Runnymede, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah
Before the Second World War the Runnymede Hotel on Northam Road was considered one of only two deluxe hotels in Penang. Its imposing seafront wing was built in the 1930s and in 1938 it boasted 70 sea-view rooms compared to 71 at the rival Eastern & Oriental Hotel. A large ballroom opens out to lawns. An added attraction was the Crag Hotel on Penang Hill which came under the management of the Runnymede.
Established at the turn of the 20th century the hotel took its name from “Runnymede”, the two-storey house on the property that was occupied by Thomas Stamford Raffles and his wife Olivia during their stay in Penang 1805-1811. Although badly damaged by fire in 1921 the original Raffles house has survived largely intact. After the Second World War the Runnymede was used by the British Forces as an officers’ mess and transit centre and later served as headquarters of the Malaysian 2nd Infantry Division. Although now derelict and in a general state of decay since the departure of 2 Division to facilities near the airport, the Runnymede owes its preservation so far to the fact of its long post-war occupation by both the British and Malaysian military. Both the seafront wing of the hotel and of course the early 19th century Raffles house are deserving of restoration as significant heritage buildings.
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 Runnymede (Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah). The property occupied by Thomas Stamford Raffles and Olivia (wife) was turned into a luxurious hotel. The Runnymede served as an officers’ mess and transit centre of the British forces after the Second World War before being used as headquarters of the Malaysian 2nd Infantry Division. Despite its outstanding historical and heritage signifiance, the Runnymede is now in a dilapidated state and requires urgent repairs and stabilisation.
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.”