At the small village of Karai, about ten kilometres from Kuala Kangsar, is an old railway bridge called Victoria Bridge (also known as Enggor Bridge). It is the oldest railway bridge in Malaysia and one of the most impressive.
Construction started in 1897 and, after some delays caused by flooding, it was officially opened in 1900 in a ceremony attended by the Sultan Idris Shah of Perak and the British Resident General, Sir Frank Swettenham. In his speech, Sir Frank said that this was the largest bridge in Asia, outside of India.
The single track railway truss bridge is over 1000 feet long and rests on six brick piers which still look in excellent condition despite the frequent severe flooding in this area.
On the day I visited there was, by pure coincidence, a celebration going on to commemorate the bridge’s 115 year anniversary. It was hosted by the Minister of Tourism and Culture whose department has made efforts to promote the bridge as a tourist attraction.
There was an army bagpipe band and various stalls and attractions.
The Ipoh Climbers Community was providing the opportunity to abseil from the bridge for those who were brave enough.
Just walking across the bridge was brave enough for me given the gaping holes with drops down to the Perak River forty feet below.
The bridge is no longer used by trains since it has been replaced by a new concrete bridge wide enough to handle double tracking for the electric train service which is expected to be extended up as far as the Thai border some time later this year.
At each end of the bridge is a stone sentry post, a hangover from the days of the Emergency when strategic communications links such as this bridge would have been prize targets for the Communist Terrorists.
Now in more peaceful times, the bridge has become a venue for pre-wedding photo shoots.
It is good that this relic of a bygone age is being valued by the Malaysian Government but some maintenance work will be required if it is to survive another 115 years.