Read Bridge

by _People:Cornelius, Vernon

Read Bridge is a beam structured bridge that straddles the central part of the Singapore River.1 The bridge was officially opened by then Governor Cecil Clementi Smith on 18 April 1889.

History and description
Read Bridge was named in honour of merchant and political and social activist, William Henry Macleod Read, who laid the first cylinder for the bridge on 28 February 1887.2

Read Bridge was constructed to replace an earlier structure from 1863, Merchant Bridge, as the latter did not provide enough height clearance for bumboats to pass under it.

Read Bridge crosses the uppermost limit of Boat Quay, and was also called Green Bridge because of its colour at the time.4 In the early days, the area around Read Bridge was a mainly Teochew enclave whose residents included coolies and boatmen. Up to the 1960s, the bridge was a popular venue for night entertainment where storytellers plied their trade and street operas were staged.5 In the early 1990s, the government spent S$8.4 million to rebuild the bridge.6

In 2008, Read Bridge was selected for conservation as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s conservation programme.7

Also named after William H. Read, nearby Read Street connects Read Bridge to form the boundary between Clarke Quay8 and North Boat Quay.9

Variant names
Malay name: Jembatan Kampong Melaka, which means “Malaccan Village Bridge” as it was located where the original Kampong Melaka or “Malaccan Village” once stood.10

Chinese name: Kam-kong ma-la-kah kio (Hokkien) and Kampong ma-lak-kak kiu (Cantonese), which mean “Kampong Malacca Bridge”.11

Vernon Cornelius

1. Jalelah Abu Baker, “Know More about Singapore’s New Jubilee Bridge and Older Iconic Bridges,” Straits Times, 6 April 2015 (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website); Singapore Street Directory, Bridge Street, map, accessed 30 September 2016.
2. Ray Tyers and Siow Jin Hua, Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & Now (Singapore: Landmark Books, 1993), 26–27 (Call no. RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 322–24 (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); Wan Meng Hao and Jacqueline Lau, Heritage Places of Singapore (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2009), 15. (Call no. RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
3. “Singapore River Walk,” National Heritage Board, 51, accessed 13 March 2017.
4. Norman Edwards and Keys Peter, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 506 (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 322–24.
5. Wan and Lau, Heritage Places of Singapore, 15; Edwards and Peter, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 506.
6. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 26–27; Abu Baker, “Singapore’s New Jubilee Bridge and Older Iconic Bridges.”
7. Tay Suan Chiang, “Twelve Iconic Structures,” Straits Times, 4 October 2008, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Singapore Street Directory, Bridge Street.
9. Abu Baker, “Singapore’s New Jubilee Bridge and Older Iconic Bridges.”
10. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 322–24; Peter K. G. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore (Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, 200), 261. (Call no. RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS])
11. H. W. Firmstone, “Chinese Names of Streets and Places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula,” Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42 (February 1905): 142. (Call no. RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)

The information in this article is valid as at 2017 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.


Historic bridges--Singapore