Drawing of Cavenagh Bridge, Singapore, for Glasgow engineers, P. & W. MacLellan Singapore

Drawing for Cavenagh Bridge, Singapore, 1868
Drawing for Cavenagh Bridge, Singapore, 1868

Custodian: University of Glasgow Archive Services

Reference: UGD 153/16/1/2

Cavenagh Bridge is Singapore’s only suspension bridge and spans the Singapore River in the Downtown Core. It was designed by John Turnbull Thomson of the Colonial Public Works Department and manufactured by the Glasgow engineers and machine makers, P. & W. MacLellan Ltd, at their Clutha Iron Works before being shipped to Singapore for assembly on site.

Opened in 1870, Cavenagh Bridge is one of the oldest bridges in Singapore, linking the Civic District on the northern bank to the Commercial District on the southern side. Prior to construction of the bridge the river was crossed by barge or via a detour over the Elgin Bridge.

According to an earlier design the bridge was to be raised during high tide to facilitate the passage of barges. However, this proved to be technically impossible and it became a fixed suspension bridge.

By 1910 the bridge had become overloaded with traffic. It was pedestrianised and the Anderson Bridge constructed to replace it. Today the bridge is cared for by the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s conservation programme.

The bridge was originally known as Edinburgh Bridge to commemorate a visit by the Duke of Edinburgh, but subsequently renamed for Colonel William Orfeur Cavenagh, the last Governor of the Straits Settlements (1859–67) under British Indian control.

There are four drawings of the bridge in the P. & W. MacLellan Collection at the University of Glasgow Archives. These all show the girders and chain anchorages. The MacLellan firm also built Singapore's cast iron Telok Ayer Market, completed in 1894.

Inscriptions: bottom right: '6 February 1868'; bottom left: 'DRAWING NO. 28'; top left: (stamped) 'P. & W. MACLELLAN / Engineers & Machine Makers / Clutha Iron Works / Glasgow'; (stamped) 'RECEIVED / FEB 10 / 1868'; on reverse, top left: 'Singapore Bridge / shewing alteration / on chain anchorage'.