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Thread: Sentul Railway Works, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 2018

  1. #1
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    Default Sentul Railway Works, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 2018


    1. The History
    Have looked into this place before I thought I'd try and dig out some more history on this place.

    A mere 3km north of the heart of Kualar Lumpur, the history of the railway town of Sentul goes back a very, very long way back. It was famous for the Sentul Works, situated east of the current Komuter station. In 1904, the Federated Malay States (FMS) railway began building a complex of railway maintenance works at Sentul known as the Central Railway Workshops. It consisted of numerous brick buildings and metal sheds primarily used as a workshop and storage area for steam and diesel locomotives and railway cars. Occupying an estimated 5.2 hectares (13 acres) of land, the Works was the largest train depot in Malaysia. The extensive buildings included a locomotive-running section, a workshop manufacturing small parts, a gauge-testing room, a small laboratory and a big saw mill (to the west where the KLPac arts centre is now situated).

    Sentul was the home and workplace of thousands of railway workers, a majority of whom were Indians, leading to it being referred to as "Little India". It wasn't all Indian workers - the parts makers and carpenters were mostly Chinese, while the Indians and the Malays were good as metalsmiths, painters and tailors. In its heyday it employed approximately 2,500 workers. It contained the finest integrated engineering workshop in the world. In her 1957 book on Malayan railways, Katharine Sim noted that “Sentul makes all the fine new coaches now seen on the track. Railway experts from many countries who have from time to time toured the workshops, were equally amazed to realise that such heavy industry is being done in a primarily agricultural country. Apart from the wheels, axles and a few other proprietary parts which must be imported from overseas, everything else for the coaches, down to the smallest fitting, is made at Sentul Works.”



    Before World War II each morning at 6.15am the wailing siren would hail yet another working day at the engineering works. If that didn't get you out the bed there was a repeat siren at 6:45am! This was shortly followed by a long procession of workers on their bicycles going to their place of work. A more welcome siren was the 4pm signal that indicated the end of the working day. During the war 1945 B-29 super bombers belonging to British Forces bombed the then-controlled Japanese complex. The central workshop of where a wide variety of steam locomotives and passenger coaches were assembled and repaired since 1904 suffered a direct hit and some 72% of the workshop was obliterated. One good thing was it signified what was to be the end of the Japanese Occupation in Malaysia.

    After the War, the workshops were partially rebuilt but they never regained their former glory and many of the former colonial railway buildings were left as hollow shells or ruins. Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) was privatised in mid-1983 and the numbers of workers at the works was steadily reduced to around 900 people. Many of the workers went back to India and the workers quarters have been dismantled and replaced with squatter homes.

    2. The Explore
    I'd previously visited Sentul with the sole intention of looking at the iconic old station-masters house I'd seen pop up on pre-travel reach. Having rocked up here I encountered "the guard" who took objection to me even taking pictures from the road. Now admittedly the house and complex is on private land but access is granted so members of the public can visit the KLPac arts centre further on into the park. So this time, aware of the guard, I walked past him, snook round the back and started shooting. And it worked too! Playing cat-and-mouse with him wasn't too hard given his bright red beret. This time around I was also aware of the even-more interesting former loco works. I tried to find a way round the back to the North but this wasn't happening. The East has the railway lines and the West side a "live" industrial unit with guard at the entrance gate. I however did spot a way over the wall to the south - just north and over the grass from the station-masters house. It was a do I go fo it or not. In the end I chickened out and just shot pics from over the wall of what may have been. I've found no explores of this place on the web but from the edge and from Google Maps the place looks awesome. Another time perhaps…

    3. The Pictures:

    A random structure to the north-west of the station masters house:

    img5250 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5245 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The green gate:

    img5246 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And red sentry post:

    img5249 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    On to the wonderful Station Master's house:

    img5270 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5251 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5272 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    It's just a shell now:

    img5286 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5267 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5255 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5265 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5266 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5290 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    But the corridors are great:

    img5260 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5276 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    As are the arches:

    img5288 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The external details are really nice

    img5268 by HughieDW, on Flickr


    img5277 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5289 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5296 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5297 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    This sign is outside the new EMU works which is next to the old Sentul works. Sort of made me a bit nervous:

    img5271 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And a tantalising view of those enormous loco works:

    img5308 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5318 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5301 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5303 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5310 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5311 by HughieDW, on Flickr

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    Thanks given by: ajarb, ExplorerX, Hugh Jorgan, jsp77, krela, Locksley, Mearing, psykie, Romford Reject, Rubex, theartist, Tigershark, titimo82

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  3. #2
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    Looks like this is a huge place and possibly you've just skimmed the surface. It must have been worthwhile to get a job as a Station Master. He had a large house and must have had a housekeeper, maids and a cook to serve him.
    When the going gets tough - the tough get going.

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    Thanks given by: HughieD

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Jorgan View Post
    Looks like this is a huge place and possibly you've just skimmed the surface. It must have been worthwhile to get a job as a Station Master. He had a large house and must have had a housekeeper, maids and a cook to serve him.
    Think you are right mate. Wished I'd popped over that wall.

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    Thanks given by: Hugh Jorgan

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    Mate that is stunning and I know you love your railway stuff so bet you were in heaven here.them loco sheds look like they could be amazing inside but can understand why you were put off.secca are prob not like they are here
    I like to go where others fear to tread.

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    Thanks given by: HughieD

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    I don't like the look of that sign. Another awesome set :)

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    Thanks given by: HughieD

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeymutt View Post
    Mate that is stunning and I know you love your railway stuff so bet you were in heaven here.them loco sheds look like they could be amazing inside but can understand why you were put off.secca are prob not like they are here
    Cheers mate. Quite a lot of secca in the area so didn't want to risk getting gripped!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rubex View Post
    I don't like the look of that sign. Another awesome set :)
    Ha ha..cheers Rubex. That sign did focus my mind a little!

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    Thanks given by: Rubex

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    [QUOTE=Hugh Jorgan;350660 It must have been worthwhile to get a job as a Station Master. He had a large house and must have had a housekeeper, maids and a cook to serve him.[/QUOTE]

    Actually 'Station Master' is a pretty poor job description of the resident of that house - if one is using the English interpretation of the phrase. He would have been the sole managerial representative of the Railway Company in that Region and would have been expected to entertain all manner of important and rich land owners, owners of supplying companies etc. As the infrastructure was still expanding for years after the house was built, it would have seen many guests in its day. The housekeeper, maids and servants were part of everyday life and that 'each in their prescribed place' was something that disturbed me when I was out there.

    The 1945 air raid by Washington (B29) bombers of the RAF on this complex was one of the last, if not the last, use of this bomber in RAF service against the Japanese invaders. At the end of 1945 they were all flown back to the USA, under the terms of the 'Lend, Lease agreements'. There are some very good descriptions of these return ferry flights on the web and in various books.
    Last edited by Dirus_Strictus; 27th Jan 18 at 15:07. Reason: added last paragraph.

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    Thanks given by: Hugh Jorgan, Tigershark

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