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1886 Building (OCBC), George Town, Penang

The 1886 Building at Beach Street is possibly the oldest commercial building along the street that still retains its original appearance.

The 1886 Building at Beach Street, within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest commercial building along the street that still retains its original appearance. It is topped with an elaborate cornice and a parapet wall, while its top floor has beautiful French windows and cast iron balconies.

It is still unknown who designed the building. What is known was that the building used to house the Goon Yen & Friends, an upmarket emporium, in the late 19th. century and early 20th. century. At the time, Goon Yen & Friends was one of the first in George Town to be owned by Asians.

Over the years, many businesses have occupied the building. It is currently owned by the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), the largest Singaporean bank and one of the strongest banks in the world. Along with the adjacent OCBC Building and the Kongsoon House, it now serves as part of the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation's Premier Banking Complex.

Beach Street Penang

The 1886 Building and the adjacent OCBC Building along Beach Street are part of the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation's Premier Banking Complex.

History

This small, impressive building, which was completed in 1886, features a detailed cornice and a parapet wall at its top. The parapet wall was designed to be edgy and fashionable at the same time. The upper floor of the building also has lovely French windows that open out to cast iron balconies.

To this day, it is unknown who designed the building.

The building was initially occupied by the Goon Yen & Friends, one of the first upmarket emporiums owned by Asians in George Town. The company specialised in ship chandlery, while other upmarket shops and offices, such as Howarth Erskine Engineers, occupied the rest of the building. In the early 20th. century, Goon Yen & Friends diversified its businesses into tapioca, coconut and rubber plantations on mainland Malay Peninsula.

It is remarkable that the building still retains its original façade, especially given the fact that, during the Japanese occupation of Penang Island during World War 2, the Japanese took away metal for their wartime industry. Fortunately, the cast iron balconies of the 1886 Building seem to have been spared this fate.

Over the years, many businesses have occupied the offices inside the building. It is now owned by the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), the biggest Singaporean bank and one of the financially strongest banks in the world. Along with the adjacent OCBC Building and the Kongsoon House, the 1886 Building now serves as part of the bank's Premier Banking Complex.

Opening Hours

Monday - Friday :

  • Banking hours : 0930 hours - 1600 hours
  • Personal banking : 0930 hours - 1700 hours

Political Representation

Penang State Government

N.26 Padang Kota State Assemblyman : Chow Kon Yeow (Democratic Action Party)

Malaysian Federal Parliament

P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)

References

  1. Hockton, K., Howard Tan, 2012. Penang : An Inside Guide to Its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks. MPH Group, Kuala Lumpur.
  2. Langdon, M. A Guide to George Town's Historic Commercial and Civic Precints. George Town World Heritage Incorporated, Penang.
  3. Khoo S.N., 2007. Streets of George Town, Penang. Areca Books.
  4. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/1886-building.htm

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