Timothy Tye's Travel Encyclopedia
Northam Lodge (Soonstead)






Northam Lodge (Soonstead), George Town, Penang (5 August, 2012)



Soonstead (GPS: 5.42521, 100.32634) is an early 20th century mansion along Northam Road in George Town, Penang. Designed by famous architect James Stark, it was built in 1919 by one of the early Penang millionaires Heah Swee Lee. A sugar baron, Heah owned a vast plantation in Seberang Perai where he grew sugar cane, coconut and rubber. He was an active sportsman who was one of the first non-European members of the Penang Polo Club. His sporting legacy continues today with the Heah Swee Lee Cup for lawn tennis.

Another view of Northam Lodge (Soonstead)Another view of Northam Lodge (Soonstead) (5 August, 2012)


Soonstead was originally known as Northam Lodge. The name was derived from an earlier villa that stood on that site. At that time it was fashionable for the Chinese nouveau riche in Penang to erect ostentacious homes in the European style and giving them European-sounding names.

Northam Lodge was eventually sold to another rich Penang family, the Soons, and was renamed Soonstead. The mansion changed hands again in 1973, when it became the property of the late Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew.

In the subsequent decades Soonstead fell into disrepair with the passing of Tan Sri Loh. Recently, it was restored by the Bayview Group, which has links to the Boon Siew Group. The upper floor holds memorabilia of the late Tan Sri Loh while the ground floor is for social functions and product launches. The building will revert to its original name, Northam Lodge.

Updates

31 August, 2014: The Star reports that BSG Property, which bought over the property of the late Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew, has given its assurance that the iconic mansion will be conserved.

22 August, 2014: The Penang Heritage Trust started a signature campaign to save Soonstead, appealing against an "unsympathetic development" that was unfolding on the property. The "unsympathetic development" is in the form of a proposed 11-storey block that will house a 108-room hotel with a two-storey car park. PHT expresses its concern that the development will dwarf the existing buildings and "make a mockery of George Town's status and responsibilites as a World Heritage Site".

Getting there

The nearest bus stop along Northam Road is served by Rapid Penang bus 103.

Soonstead/Northam Lodge is on the map of Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah

List of Historic Buildings in Penang and Historic Buildings in Malaysia

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