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John Turnbull Thomson was an accomplished British civil servant, surveyor, and topographical artist. He began his career at 17, working for the East India Survey, and only three years later he was appointed Government Surveyor at Singapore. There he was responsible for allotment and topographical surveys of the island of Singapore and its dependencies, and the hydrographic survey of the Straits of Singapore. He was also the architect of the Horsburgh Lighthouse on Pedra Branca, and several other iconic buildings around Singapore.