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Bras Basah

Bras Basah Road (Chinese: 勿拉士巴沙路; Malay: Jalan Bras Basah) is a one-way road in Singapore in the planning areas of Museum and Downtown Core. The road starts at the junction of Orchard Road and Handy Road, at the ERP gantry towards the Central Business District, and ends at the junction of Nicoll Highway and Raffles Boulevard which then becomes Raffles Boulevard. The road houses several landmarks including Fairmont Singapore, Raffles Hotel, Singapore Art Museum, Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and the Singapore Management University. A MRT station with the same name, known as Bras Basah MRT Station is on the Circle Line.

Etymology and history

The road had two names in Jacksons' 1822 Plan of Singapore. Between North Bridge Road and Beach Road, it was called Church Street because of the presence of the Missionary Society chapel, which stood at the corner of North Bridge Road and Bras Basah Road. Between North Bridge Road and Selegie Hill, it was called Selegy Street. In the 1826 lease, the road was called Cross Road. Raffles suggested the name College Street, the most likely reason being Raffles Institution was located in the area. Built by convict labour, the road appears on GD Coleman's 1836 Map of Singapore as Beras Basah, beras means harvested rice with the husk removed in Malay, and basah means wet. The road was so-called as in the early days wet rice was laid to dry here on the channels of the "fresh water stream" (now the Stamford Canal which has been mostly covered up). Another version is that before the area between Bras Basah Road and Stamford Road was filled in, tons of rice were brought by boats into the lagoon and spread to dry on the road. On one occasion, high tides wet the rice.

In the old days, the Chinese referred to the road by several names, including lau kha ku keng khau or "old mouth of the old jail", which is a reference to an old gaol between Stamford Road and Bras Basah Road, and kha ku means "fetters" in Hokkien. Another name was a reference to the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd located on this road which belonged the French mission, the name is he lan xi li bai tang or "beside the French church"; tek kok seng long or "the German pharmacy", referring to the building which stood at a corner. Another name included hai ki ang neo tua oh pi or "beside the seaside English big school", referring to Raffles Institution. In Chinese, it is known as hai gan hong mao da xue bian, or da shu guan bian (大书馆边), meaning beside the big school (RI). In Hakka, thong kwong sen kei, meaning "Thong Kwong Sen Street" after a Hakka-owned tailoring establishment on the road.


These are the major landmarks along Bras Basah (from east to west):

See also


  • Victor R Savage, Brenda S A Yeoh (2004), Toponymics - A Study of Singapore Street Names, Eastern University Press, ISBN 981-210-364-3

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