Stamford Raffles

The bronze statue of Sir Stamford Raffles was cast by T. Woolner at a cost of $20,446.10; it is 8 feet high mounted on granite base and was originally erected in the Esplanade at its far end (close to the Singapore Recreation Club and opposite today’s Satay Club). At the feet of the statue lies an object which looks like a map or scroll dropped by Raffles.

To commemorate the founder of modern Singapore; The inscription on the statue was written By Lim Koon Tye, an old Rafflesian.

The inscription on the statue of Raffles reads as follows :

This tablet to the memory of Sir Stamford Raffles to whose foresight and genius Singapore owes its existence and prosperity unveiled on February 6th 1919 the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Settlement.

The statue was officially unveiled by the Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Frederick Weld, on 27 June 1887, Jubilee Day, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign. Present at the ceremony were Tengku Ali of Singapore and Temenggong Abu Bakar of Johore. In 1919 when Singapore celebrated the centenary of its foundation the statue was removed from the Esplanade and installed where it stands now and occupied the site where the Bronze Elephant Statue donated by King Chulalongkorn in 1871 stood. The Elephant Statue was taken away and placed opposite the Old Court House, the present Parliament House.

The memorial tablet at the base of the statue was unveiled by the Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Arthur H.Young in the early morning of 6 February 1919. There was a large assembly comprising residents of Singapore and representatives from Penang, Malacca, the Federated Malay States and the Unfederated Malay States.

The President of the Municipal Commissioners, Mr W.Peel, on behalf of his Committee, presented the Governor with a small medal struck in commemoration of the historic occasion. The ceremony ended with laying of wreaths by representatives from several public institutions and organisations; these included representatives from Raffles Institution, Raffles Girls’ School, the Straits Chinese British Association, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese Advisory Board and the Po Leung Kuk Committee.

To get the best inscription for the statue a competition was held and the best entry came from Lim Koon Tye, an old Rafflesian who was awarded the sum of $25.

Sir Stamford Raffles died on 4 July 1826 at Highwood House, Hendon, England from an epileptic stroke. The best eulogy on Raffles comes from Munshi Abdullah who wrote :

There are many great men besides him, clever and handsome, but in good disposition, amiability and gracefulness, Mr Raffles had not his equal, and were I to die and live again such a man I could never meet again, my love of him is so great.

During the Japanese Occupation the statue was removed and kept in the Museum.  After the return of the British, the statue was re-installed at the same site in 1946 by Governor Sir Franklin Gimson.