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Singapore-Johor Causeway opens 28th Jun 1924

The Singapore-Johor Causeway is a road and rail link that connects Woodlands at the northern part of Singapore to Johor Bahru at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Opened by then Governor of the Straits Settlements Laurence Nunns Guillemard, the Causeway was built to handle cross-straits traffic, which had been growing rapidly since the Malayan states became major producers of agricultural goods such as rubber, tin and gambier in the late 19th century, while Singapore served as a trading port specialising in the export of these commodities.[1] This economic synergy between the two territories was further strengthened following the opening of the Johor State Railway in 1909, as well as a ferry service that was established to handle the cross-straits flow of goods and passengers.[2]

To keep pace with the rapidly growing cross-straits traffic, the British decided to build a permanent railway and road link across the Straits of Johor.[3] This idea was proposed by then Federated Malay States (FMS) Director of Public Works W. Eyre Kenny in 1917.[4] In raising the proposal, Kenny also recommended that the link take the form of a causeway instead of a bridge as the foundation for a causeway was easier to lay especially on the soft clay soil at the proposed site. There was also ample granite available at reasonable prices from quarries at Pulau Ubin and Bukit Timah to supply the necessary materials.[5] Construction of the Causeway began in August 1919 after Topham, Jones & Railton was awarded the building contract.[6] The project was not only technically challenging but also the largest in Malaya at the time.[7] In total, the Causeway required the labour of over 2,000 workers and millions of tons of building materials, including 1.5 million cubic yards (1,146,832 cu m) of stone quarried at Bukit Timah and Pulau Ubin.[8]

Despite the construction difficulties, the Causeway was completed on 11 June 1924, three months ahead of schedule. It had been opened to trains from 17 September 1923 and passengers from 1 October 1923.[9] A causeway toll, ranging from 20 to 40 cents depending on train carriage class, was also introduced.[10] The Causeway’s official opening ceremony was held in Johor Bahru on 28 June 1924. It was a grand event filled with military pageantry and attended by more than 300 guests.[11] Following the ceremony, a convoy of motorcars conveyed the governor, sultan of Johor, British officials and Malay rulers across the Causeway into Singapore to mark its opening for public use.

1. Alfonso, G, et. al. (2011). The Causeway (p. 16–31). Kuala Lumpur: National Archives of Malaysia; Singapore: National Archives of Singapore. Call no.: RSING 388.132095957 CAU.
2. Johore Causeway. (1923, October 1). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG .
3. Alfonso, 2011, pp. 47–49; The Straits Times, 1 Oct 1923, p. 10.
4. Alfonso, 2011, p. 53.
5. Alfonso, 2011, p. 53.
6. Alfonso, 2011, p. 53.
7. The Causeway. (1924, June 27). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. The Straits Times, 1 Oct 1923, p. 10.
9. The Straits Times, 1 Oct 1923, p. 10.
10. The Straits Times, 1 Oct 1923, p. 10.
11. The Causeway. (1924, June 28). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. The Straits Times, 28 Jun 1924, p. 9.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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