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22 May 2024

Friday, July 31, 2015

110-year-old wall marking KL’s rail history partially destroyed

A picture of the 110-year-old wall in front of Agro Bank Malaysia headquarters in Lebuh Pasar which has since been partially destroyed by construction workers. – Pic courtesy of mamapumpkin.com, July 31, 2015.
A 110-year-old wall commemorating Kuala Lumpur’s railway history has been partially destroyed by by construction workers working on a nearby building, the StarMetro reported.
The 15m wall, located in front of the Agro Bank Malaysia headquarters in Lebuh Pasar Besar, was kept in memory of the history of the place as the Federated Malay States Railway and Yard was built there in 1905.
The adjoining building used to house the railway headquarters and is now the National Textile Museum, the report said.
International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) Malaysia chairman and National Heritage Council chairman Datuk Hajeedar Majid condemned the destruction of the wall.
"In the early 1980s, there was an understanding with Agrobank, which was then Bank Pertanian, to keep the wall as it formed a very defining area of the city’s physical historical development.
“The compromise then was that the infill walls were removed to allow visual penetration of the building.
“This would give a clear view from the street and also gives visual impact,” the report quoted him as saying.
Hajeedar, who is also a conservation architect, urged the authorities to investigate the matter.
“How this destruction happened is for the authorities to find out and take action, especially Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the National Heritage Department (JWN).
“In any development project, there are sure to be appointed consultants who should be aware of working within a historic or heritage area.
“It was insensitive of the party responsible whether it be the developer or contractor,” the StarMetro quoted him as saying.
All is not lost, however, as Icomos Malaysia committee member Rosli Mohd Ali, who visited the site yesterday, said it was possible to restore the damaged portion of the wall.
“The main is thing is to ensure that all the bricks from the wall are kept intact.
“These are rare bricks as they were originally made in Brickfields and use the same material as those used for the Sultan Abdul Samad building and the textile museum.
“They are more porous than modern-day bricks because of the lime cement that was used to lay the bricks.
“However, research would have to be done to determine the composition of the cement mix,” he told StarMetro.
Rosli said it was difficult to estimate the cost of restoring the wall.
“This would require a specialised skill set and architectural know-how to return it to near its original state,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Mohd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz said the wall was not gazetted by the National Heritage Department.
“As far as I know, there is no intention by Kuala Lumpur City Hall or the National Heritage Department to declare it as a heritage site,” the report quoted him as saying.

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