The “Read Bridge” Story
iPhoneOgraphy – 30 Oct 2016 (Day 304/366)
Read Bridge (Chinese: 李德桥) is a beam-structured bridge located at Clarke Quay within the Singapore River Planning Area in Singapore. The bridge crosses the Singapore River linking Clarke Quay to Swissôtel Merchant Court. The bridge was built in 1881 and completed in 1889. The bridge is opened to pedestrians and bicycles, and has been modified several times.
Read Bridge was named after William Henry Macleod Read, who was a prominent resident in Singapore between 1841 and 1887 and Consul for the Netherlands between 1857 and 1885. The bridge’s construction took place in 1881 and was completed in 1889. The bridge was opened by then governor Clementi Smith in 1889, Read laid the first cylinder in 1887, before he left the colony. The locals called the bridge Malacca Bridge, given its proximity to Kampong Malacca at Merchant Road. The Hokkiens refer the bridge as kam kong ma lah kah kio (Kampong Malacca Bridge). It was also known as Green Bridge because of the colour of the bridge during the period of time. Among students in Singapore this bridge is commonly known as “The Bridge”, as it is a popular meeting and drinking spot during the night. In the past, labourers and tongkang rowers gathered there to listen to Teochew storytellers. The southern side of the bridge was called colloquially cha chun tau, a reference to the boats that carried firewood from Indonesia to the shops that sold them there. Piles of firewood lined the streets in the area. Near the cha chun tau area were two Teochew opera theaters, Ee Hng and Diat Hng. Part of the area around the bridge was locally known as cha chun tau, a jetty for boats carrying firewood. Tongkangs carried firewood will unload their cargo at the bridge.
On 3 November 2008, the bridge was selected for conservation as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s expanded conservation programme.