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George D. Coleman commences work in Singapore Jun 1822

Born in Drocheda, Ireland, Singapore’s first architect, George D. Coleman, arrived in Singapore in June 1822.[1] His earliest project was the design of a Residency House for Sir Stamford Raffles.[2] In 1833, Coleman was appointed Government Superintendent of Public Works.[3] He built many Palladian-style houses that were adapted to suit the tropics, and set the fashion for Singapore’s colonial architecture.[4] Coleman was also involved in land reclamation[5] and surveys of Singapore. His surveys of the island resulted in the printing of the first comprehensive map of the town and environs of Singapore in 1836.[6] Coleman Street, where his house stood, as well as Coleman Bridge, were named after him.[7] The Armenian Church[8] at Hill Street and Caldwell House at the former Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus at Victoria Street[9] are among the few remaining examples of buildings designed by Coleman. Examples of his work that have been demolished include the original Raffles Institution campus[10] and the first building of the former Church of St Andrew (now know as St Andrew’s Cathedral).[11]

Coleman was also a publisher. He teamed up with William Napier and Edward Boustead to establish the newspaper, The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. The first issue of this  newspaper was  published in  October  1835.[12] Coleman left Singapore in 1841.[13] He returned in 1843 with his wife,[14] succumbed to a fever and died in 1844.[15] Coleman is buried in the old cemetery on Fort Canning Hill.[16]

1. Harfield, A. (1988). Early cemeteries in Singapore (p. 166). London: British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia. Call no.: RSING 929.5095957 HAR; Hancock, T. H. H. (1986). Coleman’s Singapore (p. 12). [Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia]: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in association with Pelanduk Publications. Call no.: RSING 720.924 COL.H.
2. Hancock, 1986, p. 12.
3. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore 1819–1867 (p. 227). Singapore: Oxford University Press. Call no.: RSING English 959.57 BUC- [HIS].
4. Hancock, 1986, p. 1.
5. Buckley, 1984, p. 227.
6. Hancock, 1986, p. 40.
7. Buckley, 1984, p. 227.
8. Buckley, 1984, p. 284.
9. Hancock, 1986, p. 54; Boey, C. (1984, June 27). Bulldozers move in at convent. Singapore Monitor, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Buckley, 1984, pp. 130, 132.
11. Buckley, 1984, p. 286.
12. Buckley, 1984, p. 275.
13. Buckley, 1984, p. 227.
14. Harfield, 1988, p. 166.
15. Harfield, 1988, p. 166.
16. Davies, D. (1955, February 20). Coleman’s masterpiece – the old church. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


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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