Map of Carnarvon Street
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Carnarvon Street or Lebuh Carnarvon(沓田仔街), which is located between Chulia Street(牛干冬、大门楼、吉宁街) and Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong(林萃龙路/港仔墘). The part of Chulia Street is called toa-mui-lau(大门楼/大門樓) by Chinese. The street is one of the early street created outside the Francis Light Grid in 1860s. The street can be divided into 3 parts based on the Chinese names. The 3 parts are:-
1. North of Campbell St
大門樓橫街(toa-mui-lau-huai-ke),which literally means Chulia St(大門樓) cross street. It is also called be-chai-ke(賣菜街) because of the street are packed with vegetable sellers in the morning.
This is the part of the street between Chulia Street and Campbell Street(新街), mainly retailers and restaurants. The street is lined with vegetables hawkers and sundry good hawkers in the morning. In the old days, the morning market is busy, but today the place has lost its prime. There were fewer stalls and less shoppers in the area, and also gradually moved out. Some of the shops are on the wakaf land owned by Masjid Kapitan Kling(especially around Campbell Street junction), were renovated and took back by the trustee . This place is waiting for its sunset day, the living heritage of old Penang will soon be lost......
The early church of First Assembly of God was here at 8C, Carnarvon Street.
The popular dim sum restaurant, Yik Woh Restaurant @ 6 - 8, Carnarvon St, and Kedai Makanan Teik Seng(Teik Seng Restaurant) are located here. Both are popular restaurant, especially for those who value old Penang taste.
2. Between Campbell St and Acheen St
番仔塚 hoan-a-thiong, which literally mean Malay cemetery. There is a Malay cemetery at Kampong Kaka.
The icon of the place is Campbell Street Market, and row of shops which have been renovated recently and some shops have moved out. The other building is Central Police Station.
Campbell Street Market is one of the two community wet markets in inner George Town, the other is Chowrasta Market. It is said to have been built on the site of an old Malay cemetery, and was known as "Hutan Mayat". The cemetery is located at the edge of the parcel of land which was provided to the Indian Muslim community for the construction of the Kapitan Keling Mosque in 1800. Originally, the land of the mosque was much bigger. However, it was progressively bought back by the Municipal Council to built the Campbell Street Market and Central Police station(include prison), the compound of the mosque today is much smaller than the original land.
The Campbell Street Market was originally known as the Carnavon Street Market, as it is at the cross road of Campbell Street and Carnarvon Street. The Municipal government erected a market building along with the police station, which still occupies the lot behind the market. The Campbell Street Market was built in the Victorian style around 1900, and cost $21,000. This market building is probably the oldest in George Town. The front facade faces the junction of Lebuh Carnavon, Lebuh Campbell and Lebuh Buckingham. There is an arch window at the pediment.
3. South of Acheen St
沓塍仔 lam-chan-na, which means swamp field. This is also the name for the original street
姓張公司街 seh-tiơ-kong-si-ke, which literally means Teoh clanhouse or kongsi street.
十間厝 tsap-keng-chhu, which literally means 10 houses.
四角井 si-kak-che, which literally means square well
This part of Carnarvon Street from Persara Claimant junction, where Central Police station or Carnarvon St police station/prison is located. Immediately after Campbell Street wet market. The old prison was no more there, as it has been demolished. Opposite the polices station are row of shop houses, immediately after the Kampong Kaka curve, which are retailers selling soya sauce and pickles, and other sundry food shops. From the police station after a small alley, there is another row of 5 shops, where the gold merchant and formerly famous Dr Gan was there, after that it is Li Teik Siah Building.
Opposite the Li Teik Siah is a old hotel(formerly Ban-kok hotel), which has re-constructed, and follow by row of shops until Carnarvon Lane junction. Teoh Polyclinic and another clinic, and end with the red house at the corner of Prangin Lane. The red house is a wholesaler.
There after Carnarvon Lane/Kimberley Street, was once the concentration of coffin shops and book shops. But the once busy part of the street has now slowing down, also waiting for its days......
The street is famous for coffin makers, and is called coffin street by old Penang people. Coffin shops have been at the street since a long time, the famous old coffin shop was Hock Lian Seng(福聯成). Next door to Hock Lian Seng coffin shop was Joss paper shop Hooh Seng(next to Nanyang book shop). The coffin shops are moving out despite some shops are still remained. Shop which make paper effigies for use as offering to the departed is another specialty of the street - the paper effigies are duplicates of all pleasures of the material world, which can be reproduced in paper and burnt as gifts for the hereafter. One of the old shop " Lau Kim Ho"(next to Hock Lian Seng) has closed, and some have moved to other places.
This is also the book street, where book shops like Asia Bookshop(亚洲书局)@ 206 & 208, Carnarvon Street, Nanyang Bookshop(南洋书局)@ 200,202,& 204 are for English schools. There were other book shops are for Chinese schools e.g. Children World Sdn Bhd @179B, Carnarvon St(兒童世界有限公司).The book shops are facing stiff competition from the big chain book retailers like Popular, Borders,MPH etc, which are located at shopping complex with better shopping environment. The bookshops are either closing or moving out, as it no longer attracted students to the place whenever school reopen. Some of them like South East Asia Book Company @ 207, Carnarvon St only deal with stationary. When most of the bookshop in Carnarvon Street closed, but Asia Bookshop make it to become a listed company Asia File Corporation Bhd, which has its origin in Carnarvon Street. It was established in 1961 and listed in 1996.
The old Penang normally called this street coffin street, and not book street, may be because book or "shu(書)" in Mandarin means losing, which is bad omen. In Hokkien, the pronunciation is easier for coffin street(kua-cha-ke, 棺材街) than book shop street(chek-tian-ke,書店街), so coffin street prevail. So they called it coffin street....
The only business that still attract crowds to the street are the food stalls/coffee shops. Some retailers are however still there.
(i) Seng Thor Coffee Shop(成都茶室)at the junction of Kimberley Street and Carnarvon Stree is famous for its Lor-Mee(滷麵, Starchy noodle), and its Lor-egg (卤蛋)is the best;Oh-chian(fried oyster).
(ii)The famous duck meat Koay Teow Th'ng formerly at Carnarvon Street has shifted to 113, Malay Street.
(iii) Ah Hor Char Koay Teow or Tiger Char Koay Teow(老虎炒粿条), Kedai Kopi Ping Hooi Coffee Shop(槟园咖啡店). The Lor Bak stall has been there since 60s.
Kwongzhao Biscuit shop(广州饼家) which located at 158, Carnarvon Street in Penang.
This row of 5 shop houses between Li Teik Siah and Police Station, was once MBS was located when they start the school in 1891.
The row of shop houses from Ban Kok Hotel to the Red House at Carnarvon Lane junction
The view of Carnarvon Lane, see the corner red house, a wholesaler?
The Red House
Li Teik Siah Building
Li Teik Seah Building @120,Carnarvon Street, near to the Sin Tho coffee shop,beside the biscuit shop. It is just after the junction between Kimberley Street, Carnarvon Lane and Carnarvon Street. It is a beautiful double storey bungalow. The building was originally the home of wealthy 19th century pepper trader Khoo Tiang Poh, alias Khoo Poh. Khoo Tiang Poh is a prominent member of the Khoo Kongsi and with his fellow clansman Khoo Thean Teik, were the forces behind the Khian Teik secret society. The term "secret society" is given by the British to describe the activities of the local groups which appear to be clandestine.
The Khian Teik secret society is closely allied to the Red Flag society, a Muslim group of Malays and Achenese. One of its leaders is Syed Mohamed Alatas. The alliance was further strengthen when Khoo Tiang Poh gave his daughter in marriage to Syed Mohamed Alatas's son, Syed Sheikh Alatas, as the latter's second wife.
The friction between the Red Flag / Khian Teik alliance and the White Flag / Ghee Hin alliance eventually erupted into street fighting in 1867. The troubles were now known as the Penang Riots. Khoo Tiang Poh and Khoo Thean Teik were both found guilty of instigating the riots. However, Khoo Tiang Poh escaped deportation when the British discovered that he was holding documents as a naturalized British subject. He only died in 1892.
The house became Li Teik Seah, a youth club, in 1921. The building was also used for Li Teik Branch School. The school building is still there, now occupied by Li Teik Siah and Li Teik Old Boys Association. The upper floor, used to be classrooms is now in dilapidated condition.
(source: Asia Explorer)
Kedai Kopi Seng Thor, famous for Fried Oyster & Lor Mee
The row of coffin & book shops
Lau Kim Hoe, now it had moved
Hock Lian Seng(福聯成)coffin shop. Closed?
View from Malay street, Asia and Nanyang bookshop, which are still around
This building is Hotel Sin Kong, located at the corner of Carnarvon Street/Hong Kong Street(now Cheong Fatt Tze Road(張弼士路), Seh-teoh-kongsi or Teoh/Zhang clanhouse(槟城张氏清河堂/姓張公司)@ 260B, Carnarvon St, was found by Cheong Fatt Tze in 1895. Hong Kong Street, one of the off road of Carnarvon Street is named after him( Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze, 張弼士路)was formerly at the current location of KOMTAR, in front of Confucius Schools. The Hong Kong Street was renamed after him. Cheong Fatt Tze is the Penang Hakka personality who built the Blue Mansion at 14, Leith Street.
Soo Beng Dispensary
Soo Beng Dispensary(思明藥房), found by Dr Lim Chwee Leong, who is the father of former Penang Chief Minister Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu. The office is now occupied by Tun Dr Lim's brother. Soo Beng Dispensary is a heritage building at the junction of Lebuh Carnavon and Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong. It was built in the Art Deco style of the 1920's and finished in Shanghai plaster. The dispensary belonged to Dr Lim Chwee Leong (1891-1957), a famous medical practitioner and pediatrician, and one of the earliest Chinese who study Western medicine.
Dr Lim Chwee Leong
Dr Lim Chwee Leong was a brilliant student who studied medicine at the King Edward VII College in 1909. He was a top student and was awarded the Lim Boon Keng Medal when he graduated in 1913. For a short period of time, he worked as Assistant Surgeon for the Government District Hospital before starting up his own practice in 1914. The dispensary he opened was named after Soo Beng, his native village in Fujian province in southern China.
In addition to being a medical practitioner, Dr Lim Chwee Leong was active in pushing forward the education of his fellowmen. He was the President of the Hu Yew Seah (1915-18), the Straits Chinese British Association (1939) and the Chinese Recreation Club. He was also made a trustee of the Penang Chinese Town Hall shortly before his death in 1957. Among his sons are Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, former chief minister of Penang, Lim Chong Soo, a pharmacist, Lim Chong Beng, an accountant, and Lim Chong Keat, an architect.
The corner shop at the Prangin Lane is the house of late Lee Yi, a popular Chinese song singer,who passed away during accident while crossing the road in Cheras, KL. It used to be spare part shop, now a food outlet. Before the Su Beng Dispensary, there is a row of shops after Prangin Lane, it is the place selling Chinese praying materials
The corner shop just opposite Su Beng Dispensary is one of the early fruit stall and porcelain shop(瓷器行) with the name "陶昇棧".
The first MBS/ACS Penang
Methodist Boys' School, Penang, known as the Anglo-Chinese School, Penang (ACSP) at its inception, had a humble beginning at a little shop house in Carnavon Street. Rev. B. H. Balderstone opened the school doors on May 28, 1891, started with one shop house. On the first day of school, only one student came. At the end of June,there were 10 students, and for initial one or two months, there were no growth, but after that there were gradual growth, and when the school closed for the Chinese New Year, there were 60 students. One by one the shop at either side was taken, till the whole block of 4 shophouse were taken. Later on another large house had to be taken,which was at the end of Carnarvon Street, close to Police Station. We did not know the location of the school now, but it may be the row between Li Teik Seah Building and the police station. In old day, the police station was also a prison building with the entrance at Carnarvon Street. The prison wall from the Pesara Claimant to the row of shop houses next to Li Teik Siah. In between there was a narrow alley, which can lead to Rope Walk . The big house may be Li Teik Seah building?. The house was owned by Khoo Tiang Poh, who died in 1892. But it was not "close to police station". It may be the last shop(end lot) of the row of 5 shop houses, which was next to the narrow lane, next to police station. High probably the end lot was the one, but it is not a "large house"?. When Rev G.F.Pykett from ACS Singapore, came to take over the school on 10th April 1893, the school already had 173 pupils and was housed in four shophouses and a big house in Carnavon St. On 1-1-1897,the school moved to new building at Maxwell Road(now Komtar). From the history, the ACS had close relationship with Li Teik Seah, as the school in Maxwell Road was later occupied by Li Teik School, when ACS(later known as Methodist Boy's School) moved to Air Itam Road.
Culturally, Carnarvon Street is the pioneer for the Chingay, and Hungry Ghost Festival street celebration. You can see the man practicing the giant flag balancing at the evening prior to Chingay procession . The Hungry Ghost Festival was held at the back of Asia Book Shop, where the stock of raw solid wood for coffin was stored(owned by Hock Lian Seng). There is a big compound or coffin yard , was used for the stage of Teochew opera show during the festival.
Carnarvon Street is also politically active, during the colonial days or after the independence. Socialist Front was active and Dr Lim Chong Eu was at Carnarvon Street with strong support base. Soo Beng Dispensary was the base for Gerakan in late 60s. One of the famous personality was Boh- Miah- Shee(林維雄), father of ex state assemblyman Mr Lim Boo Chang, who was a former worker from one of the coffin shop in Carnarvon Street,where he become a active supporter of Dr Lim, and a state politician.
But I do not know where is the tsap-keng-chhu(十間厝)or 10 houses? or the location of si-kak-chε(四角井)or square well.......
The Yik Woh Restaurant(益和茶樓)@ 6 & 8, Carnarvon Street, Penang
This is an old Cantonese dim-sum restaurant, which is a living heritage by itself. Parking however can be difficult as it is located right in front of the morning market. It is a few houses away from the busy Chulia Street. The restaurant reported to have some specialty dim-sum which were no more offer anymore by other dim-sum restaurants.
These specialty dim sums are getting rarer nowadays, with many outlets preferring more commercial and basic ingredients, instead of those that need extra long preparation and effort. The dim-sum is different from the Ipoh dim sum, it still remain the style of old pioneer Cantonese, without any much polish or commercialize due to passing of time.
Aik Hoe Restaurant
No.6 & 8 Lebuh Carnavon
Tel no : 016 472 0971
Business Hours : 5am - 2pm
Closed on Monday
(extract fromSin Chew Daily)
1.喬治市遺事：時代變遷讀書風氣低落‧沓田仔街書香漸淡,星洲日報／大北馬,2009.03.15(The article is in Chinese)