Timothy Tye
Town Hall

Town Hall, George TownTown Hall, George Town (30 January, 2006)

The Town Hall (GPS: 5.42121, 100.3411) of George Town is a civic building at Padang Kota Lama, Penang. Like most important buildings of the British administration, the Penang Town Hall takes pride of place in front of an open field, in this case the Esplanade Padang in George Town.

The foundation stone of the Town Hall was laid in 1879 and the main building completed in 1883. It consisted of an assembly hall, a grand ballroom, and a library. You may be keen to note that the Penang Library was born here, after the Prince of Wales Library was moved here and renamed. An annex was added in 1890 while the porch and top floor added in 1903. The left wing - when cement plaster was introduced - as added in 1930. Those extensions and renovations together constitute the Town Hall.

Town Hall, George TownTown Hall, George Town (30 January, 2006)

For decades the Penang Town Hall was the watering hole for the local socialites and elites, the venue for theatrical performances. Church services were held here - by Wesley Church in 1891, Bangsawan plays were performed, in 1903, while a group of Filipino musicians played here from 1890 right up to 1954. The Penang Town Hall was even featured in the movie Anna and the King, the courtroom segment of which was filmed here in 1999.

When the local authorities considered demolishing the Penang Town Hall, the National Museum stepped in to save it, gazetting it a historic monument on 29 July 1993.

The Penang Town Hall building was in in a sorry state when the previous tenant moved out. A lot of insensitive addition was made to it without regard to the original material used. When the building was handed back to the museum, the roof was leaking, and the wall plasters coming out, due to the paint used that prevented proper evaporation of ground water. Also, it caused the porous walls to accumulate salt. During restoration, a special process was in place to suck out the salt.

At the time of writing this article (January 2006) it is still inconclusive how the restored Penang Town Hall will be used. AsiaExplorers look forward to the Penang Town Hall being returned to the people of Penang, for uses that benefit the community.

Updates on Town Hall

20 August, 2014 The Town Hall was the venue of The Living City # Better Cities, an interactive exhibit of Lego bricks where visitors are free to build their own structures on the large lego platform. The exhibition runs from 20 August to 31 August, 2014.

Children playing with the Legos of The Living City, Town HallParents and children playing with the Legos of The Living City, Town Hall (23 August, 2013)

Lego models, The Living CityLego models, The Living City (23 August, 2013)

Getting there

The nearest bus stop is along Light Street. It is served by Rapid Penang bus 103, 204, 502 and CAT.

Town Hall is on the map of Light Street

List of Historic Buildings in Penang and Historic Buildings in Malaysia

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