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Open house at Raffles Lighthouse

Visitors to get rare look inside its glass-panelled dome

Published on Jul 4, 2014 6:09 AM

Mr V. Uthrapathi, 51, thought he would be lonely working 10-day stretches maintaining Raffles Lighthouse on Pulau Satumu, Singapore's southernmost island which is out of bounds, like the lighthouse.

But after 20 years as a lighthouse keeper, he is quick to point out the perks: the sea breeze that makes nights on the tiny isle comfortable, the peace and quiet, and the occasional sighting of dolphins.

During World Cup season, another draw is watching the matches for free, he said, as television signals from Malaysia and Indonesia can be picked up from Satumu, 23km south-west of Singapore's main island, a 60-minute boat ride from the mainland.

But the silence that the stocky Mr Uthrapathi enjoys may turn into oohs and aahs later this month, as the Raffles Lighthouse welcomes crowds during this year's Singapore HeritageFest, which will, for the first time, include a Lighthouse Trail featuring three lighthouses.

The trail will not only take visitors out to Pulau Satumu, but also on a bus ride to see the former Fullerton Lighthouse at Marina Bay. They will also sail past the lighthouse on Sultan Shoal, near Jurong Island, during the 90-minute boat ride from Marina South Pier.

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Background story

Singapore's lighthouses


  • Where: Pulau Satumu, or One Tree Island in Malay.
  • What: Singapore's second-oldest lighthouse was built in 1885, using granite from Pulau Ubin.


  • Where: Pedra Branca, which means "white rock" in Portuguese, is about 40km from the mainland's eastern shore.
  • What: Built in 1851, it is Singapore's oldest lighthouse. Pedra Branca was at the centre of a territorial dispute between Singapore and Malaysia for almost three decades. Six years ago, the International Court of Justice awarded Pedra Branca to Singapore.


  • Where: Sultan Shoal, which marks the western entrance to the Straits of Singapore, near Jurong Island.
  • What: Singapore's third lighthouse was built in 1896.


  • Where: On top of a 25-storey apartment block in the Lagoon View condominium in East Coast.
  • What: It is due to be moved to Block 3, Marine Terrace, in the third quarter of next year. No reason was given but both locations are unique as lighthouses are typically built on the shore or on rocky outcrops and rarely on apartments.


  • Where: On Pulau Pisang, an island about 15km from the Malaysian coastal town of Pontian.
  • What: It is in Malaysian territory but owned and managed by Singapore. The British government signed a contract with the Johor Sultanate for the right to build and manage a lighthouse on the island. The right passed to Singapore under international law when it became an independent country.