View of Singapore

original art: drawing. This appears to be a view up the Singapore River to the high ground of what is now Fort Canning Park. The vessels shown are anchored in today's inner harbour, now almost totally enclosed by land reclamation of the area shown towards the distant shoreline at far left. The area still called the Esplanade is to the right. The large building shown no longer survives but may be the early Court House. The two substantial Western vessels are a full-rigged ship, and a brig beyond. That on the right is a ketch-rigged Malay 'tongkang', a type widely used in the area in the 19th century, notably in the firewood trade, and which became the typical Singapore cargo lighter until later supplanted by the Chinese 'twakow' (see Stephen Dobbs, 'The Singapore River: A Social History, 1819-2002 [2012], Appendix 1). The curious central feature between the masts may be a counterweighted gantry for loading and unloading. The drawing was previously dated c. 1820 but Singapore was only established as a Western trading base by Stamford Raffles in 1819 on the site of a much more ancient local settlement, so is probably a little later and by an amateur rather than professional hand. [PvdM 10/14]

Object Details

ID: PAD8603
Type: Drawing
Display location: Not on display
Creator: British School, 19th century
Places: Unlinked place
Date made: ca.1820; circa 1830
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Mount: 122 mm x 195 mm

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