What is now known as Robertson Quay is just an undeveloped, tidal swamp.
A rapid growth in trade, subsequent rising population and demand for goods initiates the first reclaiming of land and start of the development along the Singapore River. The riverbanks on Boat Quay are the first to evolve, and subsequent developments continue up-river to Clarke Quay and finally Robertson Quay, named after Dr J Murray Robertson, a prominent Municipal Counsellor.
Due to its sheltered waters, the British statesman and founder of modern Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, specifically chooses Singapore to serve as the centre for India and China’s entrepot trade – meaning imported, duty-free goods are re-exported with or without any additional processing or repackaging. The first entrepot trade buildings are established at Robertson Quay.
The river is filled with bumboats transporting goods in and out of Singapore via the harbour. The existing entrepot trade buildings at Robertson Quay are developed fully into warehouses known as ‘godowns’ and used to store goods on the banks of the Singapore River for redistribution into Malaya at times of optimum trade winds.
Singapore becomes an independent city-state. Due to the hugely lucrative trade, squatters, hawkers and manufacturing industries crowd the banks of the river, to severe pollution.
The environmental implications of the commerce that dominates the Singapore River become costly, and attempts to address congestion and pollution are hampered by financial restrictions.
Although trade and commerce remain key economic pillars of independent Singapore, the young island-nation seeks to develop itself as an international financial centre. For this, the river has to be transformed into a clean and healthy environment. Containerisation develops and much of the trade is moved from the river to new port facilities at Telok Ayer Basin. Four years later, Singapore opens its first container port terminal at Tanjong Pagar.
Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew calls for a large-scale river clean-up, a $170million decade long government initiative. 4,000 squatters are relocated and hawkers moved to hawker centres. Robertson Quay begins to close trade operations.
Singapore River’s traditional lighter trade transporting cargoes, supplies and goods from ship to shore causes a significant contribution to the pollution of the river and is relocated to Pasir Panjang – a crucial goal for turning the Singapore River into a clean and pleasant environment.
The clean-up is successfully completed. Urban renewal takes place along Robertson Quay and all international maritime trade moves to container terminals and dock. Further enhancements to the Singapore River over the years result in a clean new waterway.
Robertson Quay is rezoned for residential, hotel and commercial use and most of the godowns are demolished or integrated into newer developments. The area becomes one of Singapore’s most gentrified and sought-after neighbourhoods with condominiums, restaurants and bars.
Alkaff Bridge and Robertson Bridge are built across the Singapore River on either side of Robertson Quay, to improve pedestrian connectivity. New landing points are created for the bumboats as a scenic mode of public transport. Construction begins on The Gallery Hotel.
The Gallery Hotel opens as one of Singapore’s first high design hotels on Nanson Road, Robertson Quay.
RB Capital buys the ground-floor river-fronting retail podium of Robertson Quay.
RB Capital buys the boutique Gallery Hotel.
Robertson Quay undergoes an extensive renovation process by RB Capital to reinvigorate the area as Singapore’s most sophisticated waterfront restaurant and bar community.
The Gallery Hotel closes to make way for a new InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay – Singapore’s first residential InterContinental Hotel property, set to inject vibrancy back into the Quay.
Quayside opens – a revitalised Robertson Quay. Completed by Singapore based architects, SCDA, a monochrome new design aesthetic takes inspiration from the area’s history – where the old warehouses and shophouses were built with steel, iron fixtures and stone, a celebration of the Quay’s rich cultural heritage.