‘Do you see me?’
This photo was taken in the late 1950s / early 1960s. Yes, it’s none other than the Straits Trading Building, in Ipoh!
This photo was taken in the late 1950s / early 1960s. Yes, it’s none other than the Straits Trading Building, in Ipoh!
Much has been said about preserving our heritage buildings in and around the Kinta Valley. But alas, profit always seem to over ride conservation efforts.
The following photos (taken this afternoon) is yet another incident whereby pre-war shop houses are forced to make way for more modern structures….
One of our local dailies covered this story too. I’m sure some of you would have seen the demolition taking place – along Anderson Road (Jalan Raja Musa Aziz).
Just look what happened yesterday! I passed by in the morning and only the top half was painted but by the time I got around to going back with my camera the FB site “All About Ipoh” had beaten me to it and posted this photograph.
I am sure the authors won’t mind me using their photo as thay are clearly just as dedicated to the grand old lady as we are.
By the way the aforementioned site has many more “Likes” than we do. It is time to remind all your FB friends about us. Don’t hang back – “Just Do IT!”
This was Tapah Road Railway Station in 1980. Old fashioned, rustic and clearly a leftover from the Colonial days that Malaysia seems to be so ashamed of. But those who feel this way won’t have to be ashamed of their history for much longer as we are told that KTMB are to demolish all the old stations. Kuala Kangsar, Batu Gajah, Tanjung Rambutan and all the others will soon be gone. And then travellers can enjoy the clinical atmosphere imparted by stainless steel and concrete, without having to look back at what life used to be like. However, if you wish to look back then click here where you will find a photograph of the station opening celebration in 1893.
Seriously though wouldn’t one or two of these old stations make great railway museums for the thousands of rail enthusiasts the world over? I thought Perak State wanted to encourage tourism!
Incidentally we are told that Tapah Road, being on the road leading to Tapah led to its name and that this name has drawn some criticism from local Malay linguists because it has a colonial ‘stain’ on it. A number of towns in Perak also have or had a similar ‘stain’ such as Slim River (still in existance), Port Weld (now Kuala Sepetang) and Teluk Anson (now Teluk Intan). Tapah Road maintained its name because the equivalent version in Malay (Jalan Tapah) is not suitable as a station is not normally named after a road, but a place. History is fascinating.
The photograph is again courtesy of Jerry de Witt. Thank you sir for thinking about us.
“Tin Mining in Malaysia: the Osborne & Chappel Story” was launched today by YB Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen, Minister of Tourism Malaysia, in conjunction with the opening of Gopeng Museum’s second premises, the Heritage House, Gopeng.
The book, written by David Palmer, who was part of O & C in Malaysia from 1960 until he retired, and Michael Joll, also an O & C employee for many years, covers tin mining in Malaysia over 200 years, with a short history of the mining industry from the early Colonial days until tin was no longer important in the 1990’s.
It also covers the span of O & C’s long and important involvement in the tin industry of the Kinta tin fields and the towns of Gopeng and Ipoh and tells what happened when the tin mines closed down.
For the technically minded a section of the book describes the various mining techniques.
With 352 pages, hard covered and featuring a wealth of original illustrations, the book is priced at RM100 / GBP20 (excluding packing and postage). It is available direct from the Gopeng Museum or can be ordered by email to email@example.com.
I have got my copy so make sure you get yours. It is good value and will make a darn good read as well as a definitive reference book for those who do not remember the tin mining heydays of the Kinta Valley.
We received the following email and pictures this morning and thought that we should share it with all you heritage supporters out there. No doubt you will be as lost for words as I am – or will you?
HI all! This is one of my favourite kampung houses just outside of Terong, Perak, on the way to Lumut. It is right on the road side & I have taken pics of it over the years and was totally shattered to find it has been turned into a swiftlet house with speakers blasting like crazy. The swiftlet house pics were taken on Friday. Perak is being over run by swiftlet farms. Pantai Remis Sungei Kerang, all a mess! This particular change looks like a joke right? Total disrespect of such a beautiful example of Malay heritage!
Care to share your thoughts with our correspondent?
Now this is one event you really must take your children to. Many of the people you will see practising their skills are the last of the line as nobody is prepared to continue their trade. Consequently it may be the only time that your children will get to see this in real life. It’s a “Must Go” event, so even if you have seen it all before don’t rob the younger generation of their once in a lifetime opportunity.
27th November until 5th December daily, 11.00am to 6.00pm, at
The Garden Villa, No 5 Gopeng Road
Now here is your chance to enjoy Ipoh’s heritage buildings all in one place at the Garden Villa, No 5 Gopeng Road. Here you will see some really great photos of our famous buildings in this heritage architectural photo exhibition. Come and see buildings as others see them, you may be surprised with what you find.
The exhibition opens on 7 November and runs until 23 November 2010
from 11.00am to 6.00 pm daily.
Do come along and while you are there, cast your mind back to the days when Eu Tong Sen would take refuge in the Villa away from the bustle and noise of Eu Chateau. Alternatively picture it in your mind as occupied by the Japanese or as it was later a kindergarten full of local boys and girls enjoying their pre-school fun. We look forward to seeing you there. You’ll enjoy it!
Not a very difficult question for you on this bright Monday morning, but of all the grand old buildings in Ipoh that have been torn down, I think this is the one I miss the most.
Fortunately we have this photograph as a memento of what, in my humble opinion, should never have been demolished. But it was – suddenly and without warning – for that is how we do things under Malaysia Boleh. I think it was lost to us in 2002 but I may be wrong. Does anyone know when it was built or have any history about it? More photographs would also be welcome.
Felicia is sick today so some interesting replies would certainly brighten up her day.
Dad has only a primary education. Without a stable job, it is difficult to feed a large family. We have already pawned whatever that can be pawned. We were close to living in poverty.
Finally, Grandma let out the front portion of #188 to a couple who turned it into a mahjong parlor. Many whores, massage ladies, bargirls, pimps, hawkers, taxi drivers and housewives came in for several rounds. It became a very noisy place, sometimes extending into the wee small hours. Many times fights broke out and the police were called in to break them up. What was once a home to us suddenly became a vice den filled with cigarette smoke and vulgar languages. Sometimes we could not even hear our own voice with all the noises around us.
We kept to ourselves, spending our time mostly upstairs but it was already filled to the brim with tenants. There is hardly any space left for us to study in. This was the last straw for Dad. In a fit, he kicked all the mahjong players out and took back the shop for us to study in peace.
In his early days, Dad was trained in a mechanical work shop in Batu Gajah before the Japanese invasion interrupted his apprenticeship.
He quickly got hold of some motor parts and assembled them into something you see in these pictures. I really do not know what to call it. There is no name for it. We simply called it “the motor”. It was this device that gave our family hopes again. More importantly, it put food on our table and saw all of us through school.
You see, with this device, Dad started another business. He cycled to all the tailor shops, hair salons and garment factories in Ipoh town, offering to sharpen their scissors. In the beginning, business was quite scarce. Nobody would trust him with their cutting tools. After all, he was just a new kid on the block in this trade.
There were some established ones in town. There is one at Cockman Street, next to the shop that sells joss sticks and paper offerings. Others operated along back alleys in the old town area, doing their business long before my Dad appeared in the picture.
However, with patience and skill, he soon won them over. Before long, they discovered that the sharpness lasts longer compared to those done by others. Moreover, Dad charged the same like the rest, RM1 for a pair. Within 2 years, he managed to build a base of regular customers.
He even painted his own signboard and put it in front of the shop every morning before he started work. I remembered it was a big scissors with a light blue background. The blades were painted in silver while the handles were in black. It was just a picture, without words.
Dad used sharpening stones or whetstones to sharpen the scissors. Some came in the shape of a small circular wheel which was fixed to the motor. Others were simply blocks of rough or smooth stones.
They were used separately or in combination, depending on the size, length and quality of the scissors. Normally the bigger, longer and superior blades were sharpened using the motor while the smaller, shorter and inferior ones were done by hand only, to prevent them from breaking.
Yes, the blades can break under intense pressure! I have seen this before and in the end, Dad has to compensate his customer with a new pair of scissors.
To sharpen a pair of scissors, Dad unscrewed the bolt and nut to separate the two blades. Dipping the scissors and sharpening stone into a pail of water to make them wet, he would slide the beveled edge on one side of each blade against the stone. He has to slide the entire length of the blade many times before the scissors is sharp enough to be oiled and screwed back.
Sometimes it took 2 or 3 hours to sharpen one and sometimes, in less than half an hour, depending on the scissors. He also sharpened kitchen knives and all kinds of cutting tools.
It was hard work. It was a one man show. With so many scissors to be sharpen and everyone wanted it done quickly, Dad has to work from morning till night, standing on his feet. He could not get the work done sitting down because, to slide the blade, he needed to use force.
Therefore, his feet would get swollen by the end of the day. His hands numbed and his back pained by the many hours of bending over the work table. Sometimes he accidentally cut his fingers and bled. With a bandaged hand, he continued with the work because he has datelines to meet and many mouths to feed.
Many customers told Dad he was the best scissors sharpener in town. They wanted him to sharpen their scissors in the quickest possible time. Of course Dad could not meet their demands because he has so many scissors waiting for him to sharpen. It is piling up by the day.
“If you wanted it to be sharpen quickly, then please go to other scissors sharpener. Here, you have to wait longer as you can see the pile of scissors and I am doing the work alone!” he could AFFORD TO SCOLD his customers. Many were fearful of him but they loved his skill.
In the end, they meekly gave in and left their cutting tools with Dad. Many bought extra scissors to use while waiting for Dad to sharpen theirs. They preferred to wait for several days rather than go elsewhere. They knew they left their tools in good hands. Throughout all the years, no customers complained about Dad’s work, except that he was rather fierce when pressured!
When I was in Std 6, some foreign tourists past by Dad’s work place which was at the back portion of the shop. They were fascinated to see such a trade done in a traditional manner and decided to video and photograph him as he goes about doing his work.
Many people in the neighborhood called Dad “Scissors Sharpener Uncle” and Mom “Scissors Sharpener Aunty”. When I took taxis in front of Rex Cinema, many taxi drivers who knew Mom and Dad even called me “Scissors Sharpener Daughter”!! LOL.
Dad toiled on until all his children finished school and were able to stand on their own. By then he was old and haggard, having slogged most of his life. As a result of working too hard, it put a toll on his health. His heart became weak, his hands stiff with arthritis and his legs from rheumatism.
Dad retired in 1996 after 25 years in this business. He spent the remaining years nursing his health and staying home resting after working hard most of his life.
This article is a tribute to Dad, a very determined man who believed in nothing and no one, except his own pair of hands and who overcame all odds that life threw into his path, without any help from anyone. I am very proud of him.
I am still keeping this motor with me as a remembrance of Dad who was once a very skillful scissors sharpener in Ipoh. It is a waste that his hand painted signboard became rusty after 25 years and he threw it away when he finally called it a day. But he gave me a pair of scissors and a few whetstones to keep as well.
At last Perak State has made a bold and positive step in the UNESCO direction by declaring that Perak is preparing the nomination dossier for five locations to be presented to UNESCO to list them as World Heritage Sites.
In this firm and welcome statement, State Chairman for Industry, Investment, Industrial Development and Tourism, Datuk Hamidah Osman, said a committee had been formed comprising of the National Heritage Department, Tourism Perak, Ipoh and Taiping local councils, district offices, related government agencies together with the heritage societies to prepare the nomination documents. Under the nature category, the sites are Royal Belum (Tropical Rainforest and Biodiversity Heritage) and Gua Tempurung (Limestone Heritage), and under the Nature and Culture Category the locations identified are Taiping (Heritage Town), Kinta (Tin Heritage and encompassing the area between Ipoh, Batu Gajah and Kampar) and Ipoh City (Cultural Heritage).
Of course that is great news, particularly for those of us whose main interest is Ipoh and the Kinta Valley, but let us understand, UNESCO do not give away these accolades easily and in the case of Penang/Melaka the whole process took masses of work from all concerned over many years. So the people of Perak must be prepared to help wherever they can and be prepared for a long haul.
Now have a look at the following photos, all taken recently in Ipoh Old Town and you will see areas where planning and control by the authorities together with landowner responsibility have completely failed. Areas like these will make negotiations with UNESCO an uphill struggle unless they can be overcome. The pictures are not intended to highlight any one person or organisation but are just shots taken at random. There are dozens more examples in the same area.
Close to the defined heritage area and the river bank we have a permanent lorry park and ugly renovations.
Close by there are gaps like pulled teeth and turned into rough and unsightly car parks.
Buildings are abandoned and collapsing.
And many are simply neglected.
So having taken the first bold step the government/City Council now need to take another one and enforce planning and maintenance rules that accord with the UNESCO requirements from TODAY, for the fear is that landowners, afraid of UNESCO regulations will simply demolish their old buildings rather than risk additional expense in the future. They have taken such action before and no doubt will do it again unless prevented by law and the severest penalties.
And for us, the readers, please do support the various organisations like the heritage societies and tourist association in the above committee, I am sure they will welcome your help.
The International Day for Monuments and Sites (informally known as the World Heritage Day) was created on 18th April, 1982, by ICOMOS and later approved at the 22nd UNESCO General Conference in 1983. This special day offers an opportunity to raise public’s awareness concerning the diversity of the world’s heritage and the efforts that are required to protect and conserve it, as well as to draw attention to its vulnerability.
Casting our mind around Ipoh and its heritage of which we have so much – most of it vulnerable- we selected the cave paintings high up on the cliffs above the Tambun road as our item to draw attention to on this special day. The photograph shows just one of the drawings of animals and men.
At least 5000 years old and the finest set of prehistoric paintings in Malaysia they certainly need protection and conservation, but since they were discovered in 1959 they have been almost totally ignored by those who should care.
So today’s the day for you to do something about it. Raise a petition, write to your MP or draw attention in some other way to our failing to preserve this heritage. At present there are still enough paintings to prove that long before the history of the Malay Peninsula was written, there were primitive men living in Lembah Kinta, who illustrated the environment surrounding them, but they won’t be there much longer unless drastic action is taken!
Do it now! Action speaks louder than words.
The Qing Ming Festival, the Clear Bright Festival, Ancestors Day or Tomb Sweeping Day is a traditional Chinese festival which falls on the first day of the fifth solar term. It denotes a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime and tend to the graves of departed ones. This year it falls on 5 April – tomorrow.
Consequently we thought we should feature Ipoh’s most unusual grave, tucked in between MGS and a used car saleroom in Jalan Chamberlain Hulu, right in the middle of the city. But don’t worry for this has no bodies buried there nor spirits to wander in the dead of night for this is the Guandong Grave as the inscripion shows.
It reads “Worshipping altar of the Guandong grave” and was placed there to allow all the Chinese immigrants in Ipoh to pray to their ancestors as they could not do so at the graves in their home villages. The second inscription below (gold on grey) gives the history as being built during the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1878 to 1908). Consequently, when this grave was built there was no Ipoh New Town and it would have been among the padi fields and pig farms. Unfortunately the actual date is in a classical Chinese form that we have not yet been able to translate. The inscription also records that the grave was restored by the Perak Guangdong Association on 18 August 2003.
This final picture shows the inscription on the small altar to the right (just visible on picture one). This is the symbolic grave of the God of the Earth for those who wish to pray to him. No doubt all the mining coolies needed his help!
This is a real piece of Ipoh’s heritage as it has probably been there since 1895 or before!
Over the past few days there have been several comments about our last post that featured the FMS Bar and so while in Old Town searching for the MG logo (previous post) I took the opportunity to take the above photo to demonstrate what is being done to the pillars. As you can see they are being put back to original.
Coincidentally there is an article in todays New Straits Times that seems to confirm the rumour that the building will be returned fully to its original status, i.e. a hotel as well as restaurant and bar. See http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/22fma/Article/index_html
This picture was taken by Jon L Tan at the 2004 inaugural Ipoh Bougainvillea Parade. He kindly gave us permission to use it. He wrote the following about the picture:
“This little cub generated a lot of excitement. Kids and adults alike were immediately excited by the appearance of this special guest star… Poor tiger had to walk on the hot tar road and collapsed with exhaustion mid way through the parade…”
Now can you imagine that a government organised parade in civilised Ipoh would allow such a thing to happen. Well they did, appalling as it may be and for which, if they were still in government, they should be punished as should the owner, the handler and anyone else who had a hand in this cruel act. Cruelty to animals, particularly wild animals facing extinction, must never be practiced or condoned, no matter how much the public might enjoy seeing them.
So in this year, the year of the Tiger, please do everything you can to protect all animals, particularly the endangered ones like the Malayan Tiger and report any cruelty, poaching or selling of wild animal parts to the police. Tigers and the other animals that live in our ever diminishing rainforests are just as much heritage as buildings, mountains, food and culture. They should all be protected so that our children’s children will be able to enjoy them.
Incidentally this parade was said to be the first of an annual occasion. Did another one ever take place or was it just another broken promise.
Many people do not understand the difference between renovation and restoration, but in simple terms restoration means to return something to its original state (as near as possible) while renovation allows one to change, modernise, adds bits and pieces and generally end up looking nothing like the original. A good example would be Elizabeth Taylor versus Michael Jackson. She had her face restored many times we are told, to retain her youthful beauty, whereas Michael definitely renovated his – also several times!
But what has that got to do with the house above which sits close to the Kinta River bank. Well, looking at the new roof of modern tiles, this is certainly a renovation not restoration. We do not know anything much about this house, other than what the below notices show.
If I understand this correctly the renovation was approved in 1999. Now I remember with horror the renovation to my home in Ipoh where the planned 3 months took 1 year and 5 months with the cost more than doubling, but at least it didn’t take 11 years to get as far as completing the roof. But of course it is not anyone’s fault (it never is) but I wonder what the contractor thinks?
But the point of all this is that wouldn’t it have been nice to keep this house as an original model of its particulat style? Restore rather than renovate. After all this is in a very desirable location close to the river, but away from traffic and should fetch a tidy sum when sold on the open market. It would be even more attractive with the outside features retained but modernised inside to suit our high standard of living necessary these days.
To conclude, I say to those who have an old property in need of repair, consider carefully before you touch the building, restoration will be more expensive in the short term but the long term benefits will certainly be worthwhile. Once renovated it has gone for ever.
As you can see from the above the Gopeng Museum is currently holding a one month Clock Exhibition until 16 March 2010. There are more than 185 old (antique!) clocks on display.
Almost all the pieces have been lent by local people. Some are shown here.
The normal exhibition remains on show which also includes many old clocks.
Do get along there, it is very interesting and worth the visit. But please remember to leave a donation in their box to pay some of the costs of bringing this show to you FOC.
With no comments on the Beetle and still on holiday I could not resist showing you this great old photo of the Post and Telegraphs Office, Grik.
A wooden building on stilts with verandah and black and white chick blinds, this is real Malaya and just what I remember from my first visit to the country in 1960. What a shame we have replaced such romance and beauty with concrete and bricks and at the same time torn down such buildings in an attempt to erase the memories of what was.
This is real history and we should all be proud of it while still moving forward with tasteful development although I doubt that some people actually understand what tasteful means!
The photograph shows the view from the gate of the Matang Historical Complex which was originally Ngah Ibrahim’s fort built in 1865. It was initially simply a home for Ngah Ibrahim, who after his elephant went tin mining became a powerful and wealthy tin miner, but he fortified it to save himself from the Chinese triads of the Ghee Hin and Hai San who eventually went to war over tin mining rights and inadvertently brought the British to Perak.
Richer than the Sultan of Perak, he was appointed by the Sultan as Minister of Larut, but became involved in the plot against J W W Birch the British Resident, was charged with murder, found guilty and banished to the Seychelles. He was never permitted to return to Perak and died in Singapore in 1877. You may remember that his remains were found in a grave in Singapore in 2006, brought back to Perak and buried at his fort. Rightly or wrongly he had returned home.
The building has had many roles over the years: tax office and collection centre for the Larut tin trade; as a court to try Dato Maharaja Lela and Si Puntum for the murder of J W W Birch; the Matang primary school; and the first Malayan Teachers’ Training College, among others. Today the site is the Matang Historical Complex under the management of the Museum and Antiquities Department, proudly displaying that elephant.
Do visit the complex at some stage it really is very interesting and just next door is Captain Speedy’s house. Captain Speedy was of course the Perak Chief of Police in 1873 and appointed Assistant British Resident of Perak when the Pangkor Treaty was signed on the 20th January 1874.
This model of a full size elephant and handlers stands in the entrance to a building in Perak. Legend has it that one day he ran amok into the jungle and when he was finally caught he had a silvery substance smeared all over his left front leg. When his handlers had quietened him down enough to clean him up they found the substance was tin. The then Regent (there was no Sultan at the time) then gave all mining rights in the area to the owner of the elephant. True or not, it is a lovely story and is said to have started the tin boom and, later, wars between two Chinese miner clans, Hai San and Ghee Hin.
Now for the history buffs out there, where is the building, who owned the elephant and what was the date? No prizes given other than your knowledge of your local history being proudly displayed to the world.
Answers on Wednesday if you have not got them right by then.
Local artist Khor Seow Hooi is presenting an exhibition of his paintings of Old Ipoh Town in the Syuen Hotel, first floor, from today 24 January 2010 until 31 january from 10am to 7.30pm daily, including Sunday. Above is one example of his detailed work in ink and watercolour on paper.
He has captured many of our heritage buildings with his brush and as the demolition of our heritage city continues unabated these pictures will become priceless mementoes of how we used to be.
Here is a second example of the treat that is in store for you when you make your way along to the Syuen. Don’t miss it!
For most items the definition of a true antique is more than 100 years old, although there are special arrangements made for items like paintings.
Here we have a real antique, found still fitted in a Chinese building in Ipoh after almost 117 years. Such items were quite rare in Perak in those days, apart from perhaps in the residences of the more senior colonial administrators for such things had to be imported at not inconsiderable expense. Therefore this was no cheap shophouse knocked up quickly, but a quality building with no expense spared for the building, its furniture and fittings.
As you can see from this second picture the basin was imported from Scotland from what is probably the most famous of all sanitary ware – Shanks of Barrhead established in 1850. There are actually two in the same room underlining the fact that no expense was spared. Can anyone guess which building these are in?
A word on dialects. Chinese are famous for their dialects, but Glasgow also has its own where Barrhead is pronounced “Boorheed” and Glasgow “Glessga”. I wonder is anyone out their knows how the Glaswegians pronounce “Milngavie”?
What a nice surprise I had yesterday when I dropped in to Panglima Lane to see the latest state of that fast disappearing site of Ipoh’s heritage. There was a wonderful sight, a Malay couple dressed in their stunning white silk wedding attire being photographed. The scene was without doubt worthy of the above secondary title “Beauty’Midst the Bricks”.
Now I did not ask them why they had chosen that particular spot, only if I could put this photo on my blog. But thinking back why shouldn’t they pick one of Ipoh’s most historic places to record their special day? But wouldn’t it be nice if the place had been kept up as a heritage site rather than a dilapidated shadow of its past glories. Sadly of course it is rare for anything in Ipoh ito be kept up despite heritage groups, activists and the government’s Heritage Act, for nobody seems to care about anything other than making a profit. What a sad place Ipoh will be if we continue this way.
It was time to have another look at the restoration/renovation of Lam Looking Bazaar, so I popped down there this afternoon. What a great transformation met my eyes for as the above picture shows, despite the diversion notices and vehicles, the exterior has taken on a great new look – almost back to brand new.
But of course there is still much to do, but there is definitely work in progress as you can see.
Going inside, which is not recommended on the grounds of safety, one finds style where there was only rubble not that long ago, and what is more it is the original Iverson art deco style, but with a spanking new roof of quality tiles. The building really is going to look as good as new.
But a lot more original Iversen has also been retained and although some of the glazing will inevitably be different the great variety of light giving designs, for example on the stairs, have been kept.
and in the front of the building (photo taken from inside ground floor).
Overall the building is well on the way to be Ipoh’s shining star of heritage in our crumbling city. Well done all concerned. We look forward to the completion and opening ceremony.
This very delightful house has combined two very distict styles, that to my eye actually compliment each other, into one structure and as such seems to me to be quite unusual. Clearly a family heritage building, it stands not far back from the main road, close to Beruas, Perak and on the day the photograph was taken, seemed to be empty. Obviously there is a lot of Malay tradition in the wood carvings and decoration, fast disappearing in many other places, as can be seen here:
But what about the concrete pillars? It is rare to see such decoration forming part of a Kampung House.
One thing I cannot imagine is why would anyone wish to leave such a house empty for it stands in a nice piece of land with trees and flowers and with no pollution, life could be idyllic. I do hope the owner was only out at the market and has not given up this piece pf paradise for a double storey link house in the city!
If anyone knows any of the history of this building we would be delighted to hear from you.
Yes the Bumper issue No 88 hit the newstands and free outlets today. The biggest paper they have produced so far it is full of local interest: from making a movie in Papan, Christmas cheer, plagiarism, outdoor pursuits, community news and much more.
But one article relating to heritage that caught our attention was about the old tin dredge and its future. The dredge is sinking and as every day passes it further deteriorates. To get it back to a level suitable for tourism will cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of RM. Should this money be spent? Who should pay? What should be done?
Why not read the article yourselves either at page 4 of Isue 88 or at http://ipohecho.com.my/v2/category/commentary/thinking-aloud/ and let us, or the Echo know your views. But at the same time don’t forget to read the other 19 pages, they are full of local interest. It is your community newspaper so enjoy it.
The dredge leaning over at an angle approaching 20 degrees
Not only did our owner of the missing house care for the building itself, but just look at these photographs. He carefully saved everything that was there and after restoring his old home, he faithfully replaced the contents. That’s dedication, but more importantly it is “Pride in One’s Heritage”.
Family photographs on the wall, books and ornaments neatly blending with period furniture and a modern (ish) desk lamp.
What a great place to come home to after a week of pressure in Kuala Lumpur!
This old photograph shows the first courthouse in Teluk Anson (Teluk Intan), built in the late 1870’s or very early 1880’s. It also doubled up on a Sunday as the Anglican Church for there was not one available in the district. However, the hard wooden benches suitable for a court house were just too uncomfortable as church pews and that certainly did not encourage the God-fearing parishioners to attend the Sunday service, for they were more used to the comfortable and relaxing pews of Old England.
Consequently the Society for the Propogation of the Gospel set about raising funds for a proper church and in 1910 the first Anglican church of Teluk Anson was completed – we are sure with comfortable pews!
The courthouse then continued solely in its primary role until the new courthouse was built in 1983. The Sultan of Perak opened the new building in April 1986, some 100 years after the original one was built.
This second photograph shows the building recently. Despite the offensive looking sign, it is not actually in use and apart from the odd cheap sale that takes place there it is effectively abandoned and fast deteriorating. Now we are well aware that this and the Old Police Station carry the stigma of being “British built”, but how can the council and residents of Teluk Intan let buildings like them just rot away, rather than turn them into something useful for the people, education, or even a museum. Have they no pride in their heritage?
This little environmentally friendly Soya sauce factory lies just behind the police station in Gopeng. Here the elderly couple have been producing thick and thin sauce and fermented bean paste for most of their lives, but sadly have no children to take over this thriving business. However, there is hope that it will continue as a neice has recently joined them although when asked if she planned to continue the business, she was noncommittal.
Clearly another Gopeng tourist attraction (Gopeng seems to be doing well in this area) as well as a valuable asset to the community, one hopes that she will carry on the business which is effectively, already a working museum.
Above I mentioned ‘environmentally friendly” and that is because one can see at a glance that there are no waste products lying around polluting our world like most factories do. Secondly their bottles are carefully collected (discarded second hand sauce bottles from a multi-national company) and instead of wastefully being thrown away, they are thoroughly washed by the same small team of two (now three) and reused for their products, without unnecessasary paper labels. Sure, they do use a wood fire to boil up the beans, but only common wood not that from the rainforest which so many people are exploiting to line their own pockets.
If you have not found this little heritage gem then do make a point of visiting if you are in the area – and while you are there buy some sauce – you will not get better.
I am sure that all Kinta Valley readers will recognise this bit of heritage that has become a potential horror so close to the Ipoh – Gopeng Trunk Road. Yes, it is Kampong Kepayang and the road is indeed the Gopeng Road up and down which traffic thunders daily. What is more these buildings and several others in the row are in danger of falling into the road and killing some passing motorist (shades of Fair Park’s recent tragedy).
Now this is not a new situation and the photograph was taken some two years ago, but passing the site yesterday and with the Fair Park incident in mind, I noticed that the situation was much the same as it was when the photograph was taken, although of course inevitable further deterioration has taken place.
This little Kampung, two rows of houses close to the road (and in which some families still live), with an old traditional mosque at one end, could have been a nice little heritage enclave . Making it such has been talked about many times by those in authority, but as usual nothing happened. Of course it would have needed to be pedestrianised with a by-pass and that would have been costly, but looking at how much gets spent on trivia, it would not have been wasted.
But what about today, clearly there are only two options – Save it or Destroy it. What do you think should be the way ahead? Whatever is decided it must be done quickly to prevent another disaster.
This is the latest map/brochure published by Myheritage Technovation Sdn Bhd in collaboration with Perak Academy and Kinta Heritage Group. Inside is a basic map of Ipoh Old Town outlining a two-hour heritage trail as well as short write-ups about the 24 heritage buildings on the trail.
Also featured is a brief history of Ipoh Town, Panglima Lane (Concubine Lane) and a guide of Ipoh’s Living Heritage – our well-known cuisines – something food lovers will enjoy!
Privately sponsored by a public-minded citizen of Ipoh, copies of this brochure can be obtained free of charge at the Perak Academy office, the Railway Station, leading hotels, and Tourist Information Centers.
Well he would be in danger if he was to try and take the same photograph today as he was standing in the centre of the Birch Bridge in Brewster Road, but of course in 1952 life was different in Ipoh, Brewster Road took two-way traffic and as you can see the road is almost empty. Compare that to today if you will.
But as you can see, despite the fact that the photograph has suffered with age, there were so many trees, big trees not some miniatures, overtrimmed, dusty and dry that we are so used to today. Also, some of today’s buildings have not yet been built and the Odeon Theatre stands out in the distance.
Incidentally, the Odeon Theatre in Ipoh seated 850 on its main floor and in the balcony and was built in the 1930’s. Triangular in shape it is adjacent to St Michael’s Cemetery and like the Rex Theatre, Ipoh, rumours of ghostly happenings, spooks and terrifying visions abound. One popular rumour was that if you ever took off your shoes inside, you would never find them when the light came on – even if nobody had sat in front, behind or next to you.
The theatre closed in 1986 and several nightclubs have tried to make a success of it but either because of bad ‘feng shui’ or the ghosts, they have all failed. Today it stands as a marker of failure and ready for demolition unless some serious entrepreneur is prepared to try and change the building’s luck.
This photograph was one of literally hundreds that the famous German photographer took around 1900. August Kaulfuss was born and educated in Rohnstock, Silesia. He served in the German Navy for a couple of years then worked in the photographic studio of Otto van Bosch in Frankfurt. He arrived in Penang in 1883 and soon established a photographic firm at 9 Farquhar Street.
He travelled widely, mostly on foot, across almost all of the Malay Peninsula, from Province Wellesley in the north to Johore in the south as there were almost no roads or railways. Many of his photographs were made into picture postcards, a range of which are on the ipohWorld main site’s database. It is believed he returned to Germany before the First World War.
Although not a new publication (it was first published in 1982 and reprinted in 1984) it is out of print but sometimes still available on the Internet. It forms a very handy introduction to the Malayan Emergency of 1948 to 1960. Ideal for the student or as a first-time introduction to the events of those difficult times.
Osprey describe it thus:
In June 1948 Communist insurgent forces commenced a guerrilla war to end British rule in Malaya. During the ensuing 12 years of conflict there were 8750 reported ‘contacts’ between units of the Security Forces and the Communist enemy. Eventually Malaya was made independent, and the British and their Commonwealth allies emerged victorious. Written and illustrated by infantry veterans of the campaign, this book examines the Malayan Emergency, detailing the forces involved and the harsh jungle conditions in which they fought. The text is complete with firsthand accounts from the contributors themselves and numerous illustrations depicting the forces’ uniforms.
For the enthusiast it is worth searching for and rumour has it that it is to be reprinted. Keep an eye out in the bookstores if you are interested.
This is a picture of a three-lane, 1960s mining Palong constructed at Kampong Gajah, Perak. As can be seen this is a major structure all made from timber which was generally cut from the mining land before the actual mining started, as almost all of the land would have been originally covered by trees which had to be removed. A three-lane Palong was quite small as many of them went up to 12 lanes or later even 16.
The Palong is of course associated with open-cast mining and in this period meant the use of manhandled, high pressure, monitors cutting the tin bearing ore from the land and washing it towards the gravel pump, for pumping up to the Palong. However, spare a thought for the men who built this structure, for once the monitors had cleared all the tin from the area they were working, the Palong had to be dismantled, moved and reassembled at the next mining area for there was a limit as to how far the gravel pump could be away from the monitors.
This mode of mining was eventually replaced by the use of excavators, tipper trucks and automatic monitors known as Dry-Excavating Opencast Mining, there being two great advantages to this, the Palong did not have to be moved and the automatic monitors could work for 24 hours, thus increasing the yield of tin ore.
This house in Hume Street, New Town, Ipoh is often admired by visitors and locals alike. It has appeared several times on other blogs and it would be a serious omission if we did not include it on ipohWorld’s World as it is a great example of how nice Ipoh could look if other owners cared as much as this one. Just compare this to the shophouse in Market Street on this blog and you will see what I mean.
Hume Street is an interesting place with of course the grand old Panglima Mosque at the end of the street next to the Kinta River. But add to that the other buildings, most of which are in almost original condition, even if not beautifully painted, and you have an ideal street to turn into a small heritage enclave. Wouldn’t that be nice!
The street also contains several Chinese clubs/associations. Perhaps thay could donate some paint for their buildings as the next step to preserving this short street for following generations.
Finally may I offer my congratulations and thanks to the owner of the house pictured. You are an asset to Ipoh.
At one time Ipoh sported two Birch Memorials, the clock tower in memory of J W W Birch and this beautiful marble fountain in Belfield Street to honour his son E W Birch. These memorials always seem to cause confusion as today only the clock tower remains and more than one tourism site has misled its readers in the past by talking about the “Birch Fountain”, over a picture of the clock tower.
So this post is intended to set the matter straight. The clock tower was erected in 1909 in memory of J W W Birch, the first British Resident of Perak under the Pangkor Treaty of 1874. He was assassinated by the Malays in 1875 and the moving force for the erection of the towere was his son E W Birch who was the 8th British Resident from 1904 to 1910. It is still with us today although as an earlier post shows the area in which it stands is not always treated well.
The photograph above shows the Birch Fountain. This all-marble fountain at the southern end of Belfield Street, was erected by the Ipoh Chinese business community, in honour of E W Birch (later, Sir Ernest Woodford Birch KCMG CMG) who (unlike his father) was a popular administrator that worked closely with the local people, particularly Yau Tet Shin, the original developer of Ipoh New Town.
Sadly, in the name of development, it was demolished by the local council and was replaced by a new fountain of a much lesser qualty and style. That is Ipoh’s loss.
This photograph taken by Wang Shaoming just a few months ago shows the row of 1930’s shophouses at what I like to think of as the far end of Fair Park. They look dilapidated, but with the curved end did display a certain character of their own and one wonders why the owners did not tidy them up ( a steam clean and coat of paint would have helped) rrather than leave them deteriorating. But as the next picture shows the reason is clear – They were planned for demolition!
Taken today this shows the back of the buildings and I am sure we shall be privileged to see more photos of this and other happenings around Ipoh over the coming weeks. Keep up the good work Shaoming.
Some time ago Jeya mentioned that it is still possible to visit a bucket dredge some 10Km from Batu Gajah on the Tanjung Tualang Road. This is dredge number TT5 and it is open to visitors for a small entrance fee. You may walk on the dredge to get a feel for its massive size (4,500 tonnes weight) and talk to the man behind the project Steven Ng who seems to spend most of his life there.
This dredge, a museum piece, the last in Perak and one of only 3 left in Malaysia was built in 1938 by W F Payne & Sons and worked the mining pools in the Kinta vally for 44 years. It stopped working in 1983 when the price of tin dropped to a level where it was no longer an economic proposition. Today it sits in a man-made pond at Desa Perlombongan along the Tanjong Tualong Road and is well signposted.
Unfortunately the machinery no longer runs, but if you want to get an idea about how the dredge worked, click here and you will find the 11 different operations that took place on a dredge of this sort.
While many will argue that this is not heritage that depends a lot on one’s point of view. Here we have the logo brightening up a really dull steel shutter in a heritage building and demonstrating a family’s pride in what they do (books for education), their family name and the country to which they belong. Perhaps we could do with more of such pride in our community, but looking around at the city, pride in our home town and its surrounds is obviously in very short supply.
On the heritage front, this logo represents the family’s heritage – a business built up by hard work over the years, to make a future for themselves, their children and those who follow them. What will you leave behind for those that follow you? Will it be more than your forefathers left you or less?
Well of course it may be more in terms of financial wealth, property ownership and other material things we all crave for, but what about that other heritage – clean rivers, thriving wildlife, untouched hills, pollution-free air to breathe and more? There is no doubt about the answer to that question is there?
But it is not too late because if each one of you got back that pride and did your bit for the community, much (but not all) could be salvaged for future generations. Soon it will be altogether too late!
Think about it!
This little group of buildings in Belfield Street, Old Town, Ipoh is very reminiscent of the days when budding entrepreneurs bought a single plot of land and had their own ideas created into a shop-house. Individuality was the hallmark in those days not like the vast housing developments today with their rows and rows of identical little boxes.
Pity about the nasty, white, square and tasteless building to the left.
Hugh Low Street taken from rise, near the Registar of Motor Vehicles office in 1887. The first bus service was started from this street and Laxamana Road to Gopeng in 1910. The pioneer was Yeop Abdul Rani Idris who used a single bus to run his business. However, in 1912, the business collapsed due to economic factors.
Most tourists that traverse Old Town make a point of photographing the Birch Memorial Clock Tower, just as this photographer has done in the past. But searching for a different view this time he came across this little side-lane and this is what he got to take home to remind him of Ipoh.
What a pity that Ipoh, once lauded as the cleanest town in Malaya, no longer seems to maintain the buildings, pavements and lanes.
Sunday is a good day to follow the published heritage walk around Old Town, Ipoh as there is not too much traffic and very few cars parked to obstruct the view of the heritage buildings. But a word of warning, do watch where you step because, as the photographs show, quite apart from having to walk in single file in some places (see “There it was GONE” below) the modern paved walkways have not survived as well as the old buildings around them .
So do be careful where you walk when you are admiring some exciting feature across the road or taking that dream photo that you will treasure for life. The alternative could be a thoroughly spoilt Sunday and the inconvenience that would cause.
If you walk past the front of Lam Looking building, nothing much seems to be happening, but pause a moment and you will hear the mighty hammering of hacking tools and when they take a break – voices. Could it be that something is cooking inside the building? Now before you move on, look up and right at the top. Something plain grey has been added. What could it be?
Well, a look at this second picture, taken inside the top floor, will tell you that they have rebuilt the top of the building with red brick – Yes, work has started and they are preserving the facia and internal walls.
And as the above pictures show, it has started with a vengeance, there is a mass of building materials on site, the floors have been stabilised with steel and wooden props and they are removing all the old rendering, but keeping the original brickwork.
But there is also a lot of new brickwork as well and much more to follow. but it looks as if Lam Looking will live to serve the people of Ipoh again in one way or another, just as its new owner said it would. That is great news.
However the job will take time and the workers say two years, it could well be more, but at least we know it will stand again a proud symbol of a grand old Chinaman, Towkay Lam Look Ing.
Ipoh has many of these shop-sign pillars lining the 5-foot way, more we believe than any of the other Malaysian cities, but it is very unusual to see them in any other langusge but Chinese. However this pair, relics of Ipoh’s Colonial past remain with us to remind us that at one time the two languages you were most likely to hear in the town were Chinese and English.
Does anyone know of another pair like this?
This genuine Kinta Town Board notice from 1956 or thereabouts is nothing less than bizarre. What on earth did one do with sticks and stones? However 5 cents for a bath and free toilets sounds like a pretty good deal. If you have any suggestions about the sticks and stones, please keep them to yourself. We really do not want to share them! Nonethe less, please feel free to comment on the unusual notice. We always welcome your input.
This divided back, unused, card from Airfoto is centred on the Perak State Mosque with the Railway Station clearly visible between it and the limestone hills which form the backdrop against a brilliant blue sky.
The amazing thing about this picture is just what a beautiful and green city Ipoh was in the 1960’s. In every direction from the mosque there can be seen grassy spaces and an abundance of trees. Take for example the Birch Memorial Clock tower just to the right of the mosque. It stands surrounded by nature’s greenery, open to view and a magnificent memorial to the first British Resident of Perak who was murdered by the Malays. Whatever your politics or your opinion of J W W Birch there is no doubt that this environment was far superior to today’s, hemmed in as the clock tower is by a scruffy food centre that replaced the trees (behind which the old Post Office nestled) and surrounded by hard landscaping and litter rather than well tended grass.
But not only the clock tower’s environment has worsened but a comparison against today’s Ipoh also demonstrates that there has been a general decline in the environment across the City. How on earth did we, the citizens of Ipoh allow this?
For those of you interested in what’s happening in your local Ipoh community and if you’d like to receive the Ipoh Echo in your email inbox, you can now do so by subscribing online at: http://www.ipohecho.com.my/
IT’S FREE and the site has recently been upgraded for higher interactivity.
One of the subsequent benefits which will be activated later in our on-line efforts is that you’ll be receiving announcements for events way before the paper gets to either your snail mail box or even your email inbox.
And remember that the Ipoh Echo is YOUR community paper. If you have any announcements that require broadcasting to the community at large (public service ones) just send them to: email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will do our utmost to disseminate them.
The Editor, Ipoh Echo Sdn Bhd
ipohWorld blogger says: “We strongly recommend the Ipoh Echo as a very worthwhile read. As well as local news and events, often not published elsewhere, it runs regular heritage stories and draws attention to the deplorable state of much of Perak’s heritage. Don’t wait! Subscribe online now at http://www.ipohecho.com.my/.”
In December last year there was a revelation by the Datuk Bandar, Ipoh, that the legendary tunnel under the Ipoh Town Hall, which is said to join the Railway Station to the High Court and the Police Station (the latter being most unlikely) was to be investigated. Indeed, not only investigated, but opened to the public as part of a historical trail that would take-in parts of Old Town as well, including Lorong Panglima (aka Second Concubine Lane). Not surprisingly nothing has been heard since, but maybe the new Firefly flight schedule from Singapore that starts on 12 July will bring in some tourists and spur the City and State Governments to actually follow this up and smarten up our city for it certainly needs some smartening up!
A case in point is the above photograph of Panglima Lane taken just one week ago. Surely we are not going to allow our tourists to see what states of delapidation our heritage sites have fallen into!
Or are we?
High on an abrupt limestone cliff near Ipoh, a whole series of rock paintings drawn with haematite paint were discovered in 1959 and are estimated to be between 5,000 to 12,000 years old!
They were discovered by an Englishman, one Lieutenant R L Rawlings, who was serving with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Queen Elizabeth’s Own Gurkha Rifles as part of the Commonwealth Armed Forces’ presence in Malaya for the Malayan Emergency. It was one of the most important historic discoveries in the country, in our opinion second only to the Perak Man.
Access to the paintings is not easy as there is no indication from the main road that they even exist; then the path is overgrown; the one signboard at the foot of the cliffs is rusting away; and the concrete steps, erected by the Museums Department are overgrown and slippery. However for the dedicated enthusiast access is just possible with care.
The paintings are situated on a wide ledge at the top of a steep slope, about 30 plus metres above the floor of Lembah Kinta on a smooth limestone cliff. Some 6 metres or more above the ledge, there are a number of illustrations of wildlife, people and abstract designs. Some are quite small while some of the animals are more than one metre long. We believe they are the first and only ancient rock paintings known in Malaysia. As ones eyes grew accustomed to the glare, it is obvious that the sunlight is fading the artwork while water has completely eroded some parts of the sketches.
In November 1959, J.M Matthews, an author in an issue of Malaya in History – Magazine of the Malayan Historical Society, wrote this description of the discovery: “The paintings are monochrome – indistinct. In some groups, the paint is dark purple, in others, dull red. Some of the figures are obviously men, rather crudely drawn. Some of the animals are easily identified, others are rather vague and imagination is needed for their representation”.
However we were still able to recognize most of the paintings; there are wild boars and a dugong, a tapir and deer. The latter are fascinating appearing as pregnant does, one with a small infant drawn inside its swollen frame. At one time, we are told, this gallery of paintings stretched for more than a hundred feet, but over the last 50 years most of it has disappeared.
However, there are still enough paintings to prove that long before the history of the Malay Peninsula was written, there were primitive men living in Lembah Kinta, who illustrated the environment surrounding them.
So why have they not been properly protected and controlled so that both Malaysians and Tourists can enjoy our unique piece of history? Clearly, only the appropriate government department could answer that!
When the Japanese invaded Malaya in the Second World War, John Davis’s service in that country could have ended. Determined to help the land he had come to love, however, he transferred from the Federated Malay States – M16 – and then, in 1942, to the Special Operations Executive (SOE).
Escaping to India by fishing boat as Japan established its grip in the Far East, Davis set about planning the infiltration of Chinese intelligence agents and British officers into the Malayan peninsula. In 1943 he entered Occupied Malaya by submarine, as Mountbatten’s representative in charge of the Resistance mission, known as Force 136. After striking up a friendship with the youthful Chin Peng, Davis led negotiations at the end of 1943 with the Anti-Japanese Forces and the Malayan Community Party under the enigmatic Lai Tak. Their Agreement effectively enabled the British to return unopposed in 1945.
From 1947 Davis held key positions in the Malayan Civil Service, was Mentioned in Despatches, and was awarded two Malay honours for his contribution to Malaya’s security, to add to his British wartime CBE and DSO.
In the twelve-year Emergency Davis pitted his energy and know-how with increasing success in the jungle war against the Communist forces, in which Chin Peng, as General Secretary of the Malayan Communist Party, had become Britain’s Public Enemy No 1. However, memories of their wartime friendship survived. In 1955 the two met under a truce at Baling, and in 1998, the fiftieth anniversary of the Emergency, the Communist leader visited John at his home in England.
Radical, sometimes a maverick, and a man of strong convictions, John Davis was more than an extraordinarily courageous hero of the Second World War: he became an iconic figure in Malaya’s colonial history. Now his story can be told for the first time and is illustrated by photographs from his personal albums.
The book’s ISBN (Hardcover) is 978-0-7509-4710-7
On 14 June 2009 both the China Press and Oriental Daily kindly featured the launch of ipohWorld’s new database archive and blog. The photographs show guests viewing the photographic exhibition, “Snapshots of the Emergency” that accompanied the launch. Scans of the articles are shown above and for the convenience of the all, we enclose our Press Release below:
Ipohworld, an education-based organization now integrated into the facilities of Tenby Schools Ipoh, today launched an internet-based history archive in conjunction with this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony held to honour the thousands of servicemen and civilians killed during the Malaysian Emergency (1948-1960).
This occasion was chosen as several of the veterans from the days of the Emergency had donated photographs unavailable elsewhere, to the history archive.
To mark the occasion, Ipohworld also mounted a photographic exhibition at the Royal Ipoh Club, simply called “Snapshots of the Emergency” and featuring a number of original photographs donated by the veterans who regularly attend the annual ceremony.
Orang Kaya-Kaya Panglima Kinta Seri Amar di-Raja Dato’ Seri Dr Abdullah Fadzil Che Wan, who is also the Chairman of Ipohworld, was present to launch the exhibition.
Ipohworld was established in 2004 to promote awareness and appreciation of Perak, the Silver State of Malaysia and its unique, diverse and rich heritage, with particular focus on Ipoh and the Kinta Valley. In 2006 it ran the extraordinarily successful exhibition “The Story of Ipoh: From Feet to Flight”, in cooperation with Darul Ridzuan Museum. Since then, while trying to get both the Public and Private sectors to support Ipohworld’s objective to provide Ipoh with a permanent, lively and interesting heritage gallery, to enhance education and tourism, the organisation continues to work towards that target.
Consequently, undeterred by the lack of financial support for a gallery, the project has continued to gather a broad variety of local items and information from worldwide sources. As the collection grew, disciplined recording, preservation and control became essential. Thus, an information archive in the form of a unique digital image database, supported by original research, and available information from acknowledged and credible sources, was born.
To date Ipohworld has documented well over 3000 items in the archive covering a wide range of subjects across the broad spectrum of heritage and social history, based on photographs, documents, interviews, artifacts, books and videos. More items will be added regularly.
Through this database it is hoped to assist individuals and groups, particularly students, with their research, while at the same time promoting the Kinta Valley, once vaunted the richest tin mining area in the world.
In line with present communication trends, Ipohworld, under the guidance of its Project Manager, Commandor RN (RTD) Ian Anderson, has created a weblog to publish stories, personal experiences and to highlight heritage issues as they occur around our valley. Through the weblog, they hope to facilitate discussion between their readers and encourage those with an interest in Perak to share their stories and pictures with others. They also welcome visitors to post original contributions on any aspect of heritage or social history relevant to our area to enrich the content of the blog.
In 2006, the Ipohworld project was integrated into the facilities of Tenby Schools Ipoh, which aligned neatly with the schools’ ongoing commitment to encourage interest in heritage and social history among their students while maintaining the project‘s objective to promote Kinta Valley’s heritage. Since then, all the items displayed in its maiden exhibition “From Feet to Flight” as well as new additions, have have found their “home” at Tenby Schools Ipoh, whilst continuing to wait for a permanent home.
Madam Lee Yam Sei, COO of Tenby Schools Ipoh, explained that the students’ first involvement with Ipohworld’s objectives was when they took on a project to document their own families’ transport history in 2006, taking the lead from the first exhibition.
“Since then several of the schools’ students have collaborated with Ipohworld on oral history interviews of senior members of the community, assisted with hosting exhibitions and taken part in photographic, art and model building competitions with heritage as the theme.
“Besides projects of this nature, the schools also take pride in organising trips to heritage exhibitions and sites to further expose their students to the wealth of local history that is available”, she said.
“These include such diverse subjects as tin mining, a battle site, prehistoric rock paintings, a well-known local folly, mangrove swamps and charcoal burning.
“We are proud that our students have taken a keener interest in Perak’s history and developed an appreciation for its rich cultural heritage through these activities, as a result of the efforts of Ipohworld”, Madam Lee added.
Over the last 5 years Ipohworld has been well supported with donated material from home and overseas, but if they are to build a truly comprehensive archive they need more help. If anyone has any old photographs, documents, artifacts or stories from Ipoh or the Kinta Valley area they would be delighted to hear from them.
Contact may be made via email@example.com in the first instance so that appropriate arrangements may be made. Anything borrowed will be returned promptly as existing contributors will confirm.
Ipohworld’s impressive history archives, including the most recent collection of photo exhibition “Snapshots of the Emergency”, are available for public viewing via http://www.ipohworld.org
As an introduction to the launch of ipohWorld’s new website, database archive and blog at the Royal Ipoh Club on 13 June 2009, the Star Newspaper kindly featured us on the same morning. The photographs in the above article show the ipohWorld project manager demonstrating the type of information available in the archive ( on the screen are members of the Malay Regiment on anti communist patrol) and students of Tenby Schools, Ipoh interviewing Dato Seri Yuen Yuet Leng about his 35 years in the police, with particular emphasis on the Malayan Emergency.
More information about the Emergency, Dato Seri and the role of Tenby students within ipohWorld may be found on the website and archive.
Our last Gopeng post related to the new museum there and also remarked that parts of the town were falling down. For those of you who do not know the place, here is a photograph of a row of houses just a few yards from the museum. What a dreadful sight to greet the visitor to the beautifully restored museum premises.
Following on from my two previous posts about the Foochows of Sitiawan, here is the promised image of the book referred to.
Written by Shih Toong Siong, a descendant of those first immigrants the book tells the story of the Foochows since 1903. They were a ‘population transplant’, for a rice growing experiment, fully paid for by the British Colonial Administration and brokered by 3 Methodist Ministers known as ‘The Pioneers’. The scheme was a failure, but they were saved by the boom in rubber which they were able to grow successfully on their ‘Chinese Only’ land given to them by the government. The book endeavours to establish the very beginnings of the various schools, towns and churches of today’s Sitiawan.
There is also a fascinating section about a young schoolboy Ong Boon Hua, better known today as Chin Peng.
The ISBN is 983-41824-0-6 and it retails at RM49.00
In my last post I featured the Sitiawan Settlement Museum within the Kampong Koh Memorial Garden. Now, you may not know about this aspect of Sitiawan, which actually has an unusual past that is rarely spoken about. Have you ever wondered why – or did you not know – that Sitiawan has the Foochows?
Foochow (Fuzhou) is the capital of Fujian province in China and you may be surprised to learn that on 9th September 1903 (known locally as “double nine day”, an auspicious day for local Foochows), 303 Christian immigrants from there landed at a jetty in the Sitiawan River, with 60 more arriving one week later. These were recruits of a scheme run by three Methodist missionaries (known as The Pioneers). More surprising was the fact that these missionaries were contracted by the British administration, led by Federated Malay States (FMS) High Commissioner Sir John Anderson GCMG KCB, to bring in up to 100,000 recruits to grow padi. This was how the British planned to feed the hundreds of coolies working in the Perak tin mines. The Foochows were to be given land to live and grow the rice in the fields around the river. However the scheme failed at once because no more volunteers actually followed the first 363 on their journey to Perak.
The 363 men, women and children were eventually given individual family lots of land of 3 acres (in Foochow they were promised 6 acres) within the government allocated missionary land, but true to tradition, the plots were not ready and there were only seven longhouses available, some 3 to 4 miles away from the jetty, through thick jungle. This, their first settlement, called Kampong Sitiawan, was still (just) standing on our last visit. (see photograph).
Nonetheless, while living in crowded conditions, at more than 50 to a house, for the next six months, these settlers started work, cutting their plots out of the jungle and building their new homes. Thanks to the missionaries and their colleagues it was in 1904 that a church, a school and an orphanage were built, all business being conducted in the Foochow dialect.
However, the British never did their homework well enough, for with only three acres of non-fertile land, the rice harvest was far from abundant and the programme suffered its second failure, leaving the settlers with no livelihood. Consequently 57 ran away to the tin mines in Kinta Valley (less than 80Km away) and the remainder struggled on. Fortunately, for the suffering settlers, this was the beginning of the period of rubber plantations in Malaysia and the remaining families transferred their attentions to this new crop with great success.
Jumping ahead about 100 years, if you talk to any born and bred Christian Chinese in Sitiawan today, they are probably descendants of those original 363 immigrants, for there are many of them. This has given them a tradition of their own, which in turn has given them a focus on their past that many Malaysian groups would be jealous of. This has also kept the families together and in Kampung Koh they have established a memorial garden dedicated to the original settlers and the Pioneers that brought them here. Within this garden there is the 1927 Settlement Church with its Private Museum (by appointment only) depicting the history of the settlers and their descendants. A senior citizens’ centre, a children’s nursery and a multi-purpose hall complete the complex. This is a great achievement for today’s small group of some 300 parishioners and shows just what can be done for heritage if the will is there. Behind the church is an unusual cemetery serving both Christians and non-Christians where one of the Pioneers, Reverend Ling Ching Mi, is buried.
Finally, if this short account has interested you, then you may like to know that a descendant of those settlers has published an excellent book. It is the first available publication that tells the story in detail of the Foochow immigrants and their descendants. It is called, aptly enough, “The Foochows of Sitiawan” (ISBN 983-41824-0-6) and retails at RM49.00. I shall feature the book in my next post.
Sometime ago we made an afternoon visit to the Settlement Museum within the Kampong Koh Memorial Garden. Opened in September 2003 and sited in the 70 year-old house of the Methodist Pastor, the museum traces the Foochow settlers’ history from leaving their original homeland in China in 1903 until the present day. This history covers, not only the Sitiawan settlers, but also their earlier counterparts who, as part of a previous scheme were brought to settle in East Malaysia.
The wonderful thing about this museum, when compared to those under the National or State Governments, is that this tribute to the past has been put together entirely by volunteers and private funds. This is a positive demonstration of what can be done by a small dedicated group of people who share a common purpose. They should be congratulated on their achievement, particularly as the Church group that organised it only has about 300 parishioners and already runs the church, a senior citizen’s centre and a multi purpose hall, all within a nicely maintained and historic garden, which contains the original antique wells that once were the only water supply for the residents of the entire area. If only more small groups could be similarly motivated!
Within the museum there is a photographic history on the ground floor, together with showcases protecting a number of smaller and interesting artifacts. Upstairs there are examples of settlers clothing, furniture, early electrical items, cameras, musical instruments, home and office equipment and more historic photographs. Downstairs again and in the maid’s areas, there are old bicycles, domestic equipment, farming and forestry tools, bottles, jars and more. Indeed the exhibits clearly demonstrate the Sitiawan settler’s life across the years and the range is as wide as it can be. This is a museum for ordinary people about ordinary people and well worth a visit.
But visiting has to be planned and booked with the organisers, for a young volunteer organisation like this cannot be expected to be open all the time in the way that a government museum is. So if this article takes your fancy and you would like to see the Settlement Museum at first hand then please call 05 6920612 and give at least two weeks notice. They will be pleased to welcome you.
The virtually unspoilt town of Beruas is well off the beaten track for most of us, but I actually made the effort and got there last year. The museum is set in the heart of the town about 40Km away from Sitiawan and is housed in what used to be the town’s court building. Set up in 1995, this is a small and unusual museum for Malaysia, as it displays artifacts some 500 years old, relating solely to the Beruas area, many of which have been dug up in 1991 by the Beruas Historical Survey Project. These items are believed to have originated from the Malay Sultanate in Beruas in the 16th Century.
But the Beruas area is probably even older than that, as it is believed to be the site of the 6th Century, pre-Islamic, Malay and Hindu kingdom of Gangga Negara, one of the oldest civilisations in the region, which is referred to in the Malay Annals. This theory is supported by the finding of 6th to 10th Century bronze Hindu-Buddhist icons in wide area around Perak in places as far apart as Sungei Siput and Bidor.
Whether this is the site of Gangga Negara or not, it certainly can lay positive claim to being the 16th Century Malay Sultanate for the many artifacts on display – a cannon, swords, kris, coins and pottery from the Ming Dynasty, an almost intact Celedon plate dating back to the 13th century and even the wreckage of an ancient ship, believed to be that of Arab traders, leaves the visitor in no doubt of their authenticity.
But apparently there is much more to find in the area with some 15 archeological sites identified for further research. Added to this are the numerous artifacts dug up over the years by local people, some of which are on show in the museum. Particularly interesting of these are some of the old royal Acehnese gravestones which suggest that the area may have first been ruled by them. Indeed it is also suggested that over the centuries the town of Beruas has moved to accommodate changes in the course of the river and the subsequent changes in trading opportunities and that the original site may be what is presently called Kampong Kota where a number of royal tombs, tools and 16th century Chinese ceramics have also been found.
Such is the mystery of ancient history, but one thing is certain, Beruas, wherever the exact ancient site stood, was an active trading port, 90Km inland on the Beruas River and host to ocean-sailing ships. This was recorded by one Tom Pires, a Portuguese official in 1512. Sadly in the 17th Century the river silted up and Beruas lost its trading opportunities.
If you should visit the museum, why not try the Kopitiam next door. It is very good.
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!
For those of you who do not get the Star Northern Edition or the Ipoh Echo, here are some glimpses of Gopeng’s Own Hometown Museum.
Opened on 18 April, World Heritage Day, the museum is downstairs in the ancestral home of Bernard Yaw. The upstairs remains as accommodation. There are over 300 exhibits on display plus a wealth of photographs and the museum is run on a daily basis by a long-term Gopeng resident Phang See Kong.
The photographs above show the mining display in the entrance, one of the two walls of historic photographs and part of the back room area. There is much more to see than these so why not go along. Entrance is free, but they do welcome donations.
Well done Gopeng!
A friend visited the Birch Memorial Clock Tower and brought us back these pictures.
The top two are at the top of the steps as you approach the tower from the lower road. Rotting food and goodness knows what else to navigate past as you visit Ipoh’s heritage. Bottom left is the base of the tower, complete with broken bed and water bottle and the bottom right is just across the road from the mosque. What a dreadful sight for our Muslim friends as they leave their place of prayer.
Now you may not like the reason that the tower was put there in the first place – many don’t. But the fact is that the structure is 100 years old this year and represents a key bit of history for this country and its people. Nobody denies that Birch was not a good administrator, nor that he treated the Malays badly, but as they say, that is history and whatever else, it is history like this that brings in tourist dollars.
Surely the place deserves to be treated better than this!
Most people know about FMS, the oldest bar in Malaysia which is currently under renovation. Indeed many people fear that it will never open again. However it certainly looks hopeful.
Taking the photographs from the top it appears that nothing is happening, but go round the back and you will see an amazing transformation (centre pic). The upstairs building work is virtually complete. Then, take a look at the bottom pic – the inside of the downstairs bar. Completely gutted, the new concrete floor upstairs is finished and restoration of downstairs will start soon.
The owner says he plans to reopen early 2010 and that the bar will be in traditional style reflecting its history. And the really good news is that he does not plan to change the front of the building at all, just restore
We look forward to that!
Known by Perakians young and old as The Old Post Office, and despite being connected to the Town Hall the building has been empty since the early 1990s and been derelict for years. As can be seen from the top picture the Town Hall has been repainted and shows signs of being cared for but it has been a different story for the Post Office which has simply been an eyesore. However, judging by all the scaffolding the renovation by the Federal Government is underway. That is good news for Ipoh.
Once renovated it is being suggested that it will become an art gallery featuring Raja Muda’s collection of paintings. Whether this is true is not known, but with the amount of money the renovation will cost they must have some plans for it.
The Ipoh Town Hall building is a historic structure consisting of interesting Moorish Architecture and designs. It was completed in 1916 with the east end used as the Post and Telegraphs Office from 1928. This was the second building to be used for this role in Ipoh. Subsequently when new premises were built for the Post Office, the building was used by other government offices including the Tourism Department and as the Bumiputra Administrative Centre.
The lower picture shows a view from the opposite direction and includes the J W W Birch Memorial Clock Tower partly masked by the Medan Selera (Food Court). The latter is in some serious need of renovation or even a total rebuild as it will negate much of the beauty of the renovated Post office cum Art gallery. With the food court sorted out, the area tidied up and all the rubbish removed, with the advantage of the historic clock tower, this could become a real tourist area.
Unveiled in 1909, the Birch Memorial, can be described as a square decorated tower with a portrait bust and four panels illustrative of the growth of civilisation. The tower was erected on the table-land of Ipoh Old Town at the cost of about $25,000. A dedication to J W W Birch, the first British Resident of Perak, who was assassinated at Pasir Salak in 1875, could be found beneath the site of a bronze bust of Birch in the north-facing niche, but the bust has since disappeared.
Lam Looking building in Laxamana Road, Ipoh was destroyed by fire. Heritage buffs rejoiced when they heard that the bazaar had a new owner who was to restore it. Sure enough it was fenced and the rubbish cleared, but since then nothing has happened. Does anyone know when and what is happening next?
The Top pic is the side and front and the bottom the rear view including the spiral staircase.
For those who don’t know the history, It was built as ‘A stylish Art Deco building from 1931, with sweeping horizontal lines, featuring Early Modernist stair-wells.
The Celestial Cabaret and hotel upstairs was a favourite haunt of European expatriates. During the war, Japanese military officers patronised the cabaret which was also a Japanese casino (gambling farm) during the Occupation and a grenade target during the Emergency.
However, the cabaret eventually lost its clientele and was transformed into the Movieland Theatre. This was a cinema that specialised in Cantonese Opera movies that were very popular with the older members of Ipoh’s Chinese residents. But again, all good things come to an end and the theatre was replaced by the Perak Emporium.
As the Perak Emporium it was a major shopping centre from when it opened in the late 1960’s until it closed in the late 1980’s. It also had retail shops at street level, with smaller lots fronting an oval courtyard. Lot No. 8 was journalist Ahmad Noor Abdul Shukor’s “Blue Room”. Fook Seng, at Lot No. 6 retailed gramophones, keronchong songs and Arabic music.
However, the business went into decline around the time that the new store “Super Kinta” opened just along the road and that was the death knell of this grand old building which deteriorated thereafter.
Lam Look Ing, a Nam Wei Cantonese, was born in Penang in 1864. Trained as a naval officer in Foochou, he established himself as a tin-miner in Kampar and a large property owner in Ipoh.’
At the start of the 20th century, the above title certainly belonged to Foo Choo Choon. Prior to him the mantle of the Richest Man in the FMS changed hands several times between the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, from the renowned Capitan China, Chung Keng Kwee, to the entrepreneur Loke Yew. But within the 1st decade of the 20th century, Foo Choo Choon had overtaken Loke Yew in terms of wealth. Foo Choo Choon came to Malaysia as a 13 year-old Chinese immigrant in 1873 and worked for Chung Keng Kwee in his Lahat mining concession. The bulk of his initial wealth was amassed in 1897; from his extraordinarily rich mine in Tronoh which became the richest mine in Kinta at the time. Foo Choo Choon then formed a syndicate and proceeded to obtain further mining concessions, turning himself into a mining magnate. At the turn of the century he sold his Tronoh mine to British interests who floated the mine, and made Foo Choo Choon the first Chinese director of a British listed company. After the sale of a second concession, he went on an acquisition trail that was to turn him into the Tin King of Malaya. In 1905, Tronoh Mines Ltd, of which Foo was the majority shareholder, and Foo’s own mines, topped the list of most productive mines in Perak, prompting the Ballarat Courier to refer to him as “the richest Chinaman in the world”.
The above is a summary of one of many heritage articles written by Dr Ho Tak Ming and published in the Ipoh Echo. If you don’t get the Ipoh Echo you are losing out on your heritage facts. Of course you will also be missing out on the Echo’s ‘from the shoulder’ articles.
This Story is translated from the book by Mr. Choo Choong Yin’s Book on Ipoh and its stories, written in Chinese.
The year was 1986. There was a coffeeshop in the village of Bukit Merah where there was a popular stall that was selling ‘economy’ rice (a common meal for lunch in Ipoh). The stall was manned by the proprietor himself with aid of a helper.
One hot afternoon, just after the busy lunch hour, most of the customers in the shop had left and it was rather quiet. A shabbily-dressed, middle-aged man arrived on an old bicycle. He parked his bicycle in front, walked into the shop and softly told the proprietor, “I’d like to have 7 packets of plain rice for take-away.”
The proprietor then asked him, “Would you like to have other dishes to go with the rice?”
The middle-aged men answered, “No, just put some gravy and soy sauce on the rice and will do.”
The stall proprietor studied the scruffy-looking men for a while, felt a bit strange and thought to himself, “Just plain rice for lunch? This guy must be really poor to be unable to afford anything more.” He wrapped up all the 7 packets of rice, put them neatly into a large plastic bag, gave it to the man and said, “ That’s RM3.50, please.” But upon receiving the bag, the man quickly rushed off. He got on his bicycle and sped off without a word.
The proprietor told his helper, “I’ll be out for while, you please look after the stall for me”.
He quickly hopped on his motorbike, which was parked beside the shop and tailed the man who fled on the bicycle. The middle-aged man did not realize that he was being followed. A short while later, after a few turnings, the man, arrived at his house, a dilapidated wooden shack. He parked his bicycle, went into the house and shut the door and windows.
The stall proprietor arrived shortly afterwards and looked around outside the house. At the back portion, he was able to peek through some gaps in the wooden wall and saw what was inside. The middle-aged man opened up all the 7 packets of rice surrounded by six hungry-looking children. They must have been starving as the meal was quickly devoured in a short while.
The proprietor then went to knock on the front door. Not suspecting anything amiss and thinking that it was his neighbour calling, the middle aged man went to open the door. He was shocked on seeing the stall proprietor standing in front of him and looked terribly guilty.
The proprietor gave him a pat on his shoulders and said, “Don’t worry, I am not here to ask you for the money for the food which has not been paid. I could have caught up with you earlier on my motorbike and confronted you but I didn’t. I don’t understand why, if you had wanted to cheat me, why didn’t you ask for other dishes to go with the rice?”
The middle aged man sighed, tears welled up on his eyes. He said,” I worked in the tin mine for more than 20 years. The tin prices slumped, the tin mine had to close down and I’ve been retrenched recently. My employer only paid me half a month in compensation. After paying for the house rent, electricity and water, I had no money left. And my wife has left me with the kids. The kids have been without food for the whole day. Out of desperation, I did what I had done to you. I am truly sorry.” The stall proprietor was moved by the circumstances the middle-aged man was in and offered to help. “I’ll give you a month to go elsewhere to look for a job. I will provide your children with two meals a day. You can get your eldest daughter to pick up the meals from my stall everyday. When you get your salary later, you can come back to repay me. What do you think? The middle-aged man was overjoyed and was very thankful to the restaurant owner indeed.
The above was said to be a true story which happened in Bukit Merah. Words spread around, all the residents came to know about it and it became the talk of the village.
Remember: The year 1986 was the pits of the recession the 80’s . The tin mining industry in Kinta Valley slumped in the early 80’s causing a lot of people to be out of job. The economy was very bad. Paycuts and retrenchments were the norm. That was also the period where there was massive exodus of young people who went overseas to seek employment, not only from Bukit Merah but also from several smaller towns around Ipoh.
Today we are in recession again. Will you be prepared to help your neighbour, of whatever race, creed or religion if he needs it?
The stylish modernity of Ipoh owes it to some landmark buildings by B M Iversen, a Danish architect who came to Malaya in 1928 and started his own practice in Ipoh in 1936. Over a period of 40 years, except during WW2 when he and his small family took refuge in Australia, he has created a significant body of work, what we may see as a treasure of Malaysian architecture. Among his better known projects are Federal House, Denmark House and Loke Yew Building, all in Kuala Lumpur. Once you have learned his trademark features, looking out for his architectural creations will be a rewarding experience.
His work includes Ipoh’s cinemas: Majestic, Ruby, Rex, Cathay and Lido.
As for the Geosains Complex (Geological Department Complex) in Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah (Tiger Lane), we lament the new entrance to its museum which destroys the integrity of the architectural facade. We should preserve the best of Iversen in their original form. PHS would like to form a special interest group to study and document them. A meeting will be called. Please spread the news, involve our architects!
Iversen’s daughter, Ruth Iversen Baxter Rollitt, born in Batu Gajah, declares herself a second generation Malaysian. Even though she lives in London, she returns regularly to the country of her birth.
If you would like to know more about the Perak Heritage Society or help them with their Iverson project (above) they may be contacted as follows:
Postal/Office: 85C Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil, 30300 IPOH, Perak.
President, Law Siak Hong: firstname.lastname@example.org