Connecting Singapore’s cultural and commercial districts, the Cavenagh Bridge is one of the city’s oldest bridges as well as its first suspension bridge. At first glance, the smallish structure (currently accessible to pedestrians and cyclists only) may appear underwhelming, but no visit to the city-state is complete without a pilgrimage to the Cavenagh.
Erected along the shores of the Singapore River at its lower reaches in the downtown core, the Cavenagh was designed by R.M. Ordish and Colonel G.C. Collyer and constructed primarily in Glasgow before being shipped to Southeast Asia in the late 1860s. Originally named the Edinburgh Bridge to commemorate a visit from the Duke of Edinburgh during colonial rule, it was very quickly rechristened in honor of the Governor of the Straits Settlements, Major General William Orfeur Cavenagh (indeed, the bridge still bears coat of arms of the Cavenagh family).
Once slated for demolition (owing to its load restrictions and the obstacle it presents to river traffic), the bridge was saved from demolition in the early 20th century, at which point most vehicles were prohibited from crossing it (tourists are prone to posing alongside the crude sign announcing this prohibition). Special lighting has since been added to accentuate its elaborate suspensions struts, excessive riveting, and other architectural features at night.
Apart from the delights of the nearby cultural district, there are also numerous sculptures close at hand that may be of interest to visitors, most notably a sculpture depicting five young boys playfully leaping into the river and a peculiar family of cats situated at the southwest abutment. The massive scale of the post-colonial architecture that surrounds it may dwarf the Cavenagh, but this is also part of its charm. In any case, it’s well worth a look.