Following heritage initiatives of the tin museum in Selangor (Klang Tin Museum) and the Sungai Lembing Museum in Pahang (dedicated to the memory of tin mining in that area), the Kampar Tin Museum (Gravel Pump Mining) situated in the brand new town of Bandar Baru Kampar, is being created by an ex-Kampar MP – Tan Sri Hew See Tong – benefactor and patron to the new township – in line with Perak state’s long reaching ‘From Tin Mines to Mind Industries’ initiative.
The long awaited tin museum, when completed, will seek to house reams of revealing and original photographs, illustrative paintings, vital tin mining artefacts and a host of information pertaining to the century and a half of tin mining in and around the Kampar area. The museum’s main focus will be on gravel pump mining – one form of ‘open-cast’ tin mining, using pumped water to separate tin ore from the earth housing it in conjunction with a scaffold mounted sluice box.
To demonstrate the gravel pump process to visitors of the museum, there will be intriguing life-size working models of the operation. These models, already under construction, will be complete with running water as well as life-like models carefully crafted of concrete, assembled to represent both the workings and the tin miners engaged in the process of gravel pump mining, making the process abundantly clear for novice museum visitors.
The aim is to be informative to the museum’s visitors and to assist in preserving the memory and heritage of tin mining. The museum intends to be a repository of knowledge about gravel pump tin mining and therefore an educational resource for schools, colleges and the nearby UTAR University, situated amidst the burgeoning new township of Bandar Baru Kampar.
The museum and municipality of Bandar Baru are set against Malaysia’s undulating Titiwangsa mountain range. The town surroundings are graced by a host of lakes which are the result of that area’s later-day tin mining industry. Kampar and Bandar Baru are preserved, thanks to the North/South Highway bypassing towns like Kampar.
In Kampar, antique buildings, dating back to the founding of that town, still adorn small streets with many local arts and crafts still found along the main thoroughfare or scattered along intriguing backstreets.
The small town was originally named Mambang Di Awan (fairy in the clouds), after the mountain dominating the town’s skyline, in whose shadow Kampar rests. Colonial District Officer J.B.M. Leech renamed the town Kampar, after the nearby Kampar River (Sungai Kampar) for, in true colonial style, Leech felt that Mambang Di Awan was too much of a mouthful to say.
“It’s now or never, if we don’t do it now we will be unable to do it” said Tan Sri Hew See Tong, when I asked him why start building a tin mining museum now. “Not ten years later, not five years….nobody can do it. Before we had over one hundred members, now when we get together we are only ten.” The ‘interested parties’, those people concerned with tin and its heritage are now elderly. The decision to construct a museum needed to be made before it was too late. Tan Sri (see cover story), feared that younger generations may not have the same interest in the preservation of their cultural heritage as the people who have been directly involved with tin and its production.
The tin mining museum is planned to open at the end of 2011. There is little doubt that the opening of the museum will be a major event, even in Kampar’s remarkable history – it will be Kampar’s first museum and the area’s first museum dedicated solely to gravel pump tin mining.
By Yusuf Martin