Singapore’s Elgin Bridge

Singapore - Scott #451 (1985)
Singapore – Scott #451 (1985)

When I picked this stamp out for today’s post, my initial thought was to “throw it back”, much as I would a caught fish judged to be too small. The design is just too simplistic for my usual tastes, but… It’s a place that I have visited and I always try to include such stamps in my collection when I can. As far as I could determine, this is the only one released to portray the Elgin Bridge,  a vehicular bridge across the Singapore River, linking the Downtown Core to the Singapore River Planning Area located within Singapore’s Central Area.

The bridge was named after Lord Elgin, Governor-General of India in 1862 when an iron bridge was built across the river, replacing an older wooden bridge. The current bridge was built in 1929. As this was the first bridge across the river, the two roads leading to it were named North Bridge Road and South Bridge Road accordingly.

Map showiing the brdiges that cross the Singapore River. The Elgin Bridge is the fifth one in from the mouth of the river.
Map showiing the brdiges that cross the Singapore River. The Elgin Bridge is the fifth one in from the mouth of the river.

In 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles landed on Singapore and founded the colony. Raffles issued an instruction on June 25, 1819, that a bridge be built as soon as possible across the Singapore River so that it may link a town planned for the Chinese community on the southern side of the river to another intended for the Malays on the northern side.

In 1822, a wooden footbridge was built under the direction of Lieutenant Philip Jackson and it was officially named Presentment Bridge. It was also known as Jackson’s Bridge and Monkey Bridge.

[url=https://flic.kr/p/PpnkDS][img]https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1972/31113210968_06bf04dd5c_o.jpg[/img][/url][url=https://flic.kr/p/PpnkDS]DSC00967[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/am-jochim/]Mark Jochim[/url], on Flickr
Elgin Bridge in Singapore. Photo taken by Mark Joseph Jochim on October 31, 2006.

In 1844, a wooden footbridge built by John Turnbull Thomson replaced the older bridge, and was named Thomson’s Bridge. This was demolished in 1862; in its place an iron bridge was built and named Elgin Bridge after James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, Governor General of India. It was widened in the 1870s. In 1925, the iron bridge had to make way for a new concrete bridge, which was opened to traffic by the Governor of the Straits Settlements Sir Hugh Clifford on May 30, 1929.

Elgin Bridge, Singapore, with one brass lamp visible. The traffic arrows cover one of the bronze plaques containing the crest of the Singapore Municipal Commission. Photo taken by Mark Joseph Jochim on October 31, 2006.
Elgin Bridge, Singapore, with one brass lamp visible. The traffic arrows cover one of the bronze plaques containing the crest of the Singapore Municipal Commission. Photo taken by Mark Joseph Jochim on October 31, 2006.

Cavaliere Rudolfo Nolli, an Italian sculptor, designed the cast iron lamps on both sides of the bridge. His signature is inscribed beneath the lamps. Bronze plaques, each with a lion standing in front of a royal palm tree engraved on it, can also be found below the lamps.

Elgin Bridge is known as thih tiau kio (爱琴桥) in Hokkien, meaning “iron suspension bridge”.

On November 3, 2008, the bridge was selected for conservation as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s expanded conservation program.

Singapore - Scott #449-452 (1985) - first day cover [NIMC2018] image from active eBay auction
Singapore – Scott #449-452 (1985) – first day cover [NIMC2018] image from active eBay auction

Scott #451 was released on March 15, 1985, as part of a set of four stamps portraying some of the many bridges in Singapore. I only have a used copy of the 75-cent picturing the Elgin Bridge. The stamps were recess-printed and perforated 14¼ x 13¾ (the Scott catalogue says the gauges are 14½ x 14). A 2009 joint-issue with The Philippines also marked Singaporean bridges but Elgin Bridge wasn’t included in that set.

Flag of Singapore
Flag of Singapore
Coat of Arms of Singapore
Coat of Arms of Singapore

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