Frozen in History: The Story of Kuching Waterfront

The People's Place

City by the River

Time travel is undeniably impossible, that some towns made great efforts to preserve their history. We therefore should take pride in Kuching, a success story very close to our heart, of where the old meets new, gracefully. 

Rivers have long been known as the lifeline of human civilisation and have birthed great cities worldwide. So, where would be the best spot to justify that Kuching has truly stood the test of time? Surely, it’s none other than the Kuching Waterfront. 

Credit: Kuching Waterfront Precint

The Beginning of the White Rajahs Administration

Source: Sailingstone TRAVEL

Sailing on his schooner, the Royalist, James Brooke landed in Kuching on 15 August 1839 by the invitation of Raja Muda Hashim with one mission in mind- to put down a rebellion against the Sultan of Brunei.

Source: HISTORY.TO.THE.MAX

The mission was accomplished and in return, Brooke was rewarded with the province of Kuching (known as Sarawak Asal then) in 1841, marking the beginning of the White Rajahs era.

Historical Buildings Along Sg. Sarawak (Kuching Waterfront Focus)

The White Rajahs reign lasted for more than a century, ending in 1946 with Charles Vyner Brooke as the last ruler from Brooke’s family. Throughout the ruling period, fortresses and administration buildings influenced by colonial architecture were built, mostly located along the Sarawak River. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Kenneth Lee

The Square Tower was built in 1879, originally used as a prison. Later, it turned into a fortress and a dance hall. The Square Tower now houses the Magenta Restaurant, where diners can enjoy the scenic view along Sg. Sarawak while having their meal.

Source: Kuching 1950 – 1959 Sir Anthony Foster Abells Era Vol. 2

Credit: Sailingstone Travel 

The Chinese History Museum Kuching initially served as the headquarter of the Sarawak Chinese Chamber of Commerce from 1912 to 1921. Only in 1993 that it turned into a museum and was officially opened to the public. 

Credit: Kuching Waterfront Precint

Credit: Kuching Waterfront Precint

The frame of the Godown Amphitheatre was originally part of a godown (warehouse by the dockside) built in 1929. To-date, the structure functions as a sheltered area for resting as well as activity centre. 

Source: Sarawak More to Discover

Credit: Kuching Waterfront Precint

Built in 1930, the Sarawak Steamship Building was previously the office and warehouse of the Sarawak Steamship Company which helped build Sarawak’s infrastructure and encourage trade since 1875. The complex originally comprised three buildings and now houses the Restoran Budaya Sarawak and Sarawak Craft Bazaar. 

“The People Place”: Where the River Flows and History Lives

Source: Cats City Hornbill Land

The Kuching Waterfront used to be a busy maritime port where trading would take place. However, the area is prone to flood and locals used to complain about it being a mudflat. 

Prompted by the beautification project of the Sarawak river, the Kuching Waterfront was opened in 1993 with the idea to reclaim a strip of land along the same riverbank to have a firmer ground.

This move has turned Kuching Waterfront into a central tourism destination, becoming the key which unlocks economic activities around the area.

It is rare to come across a city with a waterfront that works effectively for tourists and residents alike. The most successful ones knit theirs into the fabric of the city, and Kuching is one. 

Therefore, I am proud to tell the success story of Kuching Waterfront, where history froze.

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