Victoria Bridge, Karai, Perak

At the small village of Karai, about ten kilometres from Kuala Kangsar, is an old railway bridge called Victoria Bridge (also known as Enggor Bridge). It is the oldest railway bridge in Malaysia and one of the most impressive.

Victoria Bridge, Karai, Perak
Those Victorians knew how to build bridges!

Construction started in 1897 and, after some delays caused by flooding, it was officially opened in 1900 in a ceremony attended by the Sultan Idris Shah of Perak and the British Resident General, Sir Frank Swettenham. In his speech, Sir Frank said that this was the largest bridge in Asia, outside of India.

The single track railway truss bridge is over 1000 feet long and rests on six brick piers which still look in excellent condition despite the frequent severe flooding in this area.

Victoria Bridge, Karai, Perak
Colourfully dressed Malaysians participating in the bridge’s 115 year anniversary celebrations.

On the day I visited there was, by pure coincidence, a celebration going on to commemorate the bridge’s 115 year anniversary. It was hosted by the Minister of Tourism and Culture whose department has made efforts to promote the bridge as a tourist attraction.

115 Year Anniversary Celebrations for Victoria Bridge
Provide free food and Malaysians will come.

There was an army bagpipe band and various stalls and attractions.

Bagpipe band equipment at Victoria Bridge

Army bandsmen

The Ipoh Climbers Community was providing the opportunity to abseil from the bridge for those who were brave enough.

Abseiling from Victoria Bridge

Just walking across the bridge was brave enough for me given the gaping holes with drops down to the Perak River forty feet below.

Victoria Bridge is 40 feet above the normal river level
Mind the gap!

The bridge is no longer used by trains since it has been replaced by a new concrete bridge wide enough to handle double tracking for the electric train service which is expected to be extended up as far as the Thai border some time later this year.

Footpath on Victoria Bridge
Pedestrians and motor cyclists can still use the footpath running alongside the rail track.

At each end of the bridge is a stone sentry post, a hangover from the days of the Emergency when strategic communications links such as this bridge would have been prize targets for the Communist Terrorists.

Pillbox at Victoria Bridge
Pillboxes guard both ends of the bridge.

Now in more peaceful times, the bridge has become a venue for pre-wedding photo shoots.

Wedding photos at Victoria Bridge
This intrepid bride-to-be poses for wedding snaps while taking care not to plummet into the river below.

It is good that this relic of a bygone age is being valued by the Malaysian Government but some maintenance work will be required if it is to survive another 115 years.

Celebrants taking part in the 115 year anniversary for Victoria Bridge on 31 May 2015
Friendly girls welcoming guests (me) to Victoria Bridge’s 115 year anniversary celebrations on 31 May 2015.