9 Neil Road is a two-storey shophouse in Second Transitional Shophouse Style and features distinctive decorative wall mouldings on the front façade. It is located within the Tanjong Pagar area of Chinatown Historic District, an area rich in 19th century urban heritage.
More than a century ago, the neighbourhood was home to Chinese and Indian immigrants. 1911 was a year of famine in China and Chinese immigrants packed into Chinatown. It was a quiltwork of professions as craftsmen mingled with opium smokers, rickshaw pullers, port workers and “ladies of the night”. Here, they huddled into cramped cubicles where disease was rife and sanitation facilities rudimentary.
Though the Arabs owned a lot of the properties, they never lived there. Before the 1940s, most residents were Hokkiens and a few Indians whilst the wealthier Straits Chinese, who lived in lofty Duxton Hill, have since moved to Katong.
Tales from the days of yore make exciting drama as stories unfold of the Tanjong Pagar in the 1930s. While illicit transactions and affairs took place in the backrooms, seamen from the Tanjong Pagar shore could find “ladies of the night” and smuggled in opium with apparent ease. The spirit was rich. But life then was hard.
During the 1980s, the remaining shophouses in the areas bear the scars of their heavy use and physical neglect. In 1988, URA restored the unique vernacular architecture of the pre-war shophouses to their previous grandeur, but without the neighbourhood reeking of the concomitant poverty of the old days.
Currently, 9 & 11 Neil Road is where our Chinese tea house resides. After 20 over years of tenancy, we still chose to retain much of its original flavour and provide a unique tea drinking experience for our customers.
For a 3D virtual tour of our Chinese tea house, please go to “Our Space” tab.
Source: History comes full circle at Tanjong Pagar. URA Skyline Nov/Dec 1988, Vol 37-88, p.6