March 17, 2012
Visitors take a discovery tour of Pre-war Buildings in Teritage Trail
Story and photos by FONG KEE SOON
Magnificent : A stop at the Victorian-styled Larut Matang District Office building in Jalan Kota during the
A GROUP of heritage lovers travelled back in time as they explored old buildings
in Taiping on foot.
The heritage trail was a guided tour organised by the Taiping Heritage Society and
Shun Tak Association to promote the rich and diverse heritage of the once thriving mining town.
Conservationist Teoh Chee Keong led the group as they savoured the sights of
Taiping’s pre-war buildings, including the iconic Taiping Market, the Victorian-styled Larut Matang District Office
building on Kota Road and the Anglo Indian-styled First Galleria private gallery on Station Road.
Teoh, a lecturer on architecture, explained the history of each building and how
they had come to their present condition.
He also touched on the design of the buildings, some of which were built to allow
maximum natural lighting and ventilation.
Teoh said it was encouraging to see locals joining the day tour, which first
started in 2007.
“Local residents tend to ignore historical buildings especially the dilapidated
ones which are an eyesore.
“Their involvement is important because local residents are a significant part of
culture and heritage,” said Teoh.
He said their contribution included taking up residence in otherwise empty old
The group visited the home of an 80-year-old local woman who did just
Wishing to remain anonymous, the woman told The Star she had bought the
century-old building on Jalan Barrack in 1998 and spent a small fortune renovating it.
The restoration had been carried out so well that the Taiping Municipal Council
recommends the public and tourists to see it.
For Tan Khai Wei, 20, the tour had helped him discover the heritage side of his
hometown, which he never knew about.
“Although I grew up in Taiping, I never realised there were so many pre-war
buildings as well as the stories behind them.
Crossing: Participants of the trail walking about Taiping as they visited various heritage buildings.
“Now I can better promote my hometown to friends, in addition to the good food and
scenic Lake Gardens,” said the architectural student.
Looking insid e: The interior of an old pre-war shophouse in Jalan Barrack which had
Local fruit farmer Lee Tin Choy felt that the heritage trail was a good way to
further promote Taiping as a tourist destination.
“The locals especially should make use of the existence of the heritage buildings,
which are irreplaceable and represent a vital legacy of our culture,” said Lee, 47.
Keatpie Cheong, a wantan mee seller from Kuala Lumpur, also enjoyed the
“In future, I’ll be able to take my family on a tour and show them the town’s
living heritage,” said the father of four.
The group also stopped by at the Taiping Shun Tak Association where they were
briefed on its restoration works.
Elegant facad e: A few old restored pre-war shophouses in Jalan Barrack which now serve as residential homes.
The association building was built by artisans from Shun Tak, a small district in
south China’s Guangdong province, in 1896.
“The building, possibly the oldest Shun Tak Cantonese architecture in South East
Asia, is in a state of disrepair. We hope to raise some RM500,000 to restore it,” said Tung Lay Chun, chairperson
of the building’s restoration committee.
The association recently received a RM50,000 allocation from the Prime Minister’s
Department with the help of Deputy Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Tan Lian
Pokok Assam Barisan Nasional coordinator Datuk Ho Cheng Wang also chipped in
RM5,000 from his constituency allocation.