Connecting Collyer Quay to the docks at Tanjong Pagar, Robinson Road was built on reclaimed land during the 1879 reclamation project on Telok Ayer. The road was then named after Sir William Cleaver Francis Robinson, Governor of the Straits Settlement from 1877 to 1879. Despite the completion of the reclamation project in 1887, the development of the vicinity along Robinson Road only began in the 1920s and 1930s.
Take a walk down Robinson Road and you will spot several historical buildings, noticeable by their colonial-era architectural build. One of the more recognisable landmarks would be the gazetted monument – formerly known as Telok Ayer Market, now vernacularly renamed as Lau Pa Sat (“Old Market”). Separated by Boon Tat Street, Lau Pa Sat is just opposite another historical building that currently houses Hotel Telegraph Singapore. At the junction of Robinson Road and Boon Tat Street, you will experience Singapore’s only crisscross junction where pedestrians can walk in all directions while traffic in all directions stops.
Since the early 20th century, 35 Robinson Road has been an eminent heritage landmark in Singapore’s business and financial district, playing an influential role in the city-state’s telecommunications history.
Constructed in 1924, this 4-storey curved building was designed in a neo-classical style by F.G. Lundon from Singapore’s oldest architectural firm Swan and Maclaren. Its exterior boasts a long recessed balcony guarded with cast-iron balustrades and large symmetrical coupled columns embellished with ionic capitals.
The Eastern Extension Telegraph Company occupied the property when the building construction was completed in 1927. Back then, Singapore was the telecommunications hub for the entire Far East, where all vital telegraph cables of the Eastern hemisphere were connected to the tiny red dot.
Over the past century, the building has also housed several other corporations and government entities, such as the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore, the Private Network Engineering Department of Singapore Telecom, the Premium Services Department of Singapore Post, and the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather.
A watershed year for 35 Robinson Road was in 2000 when it was accorded conversation status, representative of the building’s significance to Singapore’s history and identity.
Today, the building has been beautifully restored and refurbished into a luxurious boutique hotel, whilst still retaining much of its captivating neo-classical façade and architecture. Hence, renaming the building Hotel Telegraph pays homage to its rich history. At Hotel Telegraph Singapore, guests will get to experience old-world allure blended with a contemporary twist at this quintessential city escape.