Weld Quay (Malay: Pengkalan Weld; Penang Hokkien: Sin3 Hai1kni3 Kay1 新海墘街 , lit: "New Coastal Street"/Cun3thau2 船頭 , lit: "Harbour"; Tamil: Kitange Tehru கிடங்கு தெரு , lit: "Warehouse Street") is a coastal road on the east side of George Town. It was built at the turn of the 20th century, following the land reclamation of the eastern shore that took place between 1883 and 1889 that created a new coastal land for a deeper port. The reclamation cost $526,107 and was a monumental undertaking during its time.
Weld Quay was named after Sir Frederick Weld, the Governor of the Straits Settlements from 1880 to 1887 who was instrumental in the land reclamation and port expansion project. Weld Road in Kuala Lumpur (now known as Jalan Raja Chulan) and Weld Road in Singapore were both named after him too.
The laying out of Weld Quay completes the land reclamation, creating new land which developed into the Chinese Trades Neighbourhood, an area of wholesalers and Chinese warehouses. The neighbourhood provided jobs for labourers and stevedores who developed their own living quarters, today known as the Clan Jetties.
Walking down Weld Quay from Swettenham Pier, one passes through buildings representative of a particularly boisterous period in the history of George Town. Between the junction of Downing Street and China Street Ghaut are mostly European trading houses, the majority of which are still standing today.
After China Street Ghaut, the character changes to one that is distinctly Chinese and working class. Many of the plots have been redeveloped into modern high-rises. This was before the inscription of George Town as a World Heritage Site, and height limit put into place.
Sporadically located along the modern buildings are old warehouses, called godowns, from the time when cargo was brought from the piers for temporary storage. On this southern stretch of Weld Quay, and on its off-shoot streets, you find various trades connected to the harbour, such as boat engine repair, anchor making, and so on. There is a huge concentration of automobile repair shops as well. The road narrows to accommodate the various pushcarts of the itinerant hawkers, only to widen again when Weld Quay spills into Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.
Weld Quay was known as kitengi teru meaning "warehouse street" in Tamil. According to the book, The Chulia in Penang, it was called Padahu Thurai in Tamil meaning "boat yard"1. In Penang Hokkien, it is simply called Cun3 Thau2 [tsun-thau] meaning pier, jetty or harbour.
The buildings along Weld Quay are originally numbered from north to south in sequence, on the western side of the street, as the eastern side has only the harbour, piers and waterfront. Later, when the eastern side of Weld Quay also contained properties, their addresses are assigned an "A" corresponding to the address on the opposite side of the street.
Buildings on Weld Quay (14 November, 2012)
The southern end of Weld Quay, and the start of the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (29 November, 2012)
Getting to Weld Quay
You can reach Weld Quay by taking the Rapid Penang Free Shuttle Bus to Station No. 1 (Pengkalan Weld). In fact, the main bus terminal for Penang Island is located at Weld Quay, within easy reach of the ferry.
Aerial view of Weld Quay (6 February, 2013)
Khoo Salma Nasution, The Chulia in Penang (Areca Books, 2014, p.14)
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