Anderson Bridge

Anderson Bridge straddles the mouth of the Singapore River and connects Empress Place with Collyer Quay.1 It was named after John Anderson, governor of the Straits Settlements and high commissioner for the Federated Malay States (1904–11), who officially opened the bridge on 12 March 1910.2

The history of its construction can be traced to 1901 when the Singapore River Commission proposed building a new bridge as a potential solution to the inadequacies of the existing Cavenagh Bridge.3 In use since 1869, Cavenagh Bridge could no longer accommodate the growing vehicular and pedestrian traffic that came with the town’s rapid development.Moreover, the bridge was designed without the appropriate height allowance that would have enabled vessels to pass under it at high tide.

In 1904, the government of the Straits Settlements tasked the municipality to prepare the plans and estimates for a new bridge to be erected over the mouth of the Singapore River instead of enlarging or reconstructing Cavenagh Bridge.6

Designed by the municipal engineer, Robert Pierce, and his assistant D. M. Martin, Anderson Bridge has a basic arched structure comprising three steel arches with powerful ribs, two rusticated archways and a fluted pier at each end.It was constructed between 1908 and 1910 by the Public Works Department at the total cost of some $450,000 Straits dollars, or about £50,000, shared between the government of the Straits Settlements and the municipality.8 The Singapore Tramways Company contributed £3,000 towards the laying of lines for electric trams across the centre of the bridge to link the existing services at Tanjong Pagar and Bras Basah.

The superstructure was constructed by Howarth Erskine Ltd and the abutments by The Westminster Construction Company Ltd.10 The steelwork was fabricated in Britain and shipped over to Singapore while other components such as the railings, castings, rainwater channels, gully frames and covers were produced at the municipal workshops on River Valley Road.11 The plaque on the bridge is made of red granite imported from Aswan, Egypt.12 The original design for the bridge featured a pair of bronze lions but they were eventually left out for reasons of economy.13 

Anderson Bridge was refurbished in 1987 under the master plan to beautify the Singapore River.14 

The bridge is part of the circuit in the Singapore Grand Prix, which first debuted in 28 September 2008.15 
That same year, Anderson Bridge was selected for conservation by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.16 In August 2019, it was announced that Anderson Bridge, Elgin Bridge, and Cavenagh Bridge would be collectively gazetted as a National Monument.17


Vernon Cornelius & Janice Loo

1. Wan Meng Hao and Jacqueline Lau, Heritage Places of Singapore (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2009), 9. (Call no. RSING 959.57 WAN-HIS])
2. “Anderson Bridge Formally Opened Today by His Excellency,” Straits Times, 12 March 1910, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
3. “The Anderson Bridge,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 14 March 1910, 5; “Municipal Commission,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 14 March 1901, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
4. Wan and Lau, Heritage Places of Singapore, 9; Colin Cheong, Framework and Foundation: A history of the Public Works Department (Singapore: Times Editions for the Public Works Department, 1992), 58 (Call no. RSING 354.5957008609 CHE); “Anderson Bridge,” Straits Times, 20 August 1909, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Ray K. Tyers and Siow Jin Hua, Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Singapore Then & Now (Singapore: Landmark Books, 1993), 95. (Call no. RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
6. “Singapore Municipality,” Straits Times, 8 August 1905, 6; “Anderson Bridge,” Straits Times, 1 July 1908, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
7. Cheong, Framework and Foundation, 57; Wan and Lau, Heritage Places of Singapore, 10; “The Anderson Bridge.”
8. “The Anderson Bridge”; Straits Settlements, Annual Departmental Reports of the Straits Settlements for the Year 1908 (As Laid Before the Legislative Council) (Singapore: Govt. Print. Off., 1909), 431. (Microfilm NL1135)
9. “The Anderson Bridge”; “Anderson Bridge”; “The Tramway Lines,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 12 February 1910, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
10. “The Anderson Bridge.”
11. “Anderson Bridge,” Straits Times, 12 March 1910, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
12. “The Anderson Bridge.”
13. “The Anderson Bridge.”
14. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 95; “Bridges to the Past Along the Singapore River,” Straits Times, 5 October 1986, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
15. “The 100-Year-Old Bridge,” Straits Times, 23 March 2010, 6. (From NewspaperS).
16. Tay Suan Chiang, “Twelve Iconic Structures,” Straits Times, 4 October 2008, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
17. “Three Singapore River Bridges and the Padang to Be Gazetted as National Monuments,” Today, 3 August 2019. (From Factiva NLB's eResources website)

The information in this article is valid as at September 2019 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
Streets and Places