The red and cream coloured building located at the junction of Armenian Street and Stamford Road should be pretty familiar to most Singaporeans. In the early days, some students have coined this building, popularly known as MPH Bookstore, to be “Mad People House”. Not because it was an asylum for the insane. Rather, it was a place where books were sold. It was so coined as the saying goes that the more you study, you run the risk of becoming mad from all the books available at MPH. After school hours, it was a place where students would flocked to obtain references or purchase their favourite novel.

^ An old image of the building which in later years became MPH Bookstore. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore)

^ The same building which still stands today known as Vanguard Building.

^ Many of the old buildings along Armenian Street have been demolished with new ones erected.

^ For the older folks, you will also remember red-bricked building which was the National Library sited just a stone’s throw from MPH. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore)

After you have spent your time at MPH Bookstore or at National Library, there was a coffeeshop just opposite MPH (located just outside the former National Library site) to fill your hungry tummy. The well-patronised ice-kachang stall, with the sight of honey bees occasionally seen buzzing around, was a refreshing treat.

^ The shops, former National Library building, coffeshop and bus-stop, have all disappeared into our memories. What’s left now is an oasis of lush greenery that was once a bustling location.

“MPH” was the acronym for Malayan Publishing House. What were its origins before it became known as MPH Bookstore? Here’s a link describing more about the history of the building. MPH Bookstore is no longer located at it’s original site. MPH Bookstore outlets have sprung up at Raffles City, City Link Mall, Robinson Road and Novena Square that offer convenience of location to customers. In the comfort of your chair, you might just want to try browsing MPH Bookstore website for that favourite novel you have been looking for.

Did you have fond memories of your visit to MPH Bookstore during your younger days?


12 Responses to “MPH”

  1. py Says:

    Hi. Thanks for this post. I had fond memories of MPH. I wrote a very short post on it a few years ago, on my blog “Places”, and it was also posted on

    I miss the smell of waffle when the cafe on the second floor sold waffle. I just like the spacious environment, and the nice bookshelves. It will be a place that I frequent after visiting the library that used to be along Stamford Road, or after I had visited the then Singapore History Gallery.

  2. ordinary guy Says:

    Hello PY,

    Indeed there was a cafe located at the 2nd floor of MPH Bookstore which see to the needs of many hungry stomachs while browsing through the books.

    For those who have been to MPH Bookstore in the late 60s or early 70s, there was no cafe existing yet but there lies an air-conditioned vent located on the staircase on the second floor. It was amusing to see students gathered near the vent as their first stop inside MPH Bookstore to cool off after a brisk walk under the hot blazing sun before they wander to other parts of the bookstore to look for what they came for.

  3. icemoon Says:

    MPH == mental people hospital as understood by my generation.

  4. py Says:

    I was a student back then in the 1990s with limited budget so I hardly visited the cafe, unless I needed a rare treat for myself. I would go there for the free smell, and to find nice greeting cards to browse.

    I have not been to the MPH Bookstore in the late 60s and early 70s, coud anyone fill me in please?

  5. ordinary guy Says:

    Hi PY,

    The first image really gives a good description of the facade of MPH and its surroundings at that time. MPH could be considered as an upmarket bookstore with books imported overseas. The interior furnishings were simple and neat and most importantly, it was air-conditioned which was a luxury at that time.

  6. yg Says:

    those days when we used the imperial unit, mph stood for ‘miles per hour’. yes, i remember my visits to the mph. in earlier years, would go in to browse and in later years, went to the top level to buy cds and greeting cards. sometimes, we would just drop in to have a drink and some pastry at the cafe.

  7. stevie Says:

    i had fond memories of it as ‘this used to be my playground’ as my primary school was nearby. And between MPH & National Library, these were my favorite haunts. Guess that’s why i love books.

  8. ordinary guy Says:

    Hello Stevie,

    Would the primary school you previously attended be Tao Nan, which is now the Peranakan Museum?

  9. shaun Says:

    Thanks for this post. I’ve fond memories browsing through the CD racks there, at it’s Music Power House section, for Beatles albums which were the cheapest in town then. Was quite sad when they closed down.

  10. Lam Chun See Says:

    Without MPH, Nat Lib, hawkers of Waterloo St, and of course the 2nd book shops of Bra Basah, this place is just not the same anymore 😦

  11. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Weekly Roundup: Week 01 Says:

    […] the universe and everything – Yesterday..Today..Tomorrow: MPH – FwD: New Stock Market Terms [Thanks ad8cents] – AngryAngMo: Singapores Best AND Free NYE Parties […]

  12. the wander-light Says:

    As a kid bookworm, my parents used to bring me to MPH and the National Library 10 years ago, when I was only about 7. One memory that stands out is when my father and I were there when I was slightly younger (about 4-5), and my father left me unattended while he was browsing through some books. That was on the first floor. As I recall, the children’s section was on the second or third floor, so without waiting for him, I took the escalator up. When my father realized I was gone, he panicked and ran up the escalator towards me. Thinking I did something wrong, I too panicked, tripped on the escalator, and had to nurse a bad head wound on the way home. It wasn’t a bad memory though, somehow.

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