Rainbow over Lupar river
Fort Alice

Lupar river

Rainbow over Lupar river
1 June 2008 Sunday 6:34PM

Fort Alice

Fort AliceFort Alice

Fort Alice has a unique design. It is square, with a small tower at each corner.

Simanggang grew around Fort Alice by Lupar river.

Sri Aman is basically famous for three things - Fort Alice, Benak and the Mount Hosanna Chapel.

The town of Simanggang was established in 1849 and served as a fort and an administrative centre for the Raja Brook government.

The first Resident of Simanggang was James Brooke.

In 1849, the Raja of Sarawak built a fort called James Fort at the mouth of Skrang River.

Alice Fort is  a "fort" made of wood, a fort not meant to withstand ground attacks  but attacks from the river below.

This is where Fort Alice outpost used to be mounted with cannons aimed at the river which was the main mode of transport at that time.

The historical town of Sri Aman  will soon have a museum  with the restoration of  this  Fort Alice overlooking the Lupar River.

Fort Alice has been identified as one of the heritage sites to be promoted as a tourism product and as a cultural centre.

Restoration work will commence soon as funds are available.

In the museum, visitor will be able to see the peace treaty signed by former Chief Minister Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub and former communist leader Bong Kee Chok, which led to the surrender of the communists in the 1970s.

The picturesque fort is built entirely of belian (ironwood) timber with thick walls to withstand attacks.

Fort Alice has a unique design. It is square, with a small tower at each corner. It has an open centre courtyard, a drawbridge and a spiked iron perimeter fence.

Fort Alice was built to prevent the Skrang Dayaks going down river to join the Saribas Dayaks in their attacks on the coastal shipping trade.

It was also to prevent them undertaking head-hunting expeditions.

After defeating the last of the major Iban chieftains, Rentap, in 1861, White Rajah Charles Brooke built Fort James in 1864 as a defensive structure controlling the Lupar River.

In 1870 it was renamed after Brooke’s wife Ranee Margaret Alice Lili.

Over the years, the Fort served as a police station, community welfare department, prison department, and other government departments.

Until 1964, a cannon was fired every day at 8pm sharp, signaling that the fort was about to close and the day’s business with the Government was over.

A policeman would call out in Iban:

Oh Ha! Oh Ha! Oh Ha!
Jam diatu pukol lapan,
Tangga udah di-tarit,
Orang ari ulu,
Orang ari ili,
Nadai tahu niki kubu agi.

(Oh Ha! Oh Ha! Oh Ha!
The time is now eight o’clock,
The steps have been drawn up,
People from up-river,
People from down-river,
Are not allowed into the fort.)

The fort was gazette as a Historical Monument in 1971, and is now under the care of the Sarawak Museum.

Batang Lupar

Simanggang (now Sri Aman) was a vital area point where the headhunters had to pass through to get to the trading ports of Kuching.

This 130-year-old Fort Alice overlooks Batang Lupar and was built to prevent the headhunters from passing down river to attack the coastal shipping trade.

This Fort was built to counter this threat. This is a bottleneck at Batang Lupar River and one of the outposts is located directly above this river bottleneck. The headhunters who traveled down with their longboats, were easy pickings for the British cannons, who managed to shoot most of them down from this Fort Alice vantage point.

Fort Alice

1864 Fort Alice built at Simanggang

In 1853, James fort was attached by Rentap, a warrior from the famous Dayak Skrang tribe. However, Rentap and his follows failed to capture the fort.

Jun 1864, James fort was shifted and rebuilt in Simanggang because the place was more suitable. The new fort was named after Rani Margaret and was called Alice Fort.

This Alice fort marked the start of development for Simanggang. The photo above depicts Fort Alice, which was built in 1864 as a defensive structure back in the Brooke era. Sri Aman used to be known as Simanggang and was the place where the Dayak warrior Rentap attacked Fort Alice during the headhunting heydays of Borneo.

Fort Alice

The once great Fort Alice. Now this fort is deteriorating from lack of conservation from the local authority.

Today Fort Alice of today is rather dilapidated run down. There has been no restoration work done on it yet.

Recent year, full time a security guard is stationed at the fort with walki talki. This protection has been successfully keep away the locals using the site as a hang out area and stopped this 100 year old sit from reputed as serving several years as a solvent (inhalant) user haven

Fort Alice

This is the billian wood stair case the way to the second floor of the place.

The upper tier of Fort Alice is even more derelict that the outside. There are missing floorboards and  some of the places are rotten and would break and time

One of the outposts - the main one overlooking the river.

The fort is a long rectengle structure with a small tower at left and right side corner. It has an open centre courtyard right in the middle of the building.

Fort Alice
This is the upper floor of the left wing of the building. The windows over look the slow flowing Batang Lupar River.

Fort Alice is made of hardwood and all of the structure you see today is as it was in the old days.

It was built entirely of ‘belian’ (ironwood) timber with thick walls to withstand attacks. All of the original structure remains mostly intact, but in extremely dilapidated and run down condition. It is sadly in need of restoration work.

Below photo is the left wing of the building.  The right hand side windows facing the road slop and over look the whole Simanggang town.  The left hand side windows face the open centre courtyard

The open centre courtyard
The open centre courtyard

The open yard which is about 5 meters wide sandwiched between the Right Wing (Block) and Left Wing (Block) was once believed to be a charming British style garden is now a wild bush of tall scrub trees.

The wooden structure you see at the left side of the photo is the Right Wing facing the river view.

INDEX of Kuching City  April 02, 2013 08:43:16 AM

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