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Kota Ngah Ibrahim - Ngah Ibrahim's Fort
The first photograph supplied by our regular supporter, Ipoh Remembered, shows Ngah Ibrahim's original house. built in 1865, without the porch built as part of the preservation and restoration. The photograph also shows the original roof rather than the one visible today, built of new materials.
The second photograph from the same source shows some of the old fortifications necessary to protect the house during the Larut wars. It was then that the house became known as a fort.
Initially the building was simply a home for Ngah Ibrahim, who after his legendary elephant went tin mining became a powerful and wealthy tin miner, but he fortified it to save himself from the Chinese triads of the Ghee Hin and Hai San who eventually went to war, for the first time, in 1861, over tin mining rights. The fighting lasted for more than a year and broke out again in 1865, and then more seriously in 1871/1872 which inadvertently brought the British to Perak. The period was known as the four Larut Wars.
Richer than the Sultan of Perak, he was appointed by the Sultan as Minister of Larut, but became involved in the plot against J W W Birch the British Resident, was charged with murder, found guilty and banished to the Seychelles with Sultan Abdullah. He was never permitted to return to Perak and died in Singapore in 1877. His remains were found in a grave in Singapore in 2006, brought back to Perak and buried at his fort. Rightly or wrongly he had returned home.
The building has had many roles over the years: tax office and collection centre for the Larut tin trade; as a court to try Dato Maharaja Lela and Si Puntum for the murder of J W W Birch; the Matang primary school; and the first Malayan Teachers’ Training College, among others. Today the site is the Matang Historical Complex under the management of the Museum and Antiquities Department, proudly displaying a full size model of that elephant.
The third photograph, taken by Ian Anderson in 2009 shows the view from the gate of the property.
This final picture (also from Ian Anderson) s of the full size model elephant which stand in the entrance to a building. Legend has it that one day he ran amok into the jungle and when he was finally caught he had a silvery substance smeared all over his left front leg. When his handlers had quietened him down enough to clean him up they found the substance was tin. The then Regent (there was no Sultan at the time) then gave all mining rights in the area to the owner of the elephant. True or not, it is a lovely story and is said to have started the tin boom and, which resulted in the Larut Wars.
Alongside the complex is Captain Speedy’s house. Captain Speedy was the Perak Chief of Police in 1873 and appointed Assistant British Resident of Perak when the Pangkor Treaty was signed on the 20th January 1874.