Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Kulim Town :- A Brief History of Kulim Town

Kulim- Then

This is the town where I was born and bred. A sleepy hollow which blossomed into a gigantic industrial hub. Streets which where once deserted by 6.30 pm has emerged into a township burtsling with activity right into the depths of night. Kulim somehow still manages to retain its rustic , small town image with quaint kampongs stringed like pearls along its fringes.

The Old Town Quarters started as a line of shophouses along the Jalan Raya before WW2. So the initial begining of the Old Kulim Town was just a row of shop houses along the main road. The town gradually grew in size as more shop houses were erected sometime before the out break of WW2. By the way , the first Prime Minister of Malaysia , Tunku Abdul Rahman Al Haj was Kulim's District Officer in 1939 . In the late 50's and early 60's more buildings and shop houses were build as the town blossomed into sort of a mini metropolis in South Kedah.

The iconic Kulim Clock Tower was built to commemorate the Merdeka Celebration . I still remember the Sepuluh Tahun Merdeka Celebrations in 1967 where we have motorized floats and procession along the main road to celebrate Merdeka!

The Old Town is surrounded by rubber plantations ,notebly the Merah Estate near Jalan Pegawai ( old name :- Jalan Merah ) and Tin Mines which is located near the present Bus Station. The hums of the Tin dredge can be heard into the distance during the old days.

A Tin Dredge- aerial photo

The old wet market was built in 1959 , so the inhabitants of Kulim did their daily shopping of vegetables,meat,fish etc at the 'new' market from there on. Back in the 50's and early 60's we have chinese fishmongers going from house to house on bicycles selling their produce to housewifes who patiently wait for the them to make a pit stop at their door steps. The fish,prawns and squids are carried in huge bakuls packed with ice while the greens are nearly arranged around and on top of the bakuls. Balancing the bicycle was indeed an art only posessed by the fishmongers at that particular time in Kulim's history.

Till the late 60's and early 70's the unit measure we were using was the Kati and Tahils to buy foodstuff , fish and greens . Rice was sold in Chupak and Gantangs. The metric system was still unheard of. Paperbags and not plastic bags was the order of the day!!

In the mid 60's the Kulim Bus Station was on the portside of the Kulim Wet Market. As you board the busses you will be able to see the commerce going around the market, the slaughtering and manual prosessing of chickens and many more unimaginable sights to behold.

Kulim Town had three theaters at that time. The Cathay Cinema, the Capitol and the Coronation. Special mention about the Coronation Theater, rubber tappers ,budget minded inhabitants flocked to this particular theater to view re runs of old films. The seats are way down cheaper compared to the Cathay and Capitol which usually broadcast first run but late flicks!

The Rumah Murah located at the terminal end of Jalan Tengku Bendahara was completed in 1965 and was sold mostly to government servants working as clerks ,peons etc.

The population of Kulim is mainly divided into 3 groups. The Malays in Kampongs such as Kampong Bukit Awi, Kampong Pondok Labu and Kampung Ayer Merah to mention a few. Government quaters at Jalan Pegawai and along Jalan Tengu Asaad ( in front of Yawata) , Police Quaters and the Hospital Quarters.

The Chinese merchants living in Kulim Town and Indians in rubber plantations.

To be continued - and edited -


Blogger Rejab said...

This is fanstatic , I never expect to see a write up of my old home town. I was born in the old police barrack along Jalan Hospital in August 1939. We lived in Telok Wang during the war years aand came back to the barracks after the war. I went to Sekolah Melayu Kulim in 1946 to 1950. My father retired from the police in 1950 and I went to live in Kampong Dusun . I took part in the first Merdeka parade on 31.8.1957 as a scout from Badlishah school. The parade comander was Squardron Leader Mat Shah.I completed my Cambridge School Certificate in 1958 . I worked for a a few months as a tempory clerk in the Resettlement Office Special Constable Kulim in the same block as the old Survey office and just next to the old Post Office.I left Kulim in 1960 to join the Royal Customs in Johor and finished my service in Customs HQ Jalan Duta in 1994.Children of my siblings still lived in Kulim.M Rejab Abu Hassan. Shah Alam.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Zul Sutan said...


10:00 AM  

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