Heritage Bridges Over Singapore River

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Heritage Bridges Over Singapore River

March 30, 2017

Did you know that the 3.2 km long Singapore River has been the lifeline of Singapore for over 150 years? The river is also regarded as the birthplace of modern Singapore.

The river area is home to 12 bridges, five of which are heritage bridges (Anderson, Cavenagh, Elgin, Read and Ord) which were given conservation status on 3 December 2009.

The five heritage bridges were originally built to connect the river’s south bank where cargo were unloaded from ships with the north bank where government offices were located.

We highlight a few interesting facts on the five bridges:

Alkaff Bridge

Built in: 1997
Named after: The Alkaffs, a prominent Arab family who were among the wealthiest in Singapore during the early 20th century
Unique features: The 55 metre-long steel-truss bridge is shaped like a tongkang, a light boat used in the early days to carry goods along the rivers.
Did you know: The footbridge’s colourful exterior is the handiwork of the late Filipino artist Pacita Abad and her crew who used over 900 litres of paint to adorn it with 55 vibrant hues in 2004.

Cavenagh Bridge

Built in: 1869
Named after: Sir Lieutenant General William Orfeur Cavenagh, the last Governor of the Straits Settlements (1859-1867) under British India control
Unique features: Built in Glasgow, Scotland, and assembled by Indian convicts in Singapore.
Did you know: It is a footbridge, Singapore’s oldest bridge and one of the region’s first suspension bridges.

Elgin Bridge

Built in: 1927
Named after: Lord James Bruce Elgin, Governor-General of India (1862-1863), eighth Earl of Elgin
Unique features: Supported by three arches with slender hanging columns carrying the deck, it has steel frames encased in concrete.
Did you know: It has old cast iron lamps and roundels of Singapura lion cast designed by Italian sculptor Rudolfo Nolli from a previous iron bridge built in its place in the 1800s.

Read Bridge

Built in: 1889
Named after: Scottish businessman, political and social activist William Henry Read
Unique features: A plain concrete bridge with little decorative ornamentation.
Did you know: Built to replace Merchant Bridge, it is now pedestrianised and is a popular gathering spot for clubbers at night.

Ord Bridge

Built in: 1886
Named after: Sir Harry St. George Ord, first governor of the Straits Settlements appointed by the Colonial office in London
Unique features: Simple in form but has ornamental balustrades and girders
Did you know: This footbridge is also known as Ordnance Bridge or Toddy Bridge because of its proximity to ordnance stores and liquor shops.

Photos courtesy of Singapore River One

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