Sunday, 29 July 2012

Straits Settlements

The Straits Settlements were a group of British territories located in Southeast Asia.

Originally established in 1826 as part of the territories controlled by the British East India Company, the Straits Settlements came under direct British control as a crown colony on 1 April 1867. The colony was dissolved in 1946 as part of the British reorganisation of its South-East Asian dependencies following the end of the Second World War.

The Straits Settlements consisted of the four individual settlements of Malacca, Dinding, Penang (also known as Prince of Wales Island), Singapore (with Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands). The island of Labuan, off the coast of Borneo, was also incorporated into the colony with effect from 1 January 1907, becoming a separate settlement within it in 1912. With the exception of Singapore, Christmas Island, and the Cocos Islands, these territories now form part of Malaysia. Read more on Wikipedia

Lowry visited the territories on his 1927 voyage to the Far East. Lowry refers to the territories in his short story 'On Board The West Hardaway': "The West Hardaway reached the Straits Settlements and unloaded some of her cargo in Penang, leaning with quiet gratitude against the wharf, sea-weary after her long journey." (Pg. 29). Lowry also refers to a stamp from territory in his short story 'Lunar Caustic'; "Here he bought a packet of stamps with little reproductions of tigers on them from the Straits Settlements" (Pg 304). Later, Lowry referred twice to the territory in his short story 'Elephant and Colosseum';  "and in Ark of Singapore he has reached back to this early experience, in 1927, on a sailing ship, with a deck cargo of lions, tigers, and elephants from the Straits Settlements bound for the Dublin Zoo." (Pg. 166); .......only several ports later homebound, had loaded that freight as mentioned of heterogeneous wild animals at a Straits Settlements port, that is to say, it was not Malaya at all but Siam..." (Pg. 219)

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