Relics of a British Past

Among the many heritage sites Malaysia has, some of the most popular have to be the ones that were left by the British. From residential houses to work sites, the era of British colonization has left many marks that are still lasting today, both good and bad. A lot of tales from the era is written in history books, but there are some things that you need to experience yourself. Here are some sites that you should consider visiting, and get a glimpse of a part of history you just wouldn’t find in between pages:

Tanjung Kubong Tunnel & Chimney

Labuan Island


The Tanjung Kubong Tunnel and Chimney was a coal mine with an expansive tunnel network, which operated from 1849 until 1911. It was operated by various British companies throughout those years, and one in particular – New Central Borneo – installed an 8-mile railway track from here to Victoria Port to facilitate the export of coal, resulting in a flourishing coal mining operation. The coal mine ceased its operations following a string of mining accidents.


When you come for a visit here, you can see the pits and tunnels that was dug a long time ago, as well as old bricks and rail tracks’ pieces strewn on the ground. Visitors can also enter a low tunnel by using a short rope and emerge on top; however, this is quite strenuous and dangerous so extreme caution must be taken. Across the road next to the Chimney, is a vertical well that is 10 feet wide, measuring about 100 feet. At the bottom of this well, you can find entrances to more tunnels that have yet to be explored.   You can easily arrive at the Tanjung Kubong Tunnel and Chimney by taxi or bus. There are no entrance fees, so you can explore and learn about the former coal mine at your own pace.

Kellie’s Castle

Batu Gajah, Perak

The construction of Kellie’s Castle in Batu Gajah began in 1915, but was halted in 1926 due to the death of its owner, William Kellie-Smith. It was believed that the house was supposed to be a gift for his wife, who returned to Scotland after his demise. The sprawling mansion was intended to be the hub of social life for the area’s wealthy colonial planters and administrators.  A grand mansion with a six-storey tower, wine cellar, stately columns, it has Moorish arches and walls embellished with Greco-Roman designs. R6 R4 Today, efforts are being made by the Perak State Government to rescue Kellie’s Castle, which has survived the ravages of time. The castle is believed to be haunted and have hidden rooms and secret underground tunnels that have yet to be explored. This would make for an interesting visit for thrill-seekers, or simply those who wants to learn more about the architecture of the olden days. Kellie’s Castle is only about a 30-minute drive away from Ipoh with a low entrance fee of RM5 for foreign visitors, RM 4 for Malaysian adults, and RM3 and RM2 respectively for teens and children.

Fort Cornwallis 

Georgetown, Penang


First built by the British East India Company in the 1700s by Sir Francis Light, the founder of the British colony in Penang, Fort Cornwallis is located at the northeastern coast of Penang Island at Padang Kota Lama. The initial structure was made of nibong palm, but was replaced in 1804 with a sturdier stone and brick structure which was completed in 1810. The fort’s walls, roughly 10 feet high, are laid out in star-like formation. Inside the fort, one can still see some of the original structures built over a century ago, including a chapel, prison cells, which were once used as barracks, ammunitions storage area, a harbor light once used to signal incoming ships, the original flagstaff and several old bronze cannons, one of which is called the Seri Rambai, which was cast in 1603.


R9 Fort Cornwallis is now managed privately, and the entrance fees are only RM3 for adults and RM2 for kids. It is equipped with a tourist information kiosk, a cafe, an open-air amphitheatre, a history gallery, a souvenir centre as well as guides who can take you around the fort grounds and provide you with a peek into the fort’s history. As it is located near the city centre, getting to the fort is easy, either by car, taxi, or a scenic trishaw ride.

Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge

Batu Gajah, Perak

The Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge is an interesting part of Perak’s past, reflecting its history in the tin mining industry which was in high demand during the British colonization. The 4,500 tons dredge ship, believed to be the largest of its kind in the area, was constructed in 1938 by F. W. Payne & Son for Southern Malayan Tin Dredging Limited. Also known as Tanjung Tualang Dredge No. 5, it was operational until 1982, when the Malaysian tin industry was in decline due to exhausted tin deposits, low tin prices and high operating costs. Since 2008, the Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge has opened its doors for visitors, for a small entrance fee of RM6 for adults and RM3 for children. With 95% of its parts still intact, it is a remarkable piece of history that can’t be found anywhere else in Malaysia. If you ever found yourself in Perak, the tin dredge is definitely worth a visit. R10 R11

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