You may have seen the media reports on the fire that razed the “Fort Vyner” building in Belaga.

Erected on the confluence of the Rejang and Belaga Rivers and overlooking Belaga town, Fort Vyner was one of the forts built during Charles Brooke’s rule.

In his book “The White Rajahs” (1960), Steven Runciman writes : “Up the Rejang a fort was built in Belaga, begun in November 1883, and finished six weeks later and called Fort Vyner, after the Rajah Mudah” (p. 205).

Conservation architect John Ting, who researched Sarawak’s forts from the Brooke era, and whom we approached on the Fort’s history, contributed following:

“It was built by the Sarawak Government but the locals provided a lot of the materials and the labour. Like other forts, I believe that the main structural frame was fabricated in Kuching, shipped to the site and erected there. The remainder (most) of the materials was then sourced from the locals, who [made donations] as part of their community responsibilities. This included the bearers, joists, floorboards, cladding, lattices, rafters, battens and thatch or roof shingles.

It was built in 1884, after the Baleh fort (1875) had been moved to Kapit (1880). It could not have been built in 1850 (*) as that was a year after the first outstation fort, Fort James at Skrang. Fort James was moved to Simanggang to be fort Alice. Hugh Low reported in the 1 May 1884 [Sarawak] Gazette that it was completed in 1884 […]. Low oversaw the construction.”

Most importantly,… the building that just burnt down was not that Fort. In in its release of 23 March 2015 (*), Bernama (Malaysian National News Agency) recalls that the Fort stood until 1965, when it was pulled down to be replaced by a new construction for the Local Government services.

Below is, courtesy of Mr. Lim Kian Hock, what is probably one of the last photos of the original belian wood Fort, taken on Independence Day, 16 Sept. 1963.


If you have more information on the original Fort’s history and are willing to share it, please post a comment in the box below.

(*) refers to the Bernama  release of 23  March 2015 on the fire, which mentions “Fort Vyner was built in 1850 by the Kajang community led by Aman Tipung Tului  on the orders of Rajah Brooke“.

[page edited 01/04/2015]