The former Archipelago Brewery Company at Alexandra Road is Singapore’s second brewery. The brewery complex was opened on 4 November 1933 by then President of the Municipal Commissioners, W Bartley, to produce the well-known Anchor Beer. The site at Alexandra Road was chosen for its close proximity to the Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway tracks, which provided convenient transportation for the export of its beer.
Designed by Heinrich Rudolf Arbenz, the brew master building is characterised by the streamlining of classical motifs into simple geometric patterns, such as its high-hipped and pyramidal roof. The complex, which comprised the main factory, brew master house, canning line and a warehouse, was capable of producing 450,000 gallons of beer a year. Brewing took place at the main plant where Anchor Point Shopping Centre now stands. Bottled beer was then transported via a wooden conveyor belt across an overhead bridge to the canning line, where IKEA stands today.
In 1939, the Archipelago Brewery Company was annexed by the British Government as enemy property. In 1941, Malayan Breweries, a joint venture between Fraser and Neave and Heineken, took over the assets of Archipelago Brewery Company and the Anchor Beer brand. However, during the Asia-Pacific War, the Japanese Army expropriated all the production facilities of Fraser and Neave, and ordered Dai-Nippon Breweries to produce beer at the Company.
The Archipelago Brewery Company expanded rapidly in the 1950s when Fraser and Neave came under the control of the Oversea-Chinese and Banking Corporation (OCBC). An additional plant was added and procedures were gradually mechanised. Production ceased in 1990 when operations were relocated to Tuas. The brew master house was gazetted for conservation in 1993.The Archipelago Brewery Company was popular among job seekers for its employee welfare and good work culture. Ng Moey Moey (b.1935) who had worked in ABC for 38 years, recalled:
“My father was extremely thrilled when my application to work in ABC was approved. The company paid well and there were many recreation activities after work.”