GEORGE TOWN, Jan 15 ― Northam Road Protestant Cemetery, where Captain Francis Light is buried, is open to the public again after being closed for more than a month.
The cemetery now has a new gravel path to the ancient tombs, a brand new map on a marble slab pinpointing the location of the famous graves and a newly-painted gate.
The 225-year-old cemetery was closed to allow for the RM230,000 upgrading works that included restoring the crumbling tombstones, levelling the uneven ground for visitors' safety and installation of benches, bicycle-bay, bollards and lighting.
The cemetery is a popular tourist site as it is well known as the place where Light, the founder of the settlement of Prince of Wales island, was laid to rest in 1794.
Along with Light, there are also other famous personalities buried in the cemetery such as Thomas Leonowens, who is the husband of Anna Leonowens, the governess in the Siamese Court made famous in the Anna and The King movie.
Interestingly, there are also about 30 Chinese graves in the cemetery that date back to the 1860s that are believed to be those of the Hakka Christian refugees from the Taiping Rebellion who escaped here.
At the official opening ceremony of the cemetery after its upgrading works, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the cemetery is a category one heritage site within the George Town World Heritage Zone.
A total RM416,069.60 have been spent in upgrading and restoration works for the cemetery since 2012, he said.
The most recent upgrading works is a joint project by the Penang Island Municipal Council, Think City Sdn Bhd and George Town World Heritage Incorporated.
The cemetery was the first to be opened in the settlement of the Prince of Wales Island by Light and was used between 1789 to 1892.
Other dignitaries buried there include the founder of Penang Free School R.S. Hutchings, landowners James Scott and David Brown and Penang's early governors.