The History Of Kuantan From Fishing Village to Mining Town
Ferry crossing Sungai Kuantan at Tanah Putih began operation in 1910.
Since the early 1850’s Kuantan was better known as Kampung Teruntum. It was situated around the mouth of Sungai Teruntum. It was founded by Haji Senik and his followers in the 1850’s.
Apart from that, it was also said that there was a village upstream at Kampung Teruntum, which was opened in 1854 by some Malays from the district that was known as Kuantan in Sumatera. The place was then known as Kampung Orang Kuantan. Later, the name was shortened to “Kuantan”.
The development of Kuantan from 1860 to 1970 was the result of the following factors:
- The Center for the Mining and Collecting of Tin Ore and Other Raw Materials
- Modernization and changes in administration
- Communications System and Transportation
- Educational Facilities
- The Development of Local Government Administration in Kuantan
Kuantan started to develop when tin ore was found at the Gambang and Sungai Lembing districts. The tin mining area in Sungai Lembing and Gambang was opened by the Chinese in the early 1880s. In 1887, tin mining was intensively carried out by the company,The Pahang Corporation Limited (PCCL).
Tin ore was brought from Gambang to Kuantan via Sungai Belat at Gudang Rasau whereas the ore from Sungai Lembing was brought to Pasir Kemudi by train, and then by steamships to Kuantan to be exported to Singapore. To fulfil the needs of the tin mining activity, several areas at the fringes of the Kuantan river were developed as an administration center and as a center for the collection of tin ore, in addition to providing port facilities, a customs office, market, district administration office, shops, and so on, that were situated around Jalan Besar, Jalan Mahkota, and the bank of Sungai Kuantan
With this development, the town began to be inhabited by Chinese, while the Malays who first opened the initial settlements on the banks of Sungai Kuantan moved to the outskirts of the town such at Tanjung Api, Tanjung Lumpur, Beserah, Tanah Putih.
In 1955, officially announced Kuantan the new centre of administration and capital of Pahang. From the date of that announcement, Kuantan developed at a more rapid rate. As the capital, Kuantan not only became the centre of administration, but also provided various facilities such as education, communications, trade, housing, and so on, until consequently, as a result of that development, Kuantan became the focus of attention of tourists.
The primary means of communication and transportation in Kuantan were through water and land routes. Communication via water routes was by the use of the local boats called jalak penambang, while land communication was concentrated only on the town and nearby areas. Communication in the Kuantan district was by the use of tarred main roads, while communication between Kuantan and Beserah, Gambang, and Sungai Lembing was by the use of small roads or jungle tracks or by the coastline when the tide has ebbed.
In 1908, the Kuantan-Gambang Road, which was 18.5 miles (30 kilometers) long, was completed. However, vehicles had to cross the Kuantan River (Sungai Kuantan) at Tanah Putih, by using the ferry, which was officially opened on the 5th of September, 1910. With the completion of this road,Gudang Rasau was neglected, and Kuantan started to be developed. Transport from Sungai Kuantan to Kuantan was carried out by the PCCL Company, which provided transportation facilities by truck and rail from Sungai Lembing to Pasir Kemudi, and then by sea, using steamships, to Kuantan port, which was situated at Tanjung Api.
In November 1918, the highway from Kuantan to Kuala Lipis through Jerantut was completed. The completion of this road facilitated travel between Kuantan and other places on the West Coast. Before this, the officers and those in Hulu Pahang who wanted to go to Kuantan had to go to Sungai Pahang by boat or raft to Pekan, and then walk from Pekan to Kuantan. The other means of getting to Kuantan was by taking the road through Kuala Kubu to Port Swettenham and sailing through Singapore to Kuantan.
The highway system from Pekan to Kuantan (at Batu 6, Jalan Gambang) that stretched for 30 miles (48 kilometers) was opened in 1933. However, vehicles still needed to cross the Kuantan River at Tanah Putih by ferry. Highway communication from Kuantan to Kemaman was started in the early years of the Japanese administration in the Malay States, and officially opened in 1947. With the completion of this highway system, people from Kemaman and Terengganu were able to come and do business in Kuantan.
With the improvements in highway communication and with the coming of trade ships from Singapore, Kuantan became a focal point for traders. When the bridge linking the opposite sides of the Kuantan River was built on the 2 July, 1967, replacing the ferry that was used prior to this, Kuantan developed at a more rapid rate.
The airport was built at Batu 9, Jalan Gambang as the most important means of transport by air at the time.
The advancements in communication and transport simultaneously helped the development of Kuantan until it became an important town, not only as a centre of administration and trade, but also as a factor pulling people to migrate.