25 February 2018
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Book on old buildings tells story of S'pore legal system

Straits Times
13 Feb 2018
K.C. Vijayan

In 1826, Scottish merchant John Argyle Maxwell had a home built between High Street and the Singapore River in an area designated for government buildings.

But he never got to use it as a residential building. Instead, he rented it out in June 1827 as Singapore's first courthouse, and served as a magistrate as well. That first courthouse still stands today, and now serves as The Arts House.

These historical facts are told in a new book that links the legacy of Singapore's legal system with the historical buildings here.

Published by Academy Publishing of the Singapore Academy of Law, the book includes pictures of court buildings, police stations and prisons of early Singapore, including the now-defunct Pulau Senang settlement for secret society gangsters.

Legal Legacies: The Storeys Of Singapore Law, which can be bought on the Singapore Academy of Law's online store for $35, also includes rare architectural drawings of key structures.

The authors, in introductory remarks, say the book, the second in a series, is more than just about bricks and mortar. "These buildings record the development of Singapore's legal system from a colony to a city state."

The buildings include the former Parliament House in Empress Place and old Caldwell House, where Chijmes in Victoria Street is located today.

A spokesman added: "We are probably not aware of its history. The book takes the reader back into the history of these buildings and places, providing glimpses of some of the original building plans, archival photos from private and public collections in Singapore and overseas, and stories of what it was like to live and work there."

The first volume, titled Legal Legacies: The Story Of Singapore Law, was published in 2011.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.