Philip Jackson

Lieutenant Philip Jackson, (b. 24 September 1802, Durham, England - d.1879) was an Officer in the Bengal Regiment of Artillery, executive engineer and Surveyor of Public Lands. As an accomplished surveyor and draughtsman, he produced a number of important maps, including one of the earliest maps of Singapore Island, the Plan of the Town of Singapore, and the earliest known drawing of Singapore. He was also the first architect of the original Singapore Institution building.

Early life
At the age 16, Jackson became a cadet in the East India Company's army and was soon sailing to India to join the famous Bengal Artillery Regiment. He was sent to Singapore on 22 January 1822 to defend the town in case of an attack but the attack never came.

Executive engineer and Surveyor of Public Lands
When Sir Stamford Raffles was on his third and final visit to Singapore, he sought able men to help him build his town. Dissatisfied with the way in which Colonel Farquhar, then Resident, had haphazardly developed the Settlement, Raffles appointed Jackson to remodel and rebuild Singapore according to Raffles' own plan. Raffles formed a Town Committee with Jackson assigned to assist this Committee. Jackson spent five years in Singapore as senior officer, executive engineer and Surveyor of Public Lands, helping to plan the infant town.

A draft lining out the streets was ready on 6 December 1822, and by February 1823, with the plan in definite shape covering proposals for Singapore's future progress, the reconstruction programme went full swing. The plan though not an actual survey, was more an outline of details, but included Raffles' important instructions of government, military and commercial locations, and town centres (kampongs also spelt campongs) to house the different ethnic communities. Throughout this period, Jackson was executive engineer of what we would now call the Public Works Department. In a sketch-drawing dated 5 June 1823, Jackson shows the town around and to the east of the Singapore River, viewed from the sea. He is known to have drawn other maps and plans for Raffles too. On 1 February 1826, Jackson was appointed Surveyor at a salary of Rs. 300 per month to survey lands, register grants and transfers.

Singapore Institution
On Raffles' instructions on 12 January 1823, Jackson prepared plans for the Singapore Institution (later called the Raffles Institution) with an estimated building cost of 15,000 Spanish dollars. With Jackson as the architect/engineer, work commenced that year on a simple design, but the building was not well constructed, and by 1832 still unfinished, and in a ruinous state. For several years it remained an eye-sore to the public until a committee was appointed on 27 August 1835 to see the completion of the building. In May 1936, George D. Coleman presented plans and cost estimates which were accepted, to complete the building. The Free Press reported in May 1837 that the Institution building was nearly finished, and by December that year classes moved in. The second wing extension was also completed by G. D. Coleman at the end of 1841. Not much else was heard of Jackson after this period.

Sri Mariamman Temple and the first bridge
The Sri Mariamman Temple at South Bridge Road is part of Singapore's first town plan drawn up by Philip Jackson. Jackson was also involved in the construction of the first bridge over the Singapore River, Presentment Bridge or Monkey Bridge (at the site of Elgin Bridge).

Vernon Cornelius-Takahama, 1999

Archer, M., & Bastin, J. (1978). The Raffles drawings in the India Office Library, London (p. 6). Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press (Call no.: RSING 741.959 ARC)

Beamish, J. (1985). A history of Singapore architecture: The making of a city (pp. 12, 42-43). Singapore: G. Brash.
(Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 BE) 

Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore:1819-1867 (pp. 122, 127-131, 193). Singapore: Oxford University Press
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC) 

Hancock, T. H. H. (1986). Coleman's Singapore (p. 80). Kuala Lumpur: JMBRAS & Pelanduk Publications.
(Call no.: RSING 720.924COL.H)

Pearson, H. F . (1955). People of early Singapore (pp. 109-114). University of London Press. 
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 PEA) 

Sheppard, M. (Ed.). (1982). Singapore 150 years (pp. 135-154). Singapore: Times Books International: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.
(Call No.: RSING 959.57 SIN) 

The information in this article is valid as at 1998 and correct as far as we can 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.

Colonial administrators
Jackson, Philip, 1802-1879
Colonial administrators--Singapore--Biography
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