River Merchants, Singapore
River Merchants, Singapore

Walking on the board walk along the river in Singapore, we came across a variety of Sculptures depicting the River Merchants. Alongside the sculptures was a sign explaining the significance of the sculptures.

“This sculpture shows Scotsman, Alexander Laurie Johnston, a prominent merchant of early Singapore mediating between a Chinese Trader and a Malay Chief, whilst Indian and Chinese coolies load sacks onto a bullock cart – a common sight around the river as trade expanded.

Alexander Laurie Johnston & Co, was set up at this spot in 1820. It was more popularly known as Tanjong Tangkap (meaning “catch” in Malay) because it was the godown nearest the river’s mouth and Johnston could “catch” the merchant captains as their boats entered the river to trade. Johnston was a highly respected businessman and compassionate arbitrator for public matters. He was the first Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, and introduced the five-foot way – the covered walkway, which came to characterise traditional shophouse architecture.

Tanjong Tangkap stood until 1848, when the Flint Building replaced it. This burnt down and in 1910, the office of Whiteway Laidlow & Co. occupied the site. In 1962, Maybank took over the building and named it Maybank Bank Chambers, renaming it Maybank Chambers in 1965. This building was demolished in 1998 to make way for the 32 storey Maybank Tower that we see today.”

River Merchants, Singapore
River Merchants, Singapore

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