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The Birch Clock Tower, A Memorial To J W W Birch, The First British Resident Of Perak
This photograph shows the view of Birch Clock Tower, at Post Office Road.
Unveiled by H. E. High Commissioner Sir John Anderson on 8th December 1909, the Birch Memorial can be described as a square decorated tower with a portrait bust and four panels illustrative of the growth of civilisation. The tower was erected on the table-land of Ipoh Old Town at the cost of about $25,000. A dedication to J W W Birch, the first British Resident of Perak, who was assassinated by the Malays at Pasir Salak in 1875, could be found beneath the site of a bronze bust of Birch in the north-facing niche, but the bust and dedication have both since disappeared, we understand, in 1958
This photograph is therefore historic as it shows the bust in place. The clock tower has one mother bell, 6ft 6in. in diameter and weighing 10cwt, and four smaller bells weighing together 10cwt. The original melody, based on phrases from the Book of Psalms via Handel and known as “Westminster Chimes” (or, more accurately, “Cambridge Quarters”) was the same as the one in London— except that the main bell (“Big Ben”) is used only to strike the hours whereas the melody is due to the action of four smaller bells.
At the corners of the belfry, mounted on pedestals, are terracotta figures, representing the four, so-called, Virtues of British Administration - Loyalty, with sword and shield, Justice, blind and carrying a sword and a pair of scales, Patience, unarmed, and Fortitude, with a calm face and bearing a spear.
On the four civilisation panels around the tower, 44 famous figures in the world history are portrayed, although the image of Mohammad (pbun), the last Prophet of Islam, was removed in 1958 due to objections from Muslims to the depiction of the Prophet. Above adapted from 1999 Janus Print & Resources - Published by the Perak State Government.
Interestingly enough the son of J W W Birch, E W Birch, also became the Resident of Perak in 1905 and it was he who personally put into motion the project to build a memorial to his father. This soon found approval from the government. After E W Birch retired, a fountain of Ipoh marble was presented to the public by the Chinese community of Perak, in his honour. It was erected at the southern end of Belfield Street, but has since been broken up and (in the name of development) replaced by an uninspiring concrete one.