Fort Canning tour launches series of maritime trails

Fort Canning tour launches series of maritime trails
Fort Canning Centre at Fort Canning Park.

It was a literal blast from the past at Fort Canning Park last night as its lighthouse lit up for the first time in more than half a century.

In turn, it gave a warm glow to the launch of Singapore's first maritime trails, developed by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

The lighthouse is a replica of the 36m-tall beacon that guided vessels in and out of Singapore waters in the early 20th century. The original was closed in 1958, when new buildings blocked it from ships' view. It was later torn down.

The new lighthouse will remain lit every night and is the starting point of a series of free guided tours, starting today.

MPA's chief executive Andrew Tan hopes the tours will "revive interest in Singapore's rich maritime heritage" and excite the young to seek a career in the sector.

"There are many good career opportunities in this industry," said MPA chairman Lucien Wong, adding that efforts to attract local talent will be intensified.

The maritime sector contributes about 7 per cent to the nation's GDP. Of its 170,000 workers, Singaporeans make up fewer than half, or 76,000.

The first guided tour focuses on history and takes people on foot and by coach from Fort Canning to the Singapore River before skirting by today's modern terminal port at Tanjong Pagar.

It is a reminder that Singapore's sea-faring history began centuries ago when it was already a thriving trading harbour in the 14th century, not a sleepy fishing village, according to some myths.

And did you know that when the Old Supreme Court was being built in the 1930s, architects ensured it did not obstruct ships' view of the Fort Canning Lighthouse?

Today, the nation's port is one of the busiest in the world, with about 130,000 ships calling every year.

Other tours in the series may include the modern terminal port.

Tours are held every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday till the end of the month. After that, they will run every first Saturday of the month till December.

Those interested may e-mail enquiries@maritimegallery.sg for more information.

This article was published on April 12 in The Straits Times.

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