Nostalgic Malaysia 1994 – Kellie’s Castle

A drive north to Batu Gajah in Perak took us to the interesting old Kellie’s Castle.

These photos were captured on a Canon film camera and the negatives subsequently scanned and then post-processed in Capture One Pro. The image quality in many cases is poor as many of the negatives were damaged by heat and humidity over time.

A sad story enshrouds this long-abandoned mammoth of a home. The construction of this house was started in 1915 by the owner William Kellie Smith but it came to a full halt upon his sudden death in 1926. The solitary castle, looks almost surreal in these wild plantations of Perak, projecting a strong personality and an aura of mystery.

William Kellie Smith was from a village in Scotland, known as Kellas. He arrived in the undeveloped Malaya in 1890 and here he met an estate owner called Alma Baker, who had won concessions from the state government to clear 360 hectares of forest in Perak. With his business venture with Alma Baker, he makes substantial profits and started planting rubber trees and tin mining industry, he becomes the owner of Kinta Kellas Estate and Kinta Kellas Tin Dredging Company.

With his fortune made, he returned home to marry his Scottish sweetheart, Agnes, and brought her over to Malaysia in 1903. The couple was blessed with a daughter, Helen and for many years after that, Agnes tried to conceive, but to no avail. As he prospered, he built his first house known as Kellas House in the estate in 1910.

After the birth of his son, William Smith started the construction on his second and bigger mansion. Unfortunately, midway through the construction, a deadly “Spanish flu” struck and killed many of the workers. He was advised to build a Hindu temple to appease the gods and work continued to build the mansion after that. As he went home to United Kingdom in 1926, he died of pneumonia in Lisbon, Portugal at the age of 56. His wife then sold this place to a British company called Harrisons and Crosfield and return to Scotland for good.

The locals may call it something else that may invoke chills down your spine – Rumah Hantu (haunted house) because rumour has it that eerie apparitions were seen walking down the hallways of this uncompleted castle during the night. But don’t let that stop you from walking on its grounds and admiring the stately rubbles of this Moorish-influenced architecture during the day.


Passionate Photographer …. Lost in Asia

Stuart Taylor of HighlanderImages Photography has been making images for over 30 years and can offer a diverse range of photo imaging services with a focus on Asia and a documentary/photojournalistic style. These services include planning and executing a photo shoot on location but importantly all the post-processing and image preparation needed for the specific finished media format required by the customer. Stuart’s experience and knowledge in all of these aspects make HighlanderImages Photography a one-stop-shop for a comprehensive and professional image production service.

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