View of Butterworth, with Penang Island in the background. (7 October, 2017)
Butterworth (GPS: 5.39552, 100.36688)(Jawi: باڬن; Traditional Chinese: 北海; Pinyin: Běihǎi; Penang Hokkien: Park1hai4; Tamil: பட்டர்வொர்த்) is the main town of Seberang Perai, and is often synonymous with the whole mainland area. It serves as the transportation hub for Penang Mainland, and increasingly, for the entire Penang State. The town has not yet existed when the British acquired the piece of land on the mainland and named it Province Wellesley after Richard Wellesley, the Governor-General of Bengal at the turn of the 19th century. There was however already a settlement by the name of Bagan, which means pier, and refers to the wooden piers or jetties that jut out of the coast as well as along the Prai River. At that time, there was already a river settlement on the other side of the river, which appeared in British maps as Prye.
Butterworth was only established in the mid 19th century as a counterpart of George Town. It was named after William John Butterworth, the Governor of the Residency of the Straits Settlement from 1843 to 1851. Throughout the over one hundred years of its existence, Butterworth had always played second fiddle to George Town. Butterworth was founded to be a transportation hub supporting George Town, a role it still holds today. This is where the railroad, road network, ships and ferry have their terminus.
The British Recreation Club Building in Butterworth, now renovated and renamed Dewan Dato Haji Ahmad Badawi (29 Janaury, 2009)
History of Butterworth
Butterworth gained significance from 1861 onwards, and the increase in mining activities in the Larut District propelled an economic boom that was experience by both Penang Island and Province Wellesley. Butterworth became the place where the railway station was built to receive tin ore from Larut. The ore is then transferred directly to steam ships docked at the wharves in Butterworth. From George Town comes railway passengers who bought their tickets in George Town, and were then transferred to the railway ferry to be taken to the awaiting train in Butterworth.
Today Butterworth continues to play its role as a transportation hub. The Butterworth Outer Ring Road cuts through the centre of town, allowing for rapid traffic dispersal across the town. The Deepwater Wharves are located to the south of the ferry terminal, Pengkalan Sultan Abdul Halim, while the North Butterworth Container Terminal is located to the north. There is a limited number of high-rise buildings in Butterworth compared to George Town.
Crossing the Prai Bridge, between Butterworth and Prai (20 October, 2009)
Butterworth can be reached by road, rail and ferry. The Butterworth Railway Station is a major train terminus and is served by trains from Kuala Lumpur and Hatyai; you can even visit Butterworth when you stay in Bangkok. Visitors by road to Butterworth exit the North-South Expressway at the Prai Interchange (Exit 162) and take the Butterworth Outer Ring Road to Butterworth, exiting at either the Deep Water Wharves Interchange or the Chain Ferry Interchange.
Butterworth Railway Station is one of the major railway stations in West Malaysia. However, most travelers either continue to George Town or head south to Kuala Lumpur or north of Bangkok. Whether you plan to stay in Kuala Lumpur or George Town, you can book your accommodtion online before you arrive.
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