Old Penang: Air Itam Road

Old Penang: Air Itam Road

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A light rail or tramway once extended from the Weld Quay jetty to Penang Hill via Air Itam Road.

A tram probably along Air Itam Road before 1930 - Photograph from Ric Francis, also published in his book Penang Trams, Trolleybuses and Railways

This must be near the turn-off to the General Hospital (Jalan Utama) or Jalan York.

tram near Penang Hill
A tram with a For Hire sign on the route between Penang Hill and Penang Prison before 1930 (click to enlarge) - Photograph from Ric Francis, also published in his book Penang Trams, Trolleybuses and Railways

This route is worth considering for any surface rail or tram option.


  1. Could it be the stretch of road between York Road and Market Cross ? Strictly speaking, that would make it Air Itam Road, not Dato Keramat Road. The old tramway depot entrance would be near where the photographer was standing. It is still called “Jalan Tramway”.

    I grew up in the neighbourhood years ago, and it looks very familiar – the old buildings are still there, more or less.

    • You may be right. The side road directly opposite behind the tram definitely looks like leading to the hospital. The photographer’s position could have been in front of the mosque on the opposite side. The lower row of double storey shophouses on the far left leads to York Road, which might not have been built then. Funny enough this row also looks similar to the one approaching the Penang State Prison before Jalan Utama junction.
      Alternate time dimension?
      Must ask Ric!

  2. Tunglang, You are correct I mix with all people of Penang ,that is why I get so much information. It is a pity people in Government can only see costs and not available good quality transport to suit the people.
    Like I proposed a system of free tramway service in old Georgetown sponsored by private industry for advertising on the trams.
    When asked what reward will you require. They are surprised when I tell them I would be do it as a community service on behalf of Service Clubs in Penang

    • You didn’t/failed to mention the “Sub, Sub, Shui” of Barang Naiki Tambah-Tambah Cost Sederhana!
      Sub = subcon kang tau = Shui = easy money multiplied many levels.
      This multi-level SSS formula only works wonder using Ah Kong’s free monies as we have goons working in gomen accounting departments that couldn’t valuate a spanner from a power wrench.
      If not for Feds control of public transport, I believe your Tram Project for inner city George Town would have taken off years ago. And UNESCO Heritage George Town would have some added heritage assets to its status as Ori-Heritage better than the Little Red Dot of plasters, fibre-glass, steels reconstructions of old world charm.

  3. Past should be recorded if I had not written about Historical Penang it may have been lost forever. As a young Soldier in 1950s I was so impressed by people who went out of there way to help me, Ibecame a yearly visit to Penang some times more than once. Watch for my next book on Penang Hill. Sad to say not much is recorded on this Railway but you will find what I have written will be of interest to all

    • Ric, your works on Penang heritage will be your legacy, appreciated, remembered and shared now and in the foreseeable future for the world to see. Your purpose of expressions show your generosity without racism or biases unheard of during the apanama regime of manipulated delusions and ‘warped history’.

  4. Sad to say the young GenY has got no time to be nolstagic of Old Penang as they are more concerned with the launch of latest gadget like Iphone 4S.

    At most they can be nolstagic of their childhood heroes in Power Rangers and Tamagochi toys.

      • We can also learn from the past, especially the things we did right in the past. And we can also learn from those things that we did wrongly, so we don’t repeat the same mistakes in the future.

      • The past provides an anchor point of reference to our progressive or degrading march into the future. To deny our past links is to say we have no forefathers or we are just here by accident or bastards of apes, and for those in the bad shape of things to easily blame their parents or bad genes!
        We are all here on a journey and it is good to know where each of us started from on our chosen path of desired destiny.

    • We are all like candles in the wind.
      Flickering flames of passions, yesterday, today, tomorrow.
      Burning while there’s fire in us.
      Before burning out incognito!
      Here’s my passion for undying legacy of Marilyn Monroe (since I was just a kid in the 60’s):
      Marilyn Monroe by Kate Bush

  5. Am in St Paul/Minneapolis now. & they are putting up new tram lines system now. No fancy underground MRT or billion $$ LRT.
    If the clowns in Putrajaya were interested in providing an affordable & good public transport system, thing s would be different.
    However they are more interested in knowling how much can “sapu”


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