Sunday, January 19, 2014

De Escompto Bank in Semarang

De Escompto Bank office in Hoogendorpstraat or now known as Jalan Kepodang, Semarang, simply recognized by its dome-shaped tower. The year when photos taken between 1925-1930. (source: Leiden University Library)
Nederlandsch-Indische-Escompto-Maatschappij or simply known as NIEM or just Escompto Bank, is the second largest Bank operated in Dutch Indies during the colonial period. Escompto Bank formed in 1857 and continues to operated until 1958, while all of the Dutch companies were nationalized by the government of Republik Indonesia. Then it changes into Bank Dagang Negara (BDN), and following the 1997 economic crisis, this BDN merged with another 3 govenments bank formed Bank Mandiri until nowadays.

A mozaic formed by decorated tiles illustrated the city coat
of arms of Semarang and Surabaya.
In Semarang, in Kota Lama section, the office of Escompto Bank were very luxurious with the tower as its icon. Located in Hoogendorpstraat or now known as Jalan Kepodang, the Escompto Bank building with its tower always appeared rights in the form of photos or postcards. There’s an unique characteristic over the Escompto Bank officebuilding. In its wall, always there’s several city coat of arms illustrated by a mozaic formed by decorated tiles. In Batavia (Jakarta) we’d see the coat of arms of Amsterdam, Semarang, Bandung, Surabaya and Batavia. In Semarang, only 2 city coat of arms are illustrated in its wall, its Surabaya and Semarang. The Escompto Bank building in Semarang, situated in the street that once crowd with the business activity because of along the street in front of it, situated the Head office of Oei Tiong Ham Concern, The Geo Wehry Co., Butterworth Co., and so on.

De Escompto Bank, current condition. The Dome were
dissapeared, but dont know when and why did its happend.
The tower with its dome that so famous as the landmarks along the Hoogendorpstraat were no longer existed. Dont know exactly when its been torned down, but now its changed into a simply roof. This art deco style building seems faced many renovation that changes the appearance of the building that built in 1912. Talking about the Escompto Bank, there’s an interested story about it in the Escompto Bank of Surabaya I got from National Geographic.

A legitimate banknote from the 1941, has been left for until today. The banknotes belongs to NV Carl Schlieper , an importeur for the guild tools from the Remscheid, Germany to the several cities in Dutch Indies. The banknote stated the amount of 400 Yen and that amount must be available on monday,February 17th 1941. The Bank have legitimate it thus the cashier could took the cash for the owner of that banknote. But then, the representatives from NV. Carl Schlieper never return to that place to take out the cash. Even after the Escompto Bank changed into Bank Dagang Negara, the cash still neatly stored in the bank safes. Now, this 400 Yen bills were displayed as the collection of Museum Bank Mandiri Surabaya.

Nowadays this building seems to still belongs to state-owned company property. With a lot of projects to developed the Kota Lama section, we waits, when it will become a Museum Bank Mandiri Semarang? We’ll be waiting for (again) 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lasem Station, Application of City Identity

The Lasem Station building current condition, abandoned and decayed. The station emplacement now used as the truck parking yard and none of the railroad were remains. Here also available a videos from Nederlands Filmarchief about Station Lasem.
 Railways, a mass tranportation modes that here in Indonesia has been existed since 1867. Even now until this January, 21st in Lawang Sewu, held the exhibition about the History of Railways in Indonesia from time to time. For me, Railways is not only a locomotives hauled several carriage over the railroad, its also a matter of culture. How the railways development affected the society, the timelines educated people to disciplines, and also the construction of this infrastructure.

An information from Pak Tjahjono Rahardjo, a Railfans who also a cultural activist about the Station Lasem always made me curious. A station that the facade adopted the chinese houses shaped. If its true, I guess this were the second station that I know, built in Indonesia during the colonial age but not using the european style building, but the local building characteristic. The first one it was the Stasiun Solo Balapan in Solo, which adopted the luxurious taste of Javanese Joglo shaped building.

I got  so curious about this fact and realize that the station, in every city has its own characteristic based on where the station is belongs to. Here some examples like, adopted the Gereja Blenduk as city icon, perhaps made the Tawang Station in Semarang have its cupola as the roof in main hall.  In order to show about the importance and getting the title of one of the busiest port in Asia after the Suez Canal has been open, in Batavia (Jakarta) built the luxurious Tanjung  Priok station that its design of curve remind us to the King Cross Station, that used by Harry Potter series as its movie sets. But here in Lasem, the building adopted the surround architectures as the city with nicknames Le Petit Chinois, the little Chinese.

The lines here once belongs to Semarang Joana Stoomtram Maatschappij (SJS) that serve the railways connection between Semarang and Juwana, start in 1881. According to the sites of, SJS  was the first of the 15 tramway companies in Java. The tramways were usually related to agricultural developments, especially sugar plantations and factories, tobacco and rubber plantations, and forestry. The lines also acted as feeder to the main lines. These tramways were built according to certain standards, allowing some exchange of rolling stock with the state railways, and some lines were indeed later upgraded to main-line railway standards.

Here in lasem, famous for its Batik craft product, this station must be the important things to distribute the Batik all over the major city in Java. In Semarang, the building of Gabungan Koperasi Batik Indonesia (Indonesian Batik Trading Society) situated not so far from the Jurnatan station, one’s of the station placed in the SJS lines of Semarang-Juwana, I believe its related.

Thanks anyway for Forum Komunikasi Masyarakat Sejarah (FOKMAS) Lasem mates, for take me here. Felt so glad to trace back the glory of Lasem city in a days, see you next mates! J

Monday, January 13, 2014

1st Lopen Semarang Anniversary on Spoorlaan

The publication of the events 
Its been a years since @lopenSMG established ( see my post here ). From simply utilizing the power of social media that growing stronger in order to increasing awareness of Semarang people about its the city history, now its turn into a community. A community where the youth who have interest into any historical object or so-called historical freak could have its place, to discuss, to explore and to learn more.  

On December 27th 2013, we celebrating our 1st anniversary, but since it was during the christmas and new years long holiday, we delayed it until January, 12th 2014. Together with our monthly agenda called #Blusukan there are visiting the historical objects in the city of Semarang, we celebrated our anniversary on a kampoong called Spoorland. Sounds weird eh? A kampoong with such an european names? Yes here is the sites of the first Railways station in Indonesia, thus its named after spoorland, taken from Dutch languages Spoorlaan means track lane or in the terms of railways its the emplacement.  Here we accompanied by Mr. Tjahjono Rahardjo, a railfans who also the members of Indonesian Railways Preservation Society (IRPS) and Mr. Rifai, a former train operator, the witness of this station while still in the active condition before it turns into the settlement.

Mr Tjahjono Raharjo from IRPS (black shirts with hat), explaining the
remains of Station Samarang, the first railways station Indonesia, the 2nd
in Asia after India (1853) and before Japan (1872)
The event, started by the presentation from Mr.Tjahjono, to explaining what He and His friends efforts in 2008 found the sites of this Station Samarang, who believed being misplaced from those who are written of in the history books. Its like a found a treasure for Him, because of he even not to expect any remains of this building, considering it was turns into dense settlement area, also the location suffered of land subsidence causing by the decreassing environmental condition from an uncontrolled reclamation works. Its a common phenomenon in the north coast of java island cities. But the fact it was, he found it! Even it turns into densely settlement area, but the facade of the station itself could be simply recognized (see here)

The first lane of railways in Indonesia, lie from Semarang to Tanggung along 25 Km. Built by Nederlandsch Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij (NIS) to fulfilling the needs of better transportation to transporting the goods from the southern vassal kingdom area (Vorstenlanden) to Semarang, the important harbour city. Its officialy opened on August, 10th 1867 by Governoor General, Van De Belle. This was the first railways established in South-East Asia, and in Asia itself its took the 2nd place, after India in 1853 and before Japan who established on 1872. 

All of the participant take a photos with Mr. Rifai (with a beard in the center),
the witness of the Station Samarang while its still in active condition.
Back to the event, as the presentation and the discussion was over, the event continues with visiting the remains of the station. Mr. Rifai, who have been there for almost 30 years, explain us a lot about what its looks like before. All of the praticipant felt so interest with the explanation, and for me it made me immagined how luxury is this station. The main building have been divided into housing, the emplacement have turns into an alley and as the land subsidence problems, what we seen now is already "sunk" +/- 2,5 meters, from its original heights.

The event closed by our anniversary celebration with "Tumpengan". A Javanese tradition to celebrating something with a cone-shaped rice dish like mountain with its side dishes (vegetables and meat). After the people pray, the top of tumpeng is cut and delivered to Mr. Tjahjono and Mr. Rifai as the appreciation of their efforts in the social and cultural works. Then after that, the tumpeng enjoyed by all of us. With tumpeng, people express the gratitude to God and appreciate togetherness and harmony. Well, I wish, our achievement in this one years in oreders to preserve the cultural and historical resource, specifically in Semarang, could be continues forever. Thanx for this one years, keep up the goodwork mates!

Its time to proud, its time to to preserve. :)