Promthep Clock Tower, Police Station and Standard Chartered Bank

ศูนย์รวมข่าวพรหมเทพ และ อาคารธนาคารสแตนดาร์ดชาร์เตอร์ด ภูเก็ต

Phuket architecture

If you are taking a walk around Phuket Old Town then you will be sure to notice these two buildings located on the corners of Tanon Phang Nga and Tanon Phuket. To the left is the Promthep Clock Tower, owned by the Royal Thai Police, and to the right is what was once the Standard Chartered Bank building. Hopefully the electricity wires will go underground soon and these two beautiful Sino-Portuguese buildings will be restored to their former glory. The story behind them goes back to Phuket's Tin Mining era. 

Architecture in Phuket

Up until 1910, the only money lenders on Phuket were the Chettiar community from southern India and their interest charges were too high for local business. Phraya Rassadanupradit was to invite the opening of the first local bank in Thailand, that offered lower interest rates for tin dredging operations, meant the local economy could grow. The bank was originally know as Charter Bank until it joined with Standard Africa and became know as Standard Chartered Bank. The building was built in a classic Sino-Portuguese style and the police station was then constructed across the street to provide protection.

The police building had the island’s first clock tower, capped with a traditional police cap shaped roof, but oddly no clock was to be installed for over 50 years. The postcard above shows the clock tower as it stood empty in 1952.

Buildings in Phuket

"The police building was modeled on colonial structures popular at the time, with a space for a clock. Back then, people could not afford to buy watches and they depended on the clock tower. But there was no budget to buy a clock so the space stayed empty. After 40 years, a clock was purchased in Penang, but it never made it to Phuket as the boat that carried it, sank. We finally got a clock over 50 years after the police station opened," she added.

Architecture in Phuket

After the loss of the first clock and with the help of donations by the Phuket Lion's Club a new clock was purchased and finally fitted in 1976. HERITAGE HERO: Pranee Sakulpipatana is working hard to ensure Phuket’s old buildings are revitalized.

Now in2011/2012 a project to turn the Standard Chartered Bank into The Phuket Baba Museum (พิพิธภัณท์บาบ๋าเมืองภูเก็ต) or "Soon Wattanatam Chalermrat" (ศูนวัฒนธรรมเฉลิมราช).

Once the museum opens I will be back to tell you about it!