- Padang, Singapore
The Padang ( _zh. 政府大厦大草场) is an open field located within the
Downtown Coreof the Central Areain Singapore, at the heart of Singapore's central business district. It was formerly known as the Padang Cricket Ground. The Padang is surrounded by several important landmarks, which include Saint Andrew's Cathedral, City Hall, the Old Supreme Court Buildingand the City Hall MRT Station.
Due to its prime location and historical significance, it has been used as a venue for a variety of events, including the National Day Parade in 2005.
In June 1819, modern founder of Singapore,
Thomas Stamford Rafflesinstructed the first Resident of Singapore, William Farquhar, to reserve the whole space within the Old Lines and the Singapore River(i.e. the northern bank) for public purposes. However, Farquhar found it expedient to allow European merchants to encroach the reserved space as this appeared to be the only suitable site for mercantilefirms and godowns, since the southern bank was too swampy in the past. Farquhar also built a temporary homewith an " attap" roof and kajang walls on the current Singapore Cricket Clubsite, on the edge which came to be known as Raffles Plain. When Raffles returned to the island in October 1822, Raffles disapproved of the encroaching by mercantile interests of land he had set aside for public use. Raffles immediately countermanded Farquhar's permits, put a stay on all buildings in the area and appointed a committee with strict and explicit instructions on how he wanted the town of Singapore to be planned. As the Esplanadeplan had been broken, it was necessary to designate a new site for the town's public buildings. The area chosen was the Padang Besar or simply the Padang, as it is known today.
During the 1820s, there were four houses that faced the Padang, what is now the
Old Supreme Court Buildingwere two houses built in 1823 houses of Edward Boustead, and the site of the City Hall formerly the houses of Resident Councillor Thomas Churchand William Montgomeriewho is Residency Surgeon. In 1845, Gaston Dutronquoymoved into the Boustead houses and converted into his second LondonHotel. The place became Hotel de l'Esperance and later Hotel de l'Europe and was demolished in the year 1900. The Grand Hotel de l'Europe was built in 1905 and demolished in 1935 due to financial problems. The hotel made way for the Old Supreme Court Building which was the last Classical architecturebuilding built in Singapore. The statueof Stamford Raffleswas unveiled at the plain on 27 June 1877, but it was moved to Victoria Memorial Hall(now Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall) on 6 December 1919.
In the past, Padang was referred as The Plain, Cantonment Plain, Raffles Plain or the Esplanade. In modern times, Esplanade refers to the cultural centre known as
Esplanade - Theatres on the Bayand before that the Esplanade Park. Today, the Padang is a field located between two clubs in front of City Hall. After Raffles' founding of Singapore, this was where the Sepoy Cantonmentwas first located (hence the name Cantonment Plain), before the sepoys were shifted to Cantonment Road/ Sepoy Linesarea. Around 1890, the Esplanade was widened by reclaiming land, and constructed a road known as New Esplanade Road(now Connaught Drive). In 1907, the area became known as the Padang and the roads in that area were renamed. Esplanade Roadwas renamed St Andrew's Roadand New Esplanade Road was known as Connaught Drive. Before reclamation, the sea shorewas where Connaught Drive is currently located. Near the current Singapore Recreation Club, was a Saluting Batterymounted on a knoll, which was known in the early days as a Scandal Point. The paintings of the Esplanade by J. T. Thomsonin 1847 and 1851 were done at this point. The Padang was threatened to be used for development several times but it was abandoned due to public outcry.
The Padang became a major
recreational area when two clubs, the Singapore Cricket Clubin 1870 and the Singapore Recreation Clubin 1885 were established at both ends of the field. It was used for exercising horses in the 1920s and became the scene for the New Year sporting activities.
Surprisingly, the administration sector of the Padang area began to take shape only in the late 1920s, replacing houses that
G.D. Colemanbuilt. The Grand Hotel de l'Europe was demolished and made way for the courthousein 1936. Today, the Padang is used for many events such as the National Day Paradeand others as well. The Padang was where the victory parade of the Japanese surrendering Singapore back to the British, and the surrender forces by Lord Louis Mountbatten ending World War IIin Singapore. The Padang is used for sports such as soccer, cricketand rugby.
The Padang has hosted several official One Day International cricket matches.
*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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