Home > News > Community
Friday September 27, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday September 27, 2013 MYT 10:44:09 AM
by our street heritagestory andphotos by yip yoke teng
Former location: A picture of the Venning Road Chapel taken in 1940. The church was formerly located where the National Mosque now stands. It was later moved to Jalan Imbi, which is adjacent to Jalan Walter Grenier
IN Kuala Lumpur, there are still a number of streets named after the British colonial masters, even after many of them were changed to local names soon after Malaysia gained independence.
Jalan Walter Grenier is probably the mat salleh street that has the highest volume of traffic despite its secluded location.
The short and narrow street, with an adjoining lane, is tucked between busy Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Imbi. Many do not know about this street, unless its famous landmark — Bintang Palace exclusive nightclub, is mentioned.
It was relatively difficult to find records of Walter Grenier, not even a photograph.
The sure fact is that Walter John Piachaud Grenier was a respected leader of the Venning Road Chapel, formerly located where the National Mosque now stands on Jalan Perdana.
Local authorities acquired the site in 1961 and the chapel was then moved to the junction of Jalan Imbi and Jalan Walter Grenier the following year.
One of the elders of Jalan Imbi Chapel, Wong San Tosh, believes that it was a coincidence that the street was named after Grenier, who passed away in November 1948.
Grenier was of Dutch Burghers descent from Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), who were among the early settlers in Malaya.
Some records showed that Grenier was a committee member of the then Kuala Lumpur Sanitary Board, which carried out the duties of a City Hall, including town planning and street lighting.
However, its main responsibility was the cleanliness of markets and drains.
“Grenier was a man of integrity and highly respected by the then British government,” Wong said.
He was also a UK-qualified accountant and his firm in Malaya was called Walgrens.
During the Japanese Occupation, he moved to Sri Lanka and returned to Kuala Lumpur as a major in the British Malayan Army until his term ended.
He reopened his firm and ran it until he succumbed to illness in 1948.
Wong said another interesting story about Grenier, among the church community, was that when the chapel’s graves were exhumed, the body of Grenier’s wife was found to be so well preserved that even her clothes were still intact.
She was embalmed and brought back from Perth to be buried with Grenier and one of their six children, George, in the same grave there.
Wong said the land on which the Jalan Imbi Chapel was built was formerly a pond.
“At that time, squatter homes were juxtaposed against beautiful colonial bungalows of the rich.
The main trade here was the food business, just like now,” he recalled.
Another elder of the church, Anthony Too, reminisced that the nearby BB amusement park was the most happening place in town, with colourful activities such as Ferris wheel and Chinese opera.
The Fei Har Ching Ser Temple, relatively unknown, has been there for over 90 years.
The temple caretaker, who did not want to be named, said the temple was where hundreds of “Ma Jie” (Chinese womenfolk who vowed not to marry) called home when they came to make a living in Malaya.
“This temple is strategically located so many Chinese Ma Jie came here to seek refuge. Slowly, it became widely known among them that this was the place to go to for help.
“There were free beds reserved for them, they could stay here for life and their names were put on the altar when they passed away,” she said.
She added that the Ma Jie normally worked as domestic helpers in other parts of the city, as back then the Bukit Bintang area was mostly rambutan and mangoesteen orchards.
A number of businesses nearby have withstood the test of time.
YS Laundry was established in 1910; Oversea Restaurant opened its first outlet in Kuala Lumpur in the vicinity and has since grown into a major chain of restaurants.
Tags / Keywords:
Central Region, Property, heritage, street
Copyright © 1995-2013 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)