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Buckingham Street, George Town, Penang

Buckingham Street, within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, runs along the southern side of Kapitan Keling Mosque (left).

Buckingham Street is a relatively short street within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site. Running along the southern side of the oldest mosque in the city centre, Kapitan Keling Mosque, it stretches from the western intersection with Campbell Street and Carnavon Street to Pitt Street to the east.

Created in the 1900s, the area was previously owned by the Kapitan Keling Mosque, which was built in 1801. The land immediately south of the mosque grew into an Indian Muslim residential area, filled with shophouses.

The area was later bought back by the George Town Municipal Council, leading to the construction of Buckingham Street and Carnavon Street police station.

Buckingham Street sign, George Town, Penang

A bilingual Buckingham Street sign, featuring its Chinese name.

Today, the street retains its Indian Muslim character, although most businesses and eateries along the street have been closed.

Etymology

Buckingham Palace, London

Buckingham Street was named after the famous Buckingham Palace in London.

Buckingham Street was obviously named after the Buckingham Palace in London, which serves as one of the official residences of the British monarch (currently Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II).

In addition, the street was also known to the Chinese as Sin3 Kay3 Thau2 in Hokkien and San Kai Thau in Cantonese, meaning 'the beginning of the new street'.

Kapitan Keling Mosque, George Town, Penang (1900s)

Kapitan Keling Mosque in the 1900s. Built in 1801, this was the mosque's original architecture.

History

The land on which Buckingham Street now lies was first owned by the Kapitan Keling Mosque, the oldest mosque within the heart of George Town. Built in 1801, the mosque was originally given 18 acres of land by the then Lieutenant Governor of Penang, Sir George Alexander William Leith.

Buckingham Street, George Town, Penang (2)

Indian Muslim shophouses along Buckingham Street.

The vast piece of land also allowed for a Muslim cemetery, as well as a means to collect revenue for the mosque's maintenance. The founder of the mosque, Caudeer Mohuddeen @ Kader Mydin Merican, was also buried along the street.

Over the next 100 years, the area became an Indian Muslim residential quarter, with shophouses surrounding the mosque. As a result, the mosque at the time was only accessible via narrow alleys.

In order to build more public amenities, the George Town Municipal Council was forced to buy back the land immediately south of Kapitan Keling Mosque at great cost in 1899. Having purchased the land, the council was able to build the Campbell Street Market and Carnavon Street police station. Hence, it was also at the start of the 20th. century when Buckingham Street came into being.

Kapitan Keling Mosque, Pitt Street, George Town, Penang

View of Kapitan Keling Mosque today, taken from Buckingham Street.

Even so, for a time, the shophouses along Buckingham Street remained under Kapitan Keling Mosque's ownership. Consequently, the street still retains its Indian Muslim character to this day, albeit becoming quieter due to the closure of many businesses along the street.

106 & 104 Pitt Street, George Town, Penang

106 & 104 Pitt Street, just opposite Kapitan Keling Mosque at the junction between Buckingham Street and Pitt Street, features a hybrid of European and Moorish architectural styles.

Notable Landmarks

Two imposing landmarks are located at the easternmost junction with Pitt Street. Both are good examples of Indian Muslim architecture.

Food

  • Wok & Roll East West Cuisine
  • Nasi Kandar SMR

Political Representation

Penang State Government

Northern side

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

Southern side

N.27 Pengkalan Kota State Assemblyman : Lau Keng Ee (Democratic Action Party)

Malaysian Federal Parliament

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

References

  1. Khoo S.N., 2007. Streets of George Town, Penang. Areca Books, Penang.
  2. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/buckingham-street.htm
  3. http://wongchunwai.com/category/penang-history-my-story/page/5/

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