Malaysian explores a bit of historical past in Labuan


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I made my first journey to the Federal State of Labuan in 2011.

A petro-chemical firm based mostly on the island had invited me over to ship a chat. Coincidently, the occasion was held throughout the faculty holidays, so I introduced my household together with me on the journey.

Also referred to as the Pearl of Borneo, Labuan is a peaceable island masking an space of 92km², with a inhabitants of no more than 100,000 folks (based mostly on newest knowledge in 2019).

The island additionally homes a number of attention-grabbing websites such because the Labuan Chimney, a water village referred to as Kampong Patau Patau, and the most important World Warfare II grave in Malaysia. That is the place 3,908 fallen Australian, British and Indian troopers are buried.

We visited all these websites, however the one which was significantly enticing to me (primarily as a result of it had some engineering information which I discovered actually attention-grabbing) was the Labuan Chimney.

The chimney is positioned at Tanjung Kubong within the north-eastern tip of Labuan, which was referred to as the Coal Level throughout the British rule. Amongst locals, nonetheless, the chimney is known as the “Punil”.

There have been two attention-grabbing buildings on the website: A tall chimney tower and a two-storey museum with colonial structure.

The Labuan Chimney Museum had exhibitions on the historical past of coal mining in Labuan, in addition to data on the chimney.

A wide range of mining artefacts unearthed on the website throughout archaeological excavations have been additionally on show. Amongst them have been unique bricks used within the development of the chimney tower, previous coal mining tools, ceramic artefacts, and stays of locomotive parts utilized in transporting the miners and coal.

There was additionally a particular chamber within the museum that confirmed the technical and development particulars of the chimney tower.

The chimney was a pink, rectangular-shaped brick tower with a captivating ornamental frieze on the high. The bottom had two arched entrances dealing with south and north. Every arched entrance was 2.2m excessive, which functioned as a wind breaker to guard the tower from robust winds.

Standing at roughly 32.5m tall and dealing with the South China Sea, the tower was constituted of greater than 23,000 items of pink bricks that have been imported from England. There have been 12 layers of bricks beneath the bottom and the tower sat firmly on limestone rock, containing extremely concentrated kaolin or porcelain clay.

All these design options – the arches, lean construction, stable layering and steady basis – are well-thought engineering issues which allow the tower to stay standing for over a century. Developing such a construction at the moment with restricted assist of machines and know-how will be thought of fairly an engineering achievement.

The tower was constructed round 1900 when coal mining actions have been booming in Labuan (1847 until 1911). It has confronted loads of harsh climate circumstances all these years, and withstood a couple of bombings throughout the World Warfare II too.

A number of theories have been advised to explain the precise perform of the tower. Initially, it was considered a air flow shaft for an underground coal mine because it was located at a coal-rich space.

Nevertheless, the suggestion was dismissed after excavation work on the website failed to search out any proof of an underground mine.

It was additionally believed for use as a lightweight home due to its strategic location – subsequent to Raffles Port.

There was even an Australian who performed an in-depth analysis on the chimney, and advised that it was constructed as a smoke stack for brick-making when massive portions of bricks have been wanted to assemble buildings and coal mines again then.

Until at this time, the precise perform of the tower stays unknown.

The views expressed are solely the reader’s personal.

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