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An Article From The Michaelian - A Noble Landmark
The Story of Our Clock-Tower
A clock-tower is a common sight but ours is a unique one, at least according to the Rev J Appaduray, septuagenarian and well-known retired teacher of Ipoh. He had graciously responded to our request to talk to us about our clock tower. In what ways is it unique? Mr Appaduray says that he has been to England, Western Europe, India and several countries in the East and nowhere has he seen one like it. It is not unique in size, in beauty of design or structure. It is unique in that it bears a message that no other clock-tower does.
Built in 1908 at a cost of over $12,000 contributed by the Government and the public, it was dedicated to the memory of Mr J W W Birch, first British Resident of Perak, who was murdered on 2nd November, 1875, by Malays for political reasons. The idea of building the memorial tower came from Dr R M Connolly, then State Surgeon, who from the start took a very keen interest and a great deal of trouble in designing and planning it. Construction began in August, 1908 and completed in October the following year. For a public tower it is of very modest dimensions, being only 72 feet above the level of the road. At the time when it was constructed, it stood on a conspicuous site, but today hemmed in by buildings on all sides, it might be missed by a visitor.
The tower is quadrangular in shape. On each of its four sides, is a panel or frieze, done in colours, on which notable figures in human history are depicted. The panels face exactly north, south, east and west.
Panel North shows us people of the Stone Age and early Iron Age. Among them are a hunter, clad in skins and armed with a spear, bone-tipped, a fisher, a spinner and weaver, a potter, a fortune teller, followed by a Phoenician sailor and a Roman soldier, complete with armour, helmet, sword and shield.
On Panel West are portraits of early famous men. Among them are Moses the Law-Giver, David, harp in hand, singing psalms, Confucius, Buddha, Lao Tze, Alexander the Great, famous Greek Philosophers and Emperor Augustus.
Panel South introduces us to the age of conquest, represented by Constantine, the age of chivalry, represented by a Crusader, the age of faith, represented by St Clara, the age of science, represented by Galileo, the age of art, represented by Michaelangelo carrying a statue of David, the age of literature, represented by William Shakespeare, the age of reform, represented by Martin Luther and the age of discovery, represented by Christopher Columbus.
Panel East brings us to modern times. On it the great masters of modern science, medicine and art are represented. We see Sir Isaac Newton, William Harvey, James Watt with his prototype steam engine, a Chinese embroiderer, representing eastern art, Beethoven, George Stephenson with his famous locomotive, Daguerre, inventor of Photography, Florence Nightingale, Charles Darwin, T A Edison, and Dr Lister, father of antiseptic surgery.
In the words of Mr Appaduray, the pictures on our clock-tower may be described as “history in masonry.” They certainly tell a remarkable tale of human progress.
At the corners of the belfry, mounted on pedestals, are figures, representing the four Virtues of British Administration