Governor’s Bungalow, 1, Sepoy Lines
Military History: The bungalow at Sepoy Lines first served as the quarters and mess house of the Commanding Officer of the European troops in Penang circa 1881-1897. The Royal Artillery and European troops moved from Fort Cornwallis to Sepoy Lines in 1881 and it is likely that the bungalow and extensive cluster of ancillary buildings were first built then.
Architectural history: The double-storey bungalow is architecturally distinctive with its rounded front porch, deep verandahs and pair of castellated watchtowers wings, indicating its design by a colonial engineer or military engineer.
Administrative history: After the withdrawal of European troops from Penang around 1897, the bungalow was converted into a town residence for the Governor. This conversion entailed physical improvements such as the addition of lavish furnishings and fittings and a well-cultivated garden. The Governor of the Straits Settlements was then based in Singapore, and his position encompassed that of the High Commissioner of the Federated Malay States. Prior to the conversion of this bungalow into ‘Government House’ or the ‘Governor’s Bungalow’, the Governor would stay at Fort Cornwallis whenever he visited Penang. In the early 20th century, this residence accommodated various SS Governors such as Sir John Anderson (served as Governor, 1904-1911), Sir Arthur Young (1911-1920), and Sir Laurence Guillemard (1920-27). After assuming office, the Governor, usually accompanied by his wife, would normally spend a few days at this residence during his compulsory tour of duty of Penang.
Judicial history: Just before or after the Japanese Occupation, the bungalow began to be used as the Judge’s Residence until the late 20th century. Some of Penang’s most notable judges stayed here.
Condition: The bungalow and its ancillary buildings are currently in a severely dilapidated state and it is disgraceful that one side of the bungalow has been allowed to collapse. We urge the government to urgently commission a Heritage Management Plan with a view to its stabilisation, preservation, maintenance and use, while initiating works to stabilize, repair, and ultimately restore the building.
Support our efforts – your voice can make a difference! We suggest this short message be sent to the relevant authorities:
“I urge the Penang State Government, local authorities and related agencies to urgently take action to save the Governor’s Bungalow (Sepoy Lines). This heritage building is uniquely embedded with diverse historical values in architecture, militancy, administration and judiciary. Regrettably, the bungalow is in a dilapidated condition.
I would like to register my concern for the need to safeguard Penang’s heritage and to keep alive the soul of our city. I believe that appropriate protection for heritage as well as development guided by respect for community, heritage and environment will improve our quality of life and prosper our local economy.”