The tin boom in Rawang
Between 1870 to 1894, tin mining in Selangor increased more than five-fold, fueled by Europe’s Second Industrial revolution. By the turn of the 19th century, Malaysia was supplying 55% of the world’s total tin. Tin mine owners brought development to the settlement, building shoplots and the two roads that Rawang has kept to this day. Unfortunately, there was a darker side to this development, with owners keeping workers ‘loyal’, by providing opium and gambling dens, to addict them to the town. 

As the world’s largest producer of tin for almost a century, the early days of the tin boom made a lot of early immigrants in Malaysia very wealthy. Amongst these rich Malaysians, two men – Loke Yew and Thamboosamy Pillai were enterprising enough to actually install Malaysia’s first electricity generator in Rawang – to keep the tin mine pumps active 24 hours a day. 

This led to the rapid rise of what we know today as Rawang town – with more and more tin-miners coming to Rawang to find their fortune – either working in the mines, or ‘dulang washing’ the remnants. However, this boom was cut short by the tragic years of Japanese occupation of Malaya. The Japanese took a lot of the tin and rubber out of the town, and by the time they laid their weapons down in 1945, the town was largely intact.
Early postcard of Rawang, circa 15 February 1911 
(Source: Lee Lan)
Tin dredge, ‘Kapal Korek’, at a Rawang Tin Mine during the early days (Source: The Star Online, S.Ahroowe)
1 June 1894 
(Source: The Straits Times)
The fall of tin, 
 and the rise of cement
The Japanese Occupation and Surrender in Rawang 
(Source: Poskod, Chak)
In the years after the war, Rawang experienced a short second boom in tin, as well as rubber estates, which were set up around the town. However, in the years leading up to Malaysia’s independence, the tin started to run out, with miners moving to nearby Batang Berjuntai instead. Thankfully, a new resource was coming. 

In the 1950s, Malayan Cement established the first industrial-scale cement plant in Malaysia. The area’s natural abundance of limestone, clay, iron ore and gypsum, plus its accessibility to coal via a short train ride to Batu Arang, once again made Rawang the ideal location for another industry to flourish. 

For more than a decade, it was the only industrialised cement plant in Malaysia, bringing a big boost to the people of Rawang. Former tin-miners now worked for the cement factories instead, and other industries sprouted up in Sungai Dua and Rawang Perdana. This brought modern amenities like cinemas, schools, and the slow and steady growth that Rawang has enjoyed to this day. 

Today, with property prices rising rapidly in bustling Kuala Lumpur, Rawang is seeing a new resurgence. With old-world charm matched to new-world convenience, Rawang is once again a bright satellite to the epicenter of Malaysia.
The first town in Malaysia 
to get electricity

You would not think it today, but once upon a time, Rawang was one of the most exciting settlements in Malaysia. The tin-mining boom of the 1800s in Malaya was centred in Perak, but between 1870 and 1891, tin production in Selangor had grown five-fold, and Rawang had some of the biggest deposits.

In 1894, two of Malaysia’s wealthiest businessmen Loke Yew and Thamboosamy Pillai, installed Malaysia’s first ever electric generator, to power electric pumps, and light their mines for 24-hour non-stop tin mining. Imported from the UK, the exact location of these electric-fueled pumps was not known, but the wealth of tin, and an easy access to coal from Batu Arang were thought to be the main reasons why Rawang got its electricity a full year before Kuala Lumpur. 

Within the same year, electricity was extended to light the streets of Rawang (People behind the Lights, National Electricity Board), and its Railway station as well, which has sadly now been demolished and replaced. A few years later, electricity was also extended to the tin mining residences – a total of 6 bungalows in the Rawang Tin area were afforded electricity, although only 3 are left standing today. 

For most Malaysians, electric power only came in the 60s, when the national power grid was started. However, the people of Rawang had been enjoying it longer than anyone else. One Kampung Sungai Terentang villager named M. Arumugam worked the tin-mines as his parents did, and remembered being one of the privileged ones. 

“This was the best place to work as we had electric lights and we were provided with housing and even recreational space.” M Arumuga, TheStar, May 2016. 

Another villager, Raju Palani, remembers how electricity was free back then for the houses surrounding Rawang Tin. 

“The lights in Rawang Tin were so bright that my friends and I could play football at night in a field nearby. “Even the town of Rawang itself was not lit up the way it was in this village. Inside the tin-mining site, I could see a huge generator where tonnes of coal were fed into the generator 24 hours daily to keep the mine operations going” Raju Palani

“The lights in Rawang Tin were so bright that my friends and I could play football at night in a field nearby" - Raju Palani

The British installed coal powered generator so that mining could run 24 hours a day
(Source: The Star Online, S.Ahroowe)

The first house to have electricity in Malaysia is located at Jalan Kuala Garing, Rawang
(Source: Jimmy Sidhu)

Recent construction progress on site, August 2017. The major road into the development is nearing completion with future traffic lights to be installed at the main intersection of Tamansari. Our first phase of residential homes is 90% completed and we are progressing final checks and inspections before the official handover.
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