Raffles Lighthouse



Raffles Lighthouse is located on Pulau Satumu, 23 km southwest of Singapore, at the western entrance of Singapore Straits. Designed by John Bennett, the lighthouse was named after and dedicated to the memory of the founder of Singapore, Thomas Stamford Raffles. The foundation stone was laid in 1854 by William J. Butterworth, then governor of the Straits Settlements. The lighthouse began daily operations from November 1855.1

History
In July 1838, it was proposed that a lighthouse be built on one of the islands at the western entrance of the Singapore Straits, with suggestions that Barn Island, Alligator Island and Coney Island were the most advantageous.2 The eventual choice was Coney Island (today’s Pulau Satumu3), which was considered the best location with its position, on the south channel sea passage into Singapore, and ideal for hosting a lighthouse.4


On 24 May 1854, foundation stone and memorial tablet for Raffles Lighthouse were laid by Governor Butterworth.5 A Masonic ceremony with the laying of the foundation stone was officiated by William H. Read.6 Amidst much military pomp and followed by a party celebration, the Raffles Lighthouse project was thereafter executed with the help of Indian convicts and other labourers. Indian convicts served as stone-cutters, blasters and labourers of the project, supervised by an officer of the Convict Department.7 Raffles Lighthouse was completed and began operations on 1 November 1855.8

Description
The lighthouse stands on an island with a superficial area of 70 ft by 22 ft and is only 30 ft above sea level.9 It was designed by John Bennett, a civil and mechanical engineer,10 who had also assisted in the construction of St Andrew’s Cathedral.11 The original light beam came from a fixed bright dioptric light of the third order. The centre of the light beam was 106 ft above the high-water mark, and was visible about 12 nautical miles away.12 On 1 October 1968, the lighthouse changed from using kerosene to an electrical light source, and with a new fourth order optic, the light-beam strength was increased from 99,000 to 350,000 candle power.13

Raffles Lighthouse is still in operation today. It is out-of-bounds except for the lighthouse staff and visitors with special permission.

Inscription on foundation stone
The inscription on the foundation stone reads:14


In the Year of our Lord
1854,
and in the Seventeenth Year of the reign of
VICTORIA,
QUEEN OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND,
The Most Noble
James Andrew Marquis of Dalhousie, Kt.
being Governor-General of British India,
The Foundation Stone
of the Lighthouse, to be erected on the
Coney, and dedicated to the Memory of
SIR STAMFORD RAFFLES, Kt.
LL.D., F.R.S. and S.A.L.S.,
to whose Enlightened Policy, the Mercantile
World is indebted for the selection of
SINGAPORE AS AN EMPORIUM,
and for the Freedom of its Commerce from
all restraints,
was laid on the 24th of May, the anniversary
of the birthday of
HER MOST GRACIOUS MAJESTY.
by the
WORSHIPFUL MASTER
and the
BRETHREN OF THE LODGE ZETLAND IN THE EAST,
No. 748,
In the presence of
COLONEL BUTTERWORTH, C.B.
The Governor of the Straits Settlements, and
many of the British and Foreign Residents at Singapore.

Inscription on memorial tablet
Raffles Lighthouse Memorial Tablet was inscribed in both Latin and English, and was placed in the visitor’s room. The English inscription reads:15

The Raffles Lighthouse
erected in the year of Our Lord
1854
by the Honourable East India Company
and dedicated to the Memory of
SIR STAMFORD RAFFLES,
The Founder of Singapore,
to whose liberal and comprehensive Policy
This Settlement is indebted for its
Free Port
and the unrivalled position it now holds
as an Emporium
in the Indian Seas.
Colonel W. J. Butterworth, C.B.,
Governor of Prince of Wales' Island,
Singapore, and Malacca.



Author

Vernon Cornelius-Takahama



References
1. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 520–526. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
2. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 520–526. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
3. Centenary visit to lighthouse. (1954, May 19). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. Not to be confused by Pulau Serangoon, which is known as Coney Island today.
4. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 520. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
5. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 520–526. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 1). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 590. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]) 
6. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 520–526. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
7. McNair, J. F. A. (1899). Prisoners their own warders. Westminster: A. Constable, p. 62. (Call no.: RSEA 365.95957 MAC)
8. Page 6 advertisements column 1. (1855, November 1). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 520–526. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
10. McNair, J. F. A. (1899). Prisoners their own warders. Westminster: A. Constable, p. 62. (Call no.: RSEA 365.95957 MAC)
11. History of the Victorias. (2009, January 3). The Straits Times, p. 89. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 480. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
12. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 520–526. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
13. Singapore year book. (1968). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 298. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
14. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 522. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
15. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 522. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])



The information in this article is valid as at 1999 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.

 

Subject
Lighthouses--Singapore
Monuments--Singapore
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Monuments
National monuments
Arts>>Architecture>>Architectural structure