Friday, October 25, 2013


THE MALAY MAIL. MONDAY SEPTEMBER 14, 1908 THE BELFIELD BRIDGE. OPENING AND CHRISTENING BY THE HIGH COMMISSIONER HIS EXCELLENCY ENTERTAINED BY THE PLANTERS The town of Klang wore a carnival aspect on Saturday in honour of the visit of His Excellency Sir John Anderson K.C.M.G.; High Commissioner, F.M.S., to open formally the new bridge across the river. Turning to the right on leaving the station into Main St., a profusion of decoration met the eye of the visitor. The whole length of the street was gay with flags and bunting, evergreens, Chinese silk inscribed rolls, purple, red and yellow favours. The whole street was surmounted by a white canopy and the tout ensemble was a very creditable imitation of Pall Mall on the occasion of a Royal wedding or a jubilee. Turning the corner into Market Street, one arrived at the approach to the bridge. Here two arches had been erected, one conveying a welcome to His Excellency from the Hindu community, and the other expressing similar sentiments on behalf of the India Muhammadan Society of Klang. The latter was adorned with pictures borrowed from the local Tamil theatre. The spot where the opening ceremony was to take place was also lavishly decorated and surmounted by a red awning and the bright garments of the native spectators added to the picturesqueness of the scene. His Excellency the High Commissioner and party, which included Mr. Claud Severn, Private Secretary, Capt. Gay, A.D.C., Col. Nelson, Commanding R.G.A. Major Ford, Army Service Corps and Mr. T.H. Reid of the Straits Times, travelled up by the Seamew. They were met at Port Swettenham by the Resident-General, Sir William Taylor, K.C.M.G., Mr. H.C. Belfield, British Resident, Selangor, Mr. C.E. Spooner, C.M.G., and Mrs. Spooner, who had arrived there by special train. His Excellency was met at Klang station by Mr. J. Scott Mason, D.O., Klang, and Mr. G.D. Russell, and the party proceeded by motor to the bridge. Here a guard of Honour of 50 police was stationed under Mr. W.W. Douglas and a large crowd had assembled, including a detachment of 200 Klang schoolboys. A feature was the large number of Malay ladies present decked out in brilliant attire. His Excellency was met at the bridge by His Highness the Sultan of Selangor, C.M.G. who had previously arrived by motor, and others present were Mr. M.S.H. McArthur, Acting Federal Secretary, Mr. J. Trump, Director of Public Works, F.M.S., Mr. E.R. Stokoe, State Engineer, Selangor, Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Mason, Mr. R.W. Harrison, Mr. H.M. Darby, Dr and Mrs. Gerrard, Mr. and Mrs. L.U. Stafford, Mr. and Mrs. W. Towgood, Mr. J. Gibson, Mr. A. Irving, Mr. E.F. Townley, Mr. C.T. Hamerton and Miss Hamerton, Mr. W.R.G. Hickey, Mr. F.O. Sander, Mr. Sydney Smith, Capt. Douglas of the Waterwitch and many others. MR. BELFIELD’S SPEECH. After His Excellency had inspected the Guard of Honour, while the band played sweet music, the inevitable photograph was taken, and an attempt to place garlands round the necks of the distinguished visitors having been frustrated, Mr. H. Conway Belfield addressed His Excellency as follows:- Your Excellency, This is the second occasion within a few weeks on which you have been good enough to come to Selangor to perform an opening ceremony. We all thank you for your presence here to-day which is the hallmark of your approval of a work which was commenced under your direction and will, we hope, meet with your satisfaction. This structure is according to local standards a work of the first magnitude. It is by far the largest road bridge in the Malay Peninsula, and its dimensions are such that I propose to ask your patience for a few moments while I give you some account of the history of its origin and the details of its construction. WHY THE BRIDGE WAS BUILT. The first talk about a bridge over the river at Klang started about ten years ago at a time when Mr. Douglas Campbell was District Officer at Klang. At that time progress and development on the northern side of the river was comparatively small, and for some years the proposal was negatived. Three years ago, when the rubber industry had attained larger proportions, Your Excellency paid a personal visit to the spot and decided that a pontoon ferry was sufficient. This having been provided the planters set to work to obtain reliable statistics of the traffic across the river, and the dimensions of the traffic indicated by these statistics convinced Your Excellency and the Resident-General that a permanent bridge was necessary. The contract was therefore arranged. DETAILS OF THE STRUCTURE The bridge is of the Linville girder type, and has four spans of 140 feet each, making a total length of 560 feet. The road is 20 feet wide, and the girders are five feet clear above high water level. The weight of the superstructure is 560 tons, or one ton per foot run. The bridge is supported by five pairs of iron cylinders filled with concrete, 522 feet below the river bed, and 204 feet above. The iron weight is 400 tons. The superstructure was sent out from England. The contract provided that the bridge should be completed within 10 months after the arrival of the last span. The last span arrived on June 3rd, and we may say that the bridge has been completed today. Thus the work has been completed 203 days before contract time. The estimate for the bridge, continued Mr. Belfield, was $300,000. The actual cost has been $260,000, so there is a saving of $40,000. This saving has been credited to a variation in the girders, a higher but lighter type having been selected, and also to the fact that no expert engineer has been placed in charge of the bridge-work. I think Your Excellency will be satisfied that the work has been done in a manner careful, efficient and expeditious. I have visited the bridge on many occasions and can offer personal testimony to the perseverance and industry of the contractors’ men and those who supervised them, first of all, Mr. Russell, and then Mr. Craig, who literally lived on the bridge so long as there was a log to sit upon, and had to contend with many unforeseen difficulties in the shape of tide, river traffic, tongkongs etc. It is through his perseverance and energy that the work has been completed so expeditiously and I am sorry he is not with us to-day. The facilities of the bridge, said Mr. Belfield in conclusion, are difficult to sum up in a few words. It brings the estates on the northern side of the river within a fraction of their previous distance from Klang station and town, and I have no doubt they will be spoken to by Mr. Harrison. MR HARRISON’S SPEECH Mr. R.W. Harrison said:- Your Excellency. On behalf of the planters of the Kapar and Kuala Selangor districts and the general public of Klang, I thank you for coming to open the bridge. The bridge marks an epoch in the history of Klang, and only those who have had to use sampans and the pontoon ferry with numerous stoppages owing to the breaking of ropes and so on can realise the immense difference which the bridge makes. I believe I am correct in saying that the first step was taken by the planters in 1900, but they did not meet with support from the authorities. Though sundry concessions were made, it was not until August, 1905, that, as the result of a petition, legislation was brought in fixing the charges to be made by sampan-owners, who had previously charged what they liked. Shortly afterwards a pontoon ferry was provided, but this was recognised as being merely a makeshift, and quite inadequate to cope with the growing traffic. Early in 1906 the planters again decided to go into the question and to get statistics. The census taken surpassed all expectations. In ten days the number of foot- passengers was 33,000. Since then the importance of the district on the northern side of the river has greatly increased. In Kuala Selangor 10,000 acres have been placed under cultivation, and the number of immigrant coolies has doubled. The Kapar district last year exported half a million lbs of rubber. If a similar census were taken now, it would prove the foresight of Your Excellency in granting a bridge. In July, 1906, a deputation wanted on Your Excellency, and though it was received most sympathetically, we were in doubt whether our request would be granted. Some months later, however, we heard with gratitude that it had been granted. It gives us great pleasure that Your Excellency should be present at the opening of the bridge. That in so short a time the work should have been completed is marvellous and reflects great credit on all concerned. Mr. Belfield said that a saving of $40,000 had been effected on the bridge. The purpose of the bridge, I take it, is to facilitate transport and the convenience of passengers. I suggest to Your Excellency that, until facilities are provided at Port Swettenham for private sheds, it would be a good thing to pull down those shop-houses over there (on the right approaching the bridge) which, I am told, are, apart from other things, insanitary, and thus allow carts to go direct to the station instead of having to cross the railway twice and pass through the busiest part of town as they do at present. This would benefit Klang and would add the coping-stone to the Klang Bridge. THE HIGH COMMISSIONER’S REPLY. His Excellency in reply said:- Your Highness, Mr. Belfield, Mr, Harrison, Ladies and Gentlemen, It has given me great pleasure to be present here to-day, and to hear all these nice things said. It is most gratifying for me to be in a position after so short a time to declare this bridge open. The celerity with which it has been completed reflects the greatest credit on Mr. Russell and his assistants. It must be very gratifying to F.M.S. people that the contract was obtained after competition by a local firm and that the burden of the work has fallen on one whom I may term a local product. Mr. Russell and his family have been connected with the F.M.S. for many years. His father is a respected and valued Government servant and has given not one but many sons to the country. It must be very gratifying to Mr. Russell to have carried the work through so quickly and apparently to the entire satisfaction of those who are concerned with the bridge. I thank you again for the reception you have given me. THE OPENING CEREMONY. Before asking His Excellency to declare the bridge open, Mr. G.D. Russell said that they had only carried out the work to the best of their ability. There had been two notable incidents in connection with the work, the first on August 18th when His Excellency visited the bridge and was pleased to express his satisfaction, the second on that day, when His Excellency spoke so well of them. They had received much assistance from the P.W.D., both in men and money, and the latter had helped in many ways. They had also been fortunate in the weather and in local circumstances. The site of the bridge was close to the railway station, and so there was no delay in bringing up materials. He was sorry Mr. Craig was not present to make a better speech than he could. It was above all Mr. Craig to whom credit was due. He had, as Mr. Belfield said, literally lived on the bridge. Mr. Russell then presented His Excellency with a pair of scissors and requested him to cut the red and yellow ribbon who was fastened across the entrance to the main body of the bridge. TRIBUTE TO MR. BELFIELD. Before doing this His Excellency said:- I think that it is desirable that this bridge should receive a suitable name. I think it should be called by the name of one who has worked hard in this country for twenty-five years and who in modesty refrained from telling this morning of his own share in the work. I name this bridge “The Belfield Bridge.” (Applause). His Excellency then cut the ribbon and declared the bridge open. Subsequently His Excellency with Mr. Belfield, H.H. the Sultan, Mr. Spooner and Mr. G.D. Russell drove over in motor cars. An adjournment was then made just in time to avoid a heavy downpour of rain, which fortunately kept off just long enough.

LETTER FROM :-British Resident, Selangor TO:- The Resident-General F.M.S. 17th September, 1908 17 September, 1908 Subject Bonus of $5000 to the Contractors of the Klang Bridge in consideration of efficient and Expeditious work Sir, With reference to the recent completion of the bridge over the river at Klang, I have the honour to submit for your consideration copy of a letter from the State Engineer recommending that the Contractors should be paid a bonus of $5,000 from the savings on the vote in consideration of efficient and expeditious work. I also enclose copy of a minute by the Director Of Public Works endorsing that recommendation. 2. The proposal is one for which no precedent exists, so far as I am aware, and the reasons propounded in support of the recommendation do not appear to me to be strong. At the same time there is no doubt that the Contractors made special and successful efforts in connection with this work, and though I do not find myself able to recommend the payment, I do not propose to offer objection thereto should you be of opinion that their efforts may properly be rewarded in the manner suggested. 3. The fact that a saving on the provision has been effected is not material to the question under consideration, and should not be put forward as an argument in support of the proposal. I have the honour to be, Sir, Your Obedient Servant, Sd: H.C.B. British Resident, Selangor From National Archives of Malaysia (4776/08). Transcribed by P.C

LETTER FROM THE STATE ENGINEER SELANGOR TO THE SECRETARY TO THE RESIDENT SELANGOR. 10TH SEPTEMBER 1908 Kuala Lumpur 18th September, 1909 Subject. Remuneration to Federated Engineering Co. For completing the Klang Bridge early. Sir, With reference to correspondence S.R. 2618/07 and my letter dated September 9th 1908 reporting completion of Klang Bridge contract I have the honour to submit for favourable consideration a recommendation that the contractors The Federated Engineering Company be paid some remuneration in the form of a bonus on account of the expeditious manner in which they carried out work on their contract day and night through all kinds of weather and completed the same 203 days within the contract time. 2. I recommend that payment at the rate of $25/- for every day saved being the rate at which they were liable as penalty for non-completion within the time specified in their contract be made to them. 3. The time for completion was April 3rd , 1909 and the bridge was completed on September 12th 1908 being 203 days within the time specified which would at $25/- per diem amount to $5,075. 4. After allowing for all liabilities in connection with the bridge there will be a balance available of $40,000 the total cost being $260,000 on a sanctioned estimate of $300,000, (and) though this saving is somewhat accounted for by modification of the type of girder adopted, such modification necessitated double the amount of river staging in order to cope with the erection of the deeper girders supplied. I have the honour to be, Sir, Your Obedient Servant, E.R. Stokoe, State Engineer, Selangor. From National Archives of Malaysia (4642/08). Transcribed by P.C

LETTER FROM :-The Acting Federal Secretary, F.M.S. TO :-The Secretary to Resident, Selangor. 6th October, 1908. 6th October, 1908. Sir, With reference to the Resident’s letter No. 4776/08 of the 17th September, 1908, I am directed to inform you that His Excellency approves the grant of a bonus of $5,000 to the Contractors for the erection of Belfield Bridge at Klang. The No. of the High Commissioner’s office correspondence conveying his approval is 1474/1908. I have the honour to be, Sir, Your Obedient Servant, S. McArthur Ag: Federal Secretary, F.M.S

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