Sunday, March 8, 2015

[Singapore Parks] The Obelisk of Labrador Park

The Obelisk stands silently in the background of Labrador Park

Mention the word Singapore's obelisk and Singaporeans might either point you to Egypt or for the more knowledgeable, they will throw up the name "Dalhousie Obelisk".

So what about the obelisk at Labrador Park? Well, Labrador Park sees many historical structures - Fort Pasir Panjang, a machine gun pillbox and the replica of the Berlayer Rock (Batu Berlayer, 龙牙门, Long Ya Men, or Lot's Wife) can all be found in and around the vicinity. The original Batu Berlayer acted as a marker for seafarers from the 1500s onwards.

Anyway, I've digressed. The Obelisk seems to be one of the least maintained structures amongst all the other colonial structures. It is said that it was erected by the British to mark the western harbour limit and was also a marker that suggests that where the obelisk stood was the most southern tip of the Asian continent.The Obelisks were painted white so that sailors could have a clear visual sight of these monolith. (4)

These Obelisks were used to mark out the limits of the Port of Singapore. (3)  Obelisks were seen in Singapore as early as the 1879, one of which was located at Tanjong Katong. (6) Foreign warships had to take reference from these Obelisks and wait for the Port Officer's permission to anchor or proceed into the inner harbour. (5)

From this 1935 map, one can see the port limits and where the different types of ships have been designated to anchor. (7)

The Eastern and Western Harbour Limits (7)

In 1941 when the threat of war was upon Singapore, seafarers were able to move around the minefields set up by the British by once again using the obelisks as guides. (4)

The last mention of the Obelisks in the newspaper was in 1956. (9)
From a 1966 map, the Siglap Obelisk seemed to be located quite close to St Patricks School.

So how many maritime obelisk were there?

Siglap Obelisk (1) or Tanjong Katong Obelisk (2) (From around 1877)
Peak Island (Kusu Island or Pulau Tembakul) Obelisk (3) (4) (From around 1879)
Batu Blayer marker (8) (The obelisk might have been built at a later date)

Questions about this obelisk.

1. Where were the bricks from and who were the builders?
2. When were these Obelisks erected? 
3. Where were the Siglap and Peak Island's Obelisks located?


1. Notice to mariners. December 13, 1932. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942). Page 13.

2. Singapore Port Rules. March 14, 1931. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942). Page 16.

3. The port of Singapore. February 11, 1922. The Straits Times. Page 9

4. Extension of minefields. February 28, 1941. The Straits Times. Page 11

5. Untitled. Straits Times Weekly Issue. June 3, 1890. Page 1

6. Government Gazette. December 6, 1879. Straits Times Overland Journal. Page 1

7. A Coal Hulk. June 8, 1935. The Straits Times. Page 16

8. The Government Gazette. June 30, 1877. The Straits Times, Page 4

9. Advertisement. 21 June 1956 The Straits Times. Page 12

10. Untitled. July 7, 1877. Straits Times Overland Journal. Page 11

First Written: 2 September 2012

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