Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow


Yes, this IS Clayton Road – named after Mr R J B Clayton who retired as British Adviser in Kelantan, in November 1930. He was also the brother of Tubby Clayton, founder of Toch H during the Great War. 

  1. Mano says:

    I tend to agree with Ipoh Remembered, Felicia. It’s unlikely that it’s early 1900s.
    Looking at the attire worn by the gentleman riding on that ladies bicycle and by the bicycle itself, it’s more like the 1960’s. As the curvy handlebar design can only mean that it uses cable operated caliper brakes. Prior to this, bicycles had rod operated brakes requiring straight handlebar designs.

    • Ipoh Remembered says:

      Dear Mano … I agree, and in addition to the clues you list I would say the street-lamp and lamp-post, the yellow line on the road, and the quality of the color print itself all point to a more recent vintage.

  2. felicia says:

    Hi Mano & Ipoh Remembered,
    Hmm….perhaps you guys are right.
    The reason I mentioned ‘early 1900s’ is because that was more or less the era when Kaulfuss (who was based in Penang) was taking photographs of the local scenery for postcards (like this one).

  3. IKA says:

    Iteresting comments. The card was published by the German photographer August E. Kaulfuss who lived at at Farquhar Street in Penang, but returned to Germany around 1910. He then printed many of his cards in Germany before World War I. Thus we believe all Kaulfuss photos are pre 1910. Hence Felicia’s guess that the card is early 1900’s. So far I have not found any evidence that the company continued to take photographs and publish them after his death.

    I need to keep looking!

  4. Ipoh Remembered says:

    Dear felicia and IKA

    About this:

    [R. J. B. Clayton] was also the brother of Tubby Clayton, founder of Toch H during the Great War.

    Toc H, or Talbot House, was co-founded by Tubby and Neville Talbot. It was named after Gil Talbot, Neville’s brother, who had just died in the war. Neville was also related to E. T. C. Garland, who figured prominently in the colonial history of Ipoh. And as you know, Tubby’s brother, Reggie (R. J. B.), too, figured prominently in the colonial history of Ipoh.

    By the way, Toc H is now a “bed-and-breakfast” inn.

  5. Ngai C O says:


    The street lamp, clearly shown, as mentioned by Ipoh Remembered, was a sodium lamp invented by Arthur H. Compton in 1920. It needed a ballast to start it, hence the metal box housing at the lamp post. The metal box was made of zinc rather than cast iron.

    It was mass produced by Philips in 1932 as a low pressure sodium lamp.

    The high pressure version was only possible in 1964.

    As far as I can recall, Hugh Low Street, Brewster Road, Tambun Road and many other main streets had sodium lamps hanging from the middle of the road with catenary wires in the 50s and 60s. Other street lights could either be incandescant or flourescent.

    This picture was definitely taken in the 50s onwards.

  6. IKA says:

    Back to Kaulfuss

    I was actually slightly wrong with my earlier comment as Kaulfuss did not leave Penang in 1910, but he is still there (in body at least) for he died in Penang in 1908 and was buried in the Western Road Cemetery.

    His epitaph reads, ”

    Here lies in peace, our dear husband and father , Ernest Augustus Kaulfuss, born in Welderpeterdorf, 8.1.61,, died in Penang 5.8.1908.
    The mourning wife and Children.”

    Kaulfuss arrived in Penang in 1883 and spent most of his tome travelling the Malay Peninsular taking photographs of buildings, scenery and people. This was not an easy task as his equipment would have been both heavy and bulky.

    He was undoubtedly a Pioneer postcard printer and photographer and virtually led the field in the business of real photo cards from 1899 to 1908, a period when hundreds of his postcards were produced.

    But what about this postcard. This still remains a mystery for I have found no evidence that his cards were printed after the outbreak of WW1.

    The record shows that Kaulfuss had his postcards printed and hand-tinted in Germany alongside identical photographs in black and white. The printing company did not belong to him and printed cards for many other postcard companies. It is therefore unlikely that a card marked Kaulfuss would contain a photo taken after his death. So the postcard featured above is either early 1900’s or a good old fashioned scam.

    That is my understanding but perhaps someone out there has a better idea.

  7. Chuah TC says:

    It looks like to me that part of the roof of SMI’s main building is visible in the picture above – in between the foliage. This building only came about after 1921.

    • IKA says:

      Hi Chuah TC, that a great observation and I am sure you are correct, I need to look even more closely at the history of Kaulfuss postcards. 🙂

  8. Ngai C O says:

    Hi Chuah TC,

    I presume Tinkerers Blog is yours when I accidentally clicked on Chuah TC. You must be a bird enthusiast. I shall have a good browse in a moment.

    There is plenty of physical evidence to confirm the picture is mid 1900s. From the bicycle, clothes, road marking, lamp, St Michael roof and the casuarina tree to the left, which I just spotted.

    Why I said the lamp was sodium was because it comes in tubular form and has to be operated more or less horizontally; hence the shape of the lamp housing. One other common gas discharge type that was common in Ipoh was mercury vapour that emitted a bluish light. It came in an ordinary bulb form but still needed a ballast to start it. It was normally hung pointing downwards; hence the housing was round with an open or closed glass surround.

    Back to the casuarina tree, it had a lifespan of about 40 to 50 years and a max. height of 65 to 115 feet. It was an adult tree. The trees that lined the road were only cut down in recent times. Remember that Merdeka celebrations, Sultan’s birthday and many other events were held at Ipoh Padang. We used to shelter under the trees from the beating heat. One just could not forget these little things.

    By the way casuarina roots convert nitrogen from the air to food for growth. That is why it grows very well on beaches with its nutrient deficient soil. Also, the pine needles make the soil slightly acidic and act as a mulch to conserve water. One would not find acid haters growing under them.

    • Chuah TC says:

      Hi Ngai C O,

      Yes the blog is mine. Just a place for me to jot down my work and ideas and to blow my own trumpet. All the bird pictures are within my neighbourhood by the way.

      • Ngai C O says:

        Hi Chuah,

        You have done a fantastic job with your blog by sharing your thoughts, your work and interests.

        Your garden must be a haven for wildlife judging by the variety of birds, squirrel including a python and a small snake.

        Have you come across any civet cat being that you have fruit trees? I am sure they will also attract bats.

        With building works all over Ipoh, there is less and less to share with nature.

        I enjoyed reading how you tweaked your software. The old windows operating system had many glitches that got me extremely frustrated. I was totally useless with resolving the issues.

        Now I have another blog to visit.

      • Chuah TC says:

        Hi Ngai C O,

        Nothing pleases me more than having another fan to my blog. Thank you.

        I do not update my blog as regular as I used too as I am busy with other ventures. I hope you have an RSS reader to pull updates from my blog when available, rather than checking via the web browser everytime. I use RSSOwl – it’s open source and free.

        Civets did visit my house but once upon a time. I haven’t noticed any in recent months. Somehow I feel like there are more wild animals around my neighbourhood these days when compared to something like 30 years ago. Yeah, the cost of development.

        I think we are going off topic here.

        • Ngai C O says:

          Hi Chuah,

          You have one more blogger who happens to share many of your interests.

          I was going to ask you about monitor lizard, which I later saw a snap you took. It likes to hang out in or near drains where there is an abundance of food.

          I saw a stout three footer in an open drain at the back of houses last year. If the drain is clogged, that would be an ideal environment.

          I shall follow your directions to access your blog next time.

          You are doing well to share our interests. I liked your experiment at gender bending your papaya tree.

        • Chuah TC says:

          Hi Ngai C O,

          Yes I had them Monitor Lizards too. Had them in various sizes: from a half footer to 3 footer like the one you described. One actually got into my bedroom via the attached bathroom via the sewage pipe a couple of years ago. Gross.

          In recent months, we have a Brahminy Kite flying/gliding above our heads over here. Birds-in-flight is something that I have not mastered yet, so no photos for the moment.

          There are some other pictures that I post on my Google+ page that I do not post on my blog. Just click on the drawing of my portrait in my blog to go there.

  9. Ipoh Remembered says:

    Dear IKA

    You may know that Kaulfuss was not very old when he succumbed to heart disease. And you’re right, of course, that he died in August, 1908. The mosque had only just been completed.

    Via e-mail I’ve sent you a copy of a Kaulfuss advertisement that appeared in 1907. Feel free to publish it here or add it to the database.

    As for Shaik Adam: He died in 1912, leaving three daughters — Zainab, Zythoon, and Ayesha — and four sons — Sahib Juan, Abdul Lateef, Mohamed Ghouse, and Mohamed Ibrahim. I was perusing the database and found item 4845, “A Letter to Mr I A Khan (of Singapore) from M G S Adam (Shaik Adam),” dated 1956. As you can see, the letter was from one of Shaik Adam’s sons.


    Dear Ngai C O

    You mention low-pressure sodium lamps. Those lamps were tested for the first time in Ipoh in the late 1930s but I think the Sanitary Board decided that they were not yet good enough to install widely. I believe AC-driven mercury lamps were used instead, first on Tambun Road and then on Kampar Road and elsewhere. Of course, Ipoh streets were already lit long before the 1930s, but for the most part by Lux lamps and not by electricity.

    As for the casuarina trees you mention, it so happens they were planted in the late 1930s, just when those sodium lamps were being tested.

    And by the way, the Arthur H. Compton you mention is the same remarkable American physicist who won a Nobel Prize and later helped design the first atomic bombs.


    Dear Chuah TC

    Of course, you’re quite right to call attention to the red visible through the foliage. As to what that red is, the aerial view shown in database item 6088 may be of help.

  10. Ngai C O says:

    Hi Ipoh Remembered

    These first generation Sodium lamps emitted an extremely red glow, very energy efficient but not bright at all.

    As for the Lux lamps, they were deliberately manufactured with three pins rather than the two for household use so that they could not be taken home by the electricity board workers.

    Working backwards from when the casuarina trees were felled in the early 21st century, through the noughties, 50s and 30s when you said they were planted, they lived a whopping 70 odd years.

  11. Ipoh Remembered says:

    Dear Ngai C O

    Yes, the early sodium lamps lighted up red or pink.

    The Lux lamps I mentioned used kerosene vapor as a fuel. They were imported by the Gadelius brothers. At first the local agent was McAlister and Co., who made a lot of money installing and maintaining them — along Ipoh’s streets, for example, and later in Penang.

    • Ngai C O says:

      Hi Ipoh Remembered,

      Sorry I mixed up the electric and the kerosene pressure lamp which uses a fabric mantle that has been coated with thorium to produce the bright light.

      These pressure lamps were used by hawkers to light up their stalls.

      By the way thorium is radio active. It is a constituent of the mineral Monazite, which is often found as a minor by product of tin mining.

      Big tin mining companies used to sell this by product to amang factories to extract residual tin left with it before they upgraded it to a saleable product. Beh Minerals of the Bukit Merah scandal processed quite a bit of it in collaboration with Mitsubishi.

    • Ipoh Remembered says:

      Dear Ngai C O

      You’re right that a thorium oxide (maybe specifically the dioxide?) was used in gas-flame mantles. Its very high melting point allows it to withstand heat and glow very brightly without decomposing.

      I’m not absolutely sure that a thorium-based mantle was used in the original Lux lamps but I do believe you’re right.


      A little more about Lux: A Swedish firm founded by Sven Carlson, Lux successfully commercialized a lamp technology invented by David Kempe in 1900 or thereabouts. Within a year or two, patents were granted and Stockholm was lit up; London and other cities followed; and in 1905 so did Ipoh.

      How did a relatively new Swedish product get to Ipoh so quickly? Via the London-based Anglo-Swedish Lighting and Heating Syndicate, which had distribution rights for the British Empire and a contract with the aforementioned Gadelius brothers, who, working out of their Singapore base established in 1904, supplied the technology to McAlister & Co., who had a branch on Station Road by 1904 and a contract from the Sanitary Board.

      What happened to Lux afterwards? With its technology being exported to the far reaches of the world, and with a range of products that included even indoor table lamps, Lux had some very good years — but then, when electric light began to compete, the company started manufacturing other devices and appliances, beginning with vacuum cleaners. After a merger or two, Lux became Electrolux, a name that’s still with us today.

      • Ngai C O says:

        Hi Ipoh Remembered,

        Doubtless, a hurricane or pressurised kerosene lamp of the era you described may be posted by IKA and company one day. I am pretty sure he has one stacked away somewhere.

        When it shows up, we are already well informed.

        On a different note which may be related to Lux, sievert is a unit of measurement of radioactive radiation or absorption and there is a brand called Sievert, which has been producing kerosene and gas torches including pressure lamps. They are all of Swedish origin.

  12. Ipoh Remembered says:

    By the way, IKA and everyone else … The point I’m trying to emphasize by providing a short history of the Lux lamp is simply this: the photograph could not have been taken before the death of Kaulfuss (1908) because at that time, the only street-lights found anywhere in Ipoh were recently-installed Lux lamps, powered by kerosene. (IKA, I will send by e-mail an image of an early Lux lamp so you can compare it to what’s shown above.)

    So when was the photograph taken? For various reasons, some discussed above, I would guess it was taken in the 1960s, plus or minus two years.

  13. Ipoh Remembered says:

    Dear Ngai C O

    About the casuarina trees, I should clarify: I know that some were first planted on the edge of the padang in the late ’30s but it’s possible that more of them were planted there subsequently.

    As for kerosene lamps, you’re right that they have been discussed on these pages; and there are also several relevant entries in the database.

    By the way, it’s an odd co-incidence that you mentioned monazite. Earlier today I found myself thinking again of F. D. Osborne — co-founder of a company you used to work for, I believe.

    You also mentioned a scandal involving Beh Minerals. Was Bukit Merah the “new village” polluted by radioactive waste during the Mahathir years? That was long after my time in the region so I do not know much about it.

  14. Ngai C O says:

    Hi Ipoh Remembered,

    Thanks for updating the info. on casuarina trees.

    You certainly worked out who I worked for through the clues.

    I have not read the full details of the the scandal as I had already left the country for a good few years. I think it started in 1985 and dragged on till recently.

    Beh Minerals started off as one of the modern Amang Factories, which employed senior staff with a much higher level of expertise, i.e. graduates. I think it had an inhouse chemical assay lab as well. Hence its later joint venture with Mitsubishi and the Perak State Development Corporation into this specialist field.

    8 people from Bukit Merah succumbed to leukemia in a short period of time, which had not occured in its history. Some people were born with disabilities, so I heard. I am not sure whether it was linked to it or some other factors.

    A total of 80,000 tons of monazite was involved in a small area. This amount would have definitely raised radiation exposure above permitted levels, as was confirmed by tests.

  15. felicia says:

    After reading all the above comments, I’m starting to think that maybe this postcard was printed much later than the early 1900s…

  16. IKA says:

    Back to the postcard. A confession! We have been chasing a red herring or a white elephant as careful scrutiny at high resolution that this is NOT a Kaulfuss tinted card. It is actually a real colour photo printed in Singapore. It was posted in the period of the Federation of Malays with the last figure of the dated postmark being a 5. 1955?

    Thus you are all correct, it was probably taken after the war and before 1955. Shall we put our finger in the air and say 1950?

    We apologise for the confusion but it was quite an interesting canter through the history of Kaulfuss and there is no doubt we learned a lot.

  17. Ngai C O says:

    Hi IKA,

    Hooray, the air is cleared at last. The front is crisp but the back was a muddle. It was difficult for me to think of the fake theory where post cards were concerned for one reason or another.

  18. Ipoh Remembered says:

    Dear IKA

    It was posted in the period of the Federation of Malays with the last figure of the dated postmark being a 5. 1955? Thus you are all correct, it was probably taken after the war and before 1955. Shall we put our finger in the air and say 1950?

    Could it be that the postmark reads “1965”?

    1950 still seems a little early to me for the photograph, but it’s certainly more likely than the earlier estimate.

    We apologise


    Thanks for pursuing the inquiry.

  19. Ipoh Remembered says:

    Dear Chuah TC

    [A monitor lizard] actually got into my bedroom via the attached bathroom via the sewage pipe a couple of years ago.


    On the other hand, this sort of thing used to happen a lot more frequently in the old days, and was consequently not as surprising then!

  20. Ngai C O says:

    Hi Chuah,

    A quickie follow up on Brahminy kite shots on birds in flight.

    Wikipedia says that they are found on the coast or in wetlands. If that is the case, there may be streams, a river or fish ponds or a lake nearby where fish may be found.

    I am also new to photography. The advantage these days is the digital storage, instant retrieval and almost every mobile phone has a camera.

    Taking birds in flight is a more serious business involving tele lenses and another category of camera as I understand to get a good shot. Plus lots of patience and waiting time for when the bird will appear.

    • Chuah TC says:

      For more than a year now, there is a pair in the Greentown area. I have witness one diving in on a bird (most probably a dove, not too sure) one fine morning, so that is probably their diet over here.

      I have one of those point-and-shoot superzoom cameras from Canon. Unfortunately the 200 mm lens is a bit out of reach when these birds of prey are gliding in the sky as they are too high up. I’ll give it a miss for the moment.

      There’s a free e-book online called “Secrets Of Digital Bird Photography” if you are interested. The link is available via Google.

      • Ngai C O says:

        Hi Chuah,

        Thanks for the link. The author is Bill Majoros. He has laid out the contents in a very methodological fashion; maybe because of his computational science background.

        I also note that he is a Canon or Nikon man.

        I am sure I would be able to find valuable information that I need and adapt it to my camera, which is a Sony. I have hardly used it.

        I suppose the kites will soon be producing if they have not done so.

        I have not heard you mention owls, wood peckers and kingfishers which used to be very common in Ipoh. When as a kid, I often saw woodpeckers pecking away on casuarina trees.

      • Chuah TC says:

        Hi Ngai,

        I have seen woodpeckers only once or twice – and that was something like 15 years ago. White-throated Kingfishers are quite common in my neighbourhood. Likewise with Copper-smith barbet, Common Myna, Asian Koel (that noisy bird that comes around December) and Black-naped oriole (the bird that looks like a very ripen banana).

        I have only seen a silhouette of what looks like an owl one night a few years back, perched on the very top of the telephone pole.

        More common at night are Nightjars – both Savannah and Larged-tail – as you can hear them when they come around.

        Hope this helps.

        • Ngai C O says:

          Hi Chuah,

          Why I asked about woodpecker is I am quite fascinated with how it chisels a hole through the branch or trunk. Also it can climb up the trunk vertically.

          It is said that it absorbs the energy of the drumming through the body instead of the head.
          In order to prevent over heating, it stops chiselling at frequent intervals.

          Not something I was aware of until I read it up.

      • Ipoh Remembered says:

        Dear Chuah TC … Thanks much for all the wild-life reports. They bring back memories … of gardens … of parks … of the jungle.

        I have not seen you mention bulbuls. Are they nowadays too common to remark upon or, conversely, have they all vanished?

      • Ipoh Remembered says:

        Thanks, Chuah TC. One more question if you don’t mind. It is said that around the world, frog and bee populations are dwindling. Does your experience bear this out? Thanks.

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