub-areas of Chinatown. Telok Ayer (means 'water bay') was often associated with the hilly residential and club house atmosphere of Ann Siang Hill and the long rows of shophouses (see picture beside Map below) and religious buildings along Telok Ayer Street.
It served as the main Chinese commercial district between 1850 and 1870 and was notorious for Chinese slave trade. Telok Ayer Street bordered the original shoreline. Early immigrants disembarked on the sandy beach and gave their thanks for a safe passage at the temple or shrine before looking for work and shelter. It is here that you would have found hundreds of boats manned by Indian lightermen who plied their trade from the coastline into the Singapore River.
Indian immigrants settled in an area straddling Telok Ayer and the south bank of the Singapore River. Many were milk traders who walked the streets, delivering milk carried in buckets balanced on a bar slung across their shoulders. Other immigrants were lightermen in Telok Ayer basin, transporting cargo to and from the merchant ships and the godowns. As the Indian community took root, they built places of worship, including two of Singapore's oldest Indian Muslim buildings - Al-Abrar Mosque and Nagore Durgha Shrine.
After 1879, Telok Ayer Bay was reclaimed with landfill from Mount Wallich. Mount Wallich which stood about where Cecil Street runs into Maxwell Road today, was completely removed to fill Telok Ayer Bay. The reclaimed area forms the land on which Cecil Street and Robinson Road, at the heart of the business district, now run.
Telok Ayer was accorded conservation status on 7 July 1989. Its two- and three-storey shophouses are being restored through the combined efforts of the public and private sectors.
Download the Telok Ayer Walkabout guide here.