Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I personally, have always dreamed of going to Stonehenge located at Salisbury Plains in the United Kingdom, as I am intrigued greatly by mythology. As luck would have it, I did actually get to see Stonehenge thanks to Mr. Wally Elliot, who so kindly picked me up from London's Heathrow Airport after a tiring 12 hours flight!

I ended up in a very nice and quaint village at about 7.00 pm UK time, and was introduced to LG, the Inn's owner, who happened to be a very nice man as well. They all knew why I was here and even though I was supposed to have a drink with Wally, I crashed out in my room, as I was very tired. This all happened on 18 August 2008.

The next day, I woke up with a start and realized it was only 4.00 am in the morning. My meeting with Yvonne, the daughter of Brig. Gen A. B. Hubback C.M.G., D.S.O., was not until 10.30 am! Yes, Yvonne is going to be 96 years old this coming October! Going outside and taking in my nasty habit, I waited patiently, anxious about our meeting. Luckily, before I crashed yesterday, LG told me that Breakfast was included in my room rate! Lovely! I was treated to a good sumptuous English Breakfast of Cereals, Toast, Sausages, Bacon, Eggs and my one of my favourites, grilled fresh button mushrooms! And all this was after about 4 hours of waiting!

After breakfast, I packed my bags and thinking to myself that I was looking like your average tourist, decided to try to find Yvonne's house in the village .... unfortunately I ended up on the main road and a public bus stopped for me without me flagging it down ... It was so embarrassing. Making my way back to the Inn, LG so kindly offered to take me to Yvonne's place but being the stubborn me, I looked at the Village Map and decided to try one more time!

Luckily, this time around, Yvonne was wondering where I was, and was just about to come and meet me. Thank goodness I actually sent her a picture of myself so she recognized me!

So who are The Hubback Brothers?

Many of you may not realize this, but Brig. Gen. Arthur Benison Hubback was the architect who actually designed the Two 'Sister' Train Stations in Kuala Lumpur. He also designed many other buildings in Malaysia and we will disclose the story as this project goes along. He was only known as Mr. A. B. Hubback when he came to Malaya prior to his military career. Of more importance, the family name 'Hubback' is always mis-spelt in books, magazines and websites as 'Hubbock'. We hope that by writing this blog, we can correct such mistakes.

And what about Mr. Theodore Rathbone Hubback? Well, when Mr. T. R. Hubback came to Malaya he actually did work with his brother, Arthur and started as an engineer on our Malayan Railway tracks but in his later years, become a plantation owner as we will also disclose, in the course of our tribute to 'The Hubback Brothers'.

Furthermore, when Yvonne told me about her youngest Uncle, Bishop Goerge Clay Hubback, and his works in Assam, India, I was really taken aback. Just like Yvonne, the Hubback Family is highly active, and with more research into their family, I was astounded at how active most of their generations were! We will of course disclose the story in due course, but for now we will focus more on their contributions to Malaya.

The most interesting discourse in my entire research, was that so far, there was no notes that came along suggesting Arthur and Theodore were brothers! I had my suspicions initially and this was confirmed when Yvonne told me about her Uncle. However, to be fair, the two bothers had actually contributed so much to Malaya, that many researchers would prefer to focus solely on the individual as opposed to 2 individuals. This is my only conclusion.

On behalf of @THSH, I am deeply in gratitude to Yvonne and her family, for welcoming me and sharing such wonderful stories, biographies, pictures and insights into their family. We, @THSH will work to our utmost in trying to materialize this goal.


Apparently, when Brig. Gen. A. B. Hubback was designing the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, he had 3 sets of plans. One was the 'grand' scale' plan, which was considered too expensive and grand, one was the 'small scale' plan, which was considered too small to meet with the needs of the people and the other was the 'mid scale' plan. Which is supposed to be what we see today. However, I am told, the 'mid scale' plan was not big enough and during construction, they actually had to expand the plans. This may explain why the 'sister' building, "The Railway Administrative Building" was then built in my humble opinion. (Information provided by the Hubback Family, United Kingdom)


Evelyn L. said...

I'm someone who enjoys learning more about the history and culture of places around the world, especially of my own country, Malaysia. I'm really pleased that the Station Hotel has undertaken this project to highlight the contributions of the Hubback brothers in Malaya. As you say in your post, keep fighting for this good cause! And hopefully, Malaysians will come to know more about the people who are behind the development of Malaya. I look forward to following the progress of this project and for more insightful posts from this blog... :) Syabas!

Jafri Merican said...

I've known of the late AB Hubback for some time since my days as an architectural student in the early '80s. The buildings he designed among others, the Railway station KL, Masjid Jamek, and the Ubudiah Mosque were my favourites of the Colonial period during my student years and still are. Hitherto I've not been able to learn more about this great man as historical information was scarcely available. Now thanks to your blog this is no longer the case. All the best to you, and keep up the good work. Please do send my regards to the Hubback family.

Anonymous said...

Hi, your blog is very interesting. I visited Seremban today and the plaque outside the State Library said that the building was designed by "B.P. Hubback". I assume that is a misprint and that it should read A.B Hubback? Or is there another brother that we do not know about? Just want to get the correct facts for my blog http://thriftytraveller.wordpress.com/
Thanks, David

The Lab Ratz said...

Hey David, thanks for your comments. Yes, there are many errors in the spelling of the Hubback's name and yes, the Seremban Library was designed by A. B. Hubback as well. Such a fine building, which I pass by everytime (next time must get a photo) as my in laws are from Seremban! Shame on me! Would appreciate some linkback if you still find the information useful. Take care and all the best!

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