Dalhousie Pier



Dalhousie Pier, also known as Dalhousie Ghaut, was a 19th-century jetty located near the mouth of the Singapore River, in the vicinity of the former Empress Place Building (now Asian Civilisations Museum). The pier was named after the Marquis of Dalhousie, James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, who was then the governor-general of India. In addition to the pier, there was also a monument named after him, the Dalhousie Obelisk, which was erected near the pier where he landed, to commemorate his visit to Singapore in February 1850.1

History
A new jetty was built in 1849 at the foot of High Street, in the vicinity of key government offices. On 17 February 1850, then Governor-General of British India James Andrew Broun-Ramsay (1848–1856), together with a large party, disembarked at the jetty for their visit to Singapore.2 At the time of Dalhousie’s visit, Singapore, as part of the Straits Settlements, was administered as a residency under the Bengal Presidency. The governor-general undertook the three-day visit as part of his sea voyage to recover from an illness. During his time in Singapore, he visited public buildings and took an interest in the town’s affairs.3


Broun-Ramsay’s three-day trip was welcomed by the mercantile community, who had expected that the visit would lead to positive commercial and political change in Singapore. As such, a committee was formed soon after his departure, to consider how best to commemorate his trip. The committee comprised the society’s elite of the time: Ang Choon Seng, H. C. Caldwell, Joaquim d’Almeida, M. F. Davidson, J. Guthrie, G. G. Nicol, Seah Eu Chin and Tan Kim Seng. Besides recommending that a monument be built, they also proposed that the new jetty be named Dalhousie Ghaut. Both proposals were endorsed by then Governor of the Straits Settlements W. J. Butterworth in May 1850, and thus he is often credited with establishing the pier.4

Description
In 1854, plans were made to raise the roadway of the Dalhousie Ghaut.5 The following year, ornamental lamps were imported from London to light the pier at night. The lamps were said to have “fluted columns, turn over leaves, quatre pied feet, and square bases”. The glazed lanterns were made of copper and plate glass, while the oil burners featured copper silvered reflectors as well as parabolical reflectors for the front. The same lamps were also placed at the nearby Johnston’s Pier.6


The Dalhousie Ghaut, because of its location near government buildings, was a key landing place for visiting dignitaries such as governors, royalty and military troops.7 By 1877, the channel from the Dalhousie Obelisk to the Fort Canning flagstaff had been gazetted to serve anchorage only for war vessels.8 As a result, the obelisk, which was erected near the pier, became a harbour marker for these war vessels.9

Closure
The pier was also being actively used by the ordinary traveller in the mid-1870s, particularly those traversing from the mouth of the Singapore River through to the town.10 Even as early as the 1870s, several accidents and drownings had occurred because of the poor state of the pier and its surrounding sea wall. The steps to the pier were slippery, with the danger worsened at night when vision was impaired. Appeals were made to have police officers stationed at the pier in the evenings, particularly to aid returning seamen after a day out in town and who tended to be inebriated and might thus make a dangerous misstep at the pier.11


Temporary repairs were made only in March 1876 when the municipal council had the wooden section of Dalhousie Pier removed. As a result, Johnston’s Pier, which had a granite landing, was deemed the better, more “fashionable landing place”.12 By 1878, the municipal council had called for the Dalhousie Pier to be closed down because it was unsafe.13

By the late 1880s, Johnston’s Pier had become the preferred landing place for dignitaries.14 Although photographs show that Dalhousie Pier was still around as late as the 1890s, its concrete bollards and landing pier had been replaced by wooden railings and platform.15 Reports from the late 19th century also show that the pier was in a poor state: The wooden landing steps had almost broken down and no hand rail was built to aid disembarking passengers.16

Dalhousie Canal
The canal from Ellenborough Market and Sepoy Lines to Dalhousie Pier was named the Dalhousie Canal in 1858.17 It was filled up around 1863 and the reclaimed land sold to Messrs d’Almeida in 1864.18 In 1870, businessman Seah Eu Chin received government approval to build 50 homes on this site between New Bridge Road and New Market Road.19



Author

Bonny Tan



References
1. Dalhousie testimonial. (1850, June 4). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 65. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
2. Buckley, C. B. (1902). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore… (Vol. 2). [Microfilm no.: NL 269]. Singapore: Fraser & Neave, p. 507; Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (1921). One hundred years of Singapore… (Vol. 1). London: J. Murray, p. 336. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.51 MAK-[RFL])
3. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 527, 529. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
4. Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 66. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS]); Buckley, C. B. (1902). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore… (Vol. 2). [Microfilm no.: NL 269]. Singapore: Fraser & Neave, pp. 531-532; Colony cavalcade. (1936, March 22). The Straits Times, p. 2; Dalhousie testimonial. (1850, June 4). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Singapore municipal committee. (1854, February 28). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Singapore municipal committee. (1855, November 6). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Untitled. (1869, December 21). Straits Times Overland Journal, p. 6; Untitled. (1874, January 24). The Straits Times, p. 3; Untitled. (1855, March 27). The Straits Times, p. 4; The grand duke of Alexis. (1872, September 7). Straits Times Overland Journal, p. 2; Untitled. (1869, December 21). Straits Times Overland Journal, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. The government gazette. (1877, June 30). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Monuments of Singapore. (1902, October 13). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Singapore monuments. (1988, January 31). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Monday, 6th March. (1871, March 15). Straits Times Overland Journal, p. 6; Tuesday 8th June. (1875, June 12). The Straits Times, p. 4; Fortnight’s summary. (1875, June 12). The Straits Times, p. 1; Dalhousie Pier. (1875, June 12). The Straits Times, p; High Street robbery. (1873, April 10). Straits Times Overland Journal, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Municipal commissioners. (1876, March 25). The Straits Times, p. 2; Wednesday, 8th November, 1876. (1876, November 8). Straits Observer (Singapore), p. 2; From the Daily Times, 25th June. (1878, June 29). Straits Times Overland Journal, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. From the Daily Times, 25th June. (1878, June 29). Straits Times Overland Journal, p. 3; Untitled. (1878, November 30). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Untitled. (1890, March 31). The Straits Times, p. 2; A standing disgrace. (1889, May 29). Straits Times Weekly Issue, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Lee K. L. (1893). Dalhousie monument with scaffolding: General view [Image of Photograph], [Online]. Retrieved from PictureSG; Lee, K. L. (1890/1899). Dalhousie monument in the 1890s: General view [Image of Photograph] [Online]. Retrieved from PictureSG.
16. Untitled. (1899, July 28). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 2; Untitled. (1899, August 5). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Buckley, C. B. (1902). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore… (Vol. 2). [Microfilm no.: NL 269]. Singapore: Fraser & Neave, p. 667; Colony cavalcade. (1936, March 22). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Municipal council. (1863, October 31). The Straits Times, p. 2; Untitled. (1864, January 16). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Municipal council. (1870, June 4). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
Ismail Kassim. (1974, November 23). Interesting tale of the obelisk. New Nation, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

National Archives of Singapore. (1837). This canal which ran from the Singapore River near Ellenborough Market towards Pearl’s Hill was named after Dalhousie, the Indian governor-general [Image of Photograph] [Online]. Retrieved from National .Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline

Sutton, H. T. (1959, May 2). The Dalhousie Obelisk. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 15, 93.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])

Untitled. (1850, February 5). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 28 September 2015 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.

Subject
Heritage and Culture
Streets and Places
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Ethnic Communities
Transportation
Commerce and Industry>>Transportation
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
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Architecture and Landscape>>Architectural Styles
Arts>>Architecture>>Architectural structure
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Civic and Administrative Buildings
Obelisks-- Singapore
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Piers--Singapore
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