Preliminary Chart China Sea. Western Approaches to Singapore (Attention is called to Notice to Mariners No.1 of each year) From Surveys by Lieut. and Commr. F.A. Reyne R.N. 1912. Lieut. and Commr. R.I. Hancock R.N. 1910, and Leuitenant and Commander H.P. Douglas R.N. 1909. H.M. Surveying Ship 'Waterwitch' 1909-12.
40.25 x 52 in (102.235 x 132.08 cm)
1 : 25000
A rare 1923 British Admiralty nautical chart illustrating southern coast of Singapore Island, the city of Singapore, and its western approaches. The chart properly covers from Singapore to Pulau Merambong. It is the result of Royal Navy surveys completed between 1909 and 1912, with updates to February 19 of 1923. Among other details, it offers exceptional coverage of Singapore city, identifying important buildings and an early street grid. Many of the port improvements associated with the Singapore Strategy are also evident.
The Singapore Strategy
As this map was being printed, Singapore became central to the Singapore Strategy, a naval defense policy instituted by the British Empire between 1919 and 1941. Following World War I (1914 – 1918), it became apparent that the Royal Navy was facing challenges to its long established supremacy by the rising naval forces of the United States and Imperial Japan. While the growing U.S. Navy, being a strong ally, was not a serious cause of concern, it quickly became apparent that the Imperial Japanese naval buildup would clash with British interests in the Far East.
The British determined to establish a 'Gibraltar of the East,' zoning in on Singapore for its exceptionally strategic position. Starting work in 1919, the British began a series of extensive improvements to the port as an expense of some 500,000 GBP. Completed over the subsequent 20 years, Singapore was outfitted with largest dry dock in the world, the third largest wet dock, and enough fuel tanks to support the entire Royal Navy for six months. The island's defenses also included an enormous Royal Air Force base and mounted 15-inch stationary guns. Despite what appeared to be highly defensible position, when hostilities finally broke out between the British Empire and Imperial Japan, in 1942, Singapore fell to Japanese invaders after just 15 days of fighting, an event described by Prime Minister Winston Churchill as the 'worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history.'
This chart is quite rare. We have been able to isolate only one other example at the National Library of Singapore.
The British Admiralty Office (1795 - Present) or the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office refers to the Branch of the English government that is responsible for the command of the British Navy. In 1795 King George III created the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, known in short as the U.K.H.O., to provide top notch nautical charts to the vast Royal Navy. Prior the founding of the Admiralty the surveying and creation of nautical charts was primarily a commercial venture wherein the cartographer himself, more of than not, actually financed the printing of his own material. The great navigator Cook himself is known to have scrambled for funds to publish his own seminal charts - the most important and advanced of the period. The system of privately funded nautical mapping and publishing left vast portions of the world uncharted and many excellent charts unpublished. King George III, responding significant loss in trade revenue related to shipwrecks and delay due to poor charts, recognized the need for an institutionalized government sponsored cartographic agency - the Admiralty. The first head of the Admiralty, a position known as Hydrographer, was the important cartographer Alexander Dalrymple. Dalrymple started by organizing and cataloging obtainable charts before initiating the laborious process of updating them and filling in the blanks. The first official Admiralty Chart appeared in 1800 and detailed Quiberon Bay in Brittany. By 1808 the position of Hydrographer fell to Captain Thomas Hurd. Hurd advocated the sale of Admiralty charts to the general public and, by the time he retired in 1829, had issued and published some 736 charts. Stewardship of the organization then passed to Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort. It was under Beaufort's administration that the Admiralty truly developed as a "chart making" as opposed to a "chart cataloging" institution. Beaufort held his post from 1829 to 1854. In his 25 years at the Admiralty Beaufort created nearly 1500 new charts and sponsored countless surveying and scientific expeditions - including the 1831 to 1836 voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle. By 1855 the Admiralty's chart catalog listed some 1,981 charts. Learn More...
Very good. Professionally mounted on linen. Light wear to original fold lines.