These reports have been transcribed from archive copies of the old newspapers. I have put them into chronological order but some transcriptions will only contain relevant data while others may be complete. Clicking on the newspaper page number links will bring up a copy of the original article. Please note that place name and other spellings/words are as used over 100 years ago and may differ somewhat from those in use today.
From the Straits Times, 21st March 1884, Page 3.
After a correspondence with the Straits Settlements Government, which began in October, 1882, and continued till early 1883, His Excellency the Governor approved the proposal of the Selangor State Council to spend whatever sum might be necessary to ascertain, by means of the best Engineering skill available, whether a line of Railway could be constructed between Kuala Lumpur and Klang, without great difficulty, and at reasonable cost.
A survey was begun in April by an Engineer lent from Ceylon, and, though circumstances which arose which prevented his receiving the assistance it had been intended to give him, the work was so rapidly pushed on, that by July it was known there would be no difficulty in the construction of the proposed Railway, and on the 23rd of that month the first sod was cut by His Excellency Sir Frederick A. Weld. (First sod cut 23rd July 1883).
Towards the close of the year, by the courtesy of the Government of the Netherlands India, and with the assistance of His Excellency the Governor, a second Engineer was obtained from Java, for a few months, to give the benefit of another opinion, and to assist in the preparation of the plans and estimates.
It having been decided to make the line a State Railway, and to construct it under the supervision of the State Railway Engineer, plans and specifications were prepared, and tenders for the construction of the earthwork were invited, before the close of the year.
A contract for the earthwork and masonry has been concluded, and the work is now progressing. It may be here remarked that this part of the scheme is expected to be finished by the end of October, 1885, and the Railway (should no unforeseen difficulty arise) might be opened for traffic in January, 1886.
The figures given in this report will show what a large traffic there is between Klang, the chief port of this State, and Kuala Lumpur, the chief mining centre, while the present facilities for carrying this traffic are most unsatisfactory, and unless better means of transport can be found, the progress of the country will be seriously retarded.
At present, all the traffic between Klang and Kuala Lumpur must either pass over the Klang river (a stream some 60 miles long between the points named, narrow, overgrown, shallow, and choked by snags in many of the upper reaches), or over 15 miles of that river, from Klang to Damansara, followed by 16 miles of an unmetalled road, almost impossible to keep in good repair during the wet season, and in almost its whole length ascending and descending hills sometimes with a gradient as steep as one foot in seven.
The Government of Selangor has not at command a sum of ready money sufficient for the construction of a Railroad of the type proposed (the metre gauge) with the necessary rolling stock, workshops, stations, &c., and the carrying of the scheme, in its entirety, depends, therefore, on whether the Colony will advance, for a few years, the requisite funds.
From the Straits Times Weekly Issue, 15th Sept. 1886, Pages 7, 8 & 9
The Opening of the Selangor Railway
(From our Special Correspondent)
Bukit Kudah, 15th Sept., 1886. –
I left Singapore on Monday evening in the Ocean Steam Ship Co.’s steamer Pyah Pekhet, the Cyclops and Ganymede of the same line showing us the way out of New Harbour. The sea was smooth, but the weather during the night was a curious compound of moonlight and mist with vivid flashes of lightning. The Pyah Pekhet is a pretty little boat with a good turn of speed, and we reached Malacca by daylight next morning. This being my first visit to the ancient settlement, I was surprised to find it so large and interesting a place. Malacca is nearly always represented as being a small, undesirable and quasi-extinct relic of a bygone civilization. From the sea, the European quarter looks very picturesque, the houses are divided from the shore by a handsome road of considerable length, and are partly concealed by fine large trees, the whole town is dominated by a picturesquely wooded hill crowned by the ruins of an ancient church, to which a freshly painted paste-board-looking turret serving as a lighthouse contrasts very strangely. I was fortunate enough to fall into the hands of a hospitable resident who showed me the lions of Malacca; the central point of the town appears to be the clock-tower, it was of course put up by a Chinaman, it has at present only one face but his son is getting out a new clock with four dials; when a large clock that costs nothing comes within the purview of the Malakites, they throw out their tentacles and catch hold, differing entirely in this respect from the good people of Penang. The stadthouse is a quaint old building plentifully supplied with steps and staircases of all kinds and in many places; flights of stone steps are also a feature of the road up to the top of St. Paul’s Hill. The ancient tombstones within the ruins of the old church are in really remarkable preservation, and it is to be hoped that a careful description of them is already on record as the inscriptions on some of the oldest of them are already much obscured, and as the roof of the old Church has disappeared they lie exposed to all weathers. The view from the top of the lighthouse tower is very beautiful. The Dutch have evidently handed down a great deal of their love for order and cleanliness to the present generation of Malakites, there is none of the griminess of Singapore or the unjustifiable dinginess of Penang apparent in their tranquil town; but let not those who love coal wharves or admire steam tramways visit Malacca, because they will find the place terribly dull and altogether devoid of interest. The pier is a disgraceful object and its existence should not be tolerated for a day longer than is absolutely necessary.
In the afternoon I went for a long drive through a pretty country, paddy fields of the most varied tints of green stretched far and wide, diversified by clumps of cocoanut trees or “pulos” of forest; in many places the natives were busily engaged in planting paddy or turning over the pulpy soil with an aboriginal compromise betwixt a harrow and a plough drawn by a water-buffalo. But there is a sorry tale to tell about the agricultural and commercial interests of Malacca, paddy planting and tapioca cultivation suffer sadly under the present land system, and the trade in tin is leaving Malacca, and supplies go straight from the Native States to Singapore; however this is too serious a subject to be taken up in the course of a letter hastily scribbled on a stray table in a corner of Bukit Kudah railway station; it will be sufficient to say that I thought that there was much in Malacca which would repay a careful study and I regret that I am at present unable to attempt the subject.
The people of Malacca expected to find a crowd of passengers on board the Pyah Pekhet; they had been told that about eighty visitors might be expected from Singapore, a calculation which was more than a little out, for the number of passengers from our port was limited to two; Mr. Venning, the Treasurer of the State of Selangor, and your special correspondent; there is naturally some disappointment that so few visitors have come from Singapore. At Malacca, the Hon’ble E. E. Isemonger, the Resident Councillor of Malacca; Mr. Paul, the Resident of Sungei Ujong; and Mr. Douglas, also of Sungei Ujong, came on board. The Pyah Pekhet left Malacca a little after 6 o’clock in the evening, and about 3 o’clock in the morning was in the Klang Straits, and shortly afterwards was steaming at full speed up the Klang river, the moon shining brightly the whole time and adding great beauty to a pretty scene. By daylight we were anchored off the town of Klang with three other steamers. Nobody landed at Klang, as the Pyah Pekhet had merely anchored there to wait for the turn of the tide in order that we might proceed to Bukit Kudah, the present terminus of the Selangor Railway; when the tide suited it took us a very short time to get to Bukit Kudah where we arrived quite early. Here the Pyah Pekhet was moored off the jetty and the ship was dressed with flags. Soon after half-past eight, a small steamer flying the Selangor flag came alongside the pier and His Excellency Sir Frederick Weld, Lady Weld and the Misses Weld landed and were received by a small group of Europeans, with all of whom they shook hands and exchanged a few words; then the Sultan of Selangor preceded by some of his sword bearers and surrounded by members of his family and his suite came on shore. The Sultan is an old man, rather weak and feeble in appearance, he insisted that all the Europeans present should proceed to the railway station before him, which was done in accordance with his wishes. A covered way has been constructed for the occasion from the pier to the railway station, which has been gaily decorated; the engine and a long line of carriages are there in readiness and in a few minutes the first train on the Selangor railway will be started.
Kwala Lumpur, 16th Sept.
The railway station at Bukit Kudah with its engine and train of carriages, the guard hurrying up and down the platform, the groups of passengers waiting for the departure of the train, contrasted very strangely on Wednesday morning with the surrounding Malayan scenery and the silent but eager and expectant natives. A saloon car was in readiness for His Excellency, the Governor and Lady Weld, His Highness the Sultan of Selangor, the British Resident and others of the principal visitors and officials. The first class carriages were occupied by guests who had been invited for the occasion, and the compartments of the second and third classes were filled with natives, nearly all of them being the Sultan’s attendants; there were about one hundred and thirty passengers altogether by the first train ever run on the Selangor Government Railway; it started at twenty minutes to ten, and at a quarter past eleven the train steamed into Kwala Lumpur station, the run of about twenty miles having been done in ninety five minutes. The speed of the train varied greatly, as the lower end of the line is not yet ballasted and over this particular section it travelled at a very moderate rate, and evidently no small care was exercised in the handling of a train in which Sir Frederick Weld and the Sultan of Selangor were seated, but as we neared Kwala Lumpur the speed was greatly accelerated and we were then going at about thirty miles an hour. It was a most comfortable journey throughout, there was not the least stoppage, hitch or drawback of any kind at any time, the motion was very pleasant, the only movement worth noticing being a slight occasional oscillation, not at all unusual on any line, and everything worked so smoothly that there was nothing to suggest that we were travelling with new rolling stock over a new railway.
As a detailed and accurate description of the railway itself will form the subject matter of a subsequent letter it will be sufficient for the present to say that the entire line has a good solid and workmanlike appearance, the bridges especially are examples of fine work successfully carried out in the face of great difficulties. The iron bridge over the Damansara river, the great cutting at Batu Tiga through a troublesome shale formation too tough for the spade and too soft to be blasted, the places on the line at which subsidences have taken place, all have their history of obstacles overcome, and which could hardly be realised by those who found themselves seated in comfortable carriages rolling smoothly over the railway.
Bukit Kudah is merely a temporary station, but there are well built permanent stations at Batu Tiga and Pataling to be passed before the terminus at Kwala Lumpur is reached; the train did not stop at either of these intermediate stations, but they were prettily decorated and the platforms were lined with the natives of the district. The scenery on both sides of the line is not particularly striking; except in the cuttings it is chiefly swamp with muddy streams, called rivers up here, oozing through it; the engineer and contractors of this line were not altogether happy during its construction for they were no sooner out of the troubles of a cutting than they were in the difficulties of a swamp; the view from the carriage windows is moreover greatly curtailed by a sort of curved wooden sunshade which certainly keeps the interior of the compartment nice and cool, but unless the intelligent traveller is gifted with a neck like a swan he does not see very much more beyond the works and drainage outfalls of the railway, and an unsatisfactory swampy jungle of which the tree tops are arbitrarily shut out of sight.
After a short and pleasant run the train arrived at the terminal station at Kwala Lumpur, where some of the principal residents, including a number of ladies, were waiting to receive the governor, Lady Weld and the Misses Weld, and the Sultan. Among the ladies were Mrs. Venning, Mrs. Spence Moss, Mrs. Belfield and Mrs. Bellamy. the station was beautifully decorated, and a guard of honour commanded by Mr. H. C. Syers the Superintendent of the Selangor Police Force was in attendance. On the platform of the station Mr. Rodger, the Acting Resident of the State of Selangor, addressed His Excellency the Governor in a speech full of interest which ran as follows:-
Your Excellency, Your Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen - in kindly consenting to open this railway, your Excellency is putting the finishing touch to a work commenced under your auspices three years ago. There is one person who was present when the first sod was turned, whose absence I greatly regret today, I mean Mr. Swettenham, the British Resident of Selangor. I was, I believe, Mr. Swettenham who first prominently brought under your Excellency 's notice the desirability of constructing a line of railway between Klang and Kuala Lumpur, and subsequently in a series of admirably lucid reports, he so thoroughly elaborated the whole scheme, that his locum tenens had merely to continue working on the lines which Mr. Swettenham had so clearly laid down. Apart from the initiation of the scheme, the credit of practically carrying it out belongs to Mr. Spence Moss, the Government Railway Engineer, who from the first, has had entire charge of this work, who surveyed and laid out the line, and has carried it forward to completion with very marked energy and ability.
Of the contractors employed in constructing the line, the earthworks and masonry have been carried out by the firm of Messrs. Gordon & Co., of whom two of the partners, Mr. Gordon and Mr. Bailey, have had charge of the upper and lower sections respectively. Mr. Gordon deserves great credit for the manner in which, at the commencement he successfully organized a large force of Chinese and Malay labourers, at a time when he was totally unacquainted with the local customs and languages, and on behalf of a work which, to most of the people, must then have appeared purely mythical.
Mr. bailey has had to contend with even greater difficulties on the lower section, owing to the distance from Kuala Lumpur and to the fact that the chief engineering difficulties in the shape of bridges, cuttings, and embankments, occur on the lower section of the line. In this connection, I would specially mention the valuable assistance rendered to the Government by two of the principal members of our Chinese community, the Capitan China and Towkay Ah Yok, who on recently hearing that there was great difficulty in obtaining a sufficient labour force came forward in the most public spirited manner, and supplied the Government with 300 mining coolies, at a time when such assistance was of the utmost value in accelerating the progress of the works, and although the removal of so large a body of men from their mines must have caused them serious inconvenience, more especially having regard to the present high price of tin. Your Excellency has doubtless taken part, in the Australian Colonies, in the opening of Railways of far greater magnitude than this, but perhaps never of one which was more urgently required, nor of which the opening more distinctly formed an epoch in the history of the State.
As much of the construction of this Railway was carried out during your Excellency's absence in Europe, I would ask to be allowed briefly to refer to some of the more salient points, in connection with the history of the line. The first sod was turned by your Excellency at Kuala Lumpur, in July 1883, but for several months after that date it was uncertain whether the line would be for a railway, or whether it would merely be utilized as a substitute for the famous, or infamous Damansara road. The contact for the earthworks and masonry was signed in May 1884, but definite sanction for the Railway was not obtained until the month of September in that year. The next question that arose was the financial one, but this difficulty was overcome by the generous assistance of the Colonial Government who lent to Selangor a sum of $300,000 of which two thirds have since been taken over by the neighbouring state of Perak. It is now possible to estimate, with approximate accuracy, the exact cost of this Railway, and I may say that the total inclusive cost (including earthworks, buildings, rolling-stock, ballasting, &c., &c.) will be within £6,000 sterling per mile; for the whole line £120,000 or, translated into local currency, less than $750,000. With the exception of the Railway Loan of $300,000, to which I have already referred, this cost has been and will be met from the current revenue of the State.
As soon as it was decided to construct the railway, it became necessary to engage the services of Assistant Engineers to take charge of the various sections of the line, but considerable difficulty was experienced in obtaining these officers, and they did not arrive from England until the month of April 1885. A further delay arose in connection with the rolling-stock. It was thought in Selangor that it would be advisable to use the Indian types on account of the exceptionally long experience in India of metre gauge lines, similar to this, and working under somewhat analogous climatic conditions.
Complete indents were accordingly prepared for rolling-stock of these types, to be procured direct from India, but the Selangor view was not adopted by the authorities consulted in England, and it was eventually decided to use the English Colonial types, which your Excellency has seen today. The correspondence on this subject necessarily occasioned some delay, the final decisions not being arrived at until March 1885, and the first ballast waggons only arrived in Singapore during the month of October last. It was hoped, but I think too sanguinely hoped that the opening of this Railway would have taken place at an earlier date than the present, but having regard to the facts to which I have alluded, and to the innumerable contingencies, which might perhaps better be termed casualties, almost inevitable in constructing a railway through a new country like Selangor, I trust that Your Excellency will consider that a fair measure of success has been attained in opening a line of railway, twenty miles in length, through such a jungle as that which we passed through this morning, within little more than three years from the date on which the first sod was turned.
Having now travelled over the line, from end to end, I would ask Your Excellency to be so kind as to declare the railway formally open.
His Excellency the Governor replied to this address in a short speech expressing his concurrence in all that had been said by Mr. Rodger. His Excellency alluded to the labours of Mr. Swettenham which had been carried on with conspicuous ability by Mr. Rodger. His Excellency also complimented Mr. Spence Moss, the Engineer of the line, and Messrs. Gordon and Bailey, the principal Contractors, on the successful completion of the work, and concluded by declaring the Railway to be formally opened.
An address in Malay was then presented by Rajah Laut of Kwala Lumpur, of which the following is a translation.
To His Excellency Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld, G. C. M. G., Governor of the Straits Settlements.
Now we, Raja Laut and all the Malay merchants and traders residing in Kwala Lumpur, welcome your Excellency in peace and safety, the great Governor of the Straits Settlements. From the fullness of our hearts we make known to your Excellency that it affords us great pleasure as also all the merchants and Malay inhabitants of the State, to observe the light of your countenance by day and by night in this unenlightened place; having been enlightened now thereby, we are now enabled to bask in the sunshine of your presence, therefore we the merchants, traders and general inhabitants feel very much elated at the arrival of your Excellency on this great occasion. This is an event which we shall all long remember. Previous to the British Government affording us its advice, in placing a resident here to look after the welfare of Selangor, we felt like one wandering in the jungle, our way beset by thorns and thickets. If we were not careful how we guided our footstep we should inevitably have stopped on the thorns and wounded our feet. Therefore since the arrival of the British Resident in this country, we have felt as one lifted up and placed between Earth and Sky. So great has been the change from our previous to our present condition. The first and most important change is that now peace and prosperity reign throughout and confusion is unknown, so that all can dwell in peace and safety. The second is that foreigners and strangers now come in crowds, much to the profit of the country. Thirdly - All the laws are just therefore every one is settled in peace. Fourthly - the country has been opened up and improved by means of roads so that all can easily come and go. Fifthly - This our railway is now made in order in further facilitate our means of transport and to assist in the development of this State, in order that the traders and others may work with profit to themselves and to the Government. Places that were far away have now been brought near, and goods that were dear have now become cheap. Now upon this day and this month is celebrated by opening of the railway therefore we all feel that we have received blessings from Providence, and from the fullness of our hearts we acknowledge this benefit not only before the face of your Excellency but also in our own inmost hearts. We know that all this has been brought about by the advice of your Excellency who has placed a British Resident in the country of Selangor in order to carry out laws that are just and customs that are correct by which the people derive the benefits and profits accruing from a good Government and the country is made beautiful and improved in all respects, - The Resident who has been entrusted with this mission and who at present resides among us takes great care and trouble to assist the people and improve the Country and to see that all who reside therein obtain justice. Therefore we all think that H. H. the Sultan who reigns over the State of Selangor should ever feel grateful to Your Excellency and to those officers to whom is due the credit of having brought this our country to its present state of perfection, and we sincerely trust that the good understanding which now exists between Your Excellency and H. H. the Sultan may ever continue for the lasting benefit of this country and its people. This address is not inscribed at length to do justice to the theme but it is our sincere wish that Your Excellency may enjoy long life and prosperity and that further honours may be bestowed upon you for the great benefits you have conferred upon us.
This was followed by another address in Chinese presented by the Capitan China:- To His Excellency Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld, G. C. M. G.
All the Chinese Towkays and Traders in Kuala Lumpur join in this address to Your Excellency. Most of us can remember the time not long ago when Kuala Lumpur was but a jungle village hidden away amidst the dense forest. In those times our only means of communication between different points was by means of narrow jungle tracks, and the difficulties which stood in the way of trade, immigration, and emigration were great in proportion. But now thanks to the great interest which Your Excellency takes in the progress of this State, we receive the boon of this new Railway and vast is the change which is made thereby - the old tracks have given way to a level road, the swamps and streams are bridged over, and through its instrumentality our former difficulties are annihilated, trade increases, and the incoming and outgoing of our population and property is reduced to the greatest possible certainty and celerity. In conjunction with the railway we have now also the benefit of the telegraph along which our messages fly like a strong wind. We would now acknowledge in the presence of Your Excellency our deep gratitude to you for these benefits. It is through the kind supervision and assistance which you have ever rendered to this our State that we now derive the advantages above recorded and we pray that the railway now opened by you may long prosper, and remain a memorial of Your Excellency's kindness to the people.
It is great boon to us all to live under the protection of the English government under which no wrong does may flourish or exist but must fly to other regions. The good and upright people alone may congregate under Your Excellency's protection. We are all Your Excellency's children.
The grateful thanks of the Chinese population of this State are now offered to Your Excellency for your assistance, your kindness, and your consideration for our needs. The country, now so blessed, cannot but become great. We pray that Providence may grant to Your Excellency a long life, and that you may long remain here to advise and assist these your people. Among us are men of many nations and many classes, but one and all alike join in this prayer.
All we people who are here now assembled to witness the ceremony of the opening of our railway by Your Excellency, bow before you and wish very good wish and happiness. Would that Your Excellency could remain among us for ever and ever. The country's future would then indeed be assured.
His Excellency replied to both these addresses collectively. He thanked Rajah Laut and the Capitan China cordially for their kind expressions of friendship and esteem, and explained that having been furnished beforehand with translations of their speeches he understood their purport. His Excellency also expressed the pleasure he felt at the harmonious feeling that now exists between Chinese and Malays. Mr. Rodger translated His Excellency's reply to the attendant Malays and Chinese, after which a photograph was taken of the principal personages present.
This terminated the celebration of the opening of the Selangor Government Railway, and His Excellency the Governor and party then drove off to the Residency, while the Sultan and his followers retired to their quarters at the Rest House.
The Sultan of Selangor is much pleased with the railway, he declared that the journey from Bukit Kudah to Kuala Lumpur was the finest ride he had ever had in his life, and was particularly smitten with the rotating chairs in the saloon car, which, as he justly observed, had the great advantage of enabling him to turn round without getting up from his seat.
There is great regret felt here that the mercantile element of Singapore was unrepresented in Selangor on this occasion, Mr. Shelford or any other of the honourable members of Council especially would have been warmly welcomed, and it is to be hoped that they will be able to visit Selangor before long.
Kwala Lumpur, 16th Sept. - A large number of guests were seated at lunch in the upper room of the Public Offices during the afternoon of the eventful Wednesday, to celebrate the successful opening of the Selangor Government Railway. The building containing the Public Offices is a handsome structure on a hill over looking the town, and its large upper room serves for similar occasions as the Town Hall does in Singapore. On this day the whole building was decorated, and in the upper room three long tables had been placed at which the British Resident and his numerous guests were seated to enjoy an excellent tiffin and to drink to the success of the Railway. The arrangements were all very good, and everything went off as well as possible. Of course an occasion like this could not be passed over without the making of speeches, and so, in response to Mr. Rodger's toasts, we first drank to the health of the Queen, then of His Excellency the Governor. Afterwards we drank success to the Railway coupled with the name of Mr. Spence Moss, the Engineer. Mr. Rodger next proposed the health of Messrs. Gordon and Bailey, the contractors. His Excellency the Governor then proposed the health of the Acting British Resident, Mr. Rodger. The speeches taken all round were very successful, Mr. Bailey's was most amusing and was a very fair specimen of the wit of Kwala Lumpur. We all enjoyed ourselves amazingly.
Kwala Lumpur, 22nd September, - There have been great rejoicings and festivities throughout the week during which the Selangor Government Railway was declared to be formally opened. I have already made some mention of the tiffin which was given at the Public Offices on the day of the Governor's arrival, and of the speeches which were made on that occasion. The most salient point of general interest was some remarks made by His Excellency the Governor in responding to the toast of his health. Mr. Rodger had, in proposing the toast, expressed the hope that His Excellency would remain to govern the Straits Settlements and their dependencies after the expiration of his present term of office. In returning thanks, His Excellency remarked that although it was very unusual for any governor to be asked to remain at the head of the administration of a Colony after his term of office had expired, yet that if the Secretary of State for the Colonies should consider it advisable to retain his services with a view to the further extension of his policy in the straits Settlements and Protected States, he would willingly remain in a country in which he took so great an interest, as long as be felt that his health and strength would permit of the efficient discharge of his duties. As the term indicated in these speeches is the month of May next year, this is a question of immediate concern, and if, as is undoubtedly the fact, the populations of the Native states are desirous of further profiting by His Excellency's energy and experience, no time should be lost in memorialising the Home Government with a view to securing his services for a further period.
During the afternoon of Thursday the 16th September the investiture of His Highness Abdul Samat bin Abmerhom Raja Abdullah, Sultan of Selangor, with the insignia of a Knight of the Order of St. Michael and St. George took place in the upper room of the Public Offices. The building was decorated, and His Highness was seated on a dais raised on three steps, surrounded by the principal Rajas of the State, his sword bearer and eight spear bearers, some of whom distinguished themselves in their younger days by their determined resistance to our forces at Kwala Selangor.
On the arrival of H. E. the Governor in uniform followed by his Private Secretary bearing the insignia of the order, the Sultan left his seat and advanced several steps to meet him, and then, having with His Excellency reascended the dais, where Lady Weld and the Misses Weld were already seated, the ceremony was commenced by Sir Frederick Weld reading the Queen's Commission authorizing him to confer on his Highness the distinguished honour of a Knighthood of St. Michael and St. George. His Excellency in a short address having explained that this honour was conferred for his loyal friendship to the British Government, and for his action in effectually abolishing all slavery throughout the state of Selangor, and having referred in felicitous terms to the fact that they were now members of the same order, proceeded to place that ribbon and badge of the order round His Highness' neck and fasten the star on his breast. The Sultan appeared to be much gratified with the distinction which had thus been conferred upon him. The ceremony was then concluded, a guard of honour presented arms as the Governor and Sultan left the Public Offices and a salute was fired from a battery close at hand.
As we descended the slope of the hill amidst the smoke of the guns we heard the shriek of a railway engine and beheld that most refreshing sight, a man running at breakneck speed to catch the evening train; the gentleman in question was loudly cheered by a small group of admiring friends.
On the next day, the Sultan, in presence of His Excellency the governor, planted a tree in the public square of Kwala Lumpur, a ceremony in which His Highness, who is fond of gardening, took a lively interest. A large hole was dug underneath a canopy before which the Sultan was seated in a chair; Mr. Rodger, the British Resident, after having made a short speech presented His Highness with a handsome silver trowel, the handle of which was of ivory; a complimentary inscription in Arabic characters was engraved on the back of the trowel. The Sultan got bodily into the hole which had been dug for the tree and prayed for a short while, then he got out of it and personally superintended the planting of the tree, and he showed amazing energy in shovelling in the earth with his silver trowel which fortunately was a very solid one.
On Saturday morning, Lady Weld christened one of the railway engines after herself, the Governor's party were assembled beneath a sort of small canopy of red and yellow cloth, a bottle of Champagne decorated with white flower was presented to Lady Weld, who handed it to one of the engineers belonging to the railway. The engineer then held the bottle on the line, the locomotive was set in motion and passed over the bottle, crushing the neck of it so that the champagne all flowed out, and in this way the Lady Weld was christened. The Governor, Lady Weld, the Misses Weld and some others were formed in a group near the engine and were photographed.
There have been sports, a pig-hunt, some cock-fighting, fireworks, a reception at the Residency and another at the Sultan's, a whole string of gaieties and festivities in fact, of which the readers of Straits Times would have had a faithful description before this but for a water buffalo. As I was riding into Rawang, after a long twenty mile journey over a difficult country, I was unfortunately attacked by a huge water buffalo which charged me and my horse with great fury. I of course came off second best in the encounter, and though no great harm was done, yet I was so much hurt on the right arm as to prevent me from writing. This letter has been partly written at my dictation and finished in pencil with rather a painful effort, but I am now nearly all right and have experienced an entirely new sensation.
From the Straits Times Weekly Issue, 6th October 1886, pages 8, 9-1 and 9-2
The Selangor Government Railway
(by our Special Correspondent)
Considerable interest may at present be attached to a reasonable intelligent and fair description of the Selangor government Railway, not only because it is a very important enterprise of which the success or failure, as the case may be, will influence to an incalculable extent the course of the future development of the Native States, but also because this project has been made the object of so much hostile criticism from first to last on the one hand, and of so many confident assertions and sanguine hopes on the other. The criticism lavished on the railway have been of a sufficiently sweeping character: the line has been declared an impossibility and a useless scheme for the expenditure of public moneys it has been and that it was commenced at the wrong end on the wrong side of the river, and that, such being the case, it naturally follows that the terminus is unhappily situated in quite the wrong place, and paragraphs have appeared in public prints in which disappearing banks, rails suspended in air, and fathomless mud every where have been described con spirito. Were a hundred professional men sent over the line they would report upon it in as many different ways railway engineers appear each of them to have his own particular axe to grind and theories to ventilate, but the mail question before the public does not happily seem to require an elaborate explanation from a distinguished authority on the subject as the point will surely be conceded that any man whatever who has travelled over the line more than once, and who has been at considerable pains to obtain all the available information about it on the spot, will be able to say whether the Selangor railway is an utterly rotten concern or not, and whether any such gross and palpable error has been made as constructing the railway on the wrong side of the river.
In dealing with this subject it must always be borne in mind that the railway is not yet completed, and that where the lower terminus is to be, is still an open question.
Referring to the sketch map of the Selangor government Railway published with this day's issue of the Straits Times, it is merely necessary to observe that the actual line, (a single line), only extends from Kwala Lumpur via Pataling and Batu Tiga to Bukit Kudah, at present the temporary terminus, and is marked _._.
The other trace from Bukit Kudah to the coast marked +.+.+ is a projected line, and so is the trace shown as crossing the river and running into the town of Klang. There are at present three sites proposed for the terminus: (a) the town of Klang; (b) a point on the north bank of the river opposite to the town of Klang; and (c) a port on the coast.
Now a glance at the map will show how impossible it would have been to construct the railway on the southern bank; roughly speaking, the line on the northern bank from the Sungei Rengam to Pataling forms the base of a triangle of which the bend of the river forms the other two sides. It is quite needless to explain that the railway would either have to follow a detour of several miles at so many thousands of pounds sterling per mile, or to have crossed the Klang river at tow different points on bridges of a very costly construction; it is quite plain by this time that the terminus is not on the wrong side of the river, since it does not exist, and the site for it has not yet been selected; that is a mistake which has still to be made in the near or distant future as the case may be. The fact is that the line, so far as it goes, has followed a very excellent trace, and if the proper site is chosen for the terminus, one of the capital accusations against the Selangor railway falls to the ground. Before finally disposing of the merits of the trace adopted, it may be as well to say that the only faults found with it by men who have studied the matter, relate to the question of cost; it is objected, for instance, that some of the larger cuttings might have been avoided by contouring the bills; but it is doubtful whether the cuttings were not as cheap after all as contouring the hills on marshy ground, especially as earth was much wanted for the embankments; such technical details of what "ought to have been" do not after all come within the scope of an article which merely professes to give a general view of the actual state of affairs.
The details of the construction of the railway form the next point of importance to be taken into consideration. The extent of the line from Kwala Lumpur to Bukit Kudah is nineteen and a half miles; there are two intermediate stations, one at Pataling, about five miles, and another at Batu Tiga, thirteen miles from Kwala Lumpur. Batu Tiga lies in a straight line between the two present terminal points, but the railway has been carried considerable out of the direct route in order to take in Pataling, which is the outlet of an important tin trade. The metre gauge has been adopted on the recommendation of Mr. Spence Moss; it is the gauge used on the Indian State railways with which the Selangor Government Railway may possibly be connected some day if all goes well; the rails are of steel and run 46¼ lbs. to the yard, which is a heavy weight for a narrow gauge rail, but which is really economical, as giving a substantial road, the sleepers are nearly all of miraboo and are of very substantial dimensions. The formation width especially in cuttings may be considered liberal, and less repairs and more manageable slips will doubtless repay the extra outlay incurred; the deepest cutting is seventy feet, and the heaviest work performed was in crossing the watershed near Bukit Tiga of the important tributaries of the Klang river; in the place the swamps run right up to the foot of the hills. Consequently, all the higher banks are formed upon exceedingly soft bottoms entailing a large amount of careful drainage and a patient making up of subsidences as they occur; it is to be feared that this is a difficulty which will be met with pretty well all over the Malay Peninsula at some time or another in the course of constructing such a work as a railway. The curves and gradients are very good, it would have been possible to have crossed the country with much less earthwork if five chain curves and gradients of 1 in 50 had been adopted; but such a line would have required specially constructed rolling stock, and, in the opinion of the engineer, would not have worked either satisfactorily or economically in the long run.
There are sixty-one bridges and culverts on the line, the largest work of the kind is an iron girder bridge of 50 feet span over the Damansara river. considerable difficulties were experienced with the foundations of this bridge in swamp which have all been satisfactorily got over, and the work, as it now stands, is an exceedingly creditable performance; the culverts are all of definite types and the open bridges range from a simply rail opening of 2 feet up to 50 feet girders. Portland cement was exclusively used on all the bridges, with the exception of a few near Kwala Lumpur.
It may strike those who are accustomed to travel on tropical railways that the waterways are neither so large nor so frequent as they sometimes are, but the Selangor line traverses a country in which there are no mountain torrents; it skirts the foot of the hills and crosses the streams before they have obtained any considerable catchment; the ranges are very low, and are so broken that there are no great water sheds. The rainfall of the country is very evenly distributed, there are no prolonged droughts followed by tremendous downpours such as are prevalent in India and Ceylon, and which necessitate costly bridges and cause heavy slips on the mountain lines. The drainage of the swampy parts of the line was both expensive and tedious, but appears to be entirely successful; the lie of the ground rendered it necessary to relieve the large side drains by numerous outfalls into the Klang, Damansara, and Rengam rivers; they are in fact little canals cut through the jungle, which in the lower section alone, aggregate over two miles in length. The waterways of the Selangor railway have been carefully considered, and are evidently quite sufficient for the work which they have to do.
It will be seen that although a metre gauge line, it is not really a light railway, but rather resembles a standard gauge line in the solid of its construction.
The rolling stock may be described in a few words; it is of the English-Colonial type, similar to that used on the Cape railways; the carriages do not differ very much, except in the point of lightness and additional airiness from the cars in use at home; the Engineer wished to adopt the Indian types as being more adapted to tropical travelling, but his recommendations were overruled and the present rolling stock sent out. The carriages and waggons were built by the Carriage and Waggon Company of Birmingham, and the locomotives by the Hunslet Engine Company, better known as Kitson's of Leeds; the constructors of both engines and carriages being the same as those selected by the Singapore Tramway Company. The best engine on the line, however, is the Lady Clarke, purchased at a very low price from H. H. the Sultan of Johore.
The history of the railway may also be dealt with very summarily, thanks to the speech made by Mr. Rodger at the Kwala Lumpur Station when the railway was declared to be formally opened by His Excellency the Governor. the labour question has been one of the greatest difficulties with which the contractors, Mr. Gordon and Mr. Bailey, have had to contend. When these gentlemen first came into the country, coolies wages avenged about 25 cents per day, but now coolies command from 40 to 45 cents per day to work on the line, partly owing to the enhanced price of tin, and in so small degree to the absence of any Government regulations corresponding to those in force in the mining districts, and almost all the work had to be carried out by Chinese owing to the delay in the adaptation of the Indian Immigration Ordinance which was finally effected when the works had reached such a stage that it did not pay to break up the existing Chinese force.
In view of the exceptional nature of these difficulties, a lenient view will doubtless be taken of the delay on the part of the contractors to complete their work. Messrs. Gordon and Bailey, in the course of the extension of their contract, have already completed over 650,000 cubic yards of earth work, and 4,500 cubic yards of brick work, besides having got through a great deal of heavy clearing and other miscellaneous work. Sickness has prevailed over the whole of the lower section, especially during the wet weather, when fever, dysentery, and beriberi carried off a number of people. In addition to all these drawbacks, there were many engineering difficulties which would have been very easily disposed of in England with modern appliances and skilled labour, but which presented a very formidable expect in a country where the resources available are limited to a coolie with his chankol and basket. It was very unfortunate also that owing to delays in sending out the rolling stock, the engineer had not the advantage of being able to employ ballast trains, which would not only have materially assisted him in the construction of the railway, but would have alone a deal towards making the line "settle" into good working order.
The next point to be raised, and it is a most important point, is whether the railway will pay, and turn over to be a good investment for the $750,000 already spent upon it, a sum which will probably creep up to a round million of dollars before all is said and done. Admitting that the proper terminus is selected for the line, there does not seem to be much ground for anxiety on this score. The existing system of transport is not only exceedingly expensive, but unsatisfactorily to the last degree. The rule at present is to send tin, and heavy goods generally, in sampans by the river, while rice, light freight of all kinds, and perishable goods are forwarded in bullock carts via the "famous or infamous Damansara road", as Mr. Rodger has aptly styled it.
The transport of goods by either of these routes is very slow, very uncertain, and very costly. Let the relative conditions of transport be compared. To send a ton of rice by bullock carts over the Damansara road costs $15 per ton, and is an affair of days; to send it by boat is a trifle dearer, and is subject to indefinite delays on account of tides and weather, unless the consignee is willing to pay a steam launch an extra $8 for towage. Now, when the railway is in working order, it will take up any number of tons of rice to Kwala Lumpur in two or three hours at the outside, at the rate of 20 cents per picul or $3.36 per ton. The passenger traffic offers precisely the same remarkably contrast. the Englishman performs his tedious and fatiguing journey by the Damansara road at a cost of seven or eight dollars., if nothing goes wrong; now he can run down under two hours in a first class carriage for a dollar and half, or, if he chooses to sink his dignity and travel third class, he need not pay more than forty cents. The natives, it must be noted, are very fond of travelling by rail, they simply love it, and even when a carriage leaves the rails and they get shaken up after the manner of dice in a dice box, they smile vastly and seem to be quite pleased. Nor is this a transient novelty which will pall on the native mind, the Malays do not like the Damansara road any more than the Europeans, and they fully appreciate the advantage of sitting still and being taken over the country at the rate of two cents per mile for a long distance. It is quite reasonable to assume therefore that the Selangor railway will have plenty of work to do and that both the goods and the passenger traffic will be very large. should this prove to be the ease, it is estimated that the Selangor Government Railway will return interest of 6% on its capital for the first year after the line has been really started in full working order, and something like 10% to 12% for the second year. If any value whatever is to be attached, to these estimates, and it can hardly be doubted that the immense advantages in both time and money offered by the railway strongly favour the idea of the adoption of this, to the exclusion of all other existing means of transport, then the Selangor Government railway has a brilliant financial future before it, and will be a great and unqualified success. The Government, in the meantime, is paving the way for such a highly desirable state of affairs by opening up roads designed to act as feeders to the railway such as the road to Rawang, and another from Pataling to Cheras, and which in any case will be of great utility in opening up and facilitating the trade of these districts. The land on both sides of the line has gone up enormously in value, the wet swampy tracts will grow paddy or sago, while a good deal of the land in the vicinity of the railway will probably be found suitable for gambier and pepper; these crops of produce will all help to swell the receipts of the line.
Now, for the other side of the medal. It has already been distinctly pointed out that this railway is not yet completed; apart from the fact that it has not yet been carried to its lower terminus, parts of the line itself, as it now exists, are in a very unfinished state. When His Excellency the Governor and His Highness the Sultan of Selangor travelled over the line, the weather was very fine, and the journey was performed without the least stoppage or hitch of any kind as has already been related in a previous number of the Straits Times. Since then there have been very heavy rains and now the running on the railway is not so smooth; this has been foreseen and expected, but it nevertheless shows that there is still a lot of work to be done and still a large amount of money to be expected, before the line from Kwala Lumpur to Bukit Kudah can be pronounced to be in satisfactory working order. The ballasting of the lower section has yet to be finished; there will doubtless be slips on the new cuttings, and though none have taken place as yet, still they must be looked for; a lot of earth-work has to be done at such places as the famous "57" bank, and the line generally has got to "settle" before it can resist the wear and tear of a continuous traffic during a season of tropical rains. As a matter of fact, the line has been declared to be formally opened before it was really ready and this must be borne in mind should the working of the railway not prove to be particularly satisfactory during the next few months.
The only remaining point which has to be considered is the extension of the line to its lower terminus; this work should be carried out as speedily as possible; if for no other reason than because there is a large capital invested in this enterprise, and every day that it is allowed to be unproductive leaves a loss to the State. There is only one steamer in the Selangor trade, the Pyah Pekhet, which can get up to Bukit Kudah, and there is no particular end gained by getting there, because the wharf has been knocked out of all shape by the slipping of the mud bank on which it is built into the river; the difficulties of transhipping goods at Klang and then loading them again at Bukit Kudah in the railway waggons are considerable, and will practically confine the earnings of the line to the income to be derived from its passenger traffic.
The Engineer, Mr. Spence Moss, is an uncompromising advocate of the execution of the original plan, that is to say that the railway shall be carried over the river and run into the town of Klang; this line is shown on the map as crossing the river at a point near Bukit Kudah. There is of course this much to be said in favour of this project that when it is completed the Selangor Railway will admirably fulfil all the conditions required of it, and the line will be brought into connection with wharves alongside of which steamers of considerable size will be able to lie with perfect ease. But the opponents of this scheme have a good deal to say against it; the bridge will be a very costly affair and will take a long time to build, and they do not consider that the experimental borings are either satisfactory or conclusive. Mr. Spence Moss is quite satisfied that he can construct this bridge, and those who know this gentleman are perfectly convinced that he will be as good as his word about building the bridge if his views are adopted. Still $80,000 is a large sum to spend on such a work, and the general opinion, in Kwala Lumpur at least, is that a railway bridge cannot possibly be thrown over the Klang River at anything like this estimate. The people of Klang have certainly been given to understand that the line shall be taken into their town. A few brick houses have been built, in response to this expectation it is said, but as they already give a very fair return, it would be difficult for their proprietors to make out a claim for compensation. It is easy to understand that speculators who had counted upon the terminus being built on their property, or upon the line passing through their land, should feel disappointed, but beyond certain frustrated hopes no injury would be done to any one by the terminus being built on the other side. Klang is at the present time but a very small town indeed, but the country to the back of it is planted up to a considerable extent, and in the event of a railway town springing up on the opposite bank it would certainly have its share of the general trade; besides the land on both sides of the river at that particular point would become very valuable; it is evidently therefore quite a mistaken idea to suppose that the existence of Klang depends upon its being made the railway terminus. Expenditure of time and money which might be saved is the great objection to a terminus at Klang.
The next and most popular project is that the railway shall simply be continued for another mile and three quarters to a point, opposite Klang, and that the terminus shall be made there. It appears that there is a nasty scour in this particular bend of the river which presses more especially on the northern bank. Admitting that it would be more difficult and costly to build a wharf on the northern bank than to build it at Klang; it is hard to believe that the difference in time and money would be of any consideration whatever when compared with the delays and heavy outlay connected with the construction of a bridge over the Klang river. There are five and a half fathoms of water at low tide at the proposed site on the northern bank, and a terminus at this place would be just as suitable in every way as one at Klang, and it can be completed within a very short time at a comparatively small cost. It does not seem at all conclusive to argue, as has been done, that because a jetty has collapsed at Bukit Kudah, a well constructed wharf opposite Klang must necessarily do the same. If the northern bank is adhered to, and the necessary works pushed on with ordinary energy, the whole line will be completed and paying well within a year.
The project for the extension of the railway to Jeram, that is to say to the coast, appears to be quite indefensible. This is the trace marked +.+. on the map. Very little is known about the region except that it is a dreary swamp for the most part, where there are no tin mines or cultivation of any kind; the anchorages on the coast are believed to be very shallow and bad, and considering what exceptional shipping facilities are afforded by the Klang river, it is difficult to understand what object can be attained by going to Jeram; the idea of attracting ocean going steamers to a port on the coast specially constructed for that purpose appears to be too visionary to be seriously entertained. His Excellency the governor when presses upon this point by a recent visitor, replied that nothing would be done in the matter of the railway terminus until accurate surveys and trustworthy information were to hand, so as to avoid the chance of expending money uselessly by pursuing a mistaken course. Such being the case, there is but a very small risk of the extension to Jeram being adopted, and a survey of the country is sure to be useful some day or other. the future extension of the railway should be towards the interior, to tap the rich resources of the country on both sides of the Pahang range; the river steamers will be quite able to take care of all that the railway can bring down for many a long year to come.
The view taken of the Selangor Government Railway in these columns may be summarised thus: that it is a good railway constructed on an excellent trace, and that it has a fine financial future before it, but that the State of Selangor is by no means out of the wood as yet so far as the Government railway is concerned, and that there are noble opportunities in the future for a series of crowning mistakes; it will be necessary to wait for at least another year before a definite opinion can be arrived at. In the meantime it is hoped that this rapid sketch of the railway will not be without interest to the readers of the Straits times. Mr. Spence Moss may well be congratulated on the success which he has already achieved, and the marked ability which he has displayed, and which it is pleasant to observe is recognised on all sides.
1. The above article first appeared in the Straits Times of 4th October 1886 and the referenced map appeared in a supplement, which I have not found. It was sketched from a Government map of the railway which I have not located yet.
From the Straits Times, 15th October 1886, page 3
(By our Special Correspondent.)
A Sketch of Kwala Lumpur and Klang (Continued).
The Sultan of Selangor, after having greatly enjoyed his stay at Kwala Lumpur, at length decided to return to his Court at Jugra. A guard of honour was drawn up at the railway station, and as the Sultan's lengthy train approached, the battery on the hill fired a salute; it was quite a picturesque sight to see His Highness with his sword bearer and eight spear bearers at the head of his followers, many of whom had a pony, a cow, a sheep, a goat or a basket of hens to drag along with him, these being the spontaneous offerings of an affectionate people of their ruler; the miscellaneous nature of these offerings and the manifest unwillingness of some of the animals to follow their new masters gave the royal procession something of the appearance of the triumphant return of successful raiding expedition. It was no easy matter to find accommodation for such a large force, especially as there were a good many ordinary passengers, chiefly Chinese, who were anxious to get forward by the same train; the carriages were all filled to overflowing, and although some extra cars were put on, it was found at the last moment that the Sultan's body guards were marching about the platform with their spears and krisses vainly seeking for room, so a couple of large covered goods waggons were pressed into the service on the floor of which the lifeguards men squatted with great ease of body and contentment of mind. The European passengers were all in one compartment, and as soon as the train was off, the conversation by general consent turned on railway accidents. After having travelled with great comfort for about a third of the distance, we heard certain ominous bumps and thumps and were jolted a few jolts, then the train stopped because the two covered waggons containing the body guard had gone off the rails; the spearmen must have thought that they were in for a regular game at pitch and toss, in which they represented the halfpence, but no one was hurt, and they squatted about the bank chatting gaily about the whole affair while their waggons were being replaced on the rails, on operation which did not take more than half an hour, thanks to a marvellous little jackscrew which is carried on every engine. The Sultan also got out of his carriage, and squatting down by the side of a rail, rubbed it several times with his fingers, and critically eyed the wheels, springs, and couplings with the air of a sagacious magpie; then he arose and briefly explained to some of his suite all about a railway, after which he took a lusty drink of water which had been got for him from the nearest ditch, and hopped into his saloon carriage much pleased with the interesting incident. There was a repetition of this derailment about a mile from our journey's end; the same two waggons went off the line, but were very speedily put on again; the moral seems to be that goods waggons are not suitable for passenger traffic, they want more ballast than is afforded by a body guard at all events.
There was some confusion for a few minutes in getting his Highness and his merry men on board the Abdul Samat, but Mr. Syers suddenly appeared and restored order in such an expeditions and marvellous manner that the Abdul Samat actually steamed off without me, while I was busily engaged in holding forth to the engineer of the line on men and things in general, so that after a "few more last words" with Mr. Spence Moss I said "good-bye" and stepped with boy and baggage into a native sampan, and was slowly paddled down the turbid river - mud and mangroves all round, a leaden sky overhead, and the dismal brown water bubbling in eddies or rushing in currents (the wrong way of course) formed the scene. Occasionally, a heavily laden boat pulling a great number of oars slowly splashed its way up the river towards Kwala Lumpur. Yet this river looks very pretty in the early morning or at sunset on a fine evening, and on a moonlight night it is lovely. I was not left to bask for any length of time in the afternoon glare, for the Abdul Samat, having landed the Sultan, was sent back to pick me up and I got into Klang very comfortably.
Klang is rather a pretty place; it has a neat, clean and orderly appearance about it which is very pleasant. There is a large substantial building near the water's edge called "the Godowns" which is used for the same purposes as the Public Officers at Kwala Lumpur; there is a prison, a hospital and police stations, all of which are well kept up, there are a number of brick shop-houses all of which are occupied, but there are also a great many houses built of wood and roofed with attap. The grassy sloping banks of the old fort are mounted with a dreadful array of venerable guns of different shapes and sizes, a curious type of 4 pounder being the most frequent specimen; some of the guns have quietly slipped down from their carriages in search of a softer couch, and lie stretched at full length on the beautiful turf. A sense of sweet security reigns supreme within the precincts of this fortification. The Magistrate and Collector of Klang, Mr. Tiernay, lives in a roomy bungalow perched on a high hill commanding the town, of which the salient features have been thus simply described.
The next morning I went out for a long ride with Mr. Tierney, and saw something of the country. Quite close to the town lies the property of the “Selangor Sago and Paddy Company", a block of land six thousand acres in extent; the land appears to be suitable in every respect for the cultivation proposed, but it is no secret that the estate has been dreadfully mismanaged, and that its prospects are not very bright, Arab gentlemen in general have many admirable characteristics, but they have yet to make their mark as successful managing directors of public companies.
There appears to be a good deal of young sago on this plantation, but I saw no paddy. Another enterprise under native management is the plantation of about a thousand acres belonging to the Datu Dagang who conducts his business on truly oriental and patriarchal principles. He has attracted some hundreds of Javanese to settle on his land by offering them each a house and a plot of land plus forty dollars per annum in hard cash, in return for which they have to plant up his estate, all crops, except those grown in their own vegetable gardens, being the property of the Datu; the system seems to work very well, the Javanese, who did not appear to me to be working any harder than was good for them, are quite contented, and as for the Datu, although he does not expect to see any speedy return for his money, as he thinks it will pay best to principally plant fruit trees which will have to be in the ground for some years before they bear a crop, yet he is convinced that in the long run it will become a very valuable property, and says that if he does not live to get his money back, it will make a very good provision for his children. I greatly regret that I had not time to visit Mr. Stephenson's pepper plantation which has frequently been described to me as being a very successful and profitable enterprise; I rode over Mr. J. G. Davidson's gambier plantation, about which, however, it is difficult to say anything of much value, as the plants are very young and the place is terribly overgrown with lalang and weeds of all kinds, but for plants less than a year old grown under such circumstances they looked very well; a clearing for pepper planting is in progress on this estate. I forgot to mention that there is a steam saw mill a little way out of Klang, belonging to the ubiquitous firm of Hill and Rathbone. The revenue for the district of Klang during the first half year of 1885 was $62,803, and since then the duties on oil, rice, and tobacco have been abolished, in spite of which judicious concessions the revenue for the first six months of the present year was $78,736 or an increase of $15,935, a most gratifying result which clearly shows what progress the country is making. Mr. Tierney, like Mr. Syers, has acquired the art of managing the natives and getting them to do what is wanted of them without any bother or trouble.
It has been my intention to visit Jugra on my homeward voyage, but in this project I was defeated by the exoriousness of the Sultan, for His Highness had taken into himself yet another wife at Kwala Lumpur; oddly enough he got married by proxy, for the bride was at Klang while the Sultan was getting through his share of the marriage services at Kuala Lumpur. His Highness appear to be much pleased with the lady at Klang whom he had wedded at Kuala Lumpur, for it turned out after a few delays and negotiations about starting that he did not want to go home to Jugra yet a while; the regnant sultana it appears has a temper of her own which becomes visible, palpable, and undeniably manifest on all such joyous occasions. His Highness is an elderly gentleman whose frequent and varied experiences of the married state must have deprived the joys and sorrows of wedded life of the novelty which they once possessed, but still he persists in getting married; perchance he bethinks him of that other elderly Sultan of bygone days – King Solomon to wit.
It was no use for me to go to Jugra when the Sultan and his court were encamped at Klang, it would have been the story of Hamlet without the prince of Denmark in it, all over again, so instead of going to Jugra I went on board the Will o’ the Wisp; I would recommend all Europeans wishing to visit Selangor to go by one of Mansfield’s boats, either the Pyah Pekhet or the Will o’ the Wisp; they will find everything very clean and comfortable on board either of these ships, and both Captain Wahl and Captain Green are excellent commanders with whom it is a pleasure to travel.
Thus ended my voyage to Selangor, and though I got through a good deal of work during the twelve days I was in the State, I found it to be a most agreeable and enjoyable holiday, and whoever goes to Selangor will see a fine Country and some good people and will never regret the journey.
From the Singapore Free Press, 16th October 1886, page 6.
The Governors Visit to the Native States
On the 25th of August, His Excellency Sir Frederick Weld and party left Penang and proceeded to Perak. Early in the morning of the 26th, His Excellency was met off the Perak River by Sir Hugh Low in the Mena, and proceeded to Port Weld en route for Thaipeng.
Here the governor and Miss Weld, who were the guests of Mr. Creagh (the Assistant Resident) stayed till the 28th, being present at a review and sham fight on the 27th. On the 28th his Excellency and Miss Weld left for Kwala Lumpur whence Lady Weld and the remainder of the party had preceded him on the 26th instant. Here the Governor remained till the 1st of September (spending the day of the 30th in inspecting the mines at Salek).
On the 1st accompanied by Sir Hugh low, K.C.M.G. he left down the river for Kinta, visiting Blanjah Batu Gagap, Pappan Raja Gopeng, Ipoh and other places during the trip, and returning to Kwala Lumpur on the 8th, after transacting some business and inspecting the various public offices and buildings. On the 10th instant, His Excellency the governor, Sir Hugh low, and Mr. Wallop left for Thaipeng, where Lady Weld and the Misses Weld, accompanied by Lady Low, had anticipated his arrival the day before. His Excellency was present at the races at Thaipeng on that day, leaving together with Lady Weld and the remainder of the party, via Port Weld, on the 12th instant.
The Governor spent the whole of the 13th off the Dindings, where he transacted some business. On the 14th his Excellency and party were met off the Klang Straits by Mr. Rodger, the Acting Resident, and by the Hon. M. Lister, the Collector and Magistrate of Ulu Selangor. In company with them, his Excellency and party proceeded to Klang, where he was met by His Highness the Sultan of Selangor. The party then travelled by rail to Kwala Lumpur. A bright day of sunshine seemed to welcome the new railway enterprise, the second which has been laid down in the Malay Peninsula.
The first part of the journey was slow, but after crossing the Klang river, and arriving at Bukit Tigah, the journey was performed at increased speed, and Kwala Lumpur (about twenty miles or so distant from Bukit Kuda) was reached in about an hour and a half.
On his arrival at Kwala Lumpur, the Acting British Resident referred at some length to the history of the railway and to many of the details of its construction, paying a tribute to the keen interest which Mr. Swettenham, the Resident, had shown is the initiation of the scheme, and then requested His Excellency the governor to declare it open.
The Governor then briefly congratulated those present on the opening of the railway in Selangor. The railway had been constructed in the face of very great difficulties and he paid a warm tribute of praise to all engaged in the work. He regretted the absence of Mr. Swettenham, the British Resident (whose work had been carried on with such conspicuous ability by Mr, Rodger), who had been one of the very first to entertain the idea of a railway in the State of Selangor, and also deserved the very highest credit for the part he had played in this enterprise, which he trusted would be rewarded with the success that it deserved. The idea of a railway had always met with his warmest sympathy and support. He had very great pleasure in declaring the railway open, and wished it every success. Addresses from members of the Chinese and Malay communities were also presented, and His Excellency the governor in reply expressed his pleasure amongst all races in the State.
In the afternoon a luncheon was given in the central hall of the government offices to commemorate the opening of the railway. The hall in the public offices is large and spacious, and it presented a bright and pleasing scene, with its massive pillars very prettily decorated. The principal officers of the State were present. After the usual loyal toasts, the health of His Excellency the governor was proposed by the Acting Resident, the Chairman, and in doing so, he expressed a hope that his Excellency's term of office might be prolonged.
In the course of his reply, His Excellency said that his term of governorship had already been prolonged beyond that of any preceding Governor, that such a course would be very unusual, and that he was entirely in the hands of Her Majesty's advisers, but that he was always willing to devote his energies and strength to the service of the Malay Peninsula, were it so desired. He also made a warm reference to the ability and success to Mr. Swettenham's administration, which had been so well continued by the present acting resident.
Several other toasts were also proposed, amongst others, that of the Railway, and of the Acting resident.
On the 16th, His Highness the Sultan of Selangor was invested as a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. The ceremony took place in the central hall of the Government offices at Kwala Lumpur, where the luncheon to commemorate the opening of the railway had been held that previous day. The room was very prettily decorated and the scene, from the variety of races and of dress, was very bright and pleasing.
All the European officers were present, and many of every race had gathered from far and near in the State, speaking in their presence of the kindly and affectionate feeling they bore towards him. His Highness, who was attended by several members of his family and court, was very becomingly dressed, with the most perfect taste, befitting his high rank and station and yet maintaining a very happy juste millieu between a proper recognition in his dress of his position, and the occasion, without any ostentatious display, and with the courtly grace and bearing of a gentleman of the old school. A Sikh guard and Malay body guard were posted near the entrance to the Hall. The Governor was in full dress uniform and wore the badge and riband of the Order.
On his arrival, His highness the Sultan in accordance with Malay custom is an instance of great friendship, led the governor by the hand to a raised platform specially arranged for the ceremony. Mr. H. Syers the Superintendent of Police, acted as Aide de Camp on this occasion, and Mr. Wallop, his Excellency's Private Secretary, bore the badge and riband and the states on a cushion marked with the royal colours of the State.
His Excellency then briefly explained that he had been commanded by H. M. the Queen and Empress in her absence to perform the ceremony of investiture. He then explained that the honour Her Majesty was about to confer on his Highness was a special mark of Her favour, and recognition of H. H’s enlightened conduct as a native ruler in having been the first, of his own initiative, to ask for a British Resident to advise him in the government of his State, which has been attended with such happy results, to his own satisfaction and to the welfare and prosperity of his State and people; of his having also, on his own initiative, set the example to Native rulers of liberating his slaves, and of the full, free and unwavering support he had always and on every occasion rendered to the Resident. His Excellency then read the warrant instruction him to perform the ceremony, handling him at the same time a letter forwarded from Her Majesty for him. He then invested him with the badge and riband of the Order, and read the Admonition, a translation of which read at the same time in a clear and distinct voice by Mr. J.P. Rodger, the Acting British Resident. The governor then spoke a few words of welcome to him, greeting him with pleasure as a brother of the Order to which he had the honour to belong, and wishing him all happiness and prosperity.
The Sultan, who appeared much pleased at this recognition of his loyalty and kindly rule, expressed his high sense of the honour conferred, and this mark of the queen's favour and good-will. A salute of seventeen guns then brought the ceremony to a close. A bright sun gilded in light the peaks of the distant mountain range as if in smiling approval and good-will. This event will be long remembered in the State of Selangor, where H. H. the Sultan is so universally beloved and respected by every class, race and creed.
On the 19th, accompanied by the Acting resident, the hon. M. Lister, the Collector and Magistrate of Ulu Selangor, and Mr. Syers, the Superintendent of Police, His Excellency left for Ulu Selangor, stopping at Rawang on the way to inspect the mines, and finding a shelter there for the night. His Excellency, accompanied by the Misses Weld and Mr. H. C. Belfield, left Kwala Lumpur for Sungei Ujong on the 24th, riding through the country.
On the 29th His Excellency and party left for Tanjong Kling, where they stayed till the 10th, arriving at Singapore on Monday morning at 8'oclock.
Letter to the Straits Times Weekly Issue, 1st November 1886.
THE SELANGOR GOVERNMENT RAILWAY
Sir, - I have read with considerable pleasure your most interesting and exhaustive article on the Selangor Government Railway. The main facts are certainly got at and placed before the public in a lucid and very popular form, while the sketch which accompanies it is a very creditable performance and puts certain facts forward in a way as new at it is conclusive.
There are certain points however in the article on this complicated subject which should not be permitted to pass without comment. In the first place there has never been a carriage off the line, and the only derailment that has taken place that of two empty box cars which were put on in an emergency to carry some of the Sultan's train of followers.
Then with regard to the line to the coast; there can be no doubt that the anchorages about Teram are shallow but the Kwala of the Sungei Dua offers a splendid natural harbour of considerable extent with deep water at low spring tides within 150 feet of the shore. There would be much to recommend the construction of the projected coast route in the event of any recovery it sugar, any great development, of sago, any Russian war with its rise in the price of cocoa nut oil, any definite policy towards Pahang or any concentration of Native States administration at Kuala Lumpur. There would we no immense expenditure incurred in the construction of a harbour or breakwaters on this line, so that it could stand a good deal in the way of expensive approaches.
It is not quite correct to say that there has been a rush upon land at Klang although there have been considerable purchases on the North bank opposite, so that there really are no speculators to be disappointed by the terminus not being built at Klang; the site chosen for the station was almost entirely a government reserve.
The objection to both the river schemes is, that they lead to a port already too small for the requirements of the shipping frequenting it and incapable of expansion, whereas at the terminus of the coast route is a harbour in which the fleet might ride in safety.
It has yet to be shown that the Pyah Pekhet is the "only steamer in the Selangor trade which can get up to Bukit Kudah." There is nothing to prevent any of the others under 11 feet draft, from proceeding thither; the river is wide enough for any of them to turn and the navigation offers no great difficulties than the lower reaches of the river. There certainly is nothing like 5½ fathoms at either high or low water at the proposed site on the northern bank and your correspondent was evidently misinformed on this point by some interested person.
The Jetty at Bukit Kudah is being restored to shape and the downstream jetty will be ready to receive goods very shortly, and by the time the line is ready for regular goods traffic, the railway will offer greater facilities than are to be found anywhere in Singapore except at the wharves.
These are the main points in which I differ from the article of your special correspondent who has however ably treated a very difficult, and I shall be much obliged if you will be so good as to give expression to them in your columns.
I am Sir,
your obedient Servant,
Singapore, 23rd Oct., 1886
We shall reply to Traveller's interesting letter tomorrow, - Ed. S. T.
1. I suspect the reference to Teram in the above letter should be Jeram. There is also a reference to a Sungei Dua which I cannot locate.
2. The response to the article is awaiting transcription, along with another letter on the subject.
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