Page 1

5

5

Chen Voon Fee, who wrote the chapter on the architectural development of the plantation bungalow, was also one of the founding members of Badan Warisan Malaysia. A renowned architect, teacher and author, his works include Landmarks of Perak, Landmarks of Selangor, Penang Sketchbook, Kuala Lumpur Sketchbook and Malacca Sketchbook. He was also the editor of the architecture volume of Encyclopedia of Malaysia.

The Planter’s Bungalow: A journey down the Malay Peninsula celebrates the traditional plantation bungalow. It documents the development of its architectural styles over the last 150 years and, in doing so, captures the spirit of the plantation industry, one of the foundations of Malaysia’s wealth. This book draws on the memories of planters over the course of two centuries. Through diaries, letters, interviews with key personnel and numerous archival and contemporary photographs, the authors paint a vivid picture of the lives and homes of a pioneering generation whose contributions to the country’s development were very considerable.

5

Peter and Waveney Jenkins

Authors Peter and Waveney Jenkins have spent over 40 years in Malaysia. Following a career in the construction industry, Peter ran the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI), where he produced several books, including 1837: A history of the MICCI and Two Five Nine: Reminiscences from a Garden off Jalan Ampang. Datin Waveney, a recognised sculptor, has long been known for her championing of the old buildings of the country through Badan Warisan Malaysia (Heritage of Malaysia Trust). She has more recently become chairman of Kandis Resource Centre, which is committed to reviving the traditional art of woodcarving on the east coast of Malaysia.

Authors Peter and Waveney Jenkins journeyed down the Malay Peninsula, from Penang to Johore and across to Kelantan and Pahang and every place in between, to investigate over 300 bungalows, visit over 100 estates and interview over 250 planters, retired planters and their families. They visited not only Malaysia but also Scotland, England and the Isle of Man to produce this illustrated record of a neglected aspect of Malaysia’s plantation industry. The book features numerous contemporary and archival photographs of these fine buildings and the lives that were lived within them. The text is written in an engaging, travelogue style, embellished with the insightful, often humorous reminiscences of people who are or were involved in the plantation industry. The Planter’s Bungalow: A journey down the Malay Peninsula will capture the attention of everyone who knows Malaysia or is interested in visiting the country. It will be invaluable to serious students of architecture. For anybody who knows the plantation business, it will, of course, be a compulsive read.

U.S. $45.00

photo: Hok Kim Loong

PB Cover_AC67442.indd 1

Job: E09-98167/98649 Title: The Planter’s Bungalow 228_E07-AC67442_#175 Dtp:160 Page:JKT

8/1/12 6:25 PM


001-005_C42873

9/29/07

1:07 AM

Page 4

5

5 (VIN)

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow (160)09-AC42873 175# Dtp:119 Page:4


ow e:4

001-005_C42856

9/22/07

7:40 AM

Page 5

Contents

(VIN)

A Note from the Authors

6

Prologue

12

1

Architectural Styles of the Planter’s Bungalow

14

2

Penang & Province Wellesley

26

3

Kedah

36

4

Perak

46

5

Selangor

82

6

Kelantan

102

7

Pahang

108

8

Negeri Sembilan

120

9

Malacca

128

10 Johore

136

11 God’s Little Acre

160

Glossary

162

Bibliography

163

Picture Credits

163

Acknowledgements

164

Index

165

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow (160)09-AC42856 175# Dtp:119 Page:5


006-011_C42856

9/22/07

8:03 AM

Page 6

A Note from the Authors

Since commercial agriculture became a feature in 19th-century Malaya, the success or failure of the industry to a large degree depended on the competence and, at times, the physical and mental courage of the estate manager.

His bungalow provided him with a home but in many cases also offered hotel and conference facilities for visitors and hospitality for subordinate staff and neighbouring planters. In the light of the huge contribution of the plantation sector to Malaysia’s development, the council of the Badan Warisan Malaysia (Heritage Trust of Malaysia), under the chairmanship of Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji, decided in 1997 that a record should be made of the remaining traditional estate managers’ bungalows. Dato’ Henry Barlow estimated that there were around 30 to 40 still existing. In the plantation world of Malaya, ‘bungalow’ has always been common terminology for any staff house on the estate, single- or double-storey, whether raised off the ground on stilts or columns, or not. In a few cases the bungalows were quite grand and supplied reasonable creature comforts by the standards of the time. More often a very different situation prevailed. The financial condition of the owners normally dictated the levels of comfort the managers were permitted to enjoy. Naturally, in cases where the manager was the owner, the accommodation reflected more of his own particular needs, or more probably those of his wife—if he was lucky enough to have one. Being a planter’s wife required a degree of resilience, which meant that finding the right wife was sometimes easier said than done—the operation often being conducted at speed during a period of home leave (see p. 10 centre). All in all, by modern standards, facilities were basic, and still are today. Living conditions often attributed to the Malayan planter of the 19th and 20th centuries are inaccurate; and it is hoped that this book will dispel the idea that the average planter had a luxurious or even marginally affluent lifestyle. The name Henri Fauconnier crops up regularly in this book as probably the industry’s most well known planter. When his famous book The Soul of Malaya was first translated into English in 1931, he was persuaded, despite age and illness, to contribute some words for the foreword, which gives a flavour of the bungalow from the 19th century up until the beginning of World War II (WWII; see box story overleaf). More than 50 years later, Dato’ Henry Barlow, whose family for many years had considerable plantation interests in Malaya and elsewhere, wrote a leading article for The Planter in 1999 (Vol. 75 No. 885) entitled ‘The Estate Bungalow’ (see box story p. 11). Many months followed the Badan Warisan’s request that we carry out research into these plantation bungalows and their occupants. After many hundreds of miles on English and Scottish highways and byways, on Malaysian motorways and laterite plantation tracks and several thousand photographs later, we concluded that the 30 to 40 bungalows initially envisaged were more akin to 340. From these, 226 have been selected.

(VIN)

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow (160)09-AC42856 175# Dtp:119 Page:6


ow e:6

006-011_C42873

9/29/07

1:50 AM

Page 7

5

A Note from the Authors 7

5

It was decided to arrange the book geographically as a journey southwards down Peninsular Malaysia, omitting the East Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, where few traditional bungalows were built. We have also restricted ourselves to estate managers’ bungalows built before 1942. The spelling of place names generally follows that used in 1942, or as quoted by contributors. Opportunities have been taken to include bits and pieces from Malayan plantation literature, some well known and others that should be. Also, every now and again you may hear in the text distant explosions, the sounds of 21-gun salutes fired to mark appreciation of a significantly unsung sector of 19th- and 20th-century history. Our aim has been to interview key individuals involved, principally the plantation or estate managers. This has been achieved by seeking out what remains of their bungalows, and meeting both past and present occupants to hear their stories. Some recollections on the same events differed significantly from others; and the task was further complicated when we were told by several retired planters ‘under no circumstances should you believe anything you heard from planter X, Y or Z.’ In those earlier times communications bore no comparison to the fine roads and airports we see in Malaysia today. Social life revolved around ‘the club’, and the logistics of housekeeping, buying provisions, getting medical attention, looking after staff, entertaining, overseas travel and dealing with the prolonged absence of wives and children, were many times more complicated than today. But why bother in the first place? Peter Gibb, a Guthrie planter long retired in Seremban, when asked to comment on bungalows remarked ‘they’re all the same—two bedrooms, a sitting and dining area, and a kitchen somewhere at the back—why all the excitement?’ It is hoped that we will do something to answer that question.

(VIN)

5

top: The manager’s house sits at the top of the hill of a newly cleared and planted rubber estate, with the simple dwellings of the labour force arranged below it. (Photo: 1900s, E. McKenzie)

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow (160)09-AC42873 175# Dtp:119 Page:7


006-011_C42856

9/22/07

8:15 AM

Page 8

5

top: The ‘little hut’ of the early planter, thrown together with whatever materials were available, roughly thatched, with very little thought given to comfort. This is the true pioneer planter’s bungalow. (Photo: 1900s, E. McKenzie) below: This photo of an unidentified bungalow is from later in an estate’s development. Garden trees have grown and simple bathrooms have been added off the bedrooms. The house is more enclosed, with solid timber boarding. (Photo: date unknown, Michael Oliver, Golden Hope Archives) opposite: This map shows the road system and sizeable towns of Malaya in 1951. (Map: The Straits Times Directory of Singapore and Malaya, 1952)

(VIN)

Henri Fauconnier writes in 1931: ‘There was the age of the little hut. To find land suitable for cultivation, the planter had to cross the coastal marshes, follow mysterious water courses, drive into the heart of the virgin jungle, and open up a road through the lianas, the bamboos and the undergrowth. The site once chosen, a small portion of the jungle was felled and fired. The planter lived in a hut made of bamboo and palm leaves on the edge of the burnt-out clearing, which little by little spread out around him, leaving him in the middle of a black and desolate desert. He had no furniture, the bare minimum of clothing, and lived on rice and tinned foods. The destruction of the jungle, and the flight of the animals who had lived there, created an austere solitude. The great events of his life were the appearance of the first growth in his nursery of rubber seedlings—two little green leaves announcing that life was at last being renewed in the midst of desolation—an encounter with a wild beast or a troop of elephants in the course of his exploration of the jungle, an attack of fever, or a letter from Europe arriving rolled up in the pleats of a Malay sarong. He lived all day among his coolies, learning their language and their customs, incorporating the functions of king, judge, and doctor, self-reliant in his loneliness, all-powerful, and abandoned. Then came the age of the wooden house. Other plantations were opened up all around, and roads traversed the jungle. Bordering the road appeared a

Chinese shop where it was possible to procure tea, coffee, cigarettes—and better still, fresh bread. Passing ox-carts were to be seen, carrying furniture from the town, frozen Australian meat, acetylene lamps and bicycles. The plantation stretched out into the distance, its rows of trees bright green against the red earth. Tapping began, and a factory was put up. The price of rubber rose month by month, and every steamer unloaded at the ports a quota of business men from London, Brussels and Paris, suddenly curious to see these hitherto unknown countries now revealing such a rich future. Capital was plentiful. Several years later, we come to the age of stone and cement. The planters are now working for powerful companies who lodge them in bungalows and provide every comfort. Electric light comes from the factory, from which one can hear day and night a constant slow pulsation. Cars rumble down the roads. The coolies ride to the Chinese shop in a taxi. The planters have their central club where they meet in the evening to discuss the latest methods of cultivation, seed selection or grafting seedlings. Life is less difficult, less dangerous, but it is complicated by new worries and heavier responsibilities. The old-time planter, and the planter of today come from the same stock, but circumstances have created different types. If comparing them one could say that the first had been a young man ready to take all risks, the other is a mature man concerned with avoiding risks: the primitive man of action, compared with the civilised reflective thinker, because with security comes worry. It is no easier to conserve and improve than to create. To be a simple planter is no longer enough, it is now necessary to be an administrator, an accountant and a scientist. Everything depends on your intelligence and tenacity, and if it is true that you are now only a cog in a big machine, you are a precious, vital, cog.’ Henri Fauconnier, The Soul of Malaya, 1931

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow (160)09-AC42856 175# Dtp:119 Page:8


ow e:8

006-011_C42856

9/22/07

8:15 AM

Page 9

(VIN)

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow (160)09-AC42856 175# Dtp:119 Page:9


026-035_C42856

9/22/07

9:33 AM

Page 34

5

top: Bertam Estate, 1904, Kepala Batas, Province Wellesley In this photo taken with

the estate staff, one can see the upstairs verandahs. These have simple railings and chik blinds, lowered to protect the interior from rain. The area above the porte cochère has evolved from being a large, airy, private sitting room, to a bathroom and now an air-conditioned study. (Photo: 1952, M. P. Evans Archives)

below: Krian Estate, c. 1900s, Kerian, Province Wellesley Krian Estate’s bungalow

was built in the Malay transitional style. It still has a thick atap roof, but uses a ridge piece to secure the thatch. The upper storey is timber. The square plastered columns of the porte cochère follow the classic Malay style, with fullheight shutters enclosing the space above. It is possible that the stairway, to the right of the entrance, was enclosed at a later date as most early houses of this type have an open stairway. (Photo: 1933, Anne Crawford) opposite: Bertam Estate, 1904, Kepala Batas, Province Wellesley Bertam Estate has the finest estate bungalow remaining in the north of Malaysia. Its two wings are joined by a massive porte cochère, which extends beyond the driveway and incorporates beneath its arches a cool, terraced area. (Photo: 2006, David Lok)

Arthur Bruce, lived there before WWII, and before him Jock Innes, another relation. Her father Frank also worked for the group, as did Hunter Crawford, whom she later married. Between the wars the bungalow was famous not only for its hospitality to neighbours and visitors, among whom, on one occasion, was the famous entertainer Noel Coward, but also for holding huge parties for the children on the estates. In 1957, the chairman Sir John Ramsden sold the company when his son was murdered by CTs halfway up the stairs of the bungalow, where his body was found by Hunter Crawford.

Nearby, the Caledonia general manager’s house stood in a street known as Park Lane, which was lined with grand buildings housing the senior staff of the company (see p. 26). Krian Estate, at the very southern end of the state, acted as a staging post for people waiting for a suitable tide or boat to take them across the river (see below). Frank Bruce lived here and in the adjacent Jawi Estate, which was originally opened up by Leopold Chasseriau. The M. P. Evans Group has its Malaysian headquarters on the island. Their flagship Bertam Estate in Kepala Batas initially concentrated on growing rubber and later oil palm (see opposite). Today, the manager’s bungalow is encircled by a modern township. The attractiveness of this bungalow, still surrounded by a well-tended garden, contrasts with its incongruous urban location. Like all of the company’s traditional bungalows, it is well and sensitively maintained. The bungalows recorded in this state are amongst the oldest on Peninsular Malaysia and are the least typical, many built by estate owners for their own use.

opposite (below left): The arches of the great porte cochère are echoed in the interior, beyond the magnificent stairway with finely modelled banisters backed by a screen of spear-shaped motifs. (Photo: 2006, David Lok) opposite (below right): The upper verandahs shade the bedrooms, the chiks lowered. (Photo: 2006, David Lok)

(VIN)

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow (160)09-AC42856 175# Dtp:119 Page:34


ow 34

026-035_C42856

9/22/07

9:33 AM

Page 35

5

(VIN)

Penang & Province Wellesley 35

5

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow (160)09-AC42856 175# Dtp:119 Page:35


036-045.qxp

7/23/12

12:20 PM

Page 38

With its numerous islets, Langkawi is a part of the state of Kedah, and it is here that one will find an old estate bungalow. Sungei Raya Estate is now mainly a golf course, and its last manager’s bungalow, now the club house, is of post-war construction. However, the original manager’s bungalow, on stilts and built largely of teak, still stands at the bottom of a hill and acts as a decrepid rooming house for estate workers. Shortly after WWII, Jean Cameron arrived to join her husband Alastair, who was planting in Kedah. Now in her nineties, she lives in Nairn, Scotland, where her house is named Tali Ayer, after the much-loved Perak estate Alastair managed for 10 years. After arriving by sea in Singapore, a few nights spent at Raffles Hotel, the Station Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, and the Ipoh Club, did not entirely prepare her for the bungalow at Padang Estate, Padang Serai. Heavily pregnant, she noted the creosote finish to the woodwork inside and out, everything dirty, no curtains and minimal furniture—one table, two chairs and a bed. Ever the optimist, she found some bright material at the estate shop, bought some string and some drawing pins, and pushed the table to the wall to enable her to climb onto it and pin up the new curtains. The first drawing pin went in well; putting pressure on the second, the whole wall fell out, leaving Jean marooned on the table. ‘Ai yaahh! White ants!’ said the cook-boy as he helped her down. ‘No,’ said her husband’s head office, Oriental Plantations, ‘just because Alastair has a new wife, it doesn’t mean he gets a new house.’ So, in came the tukang kayu (estate carpenter) to patch things up. Soon after this event, Jean’s amah narrowly missed death while ironing downstairs, directly below the bathroom. The jamban, with the Tuan (Master) on board, plus the latest edition of the Times, shot through the floor and landed by the ironing board. Mercifully, no one was hurt, but it meant another job for the tukang kayu. Structurally, the Camerons’ next bungalow at Bukit Sidim (see opposite top) was a great improvement. But in 1953 these were dangerous time. Alastair’s predecessor Kenneth Burnham had been murdered by CTs, likewise his assistant.

(VIN)

Armed SCs lived on site, perimeter lights were on all night and the police telephoned hourly to check that all was well, leaving very little opportunity for sleep. Alastair was provided with an armoured car ‘to be used for all travel’, but it was also used as a bolt hole if an attack was expected. It was very hot, very claustrophobic and was not the best place to entertain small children. The monthly pay-drop by helicopter was welcomed—even if it did provide yet another job for the tukang kayu when the drop periodically went through the bungalow’s roof. ‘Despite everything,’ says Jean, ‘we often did manage to put the CTs out of our minds and on the whole we were very happy—now I can’t think why or how!’ It was from Bukit Sidim Estate that, between the two world wars, Arthur Bruce of Caledonia in Province Wellesley, had explored the land on an elephant prior to establishing Badenoch and Sungei Tawar estates. Badenoch was named after one of several estates owned by the Ramsdens in Scotland. Junun Estate, just north of Sungei Petani, was described by Ruth Higgins (see this page). In her mid-80s and living in Onich, Scotland, she spoke in similar vein of life during the Emergency with her husband Fergus, which consisted of ‘…polite SCs spending their days on top of the sandbagged car porch,

claustrophobic armoured cars and the continuous nerve-racking sense that an attack could be imminent…’ This most unusual bungalow, architecturally akin to a row of Chinese shophouses, no longer exists. Nearby is another remarkable old bungalow on Sime Darby’s Patani Para Estate (see p. 42 below). Built by W. Reading in 1918, it has particularly high ceilings to the first floor. At Padang Serai the East Asiatic Group in 1919 built a beautiful bungalow for the manager of Padang Meiha (see p. 36). Erik Andersen was resident in the early 1970s. He mentions the spirit of competition that existed pre-WWII amongst companies in the area to have the biggest and best bungalow—the Caledonia Estate bungalow with its ballroom was the only one to equal it. This was extraordinary as Padang Meiha had been constructed from sketches drawn by the manager of the time by a local Chinese building contractor. This house has also been recently demolished, giving way to a large housing estate, but Erik remembers it well. The ground floor was of plastered brick with ventilation gaps at the top of the walls. Two square pillars supported the porte cochère in front of the east-facing entrance door. Terracotta Malacca tiles covering the ground floor were replaced with Langkawi marble in the 1970s in the dining room and entrance hall. Originally a

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow 228_E07-AC67442_175# Dtp:119 Page:38


ow 38

036-045_C42856

9/22/07

9:54 AM

Page 39

5

Kedah 39

5

5

opposite: Junun Estate, date unknown, Gurun In this 1949 photo, it is possible to see the sandbags above the car porch, piled up to protect Malay SCs guarding the house. Chinese elements are discernible, particularly the roof ridges and end gable. (Photo: 1949, Ruth Higgins)

wide staircase led from the hall to the first floor, later changed to a narrow stair at the side. A covered walkway led from the kitchen to the servants’ quarters on the west side. As Erik went on to describe: The bungalow was set in 12 acres of garden with an impressive avenue of King Palms leading up to the house. A building close to the house had space for a garage and housing for the syce Some of the old window glass had a slightly greenish colour. Doors and windows had brass handles and hinges. The first floor was constructed entirely of wood, and all dividing walls had open fretwork to allow air circulation. Many of these were blocked up when air-conditioning was introduced. It was roofed with Indian tiles.

Nearby, the traditional bungalow at Bukit Selarong has also been replaced (see p. 43 top). This was the birthplace of Alan Wanless, when his father Richard was the manager here in the 1930s. Roger Barrett’s father, Malcolm, was the manager at Kuala Muda Estate before and after WWII. When he returned, he found that the fine bungalow had been demolished by the Japanese during the Occupation. A Danish planter named Werner Iversen was one of the earlier managers of Sungei Ular Estate, near Kulim. In 1922 he was working for the group eventually to be named Socfin. His niece, Ruth Rollitt, translated a descriptive piece which Werner sent to his parents to encourage them to make a visit. The edited extract recounts the visit as if it had already

(VIN)

taken place—in fact, it never did—and can be excused for painting perhaps an over idyllic scene as Werner was recently married and was clearly much enjoying this condition (see box story overleaf). Werner’s bungalow no longer exists. Its successor is a simple two-storey building which was home to many well-known Socfin names (see p. 41). Post-WWII, the manager was a naval man who left his mark on the building in the shape of an ingenious system of gear-operated mosquito screens. These covered all the higher windows up the magnificent panelled stairs, and are in good working order today, though the house is empty and forlorn. Nearer to Baling, Denny Allen’s father, Jock, was the manager at Kupang Estate for about 30 years, straddling an uncomfortable period as a prisoner of the Japanese on the Siamese railway (see p. 42 top). This attractive old building also no longer exists.

top: Bukit Sidim, date unknown The Malay Transitional style became popular during the 1920s. The single-storey timber house has a half-gabled hipped g. i. sheet roof, with a fullheight lattice-arched anjung shading the stairs. Some windows are full-height, with Malay-style railings, protected with mosquito nets and closed with louvred shutters. The louvres were opened using a traditional rod mechanism. (Photo: 1946, Jean Cameron) below: Religious events, such as christenings, would be held whenever a priest was able to visit. Here, the Camerons’ baby son is christened at Padang Serai by a visiting Anglican priest in their sitting room. (Photo: 1946, Jean Cameron) page 36: Padang Meiha Estate, 1919, Padang Serai Wide verandahs with latticed arches above the porch, and sturdy, plastered columns on the ground floor shade the terracotta floor tiles. Originally, a broad staircase led from the hall to the first floor. The house retains a Scandinavian feel due to the roof design and exposed timbers. (Drawing: 1986, Kasim Abas)

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow (160)09-AC42856 175# Dtp:119 Page:39


036-045.qxp

7/23/12

12:30 PM

Page 42

It is a feature of many managers’ bungalows that they are built on a hill and positioned like a medieval castle, with staff housing, labour lines, offices and other subsidiary buildings surrounding them below. Situated thus, they benefited from cool breezes and, as a bonus, often enjoyed a spectacular view. Kedah has two outstanding examples of such well located bungalows. The first is on Stothard Estate, which is now a part of Malakoff and run by Bousteads (see opposite centre). George Stothard managed Malakoff for most of the first quarter of the 20th century. He was a sugar and tapioca expert and a great character who lived and entertained well. He owned shares in syndicate estates in the Kuala Ketil area, including Stothard Estate, which he sold to Malakoff when he retired in 1926. This bungalow, well constructed and sited, is perched on a pinnacle reached by a perilous drive. It has a stunning view of the landscape to the west, as far as the sea. According to the late Peter Violet, a long-serving Bousteads planter and manager in the 1970s, this was an aspect well appreciated by himself and previous managers, who quietly ensured that rubber and oil palm trees were not planted too near the bungalow, lest they interfere with this magnificent panorama. It was here also that the legendary ‘Brandy’ tree was grown as a trial after being brought to Malakoff from South America by the grandfather of John Lamb for the production of

(VIN)

perfume. A sensational first year was followed by continuous failure. Probably the last of these trees on the Peninsula today still stands shading the bungalow. According to John Lamb, the Spanish name for the tree is Piqua-A. The South Americans used to tap an alcoholic liquor from the tree’s roots— hence its name. Golden Hope’s Victoria Estate bungalow (see p. 44 centre right) has an equally outstanding location. The house can be seen from miles away as it stands on a peak overlooking Gunung Jerai and Penang. It is a beautifully built bungalow which will make a fine home for the twins expected by the wife of Sairani bin Ariffin, the estate’s current manager. Not far from Kulim at Padang Serai lies Henrietta Estate, owned by Plantation Holdings, where Basil Phillips took over as manager just after the War. He had spent time during WWII in the jungle with Force 136, first in Burma, then in Negeri Sembilan. The estate’s beautiful bungalow fell in to disrepair during the War and was demolished when Henrietta Estate was revived in 1945. Luckily it was included as part of an album recording Henrietta Rubber Estate, photographed by H. Tokisatsu in 1924. In the 1950s there were about 80 significant estates in operation in Kedah. Today, there are fewer estates and many of the old bungalows have been demolished or, in some cases, are occupied by junior staff or even immigrant

labour. Most of these bungalows were originally built by British owners and had Scottish or English managers. However, there were two exceptions in Kedah at this time. Malayan American Plantations Ltd, the only US plantation company on the Peninsula, owned Dublin and Harvard estates. These are now part of the Guthrie group and have been renamed Sungei Dingin and Jerai respectively. At Sungei Dingin Estate, the manager Tuan Haji Zainuddin Sukur recounted that his single-storey bungalow originally had two floors but suffered from inaccurate Japanese bombing in WWII (see p. 44 top). Further north, Jerai Estate’s imposing bungalow is being used by the staff of a golf club (see p. 44 centre left). John Nowak, a Boustead planter who is now retired on the Isle of Man, spoke of the other exception, an estate near Sungei Petani, owned by the Italian Regginato family. At the time, it was one of the very few remaining familyowned estates and the only Italian one in Malaya. The Regginatos also owned a vineyard in northern Italy. At the southernmost tip of Kedah is the clean and rather modern brick bungalow at Ghim Khoon Estate (see p. 45 below). Though it appears to be a post-war construction, former manager Chin Chun Yin confirmed that not only was it built in the 1930s, but that the imported English bricks each bore the anchor mark of the maker.

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow 228_E07-AC67442_175# Dtp:119 Page:42


ow 42

036-045.qxp

7/23/12

5:02 PM

Page 43

5

Kedah 43

5

5

opposite (top): Kupang Estate, date unknown, Gadek This bungalow also features the developed Malay style, with a high, half-gabled hipped roof, aided by special ventilation tiles and a sitting room above the central porch. Two wings have arched balconies on the ground floor, an element echoed above with enclosed verandahs at either end of the bedrooms. The walls have meshed wooden windows with fixed wooden louvres above and around the porch and verandahs, and solid wooden shutters for the rooms at the centre. (Photo: 1940s, Denny Allen) opposite (below): Patani Para, date unknown, Sungei Petani This house has

extremely high ceilings, with pointed arched doors, triangular windows, portholes and a deep roof overhanging the first-floor windows around the house. (Photo: 1979, Siow Heng Kin)

top: Bukit Selarong, date unknown, Padang Serai The first bungalow on this estate

was built in the developed Malay style. Plastered pillars support the substantial main floor, with open verandahs and Malay-style shutters enclosing the room above the porch. The atapthatched roof uses a bamboo grid to hold down the atap and bamboo is also used to strengthen the ridges. (Photo: 1930s, Archie Gibson)

centre: Stothard Estate, 1930s, Kuala Ketil A transition between the developed Malay layout of porch and verandahs and the solidity of the Corporate style. The ground floor is European, with plastered brick and classically moulded arches as room dividers. below Henrietta Estate, 1924, Padang Serai, Kulim This is a typical example of a Malay transitional house, the masonry supporting pillars open at ground level, allowing air to circulate and cool. A covered car port has a simple wooden stair leading from it into the reception areas — open-sided and only constrained by a verandah rail, though protected with chik blinds, and secured by wires from the ravages of wind and storms. The rail itself is crafted of carved louvres which can be opened for maximum ventilation, or closed to keep out the elements. The masonry bathrooms are situated on the ground floor, under the bedrooms, with a cool balustraded area between them where planters would often take their siestas in the heat of the afternoon. (Photo: 1924, H. Tokisatsu, from The Henrietta Estate Album. Reproduced with kind permission of Nicholas Phillips.)

(VIN)

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow 228_E07-AC67442_175# Dtp:119 Page:43


046-081_C42856

9/22/07

10:50 AM

Page 46

5

5 (VIN)

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow (160)09-AC42856 175# Dtp:119 Page:46


ow 46

046-081_98167

9/13/07

7:13 AM

Page 47

Perak By 1950, in the heat of the Emergency, there were nearly 200 major estates operating in Perak, a few coconut but mainly rubber. Plantation-wise, this makes Perak the second largest state after Selangor.

(VIN)

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow 175# Dtp:119 Page:47


046-081.qxp

7/23/12

3:16 PM

Page 48

Taiping was the hub of Perak’s activity until the centre of the tin mining industry gravitated south and Ipoh took over. Taiping is distinguished by having the first of almost everything—the first railway station, first gaol and first golf course. It was also the centre of the tin mining feuds of the late 19th century. Graham McManaman was a planter for Dunlop for 28 years and now lives in Taiping. He manages Temerloh Estate, opened in 1896 to plant coconuts; its bungalow (see this page) was built in 1910. Graham, in succinct fashion, summarised the 20th-century life cycle of the planter’s bungalow. The first bungalows were constructed of timber cut from the estate, the larger beams often still showing the axe marks. Many were destroyed or badly damaged during WWII. For security reasons during the Emergency, the ground-floor area of the bungalow on stilts was often enclosed. Some were actually lifted off their stilts and re-sited, usually in groups, while some were converted into assistants’ accommodation. In the 1970s, with the changeover from rubber to oil palm, many estates amalgamated, and in the resultant cost cutting many bungalows were demolished. Today, when estates are sold for development purposes, the manager’s bungalow seldom survives.

just. Allagar Estate, a little further south, is now owned by developers, Potential Horizon Sdn Bhd (see p. 51 centre left). The 1906 bungalow had its entire first floor sliced off recently, leaving behind few signs of its original splendour. Only its cheerful Malay watchman, Pak Man, remains. John Hedley worked at Gedong Estate, not far away, and provided a photograph of the magnificent and very early manager’s bungalow, which is now part of the Sime Darby stable (see p. 19). Peter Leggatt was manager there in the 1970s. He recalls that the bungalow was built on top of the floor tiles of the old sugar plantation manager’s bungalow, probably built around 1890. The patterned coloured tiles were perhaps Dutch but had no maker’s marks (see p. 50 centre left). A granite sugar roller stood in the garden beside the sitting room doors. The original bungalow was damaged during WWII and its replacement was designed by architect B. M. Iversen in Ipoh in the 1940s (see p. 50 top). From the upstairs windows, Peter’s predecessors used to shoot at crocodiles on the bank of Sungei Kurau, which was about 50 yards away— presumably with some success as Peter never saw signs of a crocodile in the garden or the river. Bill Day managed Gedong Estate for nine years from 1958 and his widow, Jean, now living

in the Isle of Man, remembers in particular the minstrels’ gallery running around the large reception room. Jean also recalls families of otters playing on the river bank, indicating this must have been during the ‘post-crocodile’ period. Leslie Cowie, who was acting manager there in 1964 with his wife Sue, was also full of praise for the lovely bungalow—except when the wind was blowing in the wrong direction from a farm just over the river. Nearby is Hurst Estate (see p. 51 below), managed before WWII by John Baulkwill, who began his planting career some years earlier on Sussex Estate (see p. 50 centre right). Also close by is Chersonese Estate, which was originally a Barlow property (see p. 51 top). Peter Bonner took over as the manager of Chersonese from Bill Hilston in the 1980s and remembers many of the bungalow’s features. It was built pre-WWII close to the south bank of Sungei Kurau, but about six feet below water level on a high spring tide. The whole estate was protected by a substantial 14-mile-long bund, or earth wall. The original structure had accommodation on the first floor only; the ground floor being open due to the possibility of flooding. This also permitted the free flow of air, which would have helped to keep the bungalow slightly cooler since the Krian district, and in

Taiping maintains much old-world charm and numerous long-established estates surround it. To the northwest, Golden Hope’s Sungei Krian Estate lies just below the Krian River, which gives its name to this part of Perak and causes problems for residents with frequent flooding (see opposite top). To the north of Taiping is Holyrood Estate, now also a part of the Golden Hope group (see opposite below). Ken Lewis and his brother Derek were members of a well known ‘rubber family’ of the 1950s, when Ken was there. Malaya Estate in Selama has an unusually fine wooden bungalow built in 1926 (see opposite centre). Nearby, just off Grik Road, is Kati Estate, with a very old and extensive timber bungalow which has impressive round columns (see p. 51 centre right). It is now used to house immigrant labour. These bungalows are all still standing, but only

(VIN)

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow 228_E07-AC67442_175# Dtp:119 Page:48


ow 48

046-081_C42873

9/29/07

1:15 AM

Page 49

5

Perak 49

5

5

opposite: Temerloh Estate, 1910, Trong A substantial timber building in the Developed Malay style on tall plastered columns. In the 1950s the ground floor was bricked in for security reasons, enlarging the living spaces. Upper-storey windows retain wooden louvred shutters; the ground floor windows are now replaced. The roof, now g. i. sheet, was originally tiled. (Photo: 1965, Graham McManaman) top: Sungei Krian Estate, 1900s, Bagan Serai The porch with full-height shuttered windows is in the Developed Malay style but tall plastered columns and a solid ground floor give an Anglo-Indian look. The Chinese-tiled roof has a raised pyramidal top with a clerestory. At the rear is a large chimney from the wood-burning stove used to heat water. (Photo: pre-WWII, Rosemary Roberton) centre: Malaya Estate, 1926, Selama The ‘Y’shaped old timber bungalow was still standing in 2004, its replacement pegged out in front of it. It retained a largely open-air ground floor with solid plastered columns. Glazed louvres had filled in the upper verandahs, losing much of the natural ventilation. below: Holyrood Estate, 1930, Selama Built in lapped timber, this house is set on short stumps with exterior entrance steps. A large reception room juts out to the left. The wide windows seem to be filled with mesh, wooden chiks protecting from rain. The kitchen on the ground is seen to the right, with a jack roof to expel smoke from the open fire. (Photo: 1937, Derek Lewis) page 46: Cheong Lam Estate, 1920s, Ipoh Several developments are found here: the height of the ceilings; the use of solid masonry columns infilled with wood; and the hipped roof with half-gables for extracting rising hot air, here tiled with Chinese tiles. The beams of the ground-floor ceiling are painted white, as are the interior spaces, while the exterior wood is probably creosoted. The overall impression is of solidity and stability. (Photo: 1926, John Carter)

(VIN)

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow (160)09-AC42873 175# Dtp:119 Page:49


046-081.qxp

7/23/12

3:17 PM

Page 50

5

top: Gedong Estate, post-war replacement, Bagan Serai The present building on Gedong Estate, built just after the war. It was notable for having a galleried space in the living area. (Photo: early 1960s, Jean Day) centre (left): Built after the war by the renowned architect B. M. Iversen, the fine tiled floor was retained in the new building. Sitting on it here is John, the son of Jean Day. (Photo: early 1960s, Jean Day) centre (right): Sussex Estate, date unknown, Telok Anson This early building with its

Malay bumbung lima bears some resemblance to Malakoff’s bungalow in Province Wellesley and is probably of an early date. The curtains at the windows could have been mosquito netting, looped back during the day. (Photo: 1930s, E.D. Nichols) below: A typical open verandah, here on Sussex Estate, cool, breezy with louvred timber railings and deep eaves. (Photo: 1930s, E.D. Nichols)

(VIN)

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow 228_E07-AC67442_175# Dtp:119 Page:50


ow 50

046-081.qxp

7/23/12

3:17 PM

Page 51

5

Perak 51

5

5

top: Chersonese Estate, 1930s, Kuala Kurau In the 1930s the Corporate style materialised: solid, masonry buildings, well designed and eminently suited to the tropical lifestyle of the planters. Wide eaves, verandahs and hipped roofs are taken from the earlier designs, but there is a greater impression of grandeur and permanency. (Photo: 1980s, Peter Bonner) centre (left): Allagar Estate, 1906, Trong This once magnificent building recently had its main living areas demolished and now serves as a godown, with a tin roof balanced on the solid masonry columns that once supported the substantial house. The remains of the stairs supported an array of flowerpots. centre (right): Kati Estate, 1920, Sauk Also a shadow of its former self, this large ‘U’shaped timber building set on huge cylindrical plastered columns was once a superb house with decorative fretwork on the eaves. Exterior steps rise to an open porch with Chinese motifs on the railing. A polygonal extension juts out from the large reception area, divided by archways, with a finely executed tongue and groove timber ceiling. Two of the four bedrooms, all with bathroom and external stairs, are joined to the main house by a Malay-style open corridor, or silang. below: Hurst Estate, 1930s, Bagan Serai The timber first floor of this bungalow with a half-hipped, half-gabled roof providing ventilation and deep eaves providing shade was once the main living space. Upstairs verandahs and downstairs exterior walls have all been mosquito-meshed. (Photo: 1950, Jonathan Baulkwill)

(VIN)

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow 228_E07-AC67442_175# Dtp:119 Page:51


046-081_C42873

9/29/07

1:21 AM

Page 52

the field or office, never to carry ill feeling back over the threshold of the manager’s bungalow. All too frequently poor managers provided splendid hospitality (or their wives did). However, in the manager’s bungalow we tried to be polite and never let the day’s ‘happenings’ be discussed.

Gordon McCulloch was a long-serving and much respected member of the Malayan planting fraternity. Dato’ Henry Barlow related a story about Gordon’s recruitment to Barlows after WWII.

particular the coastal strip, was oppressively hot at night. Accommodation initially consisted of two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a breezy and expansive living area. Servants’ quarters and a kitchen were to the rear of the bungalow. The ground floor was walled in later to provide an additional bedroom, dining room and a more modern kitchen. Water supply was from the Gula Canal, which ran from Kolam Bukit Merah to the estate, a distance of some 16 miles. The canal was originally constructed to supply water to irrigate the sugar plantations in the early 1900s. Domestic hot water was supplied via a copra shell-fired boiler, which was efficient but very smoky. There was also a magnificent Dadap tree in the garden, which apparently thrived on the high water table and occasional flood.

This description may well depict the majority of managers’ bungalows in the second half of the 20th century. In the early 1960s, Kam Cheng Hing was acting manager on Guthrie’s Kalumpong Estate, located near Bagan Serai, with his wife Kim (see this page). The ‘school run’ was a challenge as the only access to the bungalow was via a car ferry, which took just one car and was propelled by two oarsmen, who had to be summoned. ‘Dodgy getting on, dodgy getting off, and very

(VIN)

dodgy generally if the river was flowing fast,’ he remembers. Kim’s comments on visiting agents (VAs) are interesting too. On one’s first assignment as a manager, the arrival of a VA to stay in the bungalow was pretty terrifying for the manager, and particularly for his wife. One learnt that the average VA was used to spending an active day going around the estate, and then a relaxed and probably long night writing up his report over a bottle of Chop Puteh (Dewar’s White Label Whisky). Generally, the VA was the perfect gentleman.

She remembers well one distinguished VA, Gordon McCulloch, whose kind comments in his report about her as a hostess were deeply appreciated. Kim recalls delivering Gordon’s early morning hot lime and honey in a high state of nerves because she had run out of ordinary limes and had resorted to using limau kasturi. ‘Best I ever had,’ said Gordon, ‘I will insist on it always in the future.’ An experienced VA, Neville Williamson, had the following reflections. Our directive with regard to conduct was that no matter how awful the situation was in

He had been invited to visit the Barlow headquarters in Eastcheap in London, and was shown into the room shared by my father Tom and uncle, Sir John. They both sat at a partners’ desk, opposite each other, and a coal fire glowed in the grate, polluting the city air outside. Gordon was asked to sit down with his back to the fire, and the interrogation began. Halfway through, Gordon spied a large, rather mangy rat loitering behind a wastepaper basket. Without interrupting the interview he grasped a poker from the fireplace and promptly dispatched the animal. There was a long pause. ‘You know Tom, I think this is the sort of chap we need in Malaya,’ said Sir John.

As a manager for Harrisons & Crosfield, Robin Bryant recalls in his memoirs, Fading Pictures, that he enjoyed being visited by VAs who knew a bit about planting and were in a position to give helpful advice. Visitors did not always fall into this category. On one occasion, an immaculately attired director, unusually ignorant, difficult and critical while on a trip around the estate, looked up and saw the yellowing leaves of a rubber tree. ‘My God!’ he said, ‘Root disease is rampant!’ He started digging away at the base of the tree with his stick, seeking the tell-tale signs of the disease. This was taken as an open invitation by Robin’s Doberman, Hara, to join in the fun, which he did with vigour. Slobbering at the mouth and with all four legs in furious action, Hara left the director and his laundered garb covered with mud, dead leaves and small stones. ‘Unwisely, I then reminded my visitor that rubber trees, being deciduous, normally dropped their leaves

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow (160)09-AC42873 175# Dtp:119 Page:52


ow 52

046-081.qxp

7/23/12

3:18 PM

Page 53

5

Perak 53

5

5

opposite: Kalumpong Estate, 1900s, Krian The steep roof, thatched in atap, and the simple construction of walls, railings and shuttered windows show a house transiting from the Pioneer style. Masonry infill with simple airholes protects the ground-floor spaces, a wooden trellis shades the porch. The room above the porch is not enclosed and is fitted with canvas blinds to withstand rain and wind. (Photo: 1920s, Rosemary Roberton) top: New Columbia Estate, 1918, Sitiawan Two stages of this house are visible. To the right is the initial Pioneer bungalow, extended with a more substantial timber building in the Transitional style. The staircase remains outside, leading to a corridor connecting the new wing—its verandahs shading the bedrooms—to the old house, with its polygonal porch to the right. The staff flank the doorway while the planter, his wife holding her babe, look out from the living room. (Photo: 1920s, Lilian Simpson) below: Ayer Tawah Estate, date unknown, Ayer Tawar Built by Harold Roberton, this solid timber building uses to the full deep eaves and verandahs. It has an unusual doublebay porte cochère framed by squared lattice arches, with a breezy room above. (Photo: 1920s, Neil Roberton)

at that time of the year. In retrospect, I’m still not sure who in the whole wide world my visitor hated most at that particular moment— me or my dog.’ The magnificent New Columbia bungalow, near Sitiawan, no longer stands (see top). Lilian Simpson, born at Batu Gajah’s hospital in 1922, spent her early years on New Columbia, which was then managed by her father William MacDonald. He had arrived in 1918, followed by his wife on her mother’s advice that ‘a good man is worth going after.’ The bungalow was on the river, which was the main access point. When Lilian was to be born, a Verey pistol summoned the doctor from the local leprosy clinic and a sampan was called to get her mother to the hospital. Lilian talked about New Columbia in her house up against the old city walls of Chichester in Sussex, England. Generally, there are memories of seven years of great happiness. In the bungalow, life was well ordered, as it should have been— there was a staff of 11, a pony and a Riley car.

(VIN)

We were kept properly dressed, we ate mainly English food (bought by the staff), we spoke English apart from a few extremely dirty Tamil words, which we learnt from the cook, and there was a Chinese tutor who came and taught my brother and myself the basics. Especially blissful were the holidays, all of which were spent at the rest house on Pangkor Island. There, dress codes were relaxed and we often ate delicious food off banana leaves. My father decided to retire from active planting in 1929 and we went back to Scotland. There is a fine photograph taken at his farewell dinner, and finest of all is a letter from the staff dated 21 September 1929, extolling his magnificence. This was clearly a bit over the top, but it must have made him rather happy [see box story overleaf].

Fairly close is Ayer Tawah Estate, on which Harold Roberton worked from 1916 to 1937 (see below). One of his assistants was Bernard Wilkinson, who earned fame for later inventing the Linatex or Wilkinson method of processing rubber. The bungalow no longer exists but was

Job:09-98167 Title:The Planter’s Bungalow 228_E07-AC67442_175# Dtp:119 Page:53


5

5

Chen Voon Fee, who wrote the chapter on the architectural development of the plantation bungalow, was also one of the founding members of Badan Warisan Malaysia. A renowned architect, teacher and author, his works include Landmarks of Perak, Landmarks of Selangor, Penang Sketchbook, Kuala Lumpur Sketchbook and Malacca Sketchbook. He was also the editor of the architecture volume of Encyclopedia of Malaysia.

The Planter’s Bungalow: A journey down the Malay Peninsula celebrates the traditional plantation bungalow. It documents the development of its architectural styles over the last 150 years and, in doing so, captures the spirit of the plantation industry, one of the foundations of Malaysia’s wealth. This book draws on the memories of planters over the course of two centuries. Through diaries, letters, interviews with key personnel and numerous archival and contemporary photographs, the authors paint a vivid picture of the lives and homes of a pioneering generation whose contributions to the country’s development were very considerable.

5

Peter and Waveney Jenkins

Authors Peter and Waveney Jenkins have spent over 40 years in Malaysia. Following a career in the construction industry, Peter ran the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI), where he produced several books, including 1837: A history of the MICCI and Two Five Nine: Reminiscences from a Garden off Jalan Ampang. Datin Waveney, a recognised sculptor, has long been known for her championing of the old buildings of the country through Badan Warisan Malaysia (Heritage of Malaysia Trust). She has more recently become chairman of Kandis Resource Centre, which is committed to reviving the traditional art of woodcarving on the east coast of Malaysia.

Authors Peter and Waveney Jenkins journeyed down the Malay Peninsula, from Penang to Johore and across to Kelantan and Pahang and every place in between, to investigate over 300 bungalows, visit over 100 estates and interview over 250 planters, retired planters and their families. They visited not only Malaysia but also Scotland, England and the Isle of Man to produce this illustrated record of a neglected aspect of Malaysia’s plantation industry. The book features numerous contemporary and archival photographs of these fine buildings and the lives that were lived within them. The text is written in an engaging, travelogue style, embellished with the insightful, often humorous reminiscences of people who are or were involved in the plantation industry. The Planter’s Bungalow: A journey down the Malay Peninsula will capture the attention of everyone who knows Malaysia or is interested in visiting the country. It will be invaluable to serious students of architecture. For anybody who knows the plantation business, it will, of course, be a compulsive read.

U.S. $45.00

photo: Hok Kim Loong

PB Cover_AC67442.indd 1

Job: E09-98167/98649 Title: The Planter’s Bungalow 228_E07-AC67442_#175 Dtp:160 Page:JKT

8/1/12 6:25 PM


The Planter's Bungalow: A Journey down the Malay Peninsula  

Travel through the plantations of Peninsular Malaysia with authors Peter and Waveney Jenkins as they visit the architecturally diverse estat...

Advertisement
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you