Han Chin Pet Soo is open! Book now at www.ipohworld.org/reservation
Han Chin Pet Soo is open! Book now at www.ipohworld.org/reservation

July 2013

Ipoh’s Finest Transport – The Trichair

By |2013-07-26T09:22:14+08:00July 26th, 2013|Categories: Ipoh Town, People|Tags: , , , |

New Transport blog

Yes here it is having just passed over the Hugh Low Bridge. Proceeding at a steady, somewhat leisurely, pace, the Trichair turned left and looked as if it was going to the nearby market. The photo was taken around 10.00 am on 23 July 2013 when I overtook them on the bridge and having pulled over sharply, jumped out of my car and caught them with the iPhone. They were totally unfazed with my performance, with the lady lightly gripping the side bars – completely comfortable in her plastic chair. By the time I had got back in my car they had disappeared into the traffic..

With the Trishaw no longer allowed to ply for fares in Ipoh, the Trichair is clearly the way ahead for those who don’t have cars, but I wonder what MBI would say if a few dozen of these hit the streets.

August 2012

Remember ‘Her’?

By |2012-08-01T10:23:36+08:00August 1st, 2012|Categories: history, Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories|Tags: , , |

I’m refering to this black-beauty……this classic Mercedes (yes, it IS a Mercedes; if you look closely you can see the sign on the hood). This picture is taken from the Yeoh Family album. Judging from the car’s number plate, I’m guessing that this was taken in the early 1940s. I could be wrong though…..you experts out there would know better 🙂

Another thing that caught my eye was the shop sign (far right) which says: Peter Chong & Co; Educational Supplies, Stationers, Printers, etc. etc. Are they still in business? If so, where in Ipoh are they?

June 2012

Is this Another Iversen Design Biting the Dust?

By |2012-06-27T00:06:08+08:00June 27th, 2012|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh|Tags: , , , |

Warned that something was “up” in Gopeng Road I dropped by this afternoon. But nothing was “up” however – quite the opposite – No 62 was on the way “down”.

Yes, the Ipoh demolition team were at it again. So I dropped in on the Chinese foreman who seemed to agree with me that it was a terrible shame, but a job is a job! Well, the front still looked pretty OK.

But the back is a different story, where work is well advanced, both inside and out.

Then I noticed the left hand end and from inside saw this beautiful round room with open air designs to the garden and wondered why they had left it intact. Could they be going to rebuild and not demolish after all?

And I wondered – is this the second Iversen building to be destroyed in less than one week or do the owners have some other plan? What do you think?

Heritage Tourism Horror

By |2012-06-09T12:56:50+08:00June 9th, 2012|Categories: ipoh, Restoration, tourism|Tags: , , , , |

In 1999 the Perak State Government published a very nice heritage trail map of Ipoh. It was produced by our good friends from Penang, Lubis and Salma. One of the buildings featured was in Kampong Jawa and clearly the Government thought it had some heritage value as they included it in the map. It was abandoned then, but still looked good:

Today it is still published on the Internet by Perak Tourism (http://www.peraktourism.com/places/place_view.cfm?id=8A1F8B4D-5BA0-412C-8444ABE654D29B1A) as one of the “Places to Go” but now it looks like this:


I have to ask the following questions:

What on earth are they doing bringing people here? Do they really think this is heritage tourism?

And secondly,

If they thought originally that it had heritage value, why didn’t they do something about protecting it?

I look forward to your answers/comments.

May 2012

Did You Watch a Movie at Mayfair?

By |2012-05-07T12:18:08+08:00May 7th, 2012|Categories: history, ipoh, movies|Tags: , , , |

Y K Choong sent us this photo in October last year and it went on the the pile called “Must do site visit”.

Well this morning I actually got out to Jalan Theatre in Pasir Pinji to find that nobody 25 years old or less appeared to have ever heard of the place. However an aged Chinese gentleman in a little wooden shack pointed out the large square indoor badminton court building that stands on the theatre site today. This was opened in 2004.

So, with apologies to Choong, here is his photo of what I think was the concrete projection room of the otherwise wooden theatre.

Does anyone remember anything about the Mayfar Theatre which I understood from this morning’s conversation showed Chinese movies.

February 2012

January 2012

December 2011

Remember This?

By |2011-12-28T11:25:20+08:00December 28th, 2011|Categories: history, Identify Photographs, Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , , , |

Yes, this archway was decorated specially for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Notice the building that says ‘Borneo Motors’ (which is now a restaurant/pub called ‘OverTime’). Brewster Road was rather quiet in those days, wasn’t it? 😉

I wonder…..when was the facade of this archway renovated to it’s present design?

November 2011

As Different as Chalk and Cheese

By |2011-11-10T11:53:17+08:00November 10th, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories, People, What is it?|Tags: , , , |

Here we have two contrasting Ipoh photographs from Sophie. The first she calls “Dressing for the 1940’s to 1950’s. It is no wonder that Ipoh got the name for having all the pretty girls. Just look at these!

Sophie describes the photo as

“Dressing for 1940’s to 1950’s.

Four young ladies, two of them  are sisters. The second from left is my mother.”

And next comes an intriguing old bottle in which Sophie’s father used to keep nails and screws..

But this is where you are reader comes in for try as I might I cannot identify what it once held. Can you?

Sophie tells us;

“The height of the bottle is 4 inches plus.On the side of the cover it’s written ( Do not accept if this band is broken) so I guessed it’s something we can eat.It is Cola Cream not Cold Cream! Hope you can identify the bottle now.”

More Help Needed Please

By |2011-11-13T10:59:41+08:00November 9th, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, Memories|Tags: , , |

Here are two more school photos with almost no information.

Again we seek your help please: Which School, Which Class and What Date?

Photograph C. THis one said to be Class 3C, 1971, but which Convent?

Photograph D. Said to be Class 4B but when?

We look forward to your advice.

More to come over the weekend. Keep on looking!

Which School, Which Class, What Year?

By |2011-11-09T12:57:22+08:00November 9th, 2011|Categories: About Us, Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories|Tags: , |

We recently received a batch of 10 school photographs with almost no information. In order to add them to our database archive we really need your help. If anyone out there can identify the school, class and year that would be a great help. If of course you have names that would also be a great bonus. Here are the first two to tax your brains.

In order to help you, please click on the photos to see them full size.

Photograph A

Photograph B

Good Luck. And there will be more tomorrow.

October 2011

Sunday’s Special – Just Look at those Shoes!

By |2011-10-23T19:17:20+08:00October 23rd, 2011|Categories: ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , , , |

We have seen a number of Ipoh’s young ladies recently and here we step back a generation or two. It is before the war came to Malaya, Hitler is causing problems in Europe while the world is struggling to recover from the 1929 depression. This was the era of the Superman comic (first published in 1938), the Benny Goodman Band and the film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a popular attraction.

But here in Ipoh it was all about pretty girls, Cheongsams and shoes as the picture shows.

We thank ipohbornkid for this wonderful step back into Ipoh’s past.

September 2011

It’s 1980 and Time for IceCream! But Where is It?

By |2011-09-02T08:56:46+08:00September 2nd, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , , , |

What a treat for a youngster to have an icecream on a hot Ipoh day. Just look at the small boy’s face.

But here is another clue to the location.

And just look at the face of the mother with folded arms on the left. What is she saying to her daughter? Care to guess.

For your further enjoyment, although http://www.ipohworld.org/search8/result.asp?strid=303 is not a good photo, it shows the 1963 version of an Ipoh ice cream man,

We thank ipohbornkid for these great memories of time gone by.

August 2011

A Cry For Help from SMI Form IV 1956

By |2011-08-07T10:34:00+08:00August 6th, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , , , |


You may have noticed two comments and a Chatterbox entry from a new reader Yip Chee Whye (Chee Whye Yip) who is looking to find his old school friends of 1956 and in particular he is seeking Mr. Ooi Kim Huat and Mr. Eddie Che. He presently lives in UK but says he will be back in Ipoh soon. 

He sent us this photo today and if I understand it correctly he is the one circled in the back row and Eddie Chee is circled centre in the row in front. So readers all can we help? We have done well so far with reuniting the Old Salts from ACS and the HIJ Convent girls. Can we do the same for SMI?

As you can see we now have a clearer picture of that sent in by Yip. This was kindly donated by AFR1970.  He says, “It is from my late father’s collection of photos. He doesn’t seem to be in the photo. I have Form IVA and Form IVD but he is not in those photos either. Sadly, Form IVB is missing. That could have been his class but I could be wrong.”

Thank you so much. I hope it helps us find the other classmates.

A Tuesday Treat

By |2011-08-02T09:41:40+08:00August 2nd, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, People|Tags: , |

We seem to be getting quite a few old photographs to identify recently and therefore decided to give you all a treat today with an extra Tuesday blog.

This well-worn photograph was taken somewhere here in the 1940’s. Just look at the fashion of the day! The question is – where is it? The owner thinks he knows but he really does not seem too certain.

Perhaps you can put his mind at rest.

July 2011

The Sunday Shocker

By |2011-08-01T17:11:18+08:00July 31st, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, What is it?|Tags: , , |

You, our smart readers from across the world have so far managed to identify almost anything we have thrown at you. Now we are becoming so well known that we are being sent some photos that could be anywhere in Malaysia, like this one.

But actually it is thought to be in the Ipoh area although it might just come from the Cameron Highlands. The clue must be the distinctive colouring of the facia and the Air Conditioned transfers on the windows. I really cannot see any more even when the picture is enlarged, so WYSIWYG.

Who’ll be first to enlighten us?

Well, by special request of sm (below) here is a full frontal (pardon the expression) of the Star Barbers.

So what are the differences and where is the original picture situated?

It’s Ipoh and they are Aeromodellers

By |2011-07-16T18:50:58+08:00July 10th, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , , , , |

And that is just about all we know about this picture which we are led to believe was taken in the 1960s. So come on guys and girls, stop looking at all those Bersih videos and photos and help us out with this one please. Judging by all the cups, shields and other trophys they must have been pretty well known.

No sooner had I asked for a photo of the above group’s reunion photograph, Merrill Leong provided this one.

Merrill added the following:

“Attached is a single photo of the reunion mentioned by CK Leong. The lunch meeting was held at a room in Mun Cheong Restaurant which was being prepared for a wedding dinner; the two names on the wall have no bearing on the group of guys gathered. Let’s see whether your readers can match up who’s who from the two photos. Of course not all present in the black and white picture are in the newer one, and there is one person in the coloured photo who is not in the other.”

April 2011

New Book Hot Off the Press – “Tin Mining in Malaysia: the Osborne & Chappel Story.”

By |2011-04-17T17:10:18+08:00April 17th, 2011|Categories: Books, Heritage Books, Museums|Tags: , , , , , , |

“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 mataniph@yahoo.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.

…once a famous ‘landmark’….

By |2011-04-06T09:35:26+08:00April 6th, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories|Tags: , , |

Notice the hill in the background? Yes, this is the SAME hill which once ‘advertised’ the Mercedes symbol 🙂

Of course, now the symbol is gone….apparently it’s been replaced with 4 large white letters which spell out IPOH – almost similar to the famous HOLLYWOOD sign in California!

But I will always remember the Mercedes symbol which once stood proud on this hill – it was a unique landmark in a way. Does anyone have a picture of this hill with the Mercedes symbol? We’d like to hear from you….perhaps there’s a little story that goes with it as well 😉

March 2011

December 2010

MORE Pretty Girls from Ipoh!

By |2010-12-13T11:32:49+08:00December 13th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Museums, People|Tags: , , |

Here we have Miss Telekom (centre), with the 1st and 2nd Runners-up. This was back in the 1950s. Do you remember them?

The winner and queen of the contest is Ms Asmah and her runner up on the right is Lee Lai Quan (or Kwan). Can anyone give us the name of the other runner up please?

Are they still around? Perhaps……one of the contestants is reading this right now? 😉

November 2010

Down Memory Lane with NTPS, Jalan Pasir Puteh

By |2010-11-15T21:13:29+08:00November 15th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , , |

Now here’s a sight for sore eyes! It is 1963 and the boys and girls (boys in drag!) of Pasir Puteh are putting on “Old King Cole”. Which one is you? Do write in if you recognise yourself or anyone else.

And here we have Standard II in 1961. Wah didn’t you all look like little angels then! Ms Wan is the class teacher and next to her is the headmaster Mr. Bhagwan Singh. S K Ong who kindly sent in these photos, and two more from later years, is standing in the second row, second on the right.

So who else can you recognise?

At the Ipoh Airport…

By |2010-11-03T08:58:58+08:00November 3rd, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , , , , |

Here’s a scene from the old Ipoh Airport. As you can see in the background, there’s an airplane with the words ‘Malayan Airways’ on it. Hence we think this picture was probably taken in the early 1950s – by 1963, the airline was renamed Malaysian Airways Ltd (MAL).

I remember in the late 1980s or early 1990s, there were joyrides for the public at the Ipoh Airport – needless to say, my brother and I never stopped talking about it after our first ‘adventure’ in the air!! Don’t know if they have this service anymore. I wonder what’s become of the Ipoh Airport these days; heard that they’ve started a flying school there (but I may be wrong…).

What were YOUR memories like? Perhaps someone out there could tell us more about the Ipoh Airport…..

October 2010

The Famous Arch, over the Hugh Low Bridge

By |2017-07-25T09:41:09+08:00October 27th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , , , , |

This arch was set up over the Hugh Low Bridge, in Ipoh, somewhere in 1947. This was before the grand parade – which was held in support of the Kuomintang Party (led by General Chiang Kai Shek).

Notice the three flags at the top of the arch: the Perak Flag, the Kuomintang Flag and the Union Jack. To what we know, this parade was jointly sponsored by the Chinese Assembly Hall members and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

How many of you out there remember this arch? Anyone witnessed the parade, or maybe took part in this parade?

September 2010

The Beautiful Dressmaker

By |2010-09-15T08:23:29+08:00September 13th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , , |

This is Ms Chung Lai Leng – a pretty Ipoh girl, who gave up selling welfare lottery tickets to become an apprentice with a dressmaking firm.

She was photographed by Francis Lee; her picture, along with several other Ipoh beauties, appeared in the 1960s magazine “Ipoh: The Town that Tin Built” (published by the Ipoh Local Council).

We are grateful to Sundra for providing this photograph.

Wonder where she is now…..maybe some of you out there have met her?

July 2010

The weaver girl from Shun Tuck.她来自顺德.

By |2010-07-27T13:57:52+08:00July 24th, 2010|Categories: Ipoh Town, Memories, People|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Chan Tai 陈黛, the charming girl in this photo, used to live in a small village in the district of Shun Tuck 顺德 in the province of Guangdong, China in the 1920s. This district was renowned for producing silk. Her family owned a small silk worm farm. She helped them to cultivate silk worms and weave the silk thread into cloth.

One day, a professional matchmaker called “mui yan poh 红线人” approached the family with a marriage proposal. A guy in Ipoh, Perak, Malaya, needed a wife and was looking for a girl from a decent family.

In those days, many families in small villages in China dreamed of having their daughters marrying off to faraway lands and lead a better life. At that time, Perak was famous for tin and it was very fashionable to come to this land of plenty.

The prospective groom was a guy called Chow Yee Phooi 周毅錇, from the district of Phun Yee番禺. He has already migrated to Malaya together with his brothers many years before. He was the youngest among the brothers and the only one still single and eligible.

They opened a shop selling fruits in Ipoh. This shop, called Chow Hang Kee 周亨记 , distributed fruits to other fruit sellers in the market nearby. The shop was located between Yik Foong Complex and Lam Looking Bazaar, facing the back portion of the present Pasar Besar Ipoh.

Life was good to him. Flamboyant and carefree, he always frequented gambling dens in his spare time. He was particularly fond of mahjong and “pai kao”, a game of black tiles.

In the past, a girl has no say in her marriage. Everything was decided by her parents.  The Chinese called it “Mang Fun Nga Kar 盲婚哑嫁” meaning a “blind and mute marriage”. She has neither meet the groom nor can she voice out her opinion about the match. As a daughter, she just has to follow everything planned for her.

Her parents gave their approval at once and a simple wedding ceremony was conducted in her village, minus the groom. In his place, a cockerel was used in the ceremony although I don’t know why they chose this animal to represent the groom!

After the wedding ceremony, she left her village and boarded a steamer, stopping at Singapore first and then later, Malaya. Next, it was to Ipoh.

Upon her arrival, this photo was taken. The purpose of taking this photo was to send it back to her family in China to show them that she has arrived safely to her new home. There were only two such photos. One she sent back to her family and the other appeared in this blog, which she kept as a keepsake. Later, it was handed down to my mom who was her eldest child. Mom gave this photo to me. Today, this is the most prized item in my collection because it is the oldest and the only photo of my maternal grandmother.

From this photo taken circa 1920s, you can see that she was a very stylish lady, an epitome of an Oriental beauty of her time. She sewn the white samfoo and black knee length skirt herself, using the silk cloth which she had weaved. It was part of her wedding wardrobe, looking prim and proper to face her new husband and his family. Her hair was combed neatly into a bun. She was also wearing a pair of white leather high heeled shoes and carrying a white fur handbag. Such a graceful blend of East and West.

The family stayed in Kampung Kuchai, Ipoh. Needle work was her main forte. She sew baby’s clothes and accessories like gloves, booties, caps and carriers for some extra pocket money although her husband’s income was sufficient to support her. She was a very quiet and gentle person, yet fiercely independent, earning her own keeps.

But alas, her life was tragic! In 1930, she gave birth to my mom. Soon, another daughter followed and the next was also another girl! Three girls in a row and soon her mother –in law began to show her displeasure. No son was produced and that was a bane for the family. Under mental pressure, she conceived again although her health has deteriorated. But by now neither her husband nor her mother-in law show any concern. In their mind, it will be yet another girl. Girls were so unwelcomed in a Chinese family at that time. They preferred boys to carry on their surname and attend to the family altar. This was a typical Chinese mindset at that time. Luckily, it was not like this anymore.

Her parents came from China to Ipoh to visit their daughter. After a brief stay, they went back to China, bringing my mom together with them to lessen their daughter’s burden of looking after the children in her fragile condition. It was 1938 and my mom was only 8years old then. She spent the next four years in Shun Tuck together with her grandparents, helping them to feed the silk worms with mulberry leaves.

Not long after her parents left Ipoh to go back to China, one day, my maternal grandmother experienced a terrible stomach pain at home. She was already in her seventh month of pregnancy. She sent her two young daughters out to search for their father and asked him to come home at once. That day, he was not at the shop. Instead, he was at the mahjong parlor near home. He was an addicted mahjong player and was too engrossed in his game to bother about his pregnant wife at home.

“Go home and don’t bother me! Ask her to apply some medicated oil and get a rest!” he barked at his young daughters as they pestered him to go home quickly to attend to their mother.  The mother –in law was nowhere to be found. The two young girls were at a lost as to what to do seeing their pregnant mother in pain. Finally they called their neighbor for help.

It was late at night when my maternal grandfather finally came home. His face was as dark as “Kuan Kung 关公”from losing money at the mahjong parlor. A midwife had just left the house. On the bed were a stillborn baby boy and his dead wife, paled and cold from losing too much blood. His two young daughters were sobbing at a corner, traumatized at seeing their dead mother and baby brother. My maternal grandmother was about 28 then. What a young age to die and in such a tragic way. 

To a Chinaman at that time, losing a wife is akin to losing a shirt. I really don’t know how he must have felt at that time but according to my aunts, he looked very cool and calm. After burying his dead wife and stillborn baby, he approached a matchmaker to look for another wife and in a few months time, a new one was found and life was back to normal again, at least for him.  My poor mom and her little sisters found themselves with a stepmom but luckily she was not exactly the type from hell. But nevertheless, life was not the same anymore without your own mother.

According to my mom, one night, while she was sleeping in a dimly lit room in her grandparents home in Shun Tuck, she was awoke by an apparition of a lady beside her bed. She opened her eyes and saw that it was her mom. The apparition was sobbing softly and was trying to pull a blanket to cover her young daughter. It was gone in a blink of an eye. At that time, my mom has not learnt about her mom’s death yet because she was far away in China. A month later, a letter from her father in Ipoh reached her, informing her of her mom’s death.

Many years later, my maternal grandfather was blinded by firecrackers being carelessly thrown out from the window of a shop near Foh San Restaurant at Osborne Street. He was just coming out from a mahjong parlor at that time. That incident stopped him from playing mahjong ever again.

In 1980, on his death bed, while breathing his very last, in a very weak voice, he asked his daughters for their forgiveness for neglecting his first wife and depriving them of their mother’s love. His last words were, “I deeply regretted my folly. I still loved her very much. She was a good wife. She is beside me now, waiting for me. Please forgive me and goodbye. I am going to be with her again.”

My mom and her sisters have finally forgiven their father and came to terms with their profound loss.

June 2010

British Residency in Ipoh

By |2010-06-30T04:48:31+08:00June 30th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories|Tags: , , |

This postcard is somewhat a continuation from our previous post about the Kinta River.

The picture here shows the entrance of the British Residency; the date was rougly in the 1920s. I doubt the building is still there (if it is, it’s probably in ruins)…but does anyone know where it was? It is said to by somewhere along the Kinta River, but WHERE along the river is what we’d like to know…

From ‘PK’ to ‘A’

By |2010-06-24T23:56:06+08:00June 24th, 2010|Categories: ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , , , |

Recently the subject of Perak’s vehicle registrations cropped up and as we have a great photo that demonstrates the situation perfectly I thought it was worth putting up to dispell the entirely untrue tale that Perak has the ‘A’ because we had the first cars in Malaya. Absolute rubbish!.

Here we have two vehicles side by side in Ipoh in 1945. On the left is PK9567, a small bus or possibly a taxi that survived the Japanese occupation. On the right is definitely a bus newly registered as A306. But why the difference when both vehicles were registered in Perak?

Well as I explained the other day The British Military Administration restarted the system in 1945 with ‘A’ for Perak, ‘B’ for Selangor etc to prevent confusion between Singapore and Selangor, Perak and Penang etc. Previously Perak was PK and Penang PG.

The first registration, ‘A 1′, went to C H LaBrooy, the Ipoh architect. I wonder how much that cost him? Does anyone know who had ‘PK 1’?

Ipoh My Home Town

By |2010-10-12T22:31:40+08:00June 20th, 2010|Categories: Heritage Books, ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , , , , , , |

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Above is the first draft cover of a new book that will be published as soon as we can fill the blank pages with your reminiscences of growing up in Ipoh. Text will be in the English language.

ipohWorld will take on the task of collating, editing and dealing with the publishing and printing aspects, but the contents must come from you, as I grew up in UK. Now of course we do have some excellent articles on this blog already but much more is needed if we are to be able to produce the quality book we seek.

We need much more about your schooldays, going to the movies (or storytellers street), Jubilee Park, the hawkers, the sounds they made (tock tock, ting ting etc), where they congregated (Convent rear entrance and Theatre Street for example), the food they sold (and more. Let us not forget the ice cream potong man and his gambling game, or the Milo man on his bicycle, the roti man and the Indian milk seller. Then of course there is home life, your parents, your neighbour’s profession, street games, rickshaws, trishaws, marketing with mum, local day trips, happy or sad times, festivals etc etc. Since I have lived in Ipoh I have heard so many stories and it is time you wrote them down for following generations. 

But please understand that the work must come from YOU. All races, creeds are welcome to take part as long as you spent some time in Ipoh and have a story to tell.

Every contributor who has a story published will be presented with a personal copy. WE look forward to your support.

Please send all articles and high resolution (600dpi is perfect) scanned photographs to us at info@ipohworld.org and don’t worry about your spelling or grammar, we can soon sort those out. But don’t forget, no contributions means no book! Articles may be between 500 and 1750 words and more than one article reflecting different aspects of your young life are welcome.

And please understand that regard to content and selection of stories, the Editor’s decision is FINAL.

“Oh No! …………..”

By |2010-06-04T09:34:14+08:00June 4th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, Ipoh Town, Memories, What is it?|Tags: , , , , |

“Oh No!” I can hear you say, “Not the clock tower AGAIN!”, but please be patient because this postcard sent to us as a scan was bought here in Ipoh in 1955 and there is something quite different about it.

“Different! What is different?”

Well, out of the many similar pictures we have seen from the inauguration in 1909 to today, we have never seen the wooden building at the bottom left of the picture. So please enlighten us by telling us what it was and when it was there.

We know that with so many readers with great memories of Ipoh, somebody will be able to tell us.

May 2010

A Familiar Place…..?

By |2010-05-24T08:28:08+08:00May 24th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories|Tags: , , , |

This is one of the many mansions which belonged to one of Ipoh’s rich towkays. I’m sure some of you recognise it! The picture below shows what has become of the place in recent times….

….a club! Notice the changes, especially the windows and balcony. Anyone know WHEN the mansion was turned into a club?

A Cry For Help

By |2010-05-12T16:08:42+08:00May 12th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town|Tags: , |



The Ipohworld’s World blog is wonderful.


I tried to find in your posts information about one building which is located near the roundabout at Gopeng Road and Jalan Tambun, diagonally opposite Yuk Choy Primary School, but I haven’t been able to.


A large furniture shop is now built in front of it (Kota Furniture). I knew that formally the building that has a large compound belonged to Kok Kee Restaurant but who owned the original building? The original owner was probably a Cheong family, since there’s a gate with the inscriptions “C” and Cheong.


I have attached a few photographs taken last year at this place, but regrettably, I did not manage to get a picture of the front of the building because the furniture shop owner built extensions out from the front of the building, concealing the front porch of it.



I am hoping someone can provide the history and show photos of the original stone building.




The Mayfair Hotel

By |2010-05-11T02:17:44+08:00May 11th, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Here are 3 boys, posing outside the Mayfair Hotel.

Does anyone know where it was? Or, is the hotel still there today? The donor of this photograph is just as stumped as we are…….maybe someone out there could tell us more!

The Mystery of Sekolah Kebangsaan Convent

By |2010-06-04T05:27:15+08:00May 9th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Just behind this wall which is across the road from Chung Thye Phin’s mansion (now the Kinta Medical Centre) is a wonderful old mansion which we hope is under massive restoration rather than renovation. It presently looks like this.

What a great house this must have been in its day. But by now you might be wondering why we think there is some mystery about it. Well here it is!

Who or what was Leeton? If you can help we shall be delighted to hear from you. This time we really need your help. Please.

By the way the photographs are courtesy of Kinta Heritage Sdn Bhd. Thank you for your help guys.

March 2010

Calling All Old Andersonians

By |2010-03-21T04:10:25+08:00March 21st, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories|Tags: , , |

Othman Sabrin kindly sent in this photo for publication. Thank you Sir!

He said:

“This is a picture of Persatuan Kedet Bersatu Malaysia from Anderson School, Ipoh in 1975. I studied at the school from 1973 until 1975. Our School Principal was Mr Lam Kok Hon (sitting in the centre with the moustache).”

Now Old Andersonians, a challenge for you, can you name any of the others in the picture? So far on this blog SMI have led the field by providing us with lots of names and dates. Now is the time for Anderson to catch up!

Incidentally, we are always delighted to receive photographs for publication, either in hard copy or if possible as 600dpi scans. Hard copies will be returned promptly if required.

February 2010

Another Classic Piece of Ipoh’s History

By |2010-02-24T01:00:24+08:00February 24th, 2010|Categories: Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , , , , |

Yes, just a few metres from the Beetle lies this grand old vehicle. If you don’t recognise it then have a look at this:

It is of course an MG and it is in that graveyard for old vehicles, right in the centre of Ipoh, called Kg Kuchai. This is is one of the last undeveloped areas of Ipoh and was featured in the City’s Structural Plan but was left alone during the one of the General Elections in the late 80’s or early 90’s. Politics presumably ruled as Kg Kuchai is home to many motor repair shops, coach builders, carpenters, welders and home to one of the City’s last remaining traditional Lorry Transport Companies.

Start at the house by the river (previous blog) and follow the path towards the town. You can’t miss finding this and lots of other interesting wrecks. However we have no idea of the owners of these things and can take no responsibility if your visit is wasted or has problems of any sort. Watch out for the many dogs!

January 2010

Mid-Autumn Festival in Ipoh

By |2010-01-28T06:35:57+08:00January 28th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town|Tags: , , , |

As you folks out there know by now, we like guessing-games. Here is a postcard from the 1980s, of a “busy street stall” in Ipoh, selling moon cakes, fruits, lanterns, etc. Now, all YOU have to do is tell us WHERE in Ipoh this street is (truth is: we aren’t sure ourselves!).

No prizes for guessing, just think of it as another way to get to know Ipoh better!

December 2009

Mr Lip Po’s First Car!

By |2009-12-16T05:13:33+08:00December 16th, 2009|Categories: ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , , , , |

Lip Po left China, with a Catholic priest, and came to Malaya at the age of 5 in 1877. Having completed his education, he later went into mining. He however lost his mine in Falim and then ventured into selling cold drinks on the street. With that, he saved up some money and bought a 10-acre plot of land – which became Po Garden.

Po Garden, with its many fruit trees and flowers, eventually became the first organisation to have worked with Interflora. Here is a picture of Mr Lip Po with his first car, probably in the 1920s. Next to him in the car is one of his sons – all his 5 sons studied at St Michaels Institution; hence, Lip Po was one of the major donors for the 1939 extension done in the school.

I’m sure some of you out there remember Po Garden, located just beside the Main Convent. During my Primary years at  the Main Convent, I would sometimes walk along Po Garden Lane (between the nursery and the Convent) and admire those shady trees. Now that the nursery has moved, the land which once stretched from Brewster Road all the way back towards Syuen Hotel has been (sadly) abandoned.

The company Po Garden still exists in the Cameron Highlands.

….they say the pretty girls come from Ipoh!

By |2009-12-11T02:48:47+08:00December 11th, 2009|Categories: Identify Photographs, Ipoh Town, What is it?|Tags: , , |

This lovely lass is said to be seated at the balcony of an old shop house in Ipoh. We’re not sure where about this place is, so some help would be nice. According to the kind soul who gave us the picture, one of the buildings in the background is the HSBC bank – which is along Belfield Street, in Old Town.

Anyone out there with more ideas / thoughts ?

October 2009

Croc, the Menace

By |2009-10-23T14:26:00+08:00October 23rd, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , |

This photo shows a crocodile that was shot in the Kinta River which runs through Ipoh Town. The hunter was an European (referring to the hunter’s attire ) who helped the villagers  to put an end to this crocodile’s menace. And the villagers were so excited to see the dead gigantic croc. We will be happy to hear from you, if you have information regarding this picture.

September 2009

“Fashions Change, but Fashion Remains”, Ipoh 1930s

By |2009-09-26T11:02:37+08:00September 26th, 2009|Categories: Identify Photographs, Memories|Tags: , , |

Putting up great old photos is always a pleasure and this one is no exception! Taken in Ipoh and probably dating around the 1930s this is a lesson in fashions of the times.

Just look at the styles of clothing old and new, east and west that are included in this group. Front left is a dear old man, not just traditionally dressed but also sporting a very special beard, while on the far right there is a very ‘Western’ lounge suit and what looks like a blazer and flannels (trousers). In the centre of course there is the bride and groom, he in his dark ‘Western’ suit and she in her finest Chinese headress and white gown. They are flanked by the Maid of Honour and Bridesmaid in knee length dresses.  What a galaxy of styles!

Taken by a local photographer, outside of what was probably his parents’ grand house, this was an occasion to remember, but does anyone remember for we would dearly love to know who this Ipoh couple were.

The Straits Trading Company And Its Contributions.

By |2009-09-16T09:42:42+08:00September 11th, 2009|Categories: ipoh|Tags: , , , |

Before 1890s, all mining operations in Kinta were financed by people in Penang, who advanced the tin-miners money with which to pay their coolies and smelt their ore. In return, the advancers were paid by the consignments of smelted tin-ore. But in 1890, a new development took place which entirely changed the system. In 1889, Mr. Muhlinghaus, a tin smelter from Singapore, set up the Straits Trading Company in Ipoh and several branches of it in Kinta, undertaking to buy the tin-ore direct and unsmelted from the tin miners in exchange for ready cash. 

The initiative of Mr. Muhlinghaus brought immediate benefit to local producers, who were earlier depended  on creditors to carry on their businesses. Moreover, the establishment  of Straits Trading Company also solved the smelting problem of local towkays. In Kinta, the tin miners had been using ‘semut’ smelting furnace for years. This kind of furnace could only operate by using charcoal from valuable timbers. In 1888, the government had prohibited the use of ‘semut’ smelting furnace, as the government wanted to export the timbers. The problem of smelting without using the timbers gone as the Strait Trading Company ready to take the unsmelted tin-ore. The establishment of Strait Trading Company had contributed on growth of tin mining in Kinta and Ipoh itself.

A Shooting Team

By |2009-09-17T00:54:49+08:00September 4th, 2009|Categories: ipoh, Memories|Tags: , , |

The shooting team was in 1959 at Ipoh. Mr. Richard Clarke, from 11th Independent Field Squadron Royal Engineers is the second from the left front row. Mr. Richard Clarke has told us more about this photo and his time in Malaya during the Emergency. His story can be found here.


Old Town Woes

By |2009-09-15T01:16:41+08:00September 3rd, 2009|Categories: ipoh, Ipoh Town|Tags: , , |

What can be said about this picture other than how can an owner allow his property to deteriorate to such a level as seen here. In a world where it is said that investing in property is one of the safest things to do with your money, it would be normal to maintain that investment. However it appears that Ipoh, which has many buildings in this state, does not follow the normal pattern, preferring to spend nothing on the building in the hope that the land value will rise sufficiently to recoup those profits from investing in it.

Incidentally this picture was taken in Old Town. So much for maintaining our heritage.

July 2009

1948 Was a Year to Remember

By |2009-07-28T01:28:35+08:00July 27th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , |

Most people remember 1948 as the start of the Emergency, but this envelope from Ipoh’s Station Hotel reminds us about something else. We were under British Colonial Rule; The British Military Administration was not long gone (and we were still using their stamps); and we were celebrating the Silver Wedding of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. No doubt there would have been grand celebrations on the Padang. Does anyone have any photographs or memories of that day?

A Message from the Editor of the Ipoh Echo

By |2009-07-09T06:21:48+08:00July 9th, 2009|Categories: ipoh|Tags: , , , |

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: ipohecho.vw@gmail.com

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/.”




June 2009

A Day in the life of a Dulang Washer

By |2009-06-17T01:54:08+08:00June 16th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , , |

“Perseverance is the key to success”. This is the motto that drives the poor dulang washer on the performance of her work. It is obvious to the meanest intellect that a dulang washer does not live a life of ease and luxury. She earns barely enough to feed herself and her family and her life is a hard one. Yet, she persists in her work because she hopes that one day she might succeed.

A dulang washer has neither tin-mines nor labourers to work for her. She obtains tin-ore from the rivers where anyone can help themselves to the alluvial tin-ore, though of course she has to obtain a licence first before she can begin to extract any alluvial tin from any river.

Very early in the morning, she busies herself around her shabby hut. She prepares a scanty meal for her still sleeping children and, having eaten a hurried breakfast of hot Chinese tea and some home-made cakes, she walks to work. Her husband has also gone to work for he works as a rubber tapper and has to be up early too. On her shoulders she carries a pole with a basket containing a big bowl of rice, a large bottle of weak Chinese tea and some vegetables on one side. Hanging on the other end, is a big, smooth-surfaced wooden dish called a “dulang”, a wide-brimmed hat made of rattan and an old wooden bucket, which is bound up tightly with rattan to prevent leakage. Around her neck she wears a faded red scarf. On her feet, she wears a pair of dirty old sandals which have been mended over and over again.

When she has walked a little distance away from her home, the sun rises and beats down upon her. Because she is afraid that the hot rays will tan her or give her sun-stroke, she hurriedly ties the scarf over her head and then places the wide-brimmed hat carefully over it. By the time she reaches the river, the sun is already shining very brightly and would have given her sun-stroke had it not been for the protection of the scarf and the hat. Thanks to the long sleeves she wears, her arms are not exposed to the sun.

She finds a cool place on the bank of the river and sits down to rest before starting work. A drink of the weak Chinese tea refreshes her. She would have made it stronger if she could have afforded to buy more Chinese tea leaves.

Taking the bucket and dulang, she walks to the edge of the river. There, she rolls up her trousers high above her knees and wades to the middle of it. She bends down and scoops up some tin-bearing soil from the river bed into the dulang. She holds the dulang a little below the level of the water and rotates it. The swirling water carries away the light soft soil and the heavy grains of tin-ore settle at the bottom of the dulang. She then empties the grains of tin-ore into the bucket. It takes much washing to obtain a handful of tin-ore and the poor woman’s work is tiring and tedious.

By noon, her bucket is only a quarter filled. She leaves her work and wades back to the bank for some lunch. On dry land, she inspects her legs and sees several leeches hanging on to them and sucking her blood. She is so immune to this sight that she calmly plucks them off and throws them away. She washes and dries her legs and then applies some Chinese ointment to the bites. She sits in a shady place and begins her hurried lunch. After working so long in the water, she enjoys the meal though the rice and vegetables are cold. She leaves some for the evening because she will not get home until about seven o’clock in the evening.

There is no rest after lunch for she returns to work immediately. Regardless of the passing time she works on. Even the beautiful reflection of the setting sun and the purple clouds in the water does not distract her. Only when darkness falls, does she return to the bank, eat the remaining food and pack to leave. She rolls down her trousers again and starts to walk wearily home.

She trudges to the town and sells her tin-ore to a tin-smelter. He weighs her tin-ore and calculates the amount of money that must be paid to her. Meanwhile, she helps herself to a warm cup of tea from the man’s tea-pot and rests her weary bones on a wicker chair. The man gives her the money and reluctantly she leaves the comfortable chair to start on the journey home.

When she returns to her simple and shabby abode, she again does not have the liberty to rest for she now has to prepare dinner for the family, with the help of her eldest daughter. The younger children wait impatiently for their dinner and while the tired dulang washer is preparing the long-awaited dinner, her youngest child watches, a seraphic look of innocence on his pale and wan face.

After dinner, she sends her children to sleep and then has the usual talk about their future with her husband. They both add some of the money they earn to their hidden ‘store’ which they sometimes count happily.

So, after a hard day’s work, she lies down on her wooden bed and stays awake for some time, thinking how wonderful it would be to be rich. But, exhaustion soon puts her to sleep.

This is a typical day for a poor dulang washer. Though her work is difficult and tiring, she never thinks about giving up her only means of income to take up some work that is beyond her knowledge.

Miss Yvonne Chew,
Lower Six Arts 1952
St. Michael’s Institution

The story above is extracted from The Michaelian 1952, an annual magazine by St. Michael’s Institution Ipoh.

KINTA Almost 120 Years Ago – A Very Different Place

By |2009-06-02T11:14:44+08:00June 2nd, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , , , , |

by Sir George Maxwell, KBE, CMG.

When Sir George first travelled from Taiping to Batu Gajah by gharry, sampan and pony in 1891 most of the Kinta Valley was under primeval forest. Sir George who retired as Chief Secretary to the FMS Government in 1926, celebrated his eightieth birthday in 1952, but like all men great or not so great, it was eventually time for him to pass on – but not before he left us this memory:

“…the general transport system of Kinta at that time. Everything brought into the district travelled from Teluk Anson in large houseboats poled up the river by Chinese or foreign Malays, and all the tin ore and other produce went down river. Kota Bahru was the lowest landing station..The first metalled road in the district ran from Kota Bahru to Gopeng, which was then by far the most important mining centre. Batu Gajah was the next landing station. Then came Pengkalan Pegu, which served Lahat and Menglembu. Finally there was Ipoh, where all navigation ended.

Above it, there was a shallow stream of pure mountain water ………

Much of the tin ore from the mines and the provisions for the miners was carried by elephants: and every day half a dozen or more of them were standing outside the shop houses in Ipoh, Sungei Raia and Gopeng.”

April 2009

A Visit to an Ipoh Tourist Spot!

By |2009-09-19T01:48:19+08:00April 6th, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town|Tags: , , , , |

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!

Lam Looking Bazaar Restoration Seems to Have STOPPED!

By |2009-06-20T04:49:57+08:00April 5th, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town|Tags: , , , , , , , |

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.’

Images 1909 to 2009 – The Centennial Anniversary Anderson School

By |2009-04-01T02:49:46+08:00April 1st, 2009|Categories: Heritage Books|Tags: , , , , |

Just published, this book includes a history of the school, recollections of years gone by and some thoughts on the way ahead for the next century. It is available from the Old Andersonians Association who can be contacted via the Old Andersonians Club, Ipoh. It is priced at RM130. The scan does not do justice to the cover which is actually much nicer than shown with the lettering blocked in gold. My scanner apologises for the poor result.

Should you need any contact details etc please ask via this blog.

Happy reading!

Faces of Courage – The Story of Sybil Kathigasu GM

By |2009-04-01T02:35:10+08:00April 1st, 2009|Categories: Heritage Books|Tags: , , , , , , |

Published by Media Masters, Singapore and Authored by Sybil Kathigasu, Chin Peng and Ian Ward and Norma Miraflor, Faces of Courage stands as the first in-depth study of Malaya’s legendary war-time heroine, Sybil Kathigasu, and the impact her dauntless decisions and actions had on the members of her immediate family.

An essential aspect of this book is the personalized historical background and insight on the Japanese occupation era provided by former Secretary General of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), Chin Peng. It was Sybil’s association with the Perak People’s Anti-Japanese Army (PPAJA) – the communist-controlled guerilla organization in which Chin Peng played such a leading role – that provided the very foundation on which the Kathigasu legend eventually emerged and flourished.

Faces of Courage throws fresh light on a quite extraordinary story that became caught in a politically-induced, post-World War II time warp.

Sybil’s book, No Dram of Mercy, in which she recounts her horrific experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese Kempeitai, was completed several months before her death in June, 1948. But the manuscript was withheld from publication until 1954. British colonial interests deemed nothing good should be said about the communists in Malaya while Commonwealth forces still struggled to gain supremacy in the bitter jungle war known as the Malayan Emergency.

So often the cursory re-telling of legendary tales creates ill-conceived myths. The Sybil Kathigasu story is a case in point. And here the effect has only been compounded by Britain’s original propaganda ploy.

Faces of Courage is a book within a book. Sybil’s personal record, No Dram of Mercy, constitutes the opening section of this three-part volume. As such it provides a ready reference point for the revealing research, observations and reflections that follow.  

March 2009

Postcards from a Foreign Country

By |2009-03-13T03:03:25+08:00March 13th, 2009|Categories: Heritage Books|Tags: , , |

This newly published book tells stories about Ipoh around 1957 and Merdeka when Malaya was in a time of change with the British on their way out and Malayans ruling their own country for the first time.

Consequently the Colonisers and the Colonised had to come to terms with their new relationship. Similarly the citizens of this new country had to adjust to the new reality and their relationsghip with each other.

Although the stories are fictional, the author was an Ipoh boy and the places are real. No doubt therefore the stories are actually based on his time here and make interesting reading. For all Ipohites who treasure their past here, we recommend this book.


By |2009-03-13T02:52:25+08:00March 13th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , , , |

In 1920, Wong Jee Seong (Wong), an immigrant from China, was employed as a bank clerk in Ipoh, earning the princely sum of $28 per month.  In those days this was a handsome wage as a full bag of rice only cost 12 cents.  A regular attendee at St Michael’s Church in Brewster Road, Ipoh, Wong, his mother, wife (Choong Kee Chin)and family lived happily at 241 Brewster Road in a nice house, rented from the Church.  A stable family, well thought of in the community, the house was often full of friends, one of whom was the then Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of Perak, Dato’ Panglima Bukit Gantang, a frequent visitor.  It was a risk free, stable and comfortable life. 

But the tranquility was soon shattered by a friend’s proposal that Wong should enter a partnership with Lee Ah Weng and others to engage in tin mining rather than continuing with his humdrum life with the bank.  The proposer ‘guaranteed’ a certain fortune from an unworked hill mine in Selibin, adjacent to the River Parit, near Ipoh.  The mine was later named Beatrice after the daughter of the British mining engineer they employed.  Wong took the bait and immediately left the secure employment of the bank and invested his meagre savings in the partnership known as the Tong Ying Kongsi.  It was a great gamble for a family man. 

Initially the profits failed to meet the expectations of the group, but nonetheless there was enough tin to make mining worthwhile and so they persevered.  In July 1923 however the gamble paid off in a very big way, for the mine, bored into a limestone hill, had hit what was known as a pipe – a tubular vein of ore running into the hill and close to the surface.  This pipe was around 20 feet in diameter and around 850 feet long, producing almost 100% pure tin ore worth a veritable fortune as was the by-product of white arsenic they sold to Australia.  It was the jealous European miners who it is said coined the expression, “As rich as the Beatrice Mine” which thereafter, in Ipoh, indicated nothing less than fabulous wealth. 

The workers extracted the ore in as large a chunks as they could manage.  It was then transported, unwashed, to the Wong home in Brewster Road where Wong’s brother and family lived in a hut in the grounds.  Here it was broken up into smaller, manageable, pieces and loaded into canvas bags, which were then sewn up.  Again, no washing was required as the ore was so pure.  Once a load of bags were ready, they were sold to the Eastern Smelters Company in Belfield Street, where, next door,  there was a tin buyers shop who bought the small yields of tin that the part-time ‘dulang washers’ the wives and daughters of Ipoh men, managed to wrench from the Kinta River. 

With such a vast quantity of almost pure ore, the partnership became extremely rich and soon Wong joined the band of prosperous ‘Tin Towkays’ of Ipoh.  Of course, in the style of the day, such prosperity had to be demonstrated by material wealth and so one of Wong’s first purchases was a Cadillac motor car, believed to be the first Cadillac in Ipoh.  Racehorses followed and soon Wong was a member of the newly formed Perak Turf Club (19261) and the proud owner of four racehorses.  Of these four, only one name has been recorded for posterity – ‘Soldier Boy’ – which won four consecutive races, quite a feat all those years ago. 

Legend has it that the Sultan of Perak, also a racehorse owner wanted to buy ‘Soldier Boy’, but the horse was not for sale.  At that time Wong was a leading member of the Club as an original guarantor for setting it up, one of the first members and a successful owner.  Our former bank clerk had arrived in style.  At the time, the first Chairman of the Club was F Douglas Osbourne, also a prominent name in tin mining circles. 

Other demonstrations of wealth soon followed with Wong and wife departing on long holidays to England and Europe in the late 1920’s and early 30’s.  Trips to the Chinese homeland followed and life continued to be good for the Wongs and their growing offspring.  However, despite their ever increasing wealth, the family never moved from 241 Brewster Road to their own house while Wong was alive.  It is true that he tried to buy the old property from the church many times but the house (like ‘Soldier Boy’) was not for sale.  A stones throw from the Church, the family were just ‘too comfortable’ in the old house and as regular church-goers it was all too convenient to pop along to the church ‘almost next door’. 

But, as they say, ‘all good things come to an end’, for one day in the late 1930’s the mining manger reported a disaster – the lode had petered out.  The partnership could not believe such a thing and insisted that the mine should continue.  Money started to be lost, but they would not give in, instructing their manager to continue to search the hill in which the original lode had been, but still there was no tin and losses started to build up to a level where racehorses had to be sold and other economies made.  But Wong was convinced that tin was there if only it could be located and judging the line on which the lode had run he ordered the River Parit to be dammed and diverted so that they might mine the river bed.  No tine was found and the fortune continued to diminish.  A second diversion of the river followed with more losses and Wong and family were back to where they had started in 1920 with no car or trappings of wealth.  In some ways fortunate for them the Japanese invasion of Malaya in 1941 brought this saga to an end and the family continued to live in their home in Belfield Street until Wong passed on.  At that time they moved to a new, smaller home and the story of the Beatrice Lode Mine was complete. 

1          Horse racing in Perak actually first started in Taiping in 1886. Taiping being the oldest town in the country, It was then known as the Taiping Turf Club.  In 1926, the Perak Turf Club was formed in Ipoh at the site on which it still stands.


Postscript.  The details of this tale were kindly provided by the grandson of Wong Jee Seong, Antony Teh, a retired school teacher from St Michael’s Institution. 


By |2009-03-13T02:46:14+08:00March 13th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , , |

A good storyteller never lets the facts get in the way.” Dave Allen, Comedian. 

Before the Japanese invasion in 1941, there was plenty of entertainment for Ipoh people although many could not afford it as the world recession had hit the price of tin and rubber badly and Ipoh, relying on these products for survival had suffered more than many other places. 

Then, during the Japanese occupation, entertainment was severely curtailed and what was available only consisted of Japanese propaganda films.  Consequently in 1945 after the Japanese had been defeated and left these shores, Ipoh’s ability to provide evening entertainment was almost non-existent for all but the privileged few who still had money to spend. 

Two local men however saw this vacuum as a space to be filled and although their names are not known they have gone down in history as the men from Storyteller’s Street, not a street in itself, but a piece of open land between Panglima Street and the river, directly across from Han Chin Pet Soo building at 3 Treacher Street in Old Town. 

These two entertainers worked every evening and are well remembered by several of today’s residents of Ipoh as being the only place to go for entertainment after a hard day’s work   Their equipment was basic but effective and consisted of a table holding a small oil lamp, a packet of Joss sticks and a Joss stick holder.  One of them also managed to provide some benches as public seating but for the other the order of the day was bring your own stools or squat on the ground. 

From the public’s point of view, the first decision was which of the two entertainers to support, for they were quite different in their approach, one telling stories and legends of old China or reading from fictional novels while the other would read from the daily newspaper (Nanyang Siang Pau) as most people could not afford or did not wish to buy one.  Many of these of course could not read anyway. 

Finally, decision made, a position close to the chosen orator was taken up by the prospective audience and when he judged there were enough people to make it worth his while he would collect a fee from all adults present (children were free if they squatted on the ground and kept quiet) and light a Joss stick from the oil lamp.  Once the stick was burning brightly he would begin his tale, story or newspaper report, which would continue until the Joss stick burnt out.  Then it was time to pay again or leave and make room for others. 

Started in 1945, this practice continued into the early 1950’s (some say as late as 1955), but as life improved in Ipoh, tin and rubber production picked up again and movie distributors and cinema owners like Shaw Brothers got their businesses going again after the war, the storytellers audiences dwindled to a level where it was no longer a worthwhile venture.  At that stage one of the two men, famous for his clear voice and pronunciation, was employed as a broadcaster on the advertising loudspeaker vans that became so popular in Ipoh in the 1950’s.


Do you have any Ipoh stories to share please?

The Stylish Modernity of Ipoh – Written by the Perak Heritage Society

By |2009-03-09T10:41:36+08:00March 9th, 2009|Categories: Perak heritage Society|Tags: , , , |

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:

Contact details:
Postal/Office: 85C Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil, 30300 IPOH, Perak.
E-mail: perakheritage36@gmail.com
President, Law Siak Hong: siakhongstudio@yahoo.com


ACS Ipoh – A brief history

By |2011-08-03T08:23:53+08:00March 6th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , , |

In response to a request herewith our version of the history of ACS Ipoh.  If you believe we have made any mistakes please let us know.

“The Anglo-Chinese Boys School Ipoh was the first English school, as well as the first Christian mission school, in Kinta. It was established by the Methodist Episcopal Mission in 1895, ten years after the founding of the Methodist Mission in Singapore. The first attempt to found the school in Ipoh was in November 1894 when Rev TW Stagg was sent by the Methodist Episcopal Mission in Singapore to Ipoh to make the appropriate arrangements. The school was to be opened on the 1st day of 1895 and pupils were to be charged $3 per month. The fee was not affordable for the local people and the school closed down in June that year.

The task of re-starting and, in reality, founding the school was then given to the Reverend W.E. Horley, a young Englishman who had arrived in Ipoh on 31st July 1895. He played an influential role in the educational and spiritual development of the youth in this country.

Just 5 days after his arrival, on 5th August 1895, Rev. Horley opened the Anglo-Chinese School in a small attap-roofed Malay house rented from Datoh Panglima Kinta in Ipoh at Changkat. The land was adjoining the Police barracks, just behind the first Land Office. This was later demolished to provide space for a new mosque. It was Mr. W. Cowan, who came from Taiping, to take over the duties of Chinese Protectorate from Mr. Barnes, who encouraged Horley to go ahead with the plan. Hence, the lower part of the Datoh’s house was enclosed to become the schoolroom.

It is said that Sir George Maxwell, who in one of his letters described the new school house as being “painted a rich blue with yellow shutters” and legend has it that this is reason why blue and gold were chosen as the School`s colours in the 1920s.

Initially, four boys turned up- two Malays and two Chinese; one of them was Che Wan, who became Datoh Panglima Kinta. Another of the first students, Khong Tak Nam, became one of the first two students to pass the Senior Cambridge Examination in 1902, and went to England to study medicine at St. John’s College, Cambridge.

Very quickly the enrolment increased to 60 boys and in 1895, Horley’s application of a four acres land for school and church purposes, was granted by Kinta District Officer, Mr. R.D. Hewett. The land was situated at Lahat Road. Money was donated by the local European, Chinese and Tamil communities, to support the construction of the school.

The first building of the Anglo-Chinese School, a double-storey timber structure with a central tower, was completed at Lahat Road, in May 1896, it was known as Horley Hall. It remains standing today (2007) and houses the school museum. This, the oldest Methodist building in Peninsula Malaysia, doubled as a school from Mondays to Fridays and a church on Sundays. The school numbers increased rapidly, with another timber building being erected in 1898, which became the Primary school.

As the school’s enrolment grew to 200, facilities were erected for boarders. The first batch of boarders moved in in 1901. In the same year the first Cambridge Class was started by Mr. S.H. Wood. 2 years later, towkays Foo Choo Choon and Loke Yew donated the Commercial School (now used as classrooms) to the school. Incidentally a large part of the expansion and upgrades to the school were funded through the generosity of Ipoh’s local wealthy tin miners while the government only contributed a token sum.

The number of students continued to increase and by the time there were 250, 60 coming from Batu Gajah by train. Other buildings followed in 1904, 1914 and 1918.

The main building, a landmark, Edwardian-style, building, standing parallel to Lahat Road, with its prominent quoining, was erected and opened in 1914. It cost a total of $93 000 and was designed by Mr. C.H. Le Brooy. Rev. Horley obtained a grant of $25 000 from the government to assist in the completion of the building. Subsequent additions from 1938 were made in the same style. It was C.H. Labrooy, who also designed the Ipoh Railway Station and Ipoh Town Hall. The formal opening of this building was on 30th March 1914 by His Excellency Sir Arthur Young. Further buildings followed.

The next few decades were marked by many firsts. The first annual ACS school play – a tradition that has remained until today – was staged in 1915. Rev. L. Proebstel helmed the production of ‘Julius Caesar’ that year. In 1921 the second scout troop in the state of Perak (and the first in Ipoh) was formed in the school by Mr. A.B. Samuels. This led to one of the school’s historic moments when a rally was held at the school, in 1934, to welcome Lord Baden-Powell, the first Chief Scout.

‘The Voyager’, ACS’s annual school magazine, was first launched in 1926 and in 1936, Mr. P.B. Bell launched the construction the first science laboratory among Perak schools. The new block, also consisting of a carpentry workshop, was officially opened in 1938.

With the onset of the Pacific War, the British Army requisitioned the front portion of the school as their Ipoh headquarters. When the British troops withdrew in 1941, the school was taken over by the Japanese until their defeat in 1945. The school reopened its doors on the 26th of September 1945 under the first local principal, Mr. Aw Boon Jin.

In the decade that followed, the curriculum was expanded to include various languages, more science subjects and woodwork up to School Certificate Level. In 1949, ACS was the first school in Perak to offer post-Senior classes, the equivalent of today’s Form 6. In 1956, Mr. Teerath Ram took over the administration of the school. He was a visionary leader who instigated many changes including the separation of the primary and secondary sections of the school, the construction of several new blocks housing classrooms, a teachers’ lounge, a lecture theatre, an improved library and a new canteen. He was also responsible for the construction of the recreation centre and the swimming pool – the pride of the school of which the school teachers contributed $32 000 of the $140 000 building cost – as well as the $250 000 indoor stadium, named “Teerath Ram Hall” in his honour.

Several upgrades to the school were undertaken in subsequent years, including the building of an Audio Visual Aids (AVA) Room, the setting up of the School Band, and under Principal Thomas Kok Hee Fatt, the modernising of the school saw the set up a Computer Room and four additional AVA rooms. He saw the significance of sports and of creating a comfortable and pleasant environment in which the students could excel, doing his part to make the school greener. He also introduced the Eagle as the school mascot in 1999.

ACS has in its alumni several prolific sportsmen including the badminton players Mr. Teoh Seng Khoon (Thomas Cup 1949 and All-England 1949) and Mr. Cheah Soon Kit (Thomas Cup 1992); Malaysian Olympic representatives Professor Thong Saw Pak (weightlifting, Helsinki 1952), Mr. Philip Sankey (hockey, Melbourne 1956 and Tokyo 1964), Mr. Chet Singh a/l Sarmukh Singh (hockey, Tokyo 1964) and Dato Poon Fook Loke (hockey captain, Montreal 1976 and Los Angeles 1984). The school also produced top national swimmers Allan Ong and Anthony Ang.”

January 2009


By |2010-06-26T14:00:57+08:00January 26th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

“To eat durian is a new sensation worth a voyage to the East to experience.” 

Alfred Russell Wallace, The Malay Archipelago.

Despite being written almost 150 years ago, that is one of the nicer quotations describing the King of Fruits.  More modern critics are likely to use descriptions that vary from being simply rude to downright obscene.  All are unprintable in a volume such as this.  Personally, the author being a keen supporter of the Durian prefers to describe its special taste and aroma as “Tastes like Heaven, smells like Hell”.  Nonetheless, no matter which side of the Durian fence you sit, lover or hater, the King of Fruits, either fresh or in any one of its many guises, is still popular with many citizens in South East Asia, young and old.

Apart from the obvious tasty snack of the raw, soft, yellow flesh, found inside that prickly exterior one longstanding Durian treat is the Durian cake or Dodol (in local parlance), not cake in the form that Caucasians would expect, but more a rubbery texture more akin to a toffee than a cake.

Anna Down, locally born but now a UK resident, has very pleasant memories of her childhood in Ipoh during that special time of the year when Durians were in plentiful supply – and cheap!

She recalls that the best place to buy Durians in the season was at the roadside around the old children’s playground at Brewster Road.  Here there were always plenty of hawkers competing for trade and for bulk buys, prices could be haggled down to a level which made the subsequent effort well worth while.  Such buying sprees were never made alone as the best prices could be obtained if a group was to buy together with the best bargainer appointed to lead the expedition.  In Anna’s case her mum always went with a group of friends and after selecting the best bargains and employing her best and most persuasive haggling technique, she would hail one or two trishaws or rickshaws where the ripe and prickly fruit would be loaded aboard and the unfortunate rickshaw puller/trishaw man would be directed to her home address where the next stage of the process was to begin.  For these Durians were destined to become home-made Durian cake.

Once unloaded and transferred to the back yard, the Durians were prised open with difficulty and the assistance of a butcher’s cleaver.  The aromatic (some would say ‘smelly’) yellow flesh was separated from its seeds and scraped into a big multi-coloured bowl from China.  Once all the Durians had been stripped of their delicious contents, the shells and seeds were discarded and the precious flesh transferred into a big copper container.  Sugar was added and the mixture was stirred constantly with a large wooden paddle over a low heat until the correct consistency was reached.  By this stage the mixture had become dark brown.  To test the consistence Anna would take a spoonful of the mixture taste if if she could get away with it and see if it another spoonful could successfully be rolled into a shape like a Swiss roll.  Once that was achieved, the entire contents of the copper container were removed from the heat and the mixture formed into as many rolls as could be made.  Once cooled the rolls were then wrapped and distributed to the families involved and the copper container could be scraped clean by Ann as a reward for her help..

Anna ends this tale by reminding us that commercial Durian cake is readily available in Malaysia today, but bears little resemblance to that home-made treat from years gone by.

 Do you have any memories of days gone by that you would like to share with us please?

Rickshaw Memories

By |2009-01-26T01:35:47+08:00January 26th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , , , , |

As part of our objective of saving the history of the Kinta Valley for future generations we try to gather original memories about days past.  Here is one about Rickshaws. Do you have any memories we you can share with us please


“Anna Down, locally born, but now from UK, remembers that as a child in Ipoh she had a regular Rickshaw Puller to take her and two others to and from the Anglo Chinese Girls School daily.  He was a tall, well-built, Chinese man who was paid monthly for his services and despite only having a single seat vehicle, happily allowed two girls to squash into the seat and one to squat on the wooden platform.  They took turns as to who rode where and called him ‘Long-Legged Uncle on account of his physical size.

Anna remembers the rickshaw as ‘great fun’ as they used to exhort ‘Long-Legged’ to run faster and overtake the other girls in their rickshaws and trishaws which he could do with ease on account of his long legs.  She also remembers fondly that when she left Ipoh to go to UK for further studies he presented her with a ‘lovely brocade jacket’.At around the same time (early 1950’s) Anna recalls a ‘rather obese’ Chinese ‘Aunty’ who was a ‘broker’ and spent a considerable amount of her day traveling around Ipoh in a rickshaw.  On one ‘never to be forgotten journey’ she hired a rickshaw puller who was the exact opposite of ‘Long-Legged’.  He was small, positively skinny, poorly dressed and indistinguishable from others as his face was covered with the traditional ‘Good Morning’ towel and pointed hat to keep the sun off.

‘Aunty’ climbed into the rickshaw, sat herself down with a thump and ordered the puller to start the journey in the fastest possible time.  The puller promptly lifted the handles high and prepared to start running.  At that very moment ‘Aunty leant back gratefully into the comfortable seat and disaster struck.  The rickshaw tipped back and the puller was left with his feet dangling in the air, as the rickshaw continued its backwards arc, until the overweight passenger was stranded in the hood of the vehicle, upside down, with her legs in the air.  Wearing only her sarong below her waist, which had of course followed gravity and was now only enveloping her upper limbs  ‘Aunty’s modesty was at risk, but as quick as a flash the puller dropped to the ground, removed his hat and gallantly slapped it on his passengers exposed areas to protect her from public view.  His colleagues came to rescue and righted the rickshaw.  It is not recorded whether ‘Aunty’ ever traveled by rickshaw again.”  



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