Coleman Bridge #Heritage
View a video of the Coleman Bridge here.
Featuring today a slice of Singapore’s #heritage – the Coleman Bridge, which links Hill Street and New Bridge Road and situated between Boat Quay and Clarke Quay. You’ve probably seen it or travelled on it multiple times while barely taking notice of it (unless at night when it is lit with glamorous lights).
But the Coleman Bridge tells a hidden story of endurance and reinvention, of doing what is needed to serve our city over and over again.
Situated between Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, Coleman Bridge is one of nine bridges on the Singapore River, and was originally built in 1840. That’s nearly two centuries ago! It was named after its architect George Drumgold Coleman, an Irishman who was also the Superintendent of Public Works in the mid-19th century. The first Coleman Bridge was constructed in a masonry or brick structure. It had nine arches and was approximately 6 metres wide. It gave New Bridge Road its name because the road led from Coleman as a new bridge then.
As the city grew, Coleman Bridge was replaced in 1865 by a timber bridge for $10,000. Because it was not constructed well, it had to be rebuilt a third time in 1886. This time, the bridge had three lanes and met increased traffic needs between the north and south of town. Back then, it was one of the most elegantly-designed and built bridges in Singapore, with pontoons in the water, octagonal piers painted white and brown holding up the bridge, and graceful wrought-iron gas lamps rising from the octagonal piers.
Then, over a hundred years later (talk about durability!) in 1990, the New Bridge Road Widening Scheme expanded Coleman Bridge even further. It was a massive undertaking that required a temporary bridge to be built first to allow for the expansion of the Coleman Bridge. And because the new bridge was so large, it required a much deeper and larger foundation to be sunk into the Singapore River bed. That version of Coleman Bridge is the one we see today.
As a homage to previous iterations of the bridge, the current Coleman Bridge retained architectural and decorative features of the 1886 bridge, such as the ornate columns, lamp posts, railing, and arched support. The Coleman Bridge’s underpass features colourful murals depicting its community over time. At night, Coleman Bridge is dressed in stage lights, making it a must-see for visitors and photo-bugs.
Is Coleman a conservation status bridge? No. Is it artistically done like Cavanagh Bridge and Elgin Bridge? Also no. But it did adapt and grow to take on bigger loads, just like our city. Coleman Bridge is also a meaningful part of the Singapore story.
#heritage #singapore #colemanbridge #cbd #downtown