Kuala Lumpur is considered a young city having started to develop circa 1850s when the Malay Chief of Klang, Raja Abdullah, hired some Chinese labourers to open new and larger tin mines for tin prospectors. The miners landed at the confluence of Sungai Gombak (previously known as Sungai Lumpur, meaning “muddy river”) and Sungai Klang (Klang River) to open mines at Ampang, Pudu and Batu. These mines developed into a trading post which became a frontier town. Since then it attracted various people who mostly comprised labourers, prospectors and traders.
By 1896, Kuala Lumpur was chosen as the capital of the newly formed Federated Malay States. A mixture of different communities settled in various sections of Kuala Lumpur. The Chinese mainly settled around the commercial centre of Market Square, east of the Klang River, and towards Chinatown. The Malays, Indian Chettiars, and Indian Muslims resided along Java Street (now Jalan Tun Perak). The Padang, now known as Merdeka Square, was the centre of the British administrative offices around which you can find most of the heritage buildings in Kuala Lumpur.
The most prominent heritage building in Kuala Lumpur located opposite Merdeka Square (formerly known as the Selangor Club Padang or referred to as the Padang) is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building was the best known symbol of Malaysia until the Petronas Towers were built and still today one of the most photographed buildings in Malaysia. Built between 1894 and 1897, it was designed by A.C. Norman and R.A.J. Bidwell in Moghul architectural style inspired by Moghul Architecture in India. A prominent feature of the building is the red bricks with the white plaster lined arches gaining the “Blood and Bandages Building” title and when you look from above the building design has an F-shaped form. Whereas its verandahs make use of many forms of arches and the most significant ones are key hole arches, ogee arches, pointed arches and horse-shoe arches which can easily be seen throughout the building.
The building also features a 40m high clock tower which is flanked by two lower towers both of which, like the clock tower, are topped with onion-shaped copper domes. The building was completed in 1896 and its clock chimed for the first time in 1897 to coincide with Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee parade.
The building was named after the then Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Abdul Samad and the British government first used it as the Federated Malay States administrative office. It later served as a High Court and Supreme Court. Today, like its neighbouring buildings, it is occupied by the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture. While the architectural style is not particularly Malaysian and would look more at home in India, it has come to symbolize Malaysia and has played an important role in the country’s history.
Although the British Colonial Masters have long gone more than 54 years ago from Malaya (the old name of Malaysia) the structure and the buildings still remain for many years to come as part of the history as well as the living proof for the newer generations to see, learn and study.
Please feel free to view more photos of The Sultan Abdul Samad Building in my zenfolio gallery.