Where the stork once visited: Prinsep Street (Rochor to Middle Roads)

29 03 2010

In taking my stroll through the streets of what once was Singapore’s Jewish Quarter, the Mahallah, I realised that among them, Prinsep Street has probably seen the most dramatic changes since the turn of the last century. Prinsep Street, spelt Princep Street in the days of the Mahallah, was named after a Charles Robert Prinsep, a descendent of a John Prinsep who featured prominently in the British East India Company. Charles Prinsep had own several nutmeg estates in the new colony and one on nearby Mount Sophia that occupied much of the land on which are now the grounds on which the Istana stands. The street is made up of two sections, the first running from Bras Basah Road, by Dhoby Ghaut up to Middle Road, and the second from Middle Road to Rochor Road. The second section is where much of the Mahallah would have been centred on, and is where perhaps the most significant changes have taken place since the early 1900s when it was part of the Mahallah.

The door of the former Salmon's Maternity Home brings some colour to an area with a colourful past.

This was the stretch of the street that perhaps made some notable contributions to healthcare in Singapore and was where the island’s first Maternal and Child Health Clinic was set up in 1923, and where one of the pioneers of private Obstetric and Gynaecological healthcare in Singapore, a Dr. S. R. Salmon had first a practice and subsequently a private maternity hospital, the Salmon’s Maternity Home. Dr. Salmon, a General Practitioner (GP), had along with Professor J. S. English, Singapore’s first Professor of Midwifery and Gynaecology and another GP, Dr. Paglar who established the Paglar Maternity and Nursing Home on which the Parkway East Hospital now stands in Joo Chiat, been attributed with raising the understanding of the need for ante-natal and post-natal care in Singapore.

Prinsep Street has undergone a transformation where there is little left of its forgotten past.

Interestingly the wonderful Art Deco styled building (there is a nice sketch of the building at this blog) that housed Dr. Salmon’s Maternity Home, set up in 1950 on 110 Prinsep Street, still stands, as a reminder of a time when ante-natal and post-natal care was very much in the hands of GPs and midwives, before specialist ante-natal and post-natal care as a norm was established in the 1960s. It is interesting to note that Dr. Salmon’s daughter Dr. Yvonne M. Salmon, had a distinguished career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Kandang Kerbau Hospital (KKH) in a career spanning 44 years.

The former Salmon's Maternity Home at 110 Prinsep Street was built in 1950 by Dr. S. R. Salmon..

The Art Deco styled façade of the former Salmon's Maternity Home.

A reminder of what the building was once used as.

Across the street from the former Salmon’s Maternity Home, is another landmark, the very recognisable red brick building at 77 Prinsep Street, which is the Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church, built in 1931. The church has an interesting history, having been established in 1843 as the Malay Chapel to serve the Malay community by Rev. Benjamin Peach Keasberry. The church was subsequently known as the Straits Chinese Church to reflect its growing ministry to the Straits-born Chinese, and was where the Boys’ Brigade movement in Singapore was born. The current church building was designed by SSwan and MacLaren and built in 1931 in place of the old chapel.

The distinctive red brick Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church was built in 1931 on the site of the former Malay Chapel.

The Singapore Life Church at 144 Prinsep Street.

Much of the area that is around the churches and the former maternity home had in the early part of the twentieth century been rather run down and has been renewed, first with the construction in the late 1950s by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) the predecessor to the HDB of the blocks of flats that include the low rise blocks that are now used by the SMU for student housing, and several high rise blocks that included Albert House and Rochor House on the plots of land between Prinsep and Short Streets leading up to Rochor Road which has since been torn down, partly replaced by the interesting looking (and award winning!) LaSalle College of the Arts building with its clean black façade of aluminium and granite and open interior spaces, between a new road McNally Road, named after the founder of LaSalle College, Brother Joseph McNally, and the pedestrian mall that was the former Albert Street. The building also sits where there was once a street called Prinsep Court and before that (up to the 1950s) Veerappa Chitty Lane. The plot from Albert Street up to Rochor Road across from Sim Lim Square, which came up in 1987, is being developed into the Rochor MRT station.

The award winning LaSalle College Building with its black façade of aluminium and granite was built in 2007 and located at 1 McNally Street off Prinsep Street.

LaSalle College of the Arts as seen from Prinsep Street, stands on the grounds of what were SIT flats that were built as part of a renewal of the district in the late 1950s.

The low rise SIT flats which are now used by the SMU for student housing.

The pedestrian mall that was Albert Street between LaSalle College and a construction site for the new Rochor MRT station where Rochor House once stood.

The SIT built Rochor House was constructed in the late 1950s along with Albert House and a few low rise blocks of flats bewteen Prinsep Street and Short Street (Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rochor_House,_Aug_06.JPG).

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16 responses

30 03 2010
The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily SG: 30 Mar 2010

[…] Life, the universe and everything – The Kent Ridge Common: Upfront with: Ceriph – The Pattern Trader: Why Traders Fail – Lesson 2 – blankanvas: first asian boy – The Long and Winding Road: Where the stork once visited: Prinsep Street (Rochor to Middle Roads) […]

4 04 2010
The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Weekly Roundup: Week 14

[…] Trader: Why Traders Fail – Lesson 2 – blankanvas: first asian boy – The Long and Winding Road: Where the stork once visited: Prinsep Street (Rochor to Middle Roads) – Seelan Palay’s Blog: César Chávez (31.03.1927 – 23.04.1993) – VegVibe: Skating for the […]

9 04 2010
The changing face of Middle Road « The Long and Winding Road

[…] Waterloo Street “Fourth Street”, Bencoolen Street “Fifth Street”, Prinsep Street “Sixth Street” and Selegie Road “Seventh […]

12 04 2010
peter

My parents rented a room in Prinsep Street in the 50s. My parents walked to KK Hospital from Prinsep Street where I was born., following Bukit Timah Road on the side of Rex Cinema and then crossing over a metal bridge (opposite the former Boon Siew Motor Building).

I am still trying to figure which shop house i was living (2nd floor). My late father told me it was #180 opposite the church.

12 04 2010
peter

Rochore House had many motor spare part dealers and car HP companies, one was Tong Aik Motors.

9 08 2010
Back to school in many ways … « The Long and Winding Road

[…] Bank headquarters and the host of sign makers we would see across the street. We then moved on to Prinsep Street … down to the newly opened LaSalle College of the Arts on the new aptly named McNally Street, […]

26 09 2010
Spencer

I am glad both my kids came to this world under the hands of Dr Salmon in 95 and 96. Any idea where about is Prof. Salmon?

11 10 2010
moshe elias

dear jerome
your collection of old photgraphs of princep street brings back memories. do you have one of the old shophouses on the street circa 1940/60 before they were converted? i used to walk along what you rightly call the Mahallah on my way to the Cathay Cinema.
i would be very grateful if you posted one on your website or sent it to me as an attachment to an email.
thank you
moshe

12 10 2010
The wondering wanderer

Dear Moshe, thanks for visiting! Nice to know that you have walked down the same streets that I used to as a schoolboy – only maybe two decades earlier. The photographs from that period that I have come across of Prinsep Street are those that I have put up on my post “Park Lane, Mayfair and Hyde Park“, which I suppose you would have already seen. There are also a few more showing the vacated shophouses in the 1990s on the National Archives PICAS site. If I do come across any more, I would certainly remember to send them to you.
regards
Jerome 🙂

3 03 2011
One hundred steps to Heaven « The Long and Winding Road

[…] then walked up Prinsep Street, named after Charles Robert Prinsep, the owner of the nutmeg plantation which once included Mount […]

15 05 2011
Samantha

Thank you for sharing this. I was looking through my birth certificate it brought back memories. I was delivered at Salmon’s clinic in 1979 and it was nice to know that I was under the care of a trusted ‘brand’. Thank you once again.

27 10 2011
connie

hi, i’m currently doing a project and my site is somewhere around these areas. so i wanna ask about the empty plot of land beside the hospital. what was it before it was empty? pls reply asap tks ^^

29 01 2012
Mary Pereira

I would like to know where is Dr Yvonne M Salmon. She delivered my two children at KK Hospital. Could someone help me to get to know how I could meet up with her.

31 01 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Hi Mary, thanks for dropping by. Please see a comment left by Ms Peggy Fong in relation to Dr Yvonne Salmon’s whereabouts in February of last year – perhaps that might help: https://thelongnwindingroad.wordpress.com/some-magical-places/#comment-3002 … 🙂

21 06 2018
harryrguo

I heard she is still living in that building, 110 Prinsep Street. Now 92 years old.

16 08 2013
Vivian

Hi Jerome, Thank you so much for posting this. I was born in Salmon’s Maternity Clinic and never even knew exactly where it was until I googled and came across this .. Really appreciate this 🙂

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