Telok Ayer Market, also known colloquially as Lau Pa Sat ("old market"; 老巴刹), is a historic building in Singapore
, and is located in Downtown Core
within the Central Area, Singapore's central business district. It is currently a food centre. There are several shops inside the market such as a 24 hours Cheers Store, a shoe repair shop, a tailor and a laundry store. In the evenings on the weekend a live band plays at the stage in the middle of the market.
Singapore's first market was located at the south bank of the Singapore River
. When the government acquired that land for more lucrative commercial use in 1823, the market was moved to Telok Ayer Street.
When Telok Ayer Market first opened in 1825, it extended over the sea. Jetties leading from the market allowed produce to be loaded and unloaded directly onto boats. The simple 30-feet by 80-feet timber and attap structure that rested on timber piles was not sturdy enough to face the elements. It was repaired and remained in use for several more years until 1836 when a bigger market was needed.
Architect George Drumgoole Coleman conceptualised an octagonal building with ornamental columns at the entrance. This market opened in 1838 and stood until 1879, when land reclamation called for its demolition.
Telok Ayer Market was revived yet again in 1894. Designed by Municipal Engineer James MacRitchie and built on newly reclaimed land, the new building is more or less as it appears today. Adopting Coleman's octagonal shape, MacRitchie added cast-iron supports to strengthen the structure. In the centre of the market, he incorporated a fountain which remained at Telok Ayer Market until 1920, when it was moved to the now non-existent Orchard Road
Telok Ayer Market's unique, octagonal, cast-iron structure is delicate in its execution, and was designed by James MacRitchie. It was shipped out from Glasgow by P&W MacLellan, who had also made the iron for the Cavenagh Bridge
in 1868. This may be true, but the great cast-iron columns which support the structure clearly bear the maker's mark of W. MacFarlane and Co., also of Glasgow.
The use of cast iron for the structure, as well as for decorative reasons, is typically Victorian. Slender columns are topped with composite capitals supporting trusses with filigree-like infills. The cast-iron archways and fretted eaves brackets are good examples of the craftsmanship of the day. It was erected by Riley Hargreaves & Co. (now United Engineers).