Some of you may recognise it. Some of you are still scratching your heads. Worry not, this is in fact the ruins of a brick bungalow built by none other than William Kellie Smith. Last I recall, these ruins were within the grounds of the famed Kellie’s Castle (hope they haven’t disappeared or made way for ‘development’).
Here we have the living room of Charles Alma Baker’s residence (once upon a time) in Batu Gajah. This large space included a 12-seater dining table, several sofas and easy chairs, and Chinese antiques. The Master of this house and his guests were kept cool by a punkah. If you look closely, you’ll also notice a billiard table in the far end. How’s THIS for interior decoration ideas!
These lovely ladies are part of the Form V batch of 1958 – from Sultan Yussuf School, Batu Gajah.
They were some of the many youngsters who attended the Farewell Dinner.
We have the names of these beauties….
Standing from left to right they are: Thong Mee Len, Poh Ching, Nelly Maniksha, Leelavathy, Tessie Perira, Anna Yoong.
Sitting from left to right: Lim Yoke Siew, Ho Kuan Thye, Cheah Soo Har, Chan Yoke Heng, Choong Chin Choo, Wong Choong Yoon and Loh.
If you are one of the above ladies in the picture, do share your memories with us!
Don’t know where to go during this long break? How about Kellie’s Castle?
No, we’re not advertising for this place. Rather just showing you what this iconic landmark looked like – way back in 1957!
This is a photograph of Ho Hoo Wan with his siblings and friends, posing just outside the famed Batu Gajah castle. How many of you have visited this place? Has the place changed much since it was first opened to the public?
On that note, is this place really haunted…or is it just one of those myths? 😉
We received this from Daniel Doutriaux (part of a series of photographs from an album). These are the girls from Batu Gajah Convent – excited as they explore the new science lab. The year was 1956….do you recognise any of them in the photo? (Or, maybe YOU are in there?) We’d love to hear from the Convent Alumni 😉
Over many weeks Larry has sent us a host of photographs. So many that they will be a great addition to our database recording his childhood life and times with Perak Hydro in Batu Gajah. You have probably seen memories from him and his young friends on our blog where young friends from 50+years ago met again on ipohWorld’s World.
The above photo caught my eye and I wondered this was due to Communist activity (they often blew up trains) or whether it was a simple accident.
The other thing of interest is the excavator shovelling coal. Yes at one time we had coal fired power stations. Are there any left, and where did we get the coal? If you know then do let us know. I am sure that there are many young Malaysians who do not even know what coal is!
We don’t mean to confuse you again, but here’s another photo of a local market 😉 This one isn’t in Ipoh….it’s actually in Batu Gajah (according to our donor Wendy Lewis). Notice the shape of the roof – quite unique for a market building, don’t you think? Any Batu Gajah folks around? Perhaps they could tell us more.
This was among the lot sent to us from Nick Band. His father Albert Roy Band was part of the Malay Tin Dredge Co. in Batu Gajah. He had two stints there: 1954-57, where he stayed at Bungalow A11 & 1958-61, residing at Bungalow A13. As Nick explains, his father was known as ‘Roy’ and he was an Engineering Draughtsman. The woman in the photograph is Nick’s mother; standing next to her is the family pet Ginger.
The first Federal elections in Malaya were held in July 1955 to determine the new rulers of the Federation of Malaya after Merdeka (Independence). This was a milestone in the history of the country which led to the people becoming independent from the British on 31 August 1957. Of course the responsibility for the safety of the ballot boxes was given to the Malayan Police Force – a difficult task at the time as with many isolated villages with limited access and not forgetting that apart from natural hazards, the Communist Terrorists were still active, particularly in the Northern States.
The Police escort party from Batu Gajah first travelled to Kampong Gajah where they were divided into three sections: a section in each of two boats and one in a Land Rover. The first picture is of the Police Escort assigned to deliver and collect the ballot boxes to Pasir Salak and Kampong Gajah, by boat, along the Sungai (River) Perak.
While there were difficulties for those who traveled by boat, the road was not the best either and the Land Rover crews were lucky to get the vehicles through. The second picture shows one incident – the damage the Police Land Rover left behind it at Kampong Gajah. The vehicle was lucky to cross the bridge with its ballot boxes intact and would not have done so without a mighty effort from the villagers.
Since the 13th GE is just around the corner, we’d like to give you Readers a little ‘blast from the past’ – the pictures shown here (courtesy of Tom Turnbull) were taken way back in 1955, at Kampong Gajah, Perak.
The first picture – polling
While transporting the ballot boxes, the Land Rover had to drive across this wooden bridge! (yes, almost like a scene from Indiana Jones, isn’t it?)
Keep watching this space….we’ll have MORE of such pictures to share with you in conjunction with the up-coming polls! 🙂
Recently published, this new heritage map comes from the same stable as the two Ipoh Heritage walking trails. It is available now, FREE, from the Ipoh Tourism Office and leading hotels and tourism outlets. Alternatively contact email@example.com.
Unfortunately we do not have enough space to put up the whole thing, but the map below will give you the idea of the scope of this trail.
Included are photographs and descriptions of the different heritage sites (or in some cases what is left of them), and a brief history of both Kellie’s Castle and TT5 Tin Dredge.
Do go and get your copy today as they are going to be popular!
Here we have a picture from the 1970s, showing the Tadika Batu Gajah (Batu Gajah Kindergarten).
To what we know, this kindergarten was housed in a wooden shed, within the compound of St Joseph’s Church.
The shed can be seen in the picture (above) on the left; the long, wooden structure on the far left, which is painted yellow. This shed was also once known as St Joseph’s School, somewhere in the mid 1940s. The girls from St Joseph’s School were later moved to Jalan Pusing – the present location of St Bernadette’s Convent!
The picture on the right shows the front of St Joseph’s Church, which was built in the late 1920s. The church is near the Batu Gajah Hospital.
Who is he? What was his name? Where did he come from? Where did he live?
Well, we don’t even know what’s become of him. This poor beggar used to come by Tom Turnbull’s quarters, when Tom was in Batu Gajah. Sometimes, this old man tried to sell Tom a thing or two. Here is a picture of the old man (donated by Tom); he is seen here holding some cloth, in one hand, and an enamel mug in the other hand.
yes, the citizens of Perak come from all walks of life – Mining Towkays, hawkers, rubber tappers, coolies, etc.
Last weekend (11th to the 13th of June), was a weekend of remembrance. It is dedicated to those who fought in the 2 World Wars, the Japanese Occupation, and the Malayan Emergency – both the survivors and those who gave up their lives for the sake of ours.
This annual event started with the ceremony at the Cenotaph on 11th June. This was a multi-racial ceremony where all faiths were represented.
After the service at the Church of the Holy Trinity, a solemn wreath-laying ceremony takes place. This ceremony, at God’s Little Acre, takes place on the 2nd Saturday of June every year (since 1980). The picture shows the British High Commissioner laying his wreath of traditional poppies.
After God’s Little Acre, the ‘journey’ continues to the Gurkha Cemetery in Tambun Road where more than 100 Gurkhas are laid to rest.
Finally, on Sunday (13th June), was the memorial service at the Khalsa Dewan (see picture below).
This ceremony pays particular homage to those Sikhs who lost their lives in the Battle of Kampar.
We thank Tony Tamblyn who, (during the Malayan Emergency) served in the Royal Airforce here) for the pictures.
To those who fought selflessly for us – we are eternally grateful.
My paternal grandpa’s name is Yip Soo. He was a very skillful bean curd maker from Guangdong, China. He was the man behind the famous tau foo far at Nam Foong Coffee Shop.
This picture was taken in 1966 in his house in Batu Gajah on his 70th birthday celebration. He was flanked by his two wives (the eldest partly hidden by my brothers) as my mom helped me to serve him tea. I was only 2 at that time.
For this auspicious occasion, Grandpa received from his children, a set of suit, a pair of shoes and a cap, all made from expensive silk material in the traditional style. These items are called ‘sau 寿’which sounds like longevity in Cantonese. To give him ‘sau 寿’means to give him longevity, so it makes sense! All these items were kept away to be used when he died. But you won’t find this practice anymore.
Being the youngest among his brood of grandchildren, I was the apple of his eye. He used to shower plenty of hugs and kisses on me. I still remember how he loved to carry me around on his lean shoulder or put me on his lap. He liked to bring me over to the provision shop and let me choose whatever sweets or biscuits that I fancied.
During school holidays, all the grandchildren staying in Ipoh would visit Grandpa. Paternal grandma would charter an old taxi, a Mercedes, to ferry us to Batu Gajah. We would be packed like sardines into the taxi, all ten of us with grandma in tow! Poor rickety taxi!
Grandpa welcomed us and treated us like VIPs. He would spoil us rotten. He was a good chef and would cook up a few delicious dishes to serve us. He also liked to give us money to buy snacks at the provision shop opposite his house. We would spend like there is no tomorrow! Ice creams, lollipops, prawn crackers……
These are the memories I can remember him by. I was only 6 when he passed away in 1970 from lung cancer as he was a heavy smoker. I still remember the grand funeral ceremony and there were about 20 stocky pallbearers carrying his big and heavy coffin. He was buried with much fanfare on top of a hill in Batu Gajah. The plot of land is big and so is his cemetery. Big things for a small man !!!
In 1929 my dad was just a young lad of 9, staying in the little tin mining town of Batu Gajah. According to him, cinemas and televisions were unheard of then. Chinese operas (called tuk tuk chiang in Cantonese) were popular instead, especially during festivals, mostly held near the Kuan Ti Temple ground, near the Kinta River that flows along some small towns in Perak.But opera is heavy stuff, too boring for a kid of 9.
He preferred circus. Watching the trapeze swinging from bar to bar, the clowns with their funny antics and animals like elephants or tigers performing stunts kept him mesmerized. These circuses travel from town to town, performing to large crowds of young and old in huge tents.
So when he heard that a circus is coming to town, he was very excited and determined not to be left out. Having gathered a few equally enthusiastic boys, they cycled from their village to town to watch the circus.
The problem is, none have enough money in their pockets to buy a ticket each. But this does not deter them from having a jolly good time, because boys will always be boys!
Upon reaching the circus ground, dad began to hatch a devilish plan and whispered it into their ears. All understood and nodded approvingly. Halfway into the performance, these mischievous boys sprang into action.
One of them gathered some pebbles from the ground in his fist and creeping quietly from behind, threw them at the old fat guard sitting near the entrance of the tent. He was rudely awoken from his little nap.
Infuriated, the poor fellow gave chase and while the entrance was left unmanned, the rest of the boys would make a quick dash into the tent and assimilate into the crowd. The boy who threw pebbles would run off and disappear into the bushes, leaving the poor guard panting and swearing.
The same tactic is used the next night and the next. All the boys took turns to throw pebbles at the poor fellow while the rest ran inside and watched the circus without having to pay!
Some 70 years later as dad puts his little grandchildren on his lap and watches the circus together on TV, he would recall his juvenile folly and burst into a toothless laughter, tears streaming down his wrinkled cheeks.
Note: Sorry, I do not have a photo for this post. As a little boy from a poor family, dad could not afford to buy a ticket, let alone own a camera to capture what he saw at the circus.
As I was growing up, dad used to tell me about the Japanese atrocities. In his twilight years, while I was taking care of him, he told them to me all over again.
When the Japanese came to Malaya in December 1941, dad was just a young man of 21, staying in Kampung Merantin, Batu Gajah, Perak. He was an apprentice in a workshop but war changed everything.
The British had retreated and the locals were left to defend themselves against the aggressors. The men folk kept vigil at home while the women hid in the nearby jungle to escape from being rape by the soldiers.
One night, the Japanese came to his village and those nearby. Using loud hailers, they commanded all the young men in the villages to come out or else risk being shot at. These young men were then round up and marched to a field in nearby Changkat. They were made to stay there until dawn.
Early the next morning, they are told that some of them will be chosen and sent to help build the Burma Siam Railway at the Burmese border.
A Japanese soldier sat at the desk, handing out pieces of white papers to the young men. In these papers were written the word ‘Go’ while some were just blank. They were given out alternatively. Those who receive the paper with the word ‘Go’ were made to queue in a row ready to be on their way. Those who received the blank papers were to be sent back to their respective villages.
When it came to his turn to come forward to collect his paper, dad became very anxious and worried about his fate. He hesitated and paused for a moment. In a flash, a Japanese soldier was pointing his rifle at dad and the guy behind was barking furiously at him to hasten up. He even pushed dad violently forward.
Confused, dad quickly stepped aside and said,” If you are so impatient, why not you go first?”
Without a word, this guy just shoved dad aside and surged forward to collect his paper and his face turned pale. He got the paper with the word ‘Go’ which was actually meant for dad. And as for dad, he got the blank paper which was meant for that impatient guy.
Many of his friends went and as far as he knew, none came back. Some died from starvation or disease while many were tortured to death. Dad managed to earn another 66 years of life, succumbing to a bout of pneumonia at the age of 87 on 24th April 2007.
This piece is specially dedicated to my beloved dad,Yip Hee, may he rest in peace in Nirvana.
Sports Day at St Bernadette’s Convent, Batu Gajah, was quite eventful in 1954 – the Teachers had their own little race. This picture was taken at the school’s new grounds (Jalan Pusing); the school was previously sharing its premises with the St Joseph’s Catholic Church.
Far in the background are some curious spectators, probably wondering how these teachers would be able to race in those lovely dresses!!
This photograph, courtesy of Peter Smith, an Australian miner who was employed in Kampong Gajah in the 1960s, was taken with a 16mm camera – two pictures on one 35mm transparency (slide) frame. It is amazing that so many years later it still prints out so clearly.
The Kampong house pictured is on the bank of the Kinta River in the Batu Gajah area and shows a typical Perak scene at that time. Unfortunately these old Malay houses continue to disappear as the occupants give up their idyllic and traditional abodes and opt for the ubiquitous link house in some crowded suburb. It is no wonder they all “Balik Kampong” at every possible opportunity.
This magnificent house, now demolished, was once owned by Charles Alma Baker. This house, originally with a thatched or atap roof, was probably built in 1890 or 1900. Charles Alma Baker was suryevor, miner and planter from New Zealand who came to Batu Gajah during in late 1890s. William Kellie Smith helped him, in his survey work for Kinta Land Office and in road making in South Perak. Moreover, he joined venture with William Kellie Smith to clean 360 hectars of forest in Perak. He was considered as one of the pioneers who contributed to the developments of Batu Gajah.
Alma Baker was born in Otago, New Zealand and came to Perak in 1890. Initially, he was contracted to do survey works for the Perak government before the contract was terminated in 1897 after the accuracy of his surveys forced an inquiry into his activities. His most lucrative mining concession at Gunung Lanno financed his involvement in rubber plantations.
This little wooden hut, still standing a few metres off the Changkat Batu Gajah Road is the last in a row of similar huts where the married police officers lived during the Malayan Emergency. No fences, gatehouses or special security, just open to anyone who walked by. Very different to the homes of the miners, planters and others for whom they were responsible for guarding.
This particular hut was the home of Police Lieutenant Tom Turnbull, his wife and three young children from 1954 to 1957. Two of the children were born in the Batu Gajah hospital. At the time he held the appointment of Group Commander Area Security Unit, Batu Gajah, Perak. Tom has been very helpful with providing photographs and articles for ipohWorld and we are very grateful to him. His story can be found at http://www.ipohworld.org/search8/result.asp?strid=2949.
If we go to God’s Little Acre, Batu Gajah, definitely we won’t miss out to see a tall monument called ‘Centre Point’. The ‘Centre Point’ was erected in 17th June 1989 by the Perak Planters’ Association and other well wishers, to honour the planters, the miners, the Malayan Police Force, the Commonwealth Forces and the general public who gave their lives during the Malayan Emergency, 1948-1960. It was first used at the 10th Remembrance Day Ceremony. Every year, it becomes the main venue on which the wreath-laying ceremony is focussed.
by Sir George Maxwell, KBE, CMG.
When Sir George first travelled from Taiping to Batu Gajah by gharry, sampan and pony in 1891 most of the Kinta Valley was under primeval forest. Sir George who retired as Chief Secretary to the FMS Government in 1926, celebrated his eightieth birthday in 1952, but like all men great or not so great, it was eventually time for him to pass on – but not before he left us this memory:
“…the general transport system of Kinta at that time. Everything brought into the district travelled from Teluk Anson in large houseboats poled up the river by Chinese or foreign Malays, and all the tin ore and other produce went down river. Kota Bahru was the lowest landing station..The first metalled road in the district ran from Kota Bahru to Gopeng, which was then by far the most important mining centre. Batu Gajah was the next landing station. Then came Pengkalan Pegu, which served Lahat and Menglembu. Finally there was Ipoh, where all navigation ended.
Above it, there was a shallow stream of pure mountain water ………
Much of the tin ore from the mines and the provisions for the miners was carried by elephants: and every day half a dozen or more of them were standing outside the shop houses in Ipoh, Sungei Raia and Gopeng.”
On the second Saturday in June, every year a truly multi-racial, multi ethnic and multi- religious group gather at Changkat Batu Gajah to join in remembering all those that were killed in the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960. This is a unique occasion attended by people of all ages from as far afield as Australia, Fiji, India, New Zealand and UK, as well as those closer to home from Penang, Kuala Lumpur and beyond.
The simple ceremony begins at 7.30 am on 13 June 2009 in the Holy Trinity Church, on the site where there has been a church since 1891, but the main event is the laying of wreaths at the central point of the old Christian cemetery, known world-wide as “God’s Little Acre”, where 116 Planters, Police Officers, Miners and Civilians, killed in the Emergency are buried. The ceremony however remembers all those killed by the Communists whatever race, creed or religion and wherever they may lay.
Here a ceremonial guard is mounted by the Royal Malaysian Police, while their buglers sound “The Last Post. After a short set of speeches, Ghurka Pipers from Brunei play “The Lament” while long-retired and serving Police Officers and Military Men from home and overseas, together with Planters, Miners and the descendants of those killed in the conflict, lay wreaths to pay their respect to the fallen heroes. The wreath laying is usually led by the representative of the Chief Police Officer, Perak, Chairman of the Malaysian Palm Oil Association, High Commissioners and other dignitaries.
Behind this simple and meaningful ceremony is the hard-working Committee of the Malaysian Palm Oil Association (Perak) who stage the ceremony every year. Should you need more information, they can be contacted at 05 254 9582.
We hope to see you there!