Brick Kiln Road stretches from the heart of George Town south towards the Pinang River. Part of the Seven Streets Precint (chit tiau lor in Penang Hokkien), it links the Magazine Circus to the north with Bridge Street, just before the Pinang River Bridge, to the south.
In the late 19th. century, Brick Kiln Road was so named due to a brick kiln located at the road. At the time, it was home to an industrial, working-class community, mostly of Sikh and Chinese descent. It was part of George Town's Seven Streets Precint (chit tiau lor in Penang Hokkien), while the Diamond Jubilee Sikh Gurdwara was once the largest in Southeast Asia. The road was later officially renamed Gurdwara Road, taking its name from the Sikh temple.
Following the burgeoning street art scene in George Town since its listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, the former Hin Bus Depot at the road has been converted into an art gallery. Street art exhibitions have been periodically held inside the former bus depot.
In recent years, local Penangites have expressed concerns about the influx of low-skilled foreign workers along Brick Kiln Road. This foreign influence can be clearly seen along the northern stretch of the road near GAMA Supermarket and Departmental Store, where many shops have been taken over by Bangladeshi, Nepali and Burmese workers. Some have dubbed this particular area as Penang's 'Little Bangladesh'.
Brick Kiln Road was named after a brick kiln that used to be located at the road in the late 19th. century. The Malays also referred to the road as Bakar Bata, meaning burnt bricks.
In the past, windmills, which were used for rice milling, were installed along the road, giving the road its Hokkien name Hong3 Chia3 Lor33 (Windmill Road).
In recognition of the contribution of the Sikh community on Penang Island, Brick Kiln Road has been officially renamed Jalan Gurdwara ('Gurdwara Road' in Malay). It takes its name from the Diamond Jubilee Sikh Gurdwara along the road.
Brick Kiln Road, named after a brick kiln that used to operate along the road, has been in existence since the late 19th. century. The road was created as George Town was expanding southward beyond the Prangin Canal. Initially a rural road leading south from Penang Road, it became home to an industrial, working class community.
The Sikhs, who had been recruited as paramilitary officers by Captain Tristram Charles Sawyer Speedy to quell tin-related violence in the neighbouring Sultanate of Perak, began to populate the road in the 1880s. A police barracks for the Sikh was also built along the road.
In 1897, during Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, the Straits Settlements government donated a plot of land along Brick Kiln Road to the Sikh community. The Sikhs subsequently built the Diamond Jubilee Sikh Gurdwara on the land, financed by donations from the Sikh members of the Malay States Guides. Upon its completion in 1899, the Sikh temple was the largest in Southeast Asia.
In the past, tourists and travellers were provided food and accommodation at the Gurdwara free-of-charge. This was in accordance with Sikh teachings, which espoused kindness and helping others regardless of race and religion.
Other than that, Brick Kiln Road formed the western edge of George Town's Seven Streets Precint (chit tiau lor in Penang Hokkien). The precint includes nine (initially seven) streets that run parallel to the Prangin Canal.
In the 1970s, the old police station at the northern end of Brick Kiln Road was demolished to give way for the construction of GAMA Supermarket & Departmental Store. When it was opened in 1980, GAMA was the first modern departmental store on Penang Island. It subsequently became a popular retail destination in George Town until the 2000s.
To tap into the burgeoning street art scene in George Town, the former Hin Bus Depot has been converted into a street art gallery, where street art exhibitions are periodically held.
More recently, there has been an influx of low-skilled foreign labourers, mainly from Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar, at Brick Kiln Road. Most of the shops along the northern stretch of Brick Kiln Road near GAMA Supermarket & Departmental Store have been taken over by these foreign workers, leading some local Penangites to call this particular area 'Little Bangladesh'. This has generated unease amongst Penangites, who fear the proliferation of foreign-owned eateries and sundry shops, as well as the potential risks of crime.
Hin Bus Depot Art Centre
- Diamond Jubilee Sikh Gurdwara
- Phu Thor Yen Buddhist Temple
- Deen Maju Nasi Kandar
- Kedai Nasi Kandar Wonderlite
- Ang Huay Lor Restaurant
- Ju Bao Lou Cafe
- Bin Sin Coffee Shop
Penang State Government
N.28 Komtar State Assemblyman : Teh Lai Heng (Democratic Action Party)
N.27 Pengkalan Kota State Assemblyman : Lau Keng Ee (Democratic Action Party)
Malaysian Federal Parliament
P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)
- Khoo S.N., 2007. Streets of George Town, Penang. Areca Books.
- Francis, R., Ganley, C., 2006. Penang Trams, Trolleybuses & Railways: Municipal Transport History, 1880s-1963. Areca Books.