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Rickshaws used to roam our streets

Neighbourhoods

1 Neil Rd

Jinrikisha is a Japanese word that translates to “man-powered carriage”. It is also known as the rickshaw –  a small cart with large wheels that is pulled by a single man. When it was first introduced on the island in 1869, rickshaws replaced horse-drawn carriages as the primary mode of transportation for the general public due to their affordability. The rapidly increasing demand for rickshaws saw its numbers doubled in 1902 from 2,000 in 1883.

The building was built in 1903 and opened in the following year to serve as the main depot for rickshaws. The shape of the building site gave rise to the unique design of the station, a “V”-shaped structure featuring a curved corner facade topped with a square tower with an octagonal cupola. The station was a centre for the registration of new rickshaws and the inspection of the serviceability of those plying the streets until the start of WWII.

After the war in 1945, trishaws took over as the popular mode of transportation. There were also concerns and criticisms on rickshaws as a mode of transportation that insulted human dignity and infringed upon human rights. The colonial government then enacted a ban on rickshaws in 1947. Rickshaw pullers became trishaw riders, and the station became obsolete. It was eventually reused as a family-planning clinic, and maternal and child care centre before it was gazetted in 1987 as part of the Tanjong Pagar conservation area. 

In 1989, the national monument was slated for commercial redevelopment, where the building was converted into a shopping and recreation centre. In December 2007, celebrity Jackie Chan bought the building at the price of S$11 million. 

The building is located just minutes from Maxwell food center. So drop by after lunch and see marvel at this historical landmark.

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