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Eddie Cheng

Singapore River (Cavenagh Bridge / 加文纳桥) #03

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Singapore River, Singapore.

Built in 1869 to link the Civic District on the North Bank with the Commercial District on the South Bank, the Cavenagh Bridge is the oldest bridge along the Singapore River in its original form. It is also the first steel suspension bridge in Singapore. Before its construction, access between the two districts was only possible by a detour over Elgin Bridge or by paying one cent for a boat ride.

Named after Colonel (later Major-General) Orfeur Cavenagh, the Governor of the Straits Settlements (1859-1867), the bridge was designed by the Public Works Department. It was manufactured by P & W MacLellan in Scotland and the parts were shipped here and assembled by Indian convict labour. According to the original 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 the late 1800s, the bridge could not withstand the growing volume of vehicular traffic and Anderson Bridge was opened in 1910 to ease the flow. Cavenagh Bridge thus became a pedestrian bridge. A police notice put up to regulate the use of the bridge, banning heavy vehicular traffic exceeding 3 cwt (hundred weight) or 152 kilogrammes, still stands today at either end of the bridge.

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