The HSBC Building at Downing Street within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site is the elegant six-storey Art Deco-styled headquarters of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) in Penang. The British bank, first established in Hong Kong in 1865, is now the world's fifth biggest bank by total assets.
HSBC had opened its Penang branch at Beach Street in 1884. Initially occupying the Logan's Building across the street, HSBC moved to its present premises in 1906 after the completion of an impressive three-storey Neo-Classical-styled building topped with a domed tower. The building was also the first on Penang Island to have an electric lift installed.
However, the original domed building was destroyed during World War 2. After the war, the bank branch temporarily shifted to the India House down Beach Street, while work to build the current building commenced. The current HSBC building was launched by the then British High Commissioner of Malaya, Sir Henry Lovell Goldsworthy Gurney in 1951.
The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) opened its first branch in British Malaya at Beach Street in 1884. At the time, the branch traded from the Logan's Building at the opposite side of Beach Street. The land on which the HSBC Building now stands was previously occupied by the old Post and Telegraph Office. It was then acquired for the construction of the original HSBC Building.
The original three-storey HSBC Building featured a Neo-Classical style. Designed by Wilson & Neubronner, it was also topped with an imposing domed tower. When it was completed in 1906, the HSBC Building was the tallest building in George Town. Subsequently, HSBC moved into the building.
This building was also the first on Penang Island to have an electric lift installed indoors.
During World War 2, the HSBC building was destroyed by Allied bombers. After the war, the HSBC Penang branch was temporarily moved into the India House further down Beach Street. HSBC decided to rebuild the building at its present premises, and the construction of the new HSBC Building commenced in 1948.
The new six-storey HSBC Building incorporates the late Shanghai Art-Deco style, similar to the style used by several commercial buildings in Shanghai. The first two floors were rusticated while the four upper floors received a different façade treatment.
The new building was completed in 1951 at a cost of $1.5 million (Malayan dollar) and happened to be one of the first post-war buildings in George Town to be completed. The then British High Commissioner of Malaya, Sir Henry Lovell Goldsworthy Gurney, had the honour of declaring the opening of the building.
Today, HSBC is the world's fifth largest bank in terms of total assets and the world's sixth largest public company as of 2014.
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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.
- Langdon, M. A Guide to George Town's Historic Commercial and Civic Precints. Penang : George Town World Heritage Incorporated.