Dalhousie Obelisk

Dalhousie Obelisk, Singapore , public art

Public Art : Dalhousie Obelisk

Also Known As : Dalhousie Memorial

Designed by : John Turnbull Thomson (1821-1884)

Description: The Dalhousie Obelisk was inspired by Cleopatra's Needle, the ancient Egyptian stone pillar that had been shipped from Egypt to London and erected on the banks of the River Thames.

Date Unveiled: 1850

Location: The Dalhousie Memorial was originally erected on Dalhousie Pier, but in 1886 it was moved to another site (now Cannaught Drive) then in 1891, it had its final move to its present location between Victoria Theatre and the Asian Civilisations Museum near Fullerton Road, Singapore.

Inscription 1 :

Erected by the European, Chinese and native inhabitants of Singapore to commemorate the visit in the month of February 1850 of the most noble The Marquis of Dalhousie, Governor General of British India, on which occasion he emphatically recognized the wisdom of liberating commerce from all restraints. Under which enlightened policy this settlement has proudly attained its present rank among British possessions and with which future prospects must ever be identified.

Inscription  2 :

Dalhousie Obelisk

The Dalhousie Obelisk was built to commemorate the visit of the Governor General of India, Lord Dalhousie, and his wife in 1850. Singapore was by then a thriving port under the British East India Company. The funds for the Obelisk were donated by the prosperous merchant community in the hope the visit would lead to dramatic improvements in public works, amenities and the administration of the settlement.

Unfortunately , nothing concrete materialised from the visit.

The Obelisk was designed by John Turnbull Thomson (1821-1884), a surveyor and engineer. During his years in Singapore , he produced maps of the town, the Island and the Straits, and constructed roads and bridges. He was also responsible for the building of Horsburgh Lighthouse on Pedra Branca at the eastern entrance to the Singapore Straits.

The Obelisk was threatened by the construction of Cannaught Drive in 1886. Governor Sir Cecil Clementi Smith intervened and ensured its safe removal to the present location where it has stood since 1891.


Things you may not know about the Dalhousie Memorial : This was the first public art ever erected in Singapore.

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