Monday, 1 July 2013

Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Memorial Clock Tower

Khoo Salma's book:
Khoo Salma Nasution & Malcolm Wade.
Penang Postcard Collection 1899-1930s.
RM120/- bought at Chowrasta Market, Penang (upstairs)
First published by Janus Print & Resources, Penang in 2003
Second impression by Areca Books 2006
page 62 - ppc 62a, 62b
page 63 - ppc 63a, 63b, 63c
page 64 - ppc 64a, 64b, 64c
page 65 - ppc 65a, 65b, 65c

All clock towers look alike and are no different. However, the clock tower in Penang is a bit strange. It is strange in that it was donated by a Chinese, to the state of Penang. It is strange because it looks like a wedding cake! It is strange because it was only ready after a year Queen Victoria died. It is strange because it is actually a memorial clock tower and not a present as it was meant to be.

I saw a clock tower as a child and never thought much of it even though my late father pointed out that it was a famous clock tower. I saw pictures of the clock tower and its story in Penang Museum. Affandi and I went to Penang to see the clock tower. I have never been able to take good photos of this particular clock tower from a moving car. Affandi decided to walk me near the tower and wanted me to take many photos of the tower. So I did as suggested. 

However, when I read Khoo Salma's book this morning (in Penang after solat Subuh), I noticed that I took photos at all angles except with the Fort Cornwallis set properly in the background. The most important angle is to have the Fort as the background.

The clock tower was presented to George Town in 1897 by Cheah Chen Eok, JP. He was one of the many Chinese millionaires in Penang. The contract to built the tower was signed in 1900. Queen Victoria died in 1901. The clock tower was only ready in 1902, a year after the Queen died.

The Victoria Memorial Clock Tower. In 1897, Cheah Chen Eok, a wealthy citizen of Penang, decided to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria's reign by building a sixty-foot high clock tower. However, the Victoria Memorial Clock Tower was only completed in 1902, after the queen had passed away. During the Second World War, the bombs dropped on King Edward Place caused the clock tower to tilt slightly. Text source: Penang Museum

A strange thing happened during WWII. The area adjacent to the clock tower, Kind Edward Place was reclaimed land and was bombed during the war. This resulted in the clock tower leaning a bit (kelihatan condong sedikit). It is not so noticeable as the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

Queen Victoria of England
Queen Victoria memorial clock tower of 1902, sponsored by a wealthy Penang Chinese (inset). Bombing of nearby buildings during WWII impacted on the grounds of the tower, which now leans slightly.
Queen Victoria clock tower after 1902

Dewan Perniagaan Melayu Pulau Pinang (left) and clock tower 2013