Church Street Pier, within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a historic dock at the city's eastern coast along Weld Quay. It is located east of the junction between Weld Quay and Church Street Ghaut.
Built in 1897 to support the then booming Port of Penang, it was mainly used by small boats and a ferry service to Butterworth on mainland Malay Peninsula. However, by the end of the 20th. century, the decline of the Port of Penang led to the closure of the pier. It was then refurbished by the Malaysian federal government in the 2000s as part of the failed Tanjong City Marina project, which has been abandoned since 2011 due to its deteriorating infrastructure.
Church Street Pier was created in 1897 as one of the several places along George Town's coastline for small vessels to dock. At the time, the Port of Penang was booming as one of the major entrepôts of British Malaya alongside the Port of Singapore, and thus, the Penang Channel was more crowded. For instance, it was reported in 1879 that over 1,000 vessels were counted around the Port in one 24-hour period.
Built at a cost of $48,889 (Straits dollar), Church Street Pier was also utilised by the Penang Harbour Board for its ferry services to the town of Butterworth. The board took over operations from the Straits Steamship Co. Ltd., which had earlier bought other local steamship companies.
With the decline of the Port of Penang towards the end of the 20th. century, the number of vessels that called off Penang Island dwindled to the point where the piers that lined George Town's eastern coast, including Church Street Pier, eventually closed down. The diminishing trade, coupled with George Town's simultaneous decay, led to questions regarding the future of these harbour facilities, as well as the city's waterfront in general.
In the early 2000s, the Malaysian federal government embarked on a RM43 million (Malaysian Ringgit) project to revitalise Church Street Pier and turn it into a world-class marina. Completed in 2005, the Tanjong City Marina was meant to accommodate up to 140 yachts, catamarans and other smaller vessels.
Although the marina initially succeeded in attracting yachting communities from all over Southeast Asia, by 2011, its floating structures had deteriorated and were in danger of sinking. Since then, Tanjong City Marina has been abandoned, with its berths lost to the sea. To date, Penang Port Sdn. Bhd., which is under the Malaysian federal government, continues to shift the responsibility of restoring the marina to the Penang state government, eventhough it was built entirely by the Malaysian federal government within federal government land.
Nonetheless, plans are said to be afoot to revitalise George Town's eastern waterfront, with Think City, an urban regeneration body, partnering with the Penang state government and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for a proposal to create a seafront promenade between the Esplanade and the Clan Jetties south of Church Street Pier.
Penang State Government
N.26 Padang Kota State Assemblyman : Chow Kon Yeow (Democratic Action Party)
Malaysian Federal Parliament
P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)
- Hockton, K., Howard Tan, 2012. Penang : An Inside Guide to Its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks. MPH Group, Kuala Lumpur.
- Cheah J. S., 2013. Penang 500 Early Postcards. Editions Didier Millet.