Elgin Bridge



Elgin Bridge spans the Singapore River and joins North Bridge Road to South Bridge Road.1 Built in 1862, the bridge was named after Lord James Bruce Elgin, the Governor-General of India (1862–1863) and eighth Earl of Elgin.2 The bridge functioned until January 1927, when it made way for the construction of the present Elgin Bridge, which opened on 30 May 1929. 

History
The earliest bridge to span the Singapore River was erected in 1822, at the site where Elgin Bridge now stands.4 Constructed under the direction of Lieutenant Philip Jackson, the wooden footbridge was called Presentment Bridge and was also known as Monkey Bridge.5 It provided the only crossing over the river until 1840, when Coleman Bridge was constructed further upstream.6


After many repairs between 1827 and 1842, Presentment Bridge was demolished and replaced in 1844 with a wooden footbridge designed by J. T. Thomson. It was then renamed Thomson’s Bridge.7 In 1845, the bridge was widened and modified to accommodate carriages.8

In 1862, Thomson’s Bridge was replaced by an iron bridge imported from Calcutta.9 Built by the engineer George Lyon, the structure was named Elgin Bridge, in honour of Lord Elgin, the Governor-General of India.10 Elgin Bridge was widened and strengthened in 1886 to accommodate tramways.11 
 
Elgin Bridge was closed on 23 December 1926 and dismantled in January 1927 for reconstruction to keep up with the volume of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.12 The new structure was designed by municipal bridge engineer, T. C. Hood, who also supervised its construction.13 Two years were spent laying the foundations of the bridge, which involved sinking six caissons into the river bed.14 The steel framework of the bridge was fabricated in Glasgow and assembled on the North Bridge Road side, before being towed over the river as one complete structure on 30 October 1928.15

Officially opened to traffic on 30 May 1929, the present Elgin Bridge is the fourth to be built on the same site.16 It is supported by three arches with slender hanging columns carrying the deck. It has steel frames encased in concrete. The bridge’s cast-iron lamp posts and roundels were designed by Italian sculptor Cavalieri Rodolfo Nolli.17

Elgin Bridge was restored in 1989 as part of the master plan to beautify the Singapore River.18 Two pedestrian underpasses on both ends of the bridge were opened in 1991 and 1992.19 Elgin Bridge was given conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority on 3 December 2009.20

Variant names
Chinese names: thih tiau-kio, in Hokkien, and thit tiu-khiu, in Cantonese, both mean iron suspension bridge.21 



Author

Vernon Cornelius-Takahama



References 
1. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
2. Municipal Council. (1862, July 26). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
3. Singapore. Municipality. (1928). Administration report of the Singapore municipality for the year 1927 [Microfilm no.: NL 3412]. Singapore: Fraser & Neave, Limited, p. F-2; Singapore Municipality. (1930). Administration report of the Singapore municipality for the year 1929 [Microfilm no.: NL 3414]. Singapore: Fraser & Neave, Limited, p. F-2.
4. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 690. (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. 323. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
5. Cheong, C. (1992). Framework and foundation: A history of the Public Works Department. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 50. (Call no.: RSING 354.5957008609 CHE)
6. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 1). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 323. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
7. Cheong, C. (1992). Framework and foundation: A history of the Public Works Department. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 51. (Call no.: RSING 354.5957008609 CHE); Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 630, 571. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-HIS]); Untitled. (1847, April 15). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Cheong, C. (1992). Framework and foundation: A history of the Public Works Department. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 51. (Call no.: RSING 354.5957008609 CHE)
9. Cheong, C. (1992). Framework and foundation: A history of the Public Works Department. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 51. (Call no.: RSING 354.5957008609 CHE)
10. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 733. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Municipal Council. (1862, July 26). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Cheong, C. (1992). Framework and foundation: A history of the Public Works Department. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 51. (Call no.: RSING 354.5957008609 CHE); The Municipality. (1886, April 3). Straits Times Weekly Issue, p. 6; Municipal engineer’s report for October. (1886, December 13). Straits Times Weekly Issue, p. 12; The Municipality. (1887, January 31). Straits Times Weekly Issue, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Singapore Municipality. (1927). Administration report of the Singapore municipality for the year 1926 [Microfilm no.: NL 3413]. Singapore: Fraser & Neave, Limited, p. 6; Singapore Municipality. (1928). Administration report of the Singapore municipality for the year 1927 [Microfilm no.: NL 3412]. Singapore: Fraser & Neave, Limited, p. F-2; Elgin Bridge. (1926, December 24). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. The new Elgin Bridge nearing completion. (1928, November 3). Malayan Saturday Post, p. 36; Elgin Bridge across. (1928, October 30). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Elgin bridge reconstruction. (1927, August 25). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 9; Elgin bridge problem. (1928, October 24). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Elgin Bridge across. (1928, October 30). The Straits Times, p. 10; Singapore’s bridges. (1928, October 31). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Singapore Municipality. (1930). Administration report of the Singapore municipality for the year 1929 [Microfilm no.: NL 3414] Singapore: Fraser & Neave, Limited, p. F-2; Facelift for Elgin Bridge. (1988, March 10). The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Cheong, C. (1992). Framework and foundation: A history of the Public Works Department. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 53. (Call no.: RSING 354.5957008609 CHE); Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
18. Ministry of Communications and Information. (1990). Singapore. Singapore: Author, p. 165. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN); Bridges to the past along the Singapore River. (1986, October 5). The Straits Times, p. 1; Facelift for Elgin Bridge. (1988, March 10). The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. 2 underpasses for Elgin Bridge. (1992, September 10). The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2016, July 28). Singapore River bridges. Retrieved 2016, October 13, from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: https://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/conservation/conservation-xml.aspx?id=SRB
21. Firmstone, H. W. (1905, February). Chinese names of streets and places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42, 142. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.57 JMBRAS)



The information in this article is valid as at 2010 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
Architecture
Historic bridges--Singapore
Streets and Places
Transportation
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Architecture and Landscape>>Architectural Styles
Arts>>Architecture>>Architectural structure
History>>Asia>>Southeast Asia>>Singapore
Commerce and Industry>>Transportation