In 2013 I wrote a blog Shame on Taiping! about a few of Taiping’s heritage sites which were in a bad condition. Especially the former Perak Railway buildings and the Rest House, both along Station Road, opposite the King Edwards VII school
Since that time I have been visiting these buildings regularly when I visited Taiping, taking many pictures, both inside and outside. Here is a (large) collection. I have indicated the year that they were taken. Click on a picture to enlarge.
First the Perak Railway Buildings. Here is a scan from Anuar Isa’s report Taiping’s Many Firsts, published by the Taiping Municipal Council (MPT) in 2013.
In 2016 I took this picture of the whole complex, the old timber structure (1885) in the foreground and the (newer) brick building to the left.
Front and side facade of the old timber structure (PWD 269)
Same for the two-storey brick building (PWD 267)
More pictures of the decaying front facade of PWD 269. Without comment, only the year I took the picture.
Between the two buildings there is a nice gate. Notice that sometimes there was an attempt to block the entrance, so that squatters etc could not enter.
This counter must be familiar to Taipingites 🙂 Nowadays it is often occupied and the squatter living there does not always welcome your visit.
A few photos of the interior of PWD 267. Abandoned but still in reasonable condition. I could even venture to the first floor. Notice the nice iron columns.
The courtyards of the two buildings were taken over by jungle.
In 2017 there was some activity. My Taiping friends told me that one of the entrances had been widened, so a bulldozer could enter the courtyards. When I visited the building, I noticed of course that Donald Duck had disappeared ;-). The entrance had been professionally repaired. A good sign?
The courtyards had been thoroughly cleaned, shrubs and trees had been removed. Of course the ruined state of the buildings became more visible now.
Only later that year I had time to visit the interior of the buildings and I was shocked. The interior had been vandalised, the wooden floorboards had been removed! Was that the real reason for the earlier activity?
It was still possible to climb up (carefully!) to the first floor. The damage is even more clearly visible. Later I asked around, but I was not able to find out who was responsible for this destruction.
In July 2018 I only had a look at the courtyard, there was an unfriendly squatter, I didn’t want to get into an argument with him.
Not surprisingly the jungle is fighting back already.
In December I came again, this time I had no problem entering. Not much change. I am not an expert, but I think these two buildings are beyond repair.
Next to the Perak Railway Building is the Rest House, the Rumah Rehat. Here is what Anuar Isa’s report says about it.
I have been staying in the Rest House, many years ago. At that time it was called Lagenda Hotel. A budget hotel, but quite acceptable, nice colonial atmosphere.
Around 11 years ago the hotel was closed. In the beginning hardly any fencing, you could just walk in, and of course squatters did. Later there came haphazard fencing like in this picture. Still very easy to trespass.
Here two pictures of the iconic main facade, in 2009 and in 2018. Not too much deterioration. But that is only appearance.
In 2012 there was a fence, but very easy to enter. Some decay, mainly in the ceilings.
One year later, still a fence with gaps, main entrance still looks ok.
Inside the building there are signs that people are living here.
People were complaining about the lack of proper fencing and in 2015 a prominent fence was erected, promoting Taiping as heritage town !
A bit ironical in my opinion. Look at the right picture, with the Rumah Rehat as it was and as it is now.
Even with this new fencing it was still possible to sneak in. The entrance still looks quite good and the stairs to the first floor are solid. But walking around there are clear signs that people are living here, even making a fire!
A short visit in 2017. Some signs of decay.
In 2018 I visited Taiping several times. Not much was left of the “heritage” fence.
But a signboard still tells about the Rumah Rehat, one of the many Firsts of Taiping. And a heritage plaque has been attached to the facade.
There are more signs of decay, although it looks that some repair work has been done. These picture have been taken December 2018, less than one year ago.
As a laymen I think the Rest House can still be saved, but fast action is needed.
Here is a drone video of the two buildings, taken last year.
For a long time already I have been planning to write a blog post with a selection of the pictures I have collected during the past 7-8 years, but it didn’t materialise yet. Until today when my heritage friends pointed me to this article in the Harian Metro: Ikonik usang jejaskan imej Taiping . With these two pictures:
Finally the Perak Railway Building and the Rest House have been fenced off. Let’s hope that this is the start of a positive development!