Timothy Tye
Dalhousie Obelisk


Dalhousie Obelisk, SingaporeDalhousie Obelisk, Singapore (8 July, 2006)





The Dalhousie Obelisk (GPS: 1.28741, 103.85225) is a memorial on the north bank of the Singapore River, near Fullerton Road, and in close proximity to the Asian Civilisations Museum at Empress Place and the Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall. The obelisk was erected to commemorate the second visit of the Marquis of Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India from 1848 to 1856. The purpose of his visit was to look into ways to reduce the government's administrative cost.

However, the local people of Singapore, particularly the merchants and traders, had a totally different agenda for the marquis. They felt that Singapore's infrastructure has not been developed in tandem with its economic development, and they wanted Dalhousie to exert his influence on that matter. To win him over, they renamed the pier where he came ashore after him - calling it Dalhousie Ghaut - and placed a commemorative obelisk there. Unfortunately, nothing of that sort materialised from the visit.

The Dalhousie Obelisk was designed by John Turnbull Thomson, the engineer who also designed a previous version of the St Andrew's Cathedral. He obviously drew his inspiration from the Cleopatra's Needle of London.

Like many historic memorials in Singapore, the Dalhousie Obelisk has been moved a number of times. The first was in 1886, when land reclamation for the building of Connaught Drive affected the Dalhousie Ghaut. To save it, the obelisk was moved closer to the sea wall, where the Cenotaph now stood (at that time, Queen Elizabeth Walk had not existed yet).

Five year after that, in 1891, the obelisk was moved once more. This time, on the instruction of Governor Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, it was transferred to its present site where it stays to this day.

The Dalhousie Obelisk is on the map of Fullerton Road

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