After a year of restoration works at Han Chin Pet Soo, the Hakka tin miners’ clubhouse, and fitting it for an exhibition about the tin mining era in Kinta Valley by Hakka miners, the three-storey villa at No. 3, Jalan Bijih Timah (Treacher Street) is Ipoh’s newest attraction.
The Hakka Tin Miners’ Club was formed by China-born Hakka tin tycoon, Leong Fee in 1893, who established a clubhouse at his property here. It was originally a two-storey building. After his death, his son Leong Yin Kean sold it to the club in 1928. A year later, the clubhouse was renovated into a 3-storey building.
Towkay (Boss) Leong Fee was believed to be the richest tin miner in Kinta Valley at that time. He had four wives, two concubines and entertained “dancing girls” in the club.
Han Chin Pet Soo, which means the Villa of Han Chin, still belongs to the Hakka Miners’ Club till today, but it underwent extensive restoration works after a 5-year lease was taken out by ipohWorld, financed by its parent company, Kinta Properties Group.
Under the leadership and vision of Commander (R) Ian Anderson, Director of ipohWorld, his team at ipohWorld, and a community of Ipoh residents, including students from PIA Institute of Art, not only was Han Chin Pet Soo restored to its former glory, as original as possible, it is now home to a tin mining exhibition, the most ambitious yet handled by ipohWorld.
The exhibition is divided into sections. On the ground floor is all about mining activities, beginning with prospecting, mining, mineral separation, etc. This is also where the Town Square is located, which I thought is a clever idea to include as part of the exhibition.
On the first floor is all about the four evils indulged in by some Chinese people at that time: opium, gambling, prostitution and the triads. As one ascends the flight of stairs, he is greeted with the scent of the likeness of opium.
Up another floor is the guest hall, which was the equivalent of a motel in the old days. The rooms were only rented out to Hakka friends of club members. Still, guests were not allowed into the VIP room, as that was exclusively for members.
Besides the exhibits, every floor is equipped with boards with documentation on the mining industry of Kinta Valley by the Hakka people, about the Hakka tin tycoons and the community, about the four evils, and interestingly, a journal as kept by Phoon Tet Ching, the first headmaster of Sam Tet School, detailing his journey in a junket from Jiaoliang, China to Singapore, then by train to Ipoh, Perak, and by road to Papan town. The texts are in three major languages, namely Mandarin, English and Bahasa Malaysia.
Of course, during a visit to the majestic Han Chin Pet Soo, do not forget to check out the geometric-patterned floor tiles, and other pre-war architecture features.
The exhibition, although ready for visitors, is still a work in progress as there is always room for improvement. Therefore, those who make repeat visits will always have something new to look forward to.
Admission is free-of-charge, but donations are welcome. Three or four tour sessions will be conducted per day, and visitors have to book their spot, up to 30 days in advance, through the website of ipohWorld here. The booking page will be live shortly.
Each guided tour, which will take about 1.5 hours, can accommodate up to 50 guests. Photography (without flash) is allowed.
Soon to be included as celebration of the Hakka clan alongside its rich culture and tradition is themed dinners, for small parties of 12 to 14 people, where delicious Hakka cuisine will be served.
For further information on this special tin mining exhibition, or on Han Chin Pet Soo, leave a comment on this post and your question(s) will be directed to the relevant party.
Event: Tin Mining Exhibition
Venue: Han Chin Pet Soo
Add: No. 3, Jalan Bijeh Timah (Treacher Street), Ipoh, Perak.
GPS Coordinates: N 04° 35.779′ E101° 04.742′
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