Monday, May 21, 2012

Royal Selangor Visitor Centre

On Friday we headed to Setapak  to learn about pewter making at the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre. Armed with GPS and Mr O, we still got lost. Haissshhhh...!! It took us a bit of going round and round but we managed to join the group on time. 

Before you get inside the building, you’ll find the world’s biggest tankard displayed outside. Made in 1985 to celebrate the company's centenary, the pewter tankard has been certified as the world's largest by Guinness World Records. Measuring 1.987 metres tall, weighing 1,557kg and has a capacity to fill 2,796 litres of beer, it is quite a sight to behold.
At the entrance, there is a long wall of hand prints of Royal Selangor craftsmen who have served the company more than 5 years.
Hand prints with their individual names engraved on it.
We were so lucky to get the director Datin Paduka Chen Mun Kuen, the granddaughter of the founder as our tour guide. 
She was very passionate and proud about the company. Well, considering their very humble beginning, who wouldn't??

Royal Selangor was founded by a Chinese pewtersmith named Yong Koon in 1885. He left his homeland in China to begin his pewter business in the mining town of Kuala Lumpur. Today the company has a workforce of over 350 skilled craftsmen and is world's largest pewter maker.

Datin Chen told us the history of how they got the Royal title. The late Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah of Selangor was in Australia when he entered a store and was asked where he came from. He replied “Selangor” and the store assistant said “Selangor Pewter”. The Sultan was impressed that pewter was making his state famous. On his return, he decided that the company should have royal status, which he conferred in 1979. In 1992, the company changed its name to Royal Selangor in recognition of the royal warrant.
Yong Koon, the founder of Royal Selangor Pewter.

Our first stop was the museum. The money in the olden days. Crocodile money, money tree, tortoise money etc etc.
 Datin Chen telling us the interesting story of the lucky melon-shaped teapot that saved a man's life.
She was very soft spoken and it was very2 difficult to listen with the kids running around. But I managed to get the story of how her grandfather's "lucky" melon teapot had found its way back to the family.from here.

During the Second World War, hungry villagers in Kajang were scrambling for rice in a warehouse. One of the villagers, Ah Ham, ran in during the bombing. He saw a melon-shaped teapot on the ground. As he bent down to pick it up, a bomb fell and shrapnel whizzed over his head. By a whisker. So Ah Ham was convinced the teapot saved his life. For the next 30 years, he would serve tea to his visitors with the teapot and tell them his story.

One day Datin Chen's husband visited Ah Ham and as usual Ah Ham was telling him about the pot. When her husband told Ah Ham that his wife worked in a pewter factory, he asked her husband to bring the pot back to clean it up. In the factory, their staff noticed that her grandfather’s hallmark was on the bottom of the pot. That's when they realized the pot was made by their factory. To cut the long story short, finally they managed to convince Ah Ham to sell them the pot. Today, it's one of their best selling items.
You’ll also walk past a replica of the Petronas Twin Towers made up of 7,062 Royal Selangor tankards, which stands two storeys high at a majestic height of 9.1 meters.
Quenching her thirst with 100 PLUS served in a pewter cup before starting the factory tour. Icy cold. To demonstrate one of the properties of pewter. It can maintain the temperature of the liquid for quite some time. Whether it's ice cold 100 Plus or hot tea. A melon pot can keep tea warm for 2 hours.
The Factory Tour begin.
The 4 stations showing the main processes involved in the pewter crafting process. First station, casting. Pouring the molten pewter into the handle mould. This is a very fast process. Each time it took her about 20 seconds to complete the task.
Molten pewter. About 300 C.
 Second station, polishing. For items with even surface, polishing is done with machine.
For items with uneven surface i.e with designs, polishing is done manually.
The swarf, or pewter dust from the polishing were collected.
And recycled. Nothing get wasted.
 Hajar had a try on hammering.
 Little Missy wanted to try to. And realized that hammering is not as easy as it look.
For a skilled craftman like her, it will usually take around 20 minutes to complete hammering a piece of that size.
After being briefed on the processes, we went inside the factory.
Complementing the pewter brand are two luxury names - fine jewellery brand, Selberan, and 350-year-old sterling silver brand, Comyns. Selberan's craftman at work.

 Finally, at the end of the tour, you’ll find yourself in the 18,000 square feet Retail Store. They have lots of nice stuffs. Royal Pewter & Selberan merchandise. Ain't cheap. At least to a cheap skate like me ;-)

Entrance is FOC.

The visitor centre is located at;
Jalan Usahawan 6 Setapak Jaya, 53300 Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur
Phone; 03-4145 6000
Opening Hours; Mon - Sun: 09:00 - 17:00

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful blog post! I can't wait to go now. (note to self I must get better at writing like this & not filling in with pretty pictures) How inspiring you are.