The Sungai Bidor Railway Bridge in Teluk Intan has been known to be called ‘Gerotak Keretapi/Besi Teluk Intan’ which loosely translated would mean the ‘wagon trail steel bridge of Teluk Intan’; is a significant historical structure which contributed much to the hey days of Teluk Intan in terms of local economy. It is after all the most important segment to link the railway line between Tapah Road and the Teluk Anson Wharf. Upon its completion, it was then the longest bridge in the Federated Malay States, particularly in the peninsular (1)

A survey to determine the most suitable route for a railway line between Tapah Road and Teluk Anson Wharf, with further plans to the Kinta Valley was conducted in 1891 by Mr.Spence Moss, who at that time was the Railway Engineer of the British Government. It was discovered that there would be a need for two long bridges to be constructed, one to cross Sungai Batang Padang and another to bridge Sungai Bidor in Teluk Intan. The proposal then was to build a similar railway bridge to that of Charing Cross, which spanned the River Thames in England (2)

Sir Frank Swettenham, who at that time was the British Resident of Perak supervised the construction of the bridge which commenced in May of 1891 and completed in November of 1892. On 20th of January 1892, Sir Frank accompanied by the Commander of the 1st Perak Sikh Attachment and the Assistant Railway Engineer along with an entourage had visited and inspected the bridge personally. They then proceeded on a train to travel almost 9 miles to also inspect the Sungai Batang railway bridge in Chiku. As mentioned earlier, these are structures along the Tapah Road to Teluk Anson Wharf railway line.(3)

It was with great fanfare that the Tapah Road to Teluk Anson Wharf railway line was launched on 18th May 1893 by The Honourable Sir Cecil Clementi Smith in his capacity as the Governor of British Straits Settlements. The event was also graced by Mrs.Clementi Smith, The British Resident of Perak, Commander of the 1st Perak Sikh Attachment, State Secretary, Railway Engineer in Residence, Lower Perak Superintendant as well as other important officials. The officiating party led by the Governor was then taken on a carriage towards Tapah Road departing Teluk Anson Wharf. Upon reaching the Sungai Bidor railway bridge, the carriage was stopped to allow the governor to inspect the bridge upclose as well as the opportunity to soak in the view of Bidor river from the bridge. They then proceeded to Tapah Road Station arriving at 15 minutes past noon. The highlight of the ceremony was perhaps when the wife of the Governor, Mrs.Clementi Smith was given the honour to install the final railroad rivet, made of tin mined from the state of Perak, onto the tracks. (4)

During the Japanese occupation of Malaya, the Sungai Bidor railway bridge was demolished with explosives by the retreating British forces who had departed Teluk Anson for Slim River. It was however, repaired quickly by the occupying Japanese force allowing them to take Teluk Anson swiftly in the early days of the war. Eventually settling in, the Japanese forces then dismantled the Tapah Road Teluk Anson railroad tracks for use in the Burma Death railway line.

Upon the defeat of the Japanese by allied forces in 1945, the British returned to Malaya and prioritised the restoration of ports and infrastructure required to re-establish the trading ports of the West Coast of Malaya. With this objective, Teluk Anson Wharf as well as the Tapah Road Teluk Anson railway line was rebuilt with an allocation of $756,000.00 with priorities to restore the Sungai Bidor railway bridge (5)

References

  1. Straits Times Weekly Issue (20 Mei 1891), m/s 3
  2. Daily Advertiser (2 September 1892) m/s 3
  3. Straits Times Weekly Issue (14 Februari 1893) m/s 6
  4. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser(23 May 1893) m/s 3
  5. The Straits Times (26 Januari 1947) m/s 5

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