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A Tour to Raffles Lighthouse Singapore: Navigating Through History

Updated: Feb 21


Raffles Lighthouse (Credit MPA)
Raffles Lighthouse (Credit MPA)

A Guiding Light in Maritime History

Nestled on Pulau Satumu, affectionately known as "one tree island," Raffles Lighthouse stands as a timeless tribute to Singapore's visionary founder, Thomas Stamford Raffles. Crafted by the skilled hands of architect John Bennett, this iconic beacon commenced its daily watch over the western entrance of the Singapore Straits in November 1855.


The maritime saga of Raffles Lighthouse began to unfold in July 1838 when the need for a guiding light in the western entrance of the Singapore Straits was proposed. After considering islands like Barn, Alligator, and Coney, the final decision rested on Coney Island, now known as Pulau Satumu. In May 1854, Governor Butterworth laid the foundation stone in a grand ceremony, combining Masonic traditions with military splendor.


Raffles Lighthouse Singapore (Credit TimeOut)
Raffles Lighthouse Singapore (Credit TimeOut)

Masonic Mysteries and Military Splendor

The lighthouse's birth wasn't a low-key affair. On that fateful day in 1854, a Masonic ceremony, officiated by William H. Read, unfolded with the laying of the foundation stone. Indian convicts played a pivotal role, serving as stone-cutters, blasters, and laborers under the supervision of the Convict Department. Military pomp, a party celebration, and the invaluable efforts of these individuals marked the inception of Raffles Lighthouse.


Crafting Elegance: The Design Saga

Standing proudly on an island with dimensions of 70 ft by 22 ft, Raffles Lighthouse is a testament to the brilliance of architect John Bennett. With 102 steps ascending to a height of 30 ft above sea level, the design harmoniously blends functionality with elegance. Bennett, a distinguished civil and mechanical engineer, applied his expertise, leaving an indelible mark on this maritime masterpiece. His prior involvement in St Andrew's Cathedral attests to his knack for crafting architectural wonders.



From Manpower to Solar Power

As the rest of the world embraced automation, Raffles Lighthouse followed suit. In 1988, it bid farewell to manned operations, transitioning to solar power and timer activation. Today, it continues to stand as a sentinel, guiding ships through the waters with its main and standby rotating beacons, each producing 117,000 candelas.


Present and Preserved

Don't be fooled by its age; Raffles Lighthouse still stands as a testament to maritime history. Off-limits to all but lighthouse staff and special visitors, its first open house during the Singapore HeritageFest in 2014 offered a rare glimpse inside its glass-panelled dome. The gleaming white exterior and century-old brass fittings add a touch of nostalgia, while a small museum within showcases maritime artifacts from the 1970s.


Raffles Lighthouse on Pulau Satumu (Credit The Smart Local)
Raffles Lighthouse on Pulau Satumu (Credit The Smart Local)

Navigating the Future: Singapore Maritime Discoveries

As we sail into the future, Lion Heartlanders and MPA Singapore are gearing up to revive the Raffles Lighthouse Guided Tours. Now rebranded as Singapore Maritime Discoveries, these tours promise an immersive journey into the rich maritime heritage encapsulated by Raffles Lighthouse. Stay tuned for an immersive experience, blending history, technology, and the allure of the seas.



Conclusion

In the world of maritime history, Raffles Lighthouse isn't just a beacon, it's a living, gleaming testament to the intersection of design, history, and the ever-evolving seas. As we've traversed its storied past, the lighthouse's gleaming tower has become a symbol of resilience and continuity against the backdrop of ever-evolving maritime narratives.


Don't miss out on the maritime wonders that await. Keep yourself updated on our latest tours and dive into the enchanting world of Raffles Lighthouse. The sea awaits, and so do the tales of Raffles Lighthouse!



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