9.00am: Meet out friendly tour guide at Raffles Place MRT Station Exit B to proceed on our journey to explore the rich stories behind the different bridges along the lower reaches of the Singapore River.
Our first stop is the Cavenagh Bridge. As the only suspension bridge and one of Singapore’s oldest bridges, this iconic bridge was opened in 1869 to mark Singapore’s status as a Crown Colony of the Straits Settlements.
Originally called Edinburgh Bridge, it was renamed Cavenagh Bridge after Major General William Orfeur Cavenagh, the last Governor of the Straits Settlement. The bridge provided a connection between the government offices on the north bank and the commercial district on the south bank.
Unlike many other bridges over the Singapore River, it has remained largely unchanged since it was first completed.
Anderson Bridge, located at the mouth of the Singapore River, was named after the Governor of the Straits Settlements and High Commissioner of the Federated Malay States, Sir John Anderson. When Cavenagh Bridge faced more traffic due to the rapid growth of trade and the increase in vehicular traffic, Anderson Bridge was built nearby to redirect vehicular traffic.
The first crossing from the north to the south bank of the Singapore River used to stand at the site of the present-day Elgin Bridge. While the current Elgin Bridge only dates back to the late 1920s, the first bridge to occupy the location was built more than a hundred years before in 1822.
Further downstream is Coleman Bridge. In 1840, this was a brick bridge joining Old Bridge Road and Hill Street and had nine arches. This new bridge was designed and named after George Coleman, Singapore’s first architect.
As we arrive at Clarke Quay, the first bridge we will come across is Read Bridge, which could be the most popular of all as it is situated in the centre of Clark Quay. The construction of Read Bridge was initiated by William Henry Macleod Read, a Scottish businessman who was also the Consul for Holland.
Ord Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in Singapore, constructed in 1886. Named after Colonel Sir Harry St. George Ord, British Governor of the Straits Settlements, Ord Bridge is a pedestrian bridge with rectangular steel trusses on either side.
The current Clemenceau Bridge is a multi-lane bridge built-in 1991 that connects River Valley Road with the Central Expressway tunnel. However, its predecessor, demolished in 1989, had a more ominous link to the past.
Alkaff Bridge is located where Alkaff Quay once stood (hence the name). It is designed to shape like a tongkang, a reference to the boats that were once commonly seen along the river. The bridge didn’t get its colours until 2004, In 2004, Fillipino artist Pacita Abad painted the bridge with 55 different vibrant colours, and the “ArtBridge” was inaugurated.
11.00am: End of tour at Clarke Quay.