For the descendents of Richard Dearie and his son John Russell

The HSBC's inspectors from head office made reports on their sub branches in the F.M.S. and some of these still exist in the HSBC's archives.

HSBC Bank Kuala Lumpur.

Extract from HSBC Inspector’s report 6 September 1909. "The Town of Kuala Lumpur is a large and important one but is not as well laid out in the Chinese quarters as the other and younger chief towns of the F. M. S. though the residential quarter is very picturesque. Kuala Lumpur is not only the seat of Government of Selangor, but is the Federal Government centre, and no doubt will always be the most important place in the States. It is also the Railway centre and the natural tendency must be for the trade and business of Pahang, which has an area of 14,000 square miles, and of the other neighbouring States to move towards this Town. Many European firms are established here, and they, as well as the Government, would warmly welcome the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation opening an office in the Town and also, it is a large Chinese centre. The Chartered Bank who have been established for 20 years in Kuala Lumpur are at present carrying on their business temporarily in a part of the Government Offices, but in two months time they hope to get into the new large three – storied building they have recently had erected for themselves, within a few yards of the Government and Railway offices. They have 5 Europeans in their Kuala Lumpur branch and a large number of Portuguese and Chinese, all of them seem to be kept very busy. Temporary office Building site Government balances I stayed with the Resident General at Kuala Lumpur and thus had the opportunity of discussing fully with him the question of our extending our business to the F. M. S, in particular Kuala Lumpur. I first asked for a subsidy on the ground that I heard that something of the kind had been granted in the past to the Chartered Bank at least temporarily when they first opened in the Native States years ago, but this request was promptly refused as whatever may have been done in the past when the future of the F. M. S. States was far from assured the prosperous conditions prevailing here to- day would not justify anything of the kind. I quite expected this answer but thought that by first propounding a question which would be negatived other requests would perhaps be more likely than otherwise to be conceded. The R. G., however, was very cautious and hesitated a great deal to commit himself in any way but I finally extracted from him the promise that we should be provided with suitable temporary offices free and that half or at least a large share of the Government Accounts should be kept with us in Kuala Lumpur. As to the question of a Site which is a very important in Kuala Lumpur where land is very dear, after going all over the Town with the Land Registrar to find a suitable piece suitable spot for a Bank I finally discovered a very good corner vacant piece of ground in Java Street (whence a Mosque had recently been removed) adjacent to River and Bridge and situated between the Government Offices and The Chinese Town a most excellent site in every way and I asked they R. G. to offer this free on condition that we put up a suitable Bank Building and remain in Kuala Lumpur for 10 years. He said he would think the matter over and speak to the Resident about it and would write me their decision but he mentioned they had recently spent a large sum of money in acquiring this piece of land and having the temple re-erected elsewhere. However I told him that unless we could get a site “free” from Government I feared that the Bank would hesitate to open a Branch in Kuala Lumpur as it would mean too have the original outlay if we had to buy a Site and put up a Building which the present outlook as regards earning profits in Banking in Kuala Lumpur would not warrant. I impressed upon him at the great benefit it would be to the Town if our Bank opened there and the certain effect it would have in enhancing the value of property all round and attracting business houses from elsewhere to establish themselves in Kuala Lumpur. He admitted all this and said he was very anxious to have us in Kuala Lumpur but said he could not give me an answer off hand without consulting the Resident. In concluding my remarks on the State of Selangor I have only to say that I very strongly recommend our Bank accepting the offers of the Resident General and establishing an Office at Kuala Lumpur as soon as possible provided we are given a good building site free practically three. As however the Chartered Bank are established at Kuala Lumpur there is not the same haste necessary in our opening an Office there as at Malacca where at present no Bank is represented. Still if we wish to secure good Rubber Accounts and not have only the newer and less desirable ones left to us we cannot act too promptly. The Chartered Bank besides being established at Kuala Lumpur have offices in Klang, Ipoh and Taiping".
Extract from HSBC Bank Inspector’s report 1910: "Bank Property. On 31st December last we acquired for $17000, plus fees $33.80, and subject to an annual Rent of $170, a piece of Land (a Government lot) situate in Java Street, measuring 22.62 poles. It is a corner lot, with a frontage on Java St. of 151 ft. The depth is variable, but is 128 ft at the widest part. The condition of our tenure is that we have to build, within two years, a house on it costing not less than $15,000. I do not know if it is your intention to build a Bank with residence over, but I consider that the surroundings ?under the site unsuitable for a European residence. In most, if not all ?Towns in the Malay Peninsula, we ?shall be confronted with that difficulty. We want our Offices to be centrally situated, but that means being in the middle of a Town almost ?entirely ?populated by Chinese, where residence would be most unsuitable. The Chartered Bank here faces the Government Offices & Padang, and has ?its Manager’s residence and ?Junior House over it, and its ? situation is admirably adapted for that purpose, but as to a Bank it would have been better if placed more in the centre of the town. The Mercantile Bank (or Sir Geo. Murray) has acquired a site in the Market Square which I understand cost $80,000. It is their intention to put up a three storied building and let the upper floors as Offices. My own idea is that we should make enquiries and try to buy a suitable corner site in Market Sq. at as reasonable a figure as possible. With the fall in Rubber Shares Property is becoming cheaper, though that state of affairs may of course be (and I hope will be) only temporary. At any rate, I do not suggest paying such a price as Sir George is reported to have paid. As regards a Residence for the Sub Agent: when I called on the Resident (H. Conway Bellfield) he informed me that the Government is now surveying about 60 acres which he hopes will be offered as suitable building lots for European residences about the end of the year. I should recommend the Sub Agent being empowered to purchase one lot when that time comes".
Extract from HSBC Bank Inspector's Report 1913. Page No. 16 BANK PREMISES. We are at present renting from the Straits Trading Co. Ltd. two houses of the ordinary Chinese Shop Style for $200 per month –No. 57 & 8 McArthur Street. They are in a moderately good position. We have a lease up to the end of 1914 with option of renewal. All will be glad when we can vacate them. BANK PROPERTY For the sum of $68, 054 (which includes $17,000 paid for the former Grant, now given back) we have acquired from the Government a really fine site in the Old Market Square, containing 9722 square feet of land. It has roads on three sides and a lane at the back. Beyond the road on one side is the River, from which we should be separated by a road 66 feet wide. there is an annual ground rent of $680-60. Plans for a Bank building have been drawn, and are now being submitted to H. O. for approval.
Extract from HSBC Bank Inspector's Report for K. L. 30 August 1919 "Bank Premises. We have occupied the present Offices for about three years, and the premises seem to be in a good state of repair. The first floor of the building is let to good tenants at a monthly rental of $300-, which will be increased to $350- per month when a lift, which has been ordered, is put in. The second floor is vacant, but, no doubt, we shall find a tenant when the lift is completed. We pay a yearly Quit Rent of $680.60. - 7 - Agent's House. We purchased the site in 1917 for $ 7220. Cost of building the House 51482 -do- Furniture &c 6715 $65417. We took over the House last year, and it appears to be quite satisfactory. We have recently purchased a further strip of land adjoining our property for $3000- and this makes our area about 5 acres".
Straits Times 30 October 1909. p. 6 The local manager of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation has received a telegram from head office, in Hong Kong, informing him that the directors’ of the bank have decided to open a branch office in Kuala Lumpur.
Singapore Free Press 15 February 1910, p. 6 Sub-Agencies of the Bank have been opened at Hongkew (Shanghai), Malacca, (Straits Settlements), and Kuala Lumpur (Federated Malay States).
Straits Times, 22 April 1914, Page 10 The Federal Capital The Hongkong and Shanghai Bank premises in Market Square are progressing quite rapidly; they will, when completed be most useful to the bank whose present premises in McArthur Street are quite cramped. They will also add largely to the architectural beauty of Market Square, where we have some of our best buildings.
Straits Times, 9 June 1915, p. 8 The new premises of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank in Kuala Lumpur will be formally opened on Saturday, June 26, at 11.30 a.m.
Straits Times, 12 June 1915, Page 10 Kuala Lumpur Echoes The new buildings of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, in Ampang Street are almost completed, and will be open for business at the end of the month. It is another addition to the many large and imposing buildings of Kuala Lumpur, but Ampang Street is hardly an appropriate situation. The row of nasty little “kedais” on the opposite side of the street, where ekan kring of different varieties is sold, contrasts sadly with such an imposing structure. The space occupied by these squalid little shops could be used for better buildings. Messrs John Little and Co. have premises in Ampang Street as well and it is anything but pleasant to traverse the thoroughfare, especially on a hot day. You not only have to battle against the faint feeling caused by ekan kring, but also a host of bullock carts, rickshaws and people of various nationalities.
Singapore Free Press, 10 June 1915, p. 4 A Chinese kepala fell off the top of the new Hongkong and Shanghai Bank building in Kuala Lumpur sustaining severe injuries to his skull necessitating his removal to the General Hospital. M.M.

Straits Times, 29 June 1915, Page 6 & Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 30 June 1915, page 4. “In connection with the opening of the new premises of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank at Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, it is interesting to note, says the Malay Mail, that the branch was first opened in Kuala Lumpur on January 1, 1910, by Mr. J .C. Peter, in the Government offices. Mr. J. Keddie succeeded Mr. Peter that year; then Mr. H. A. Courtney was temporarily in charge from February, 1911, to the end of the year, when the present popular agent, Mr. Percy de C. Morriss was appointed.”

The 29 June 1915 was a Tuesday, which would make the opening of the new HSBC premises on 3 July 1915. No record of this event has been found so far, and the report below seems to imply that it may have been 1916 before it was opened.

The Straits Times 6 May 1913 page 9 The Mercantile Bank. Opening of New Premises at Kuala Lumpur. On Saturday last, the new building, which is to be the local branch of the Mercantile bank of India Ltd., in Kuala Lumpur opened its doors to the public. The new premises, which stand at the corner of Market Street and Roger Street and facing into Old Market square…..the contract was in the hands of Woon Ah Wong,…The architects were Messrs Swan and Maclaren, for whom Mr. Phil Russell has been acting locally…… The bank was opened at noon when in the presence of an excellent company Mr. P. C. Russell handed over the new premises to the bank officials…..”
Mercantile Bank in Market Square opened in May 1913. Photo Courtesy of HSBC Archives'.
Market Square showing the Mercantile Bank at the southern end, the Paterson Simons building on the right and the vacant site for the HSBC bank. Probably photographed from the top of the newly constructed Littles building. Photo Courtesy of HSBC Archives.
The newly built bank . J. A. Russell and Co. rented the whole of the first floor. Photo Courtesy of HSBC Archives'.
The Bank Manager's House at No. 11, Maxwell Road (Jalan Tun Ismail). The site was bought in 1917 and the house taken over by the bank in 1918. Photo from "HSBC Its Malaysian Story", Courtesy of David Jaques & HSBC.
The first floor of the bank was rented to J. A. Russell. Photo Courtesy of HSBC Archives.
"NEW BUILDINGS KUALA LUMPUR" Post card showing, from the left, Littles, Mountrie and Co, Hongkong and Shanghai Bank and Paterson Simons. Photo Courtesy of HSBC Archives.
Postcard showing the buildings from the Ampang Road. Photo Courtesy of HSBC Archives.
The building modernised with the removal of any decorative details. Photo Courtesy of HSBC Archives.
John Little & Co. had opened in April 1914. " The Contracts. Credit is due to the architects- Messrs. Swan and Maclaren- who designed the building, and to their representatives, Messrs Russell and Berry, who superintended the erection. The general contractor was Woon Ah Wong, who also built the Mercantile Bank and has secured the contract for the new Hongkong and Shanghai Bank premises, which will be adjacent to Messrs. Little and Co.’s Building. When the Bank premises are completed, Kuala Lumpur will posses a block of buildings which will be a decided acquisition and improvement to the town. The United Engineers, Ltd., were responsible for the supply and erection of the steel work, and also through their representatives, the Federated Engineering Company, for the installation of the electric lift and fans. In connection with the steel work mention may be made of the expeditious manner in which they carried out their part of the work. Messrs. Little and Co., signed the contract on November 24, 1912, and the whole of the steelwork was brought out and erected by the end of April, 1913, a period of five months. Messrs. Little and Co., through their managing director, have expressed themselves as being very satisfied with the way the contractors have carried out the work entrusted to them." The Straits Times, 17 April 1914, Page 10
The Mercantile and Littles were both Swan and Maclaren buildings supervised by Phil Russell and the contractor was Woon Ah Wong. Since Woon Ah Wong was also said to be the contractor for the HSBC building it is quite possible that it was also a Swan and Maclaren design and the contract was supervised by Phil in his role as a civil engineer. No evidence has been found so far to identify the architect.

The building was demolished in the late 1970s and a new one constructed on the same site. A document in the HSBC archives records:

"K.L. BANK BUILT ON HOLY KRAMAT GROUND… Not infrequently prominent buildings, housing large commercial enterprises or hotels, are erected on former graveyards. Whenever there is an accident of some kind or an unfortunate happening either within the building itself or the accompanying land, there are those who will shake their heads and murmur “ Ah the spirits of the dead are having their revenge.”This is holy, consecrated land”. Just recently part of the old Hong Kong bank building facing the Old Market Square in Kuala Lumpur and now being demolished, fell onto a couple, killing the man outright. In former days this land adjoined the old Malay mosque which formally stood on the pict now occupied by Gian Singhs’s premises on Mountbatten Road, and used as a graveyard. Mr Ng See Buck, Education Officer and at one time Headmaster of the Kajang High School in his reminiscences (published in 1954) says that when he first came to Kuala Lumpur from China as a very young man in 1902, a small shrine known to all as Datoh stood on the Hong Kong bank land. He says “ I think it was the grave of a mystical Malay and most Chinese turned it into a place of worship.” The presses, not infrequently, carry a story of high school girls saying that they have seen a ghost. The girls get very worked-up, often hysterical and firm action, or some form of appeasement, is necessary to get them back to their scholastic pursuits. Invariably some quite ordinary phenomena has been the cause of the disruption. Still it doesn’t alter the fact that there are many people who will not venture into a certain area after dark, claiming that it is haunted. Modern Islam teaching does not recognise the presence of huntus. Evil spirits and their like still recognised by rural and urban Malays alike, reverts back to the days of Hinduism and has no place now. Often with a new venture, however, the service of a Pawang are obtained to perform a a ritual blessing ceremony- both significant and interesting to watch".

A view from the entrance with the river on the left and Ampang Road , Leboh Ampang, on the right. Photo from "HSBC Its Malaysian Story", permission for use being sought.

Extract from HSBC Bank Inspector's Report for K.L.1924. "Bank Premises Account $788-70. This is the amount of rents received for 1. The story above the Bank Office - $350- per month 2. 1/3rd portion of top floor – 150 per month 3. less maintenance expenses. 4. A two thirds portion of the top floor is vacant.

Bank Properties. The Bank owns two properties in Kuala Lumpur as follows:- 1 Land in the Town of Kuala Lumpur measuring 35. 71 poles subject to a ground rent of $680-60 a year, upon which is erected a substantial 3 storied Building, the ground floor of which is used as the Bank Office, the first floor let to J. A. Russell and a one third portion of the second floor is let to the Societe Internationale de Plantations et de Finance. The remaining two thirds portion of the second floor is vacant. The Office Lavatory and Latrine arrangements are extremely bad and dirty here and should be put into good and sanitary condition as soon as possible. 2 Land in the town of Kuala Lumpur, measuring 2 acres, and 3 roods, subject to ground rent of $1-40 a year, upon which is erected a two storied building used as the Agent’s dwelling".