Dear friends,

After the naming a Lecture Theatre at the Maktab Perguruan Tuanku Bainun by Her Highness Tuanku Bainun herself on 28th April 2005, and with all the other excitements we recently had about Kirkby in our national newspapers and TV, at last the name of Kirkby is again spoken by many people, some of whom, were not aware of the existence of Kirkby

I manage to get some information about how the naming of Kirkby Hall at Maktab Perguruan Tuanku Bainun  had taken place. Please read the extract below.

I was also informed that other newspapers such as Nan Yang Siang Pow and The Straits Time were also doing an article about Kirkby. My!! we suddenly are getting publicity everywhere aren’t we?

Perhaps some of you had missed the article in The Sunday Star, dated 28th & 31st August. I have reproduced the article sending to me by Mr Julian Mathews himself.

            May I take this opportunity in thanking Julian Mathew for remembering us.  Happy reading


Zainal Abidin Manaf .







Third Batch Kirkby – 1953-55

October 2005, 22nd Series

c/o 1018 Lorong Gunung Rapat 2

31350 Ipoh, Perak

Tel: 05-3127411






The idea of remembering Kirkby in the form of naming one of the education institutions started during a meeting of the Organising Committee celebrating the 50th Anniversary at Concode Hotel Kuala Lumpur on 15thSeptember 2001. It was only in May 2003 an appeal letter was sent to Y Bhg Datuk Abdul Rafie bin Haji Mahat, Ketua Pengarah Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia by Tan Sri Dr Yahya Ibrahim (1952-54). The following is the extract of his letter:-

       “ In the pre-independent Malaysia, the shortage of school teachers in the early 1950s led the Malayan Government then to establish Kirkby Teachers’ Training College in Liverpool where each year 150 young Malayan school lavers with excellent academic results were selected and sent to be trained as teachers to serve in Malayan schools

        Over ten years duration of this programme nearly 1,500 teachers were trained and they did Malaysia proudby being the backbone of the teaching service  for over ten years until the local teacher training colleges were able to supply the required teachers.

        Many of these “Kirkbyites” have gone on to obtain undergraduate and postgraduate education and served the country admirably during their working years. Others have joined the Malaysian Foreign Service and served ably as Malaysian Ambassadors overseas and some became great politicians, captains of industry, judges and leading lawyers....

        We make this appeal to Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia through Y.Bhg. Datuk to honour the memory of Kirkbyites, both living and dead so that an important chapter in the history of Malaysian education can be documented and recognised by posterity. “


It was only in March 22nd, 2004 that a letter addressed to Tan Sri Yahaya by Pengarah Maktab Perguruan Tuanku Bainun that the Ministry has approved to name “Dewan Kuliah A” of the college as “Dewan Kirkby”

On behalf of all Kirkbyites I would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Tan Sri Yahaya Ibrahim for bringing up the good name of Kirkby again. I suppose due this event that our local newspapers and TV are also doing their parts in re-remembering Kirkby.

Kirkbyites who attended the official naming ceremony of Dewan Kirkby at Maktab Perguruan Tuanku Bainun at Mengkuang, Bukit Mertajam, Pulau Pinang  on 28th April, 2005 were:


1.  D.Y.M.M. Raja Permaisuri Perak Tuanku Bainun




Y.Bhg. Dato’ Dr Hj Yahaya Ibrahim ( now Tan Sri)


Encik Lee Keng Yew



Y.Bhg. Dato’ Haji Mohd Sidek Elamdin


Puan Mary Lim &



Y.Bhg. Dato’ Salina Yahaya


Puan Paravarthy Kumarasamy



Encik Tan Beng Theam


Encik Khoo Yeoh Gan Hong





From Chiam Tah Wen (1954-56 )


Dear Tuan Haji Zainal,


Many thanks for your latest newsletter. I read with great interest some of the articles written by the children of our former lecturers. These articles would invariably trigger in our minds our nostalgic memory of Kirkby and the good old days in far- away England. In many ways, Kirkby has shaped the lives of many of us. I wonder whether we can get some glimpses of the ways the educational and occupational aspirations of Kirkbyites' chidren have been and still are being influenced by the Kirkbyite parents themselves.

Over breakfast table, lunch, dinner, Teachers' Day etc, the children in their inquisitive mind must have tried to know what the Kirkby experiment was about: the innovative concept, the great inter-racial harmony, the " one-for-all and all- for-one " attitude, the lecturing and administrative staff who went out of their way to be helpful, the kitchen staff who were always ready to help out the tired and hungry students with a loaf of bread and some hot milk at 10.00 pm in a winter night after a long day out in town , and the Matron  who would always order a student with a slight fever or running nose to be kept in the Sick Bay for a day or two for fear of outbreak of flu! The children must also have heard about the ragging, the celebrations and festivals at Kirkby and the continental trips of their parents. Some of these incidents and episodes must have affected their upbringing and the growing-up process. We would be happy to hear what they have to say.


With Best wishes to you and all other Kirkbyites.


Chiam Tah Wen


My Dear friends,

With a heavy heart I have to inform you that our good friend Tuan Haji Abdul Jamil b Hj Abd Halim  passed away on 25th September 2005 just after he had  sent me the following article dated 19th September, 2005. May his soul rest in peace.-- Alfatihah.......



From:  Abdul Jamil b Hj Abd Halim

       19 Sept 2005.


Dear Zainal,

In 14th series, I have promised to send you extract from a travel book written by one Encik Harun Aminul Rashid, an ex-teacher turned journalist, regarding his visit to England in 1952, when he stopped by at Liverpool and at our Kirkby College.

It has been quite a time since June 2003. Anyway I believe it is better late than never. I am now sending you the said extracts. They are written in Malay using the old spelling.

This writer wrote that he saw and then gave his personal opinions, more like the style of old Munshi Abdullah. We may agree with his opinions or we may not, as his visit to Kirkby was made for just for an overnight stay, which mans that he never saw the real Kirkby.

I take this article of some sort of a record for us to read and keep. You may print all or pick the Kirkby story.

I have in my possession the writer’s book, entitled TERBANG KE BARAT printed in 1961. It actually belongs to my late father who was then a Head Teacher of a Malay School in Alor Setar.

Well, Zainal, that’s about all for now. I may write again soon.

Best wishes to you and family. Please don’t strain and don’t sprain. You are a valuable asset to all our Kirkby mates. May Allah continue giving you all the strength and good health.



Your buddy,


Abdul Jamil Hj Abd Halim

College No:305, Block 8.


Since the article was written in old Bahasa Malayu, I would prefer to keep it to its original style.


The following is the extract :


“Saya sampai kawasan Kirkby ini betul pada pukul 1.20 tengah-hari, iaitu kira-kira sembilan batu jauhnya dari bandar Liverpool.

Mula-mula saya sangka Kirkby College ialah sebuah bangunan besar seperti mana yang saya lihat bangunan-bangunan persekolahan atau university di London dan Birmingham. Saya berasa penuh pertanyaan di dalam hati apabila saya lihat Kirkby Colllege atau College Perguruan yang telah mashhor dibincangkaan  oleh perkhabaran-perkhabaran dari surat khabar Tanah Melayu iaitu rupanya seperti kata perumpamaan Melayu, “ Indah khabar dari rupa “.

Yang dikatakan Kirkby College ini ialah terdiri dari rumah-rumah rendah duduknya dalan satu kawasan lapang di sebuah kampong kecil bernama Kirkby. Kawasan College ini berpagar sekelilingnya dengan pagar kawat. Mengikut keterengan dengan orang yang tahu hal, bangunan-bangunan itu ialah bekas buroh tentera di masa peperangan besar yang baru berlalu itu. Nama College ini yang sebenarnya ialah “Malayan Teachers’ Training College, Kirkby, Liverpool”. Sebelum college ini dijadikan Malayan Training College, terlebih dahulu tempat ini dijadikan college perguruan guru-guru bangsa Inggeris .

Saya sampai disini disambut oleh guru besarnya Mr Bert William. Beliau inilah yang menjadi Principal yang pertama kali college ini. Ia pertengahan umor, orangnya lembut, dalam bercakap-cakap memang ia seorang guru yang baik dipilih untuk mendidik anak-anak Timor yang berkelakuan lemah lembut. Oleh sebab rumah di college ini tiada yang kosong dari itu saya dan kawan-kawan saya ditempatkan di bilik kosong di rumah sakit. (sick bay).

Dalam bercakap-cakap dengan Guru Besarnya itu dapatlah saya keterangan serba sedikit berkenaan college itu. Katanya sebab pun tempat ini dipilih menjadi Malayan Teachers’ Training College, kerana di sini tempatnya lapang dan terjauh dari kawasan ramai dan sibok. Penuntut-penuntut yang dihantar belajar ke sini semuanya dengan pilihan Pejabat Pelajaran Tanah Melayu.Pengajaran-pengajaran yang terutama dilatih dan diajar kepada penuntut-penuntut itu ialah mempelajari kaedah mengajar dan mendidik cara England yang betul.

Oleh sebab hari Sabtu, tiadalah peluang saya melihat penuntut-penuntut itu belajar. Kebanyakan murid-murid keluar berjalan, ada juga yang tiada keluar. Mereka bermutalaah sendiri, dan bermain badminton. Penuntut-penuntut di sini menerima pelajarannya dengan jalan mendengar sharahan dari guru-gurunya dari pukul 9.30 pagi hingga pukul 1.00 petang. Hari Sabtu dan Minggu cuti. Diantara pelajaran-pelajarannya termasuk pelajaran Bahasa Melayu yang diajar oleh Che’gu Sulaiman bin Hamzah. Semua guru-guru seramai 31 orang kebanyakannya guru-gurunya dipilih dari guru-guru yang pernah mengajar di College.

Ramai penuntutnya pada masa itu ialah 399 orang, diantaranya 157 lelaki 142 orang perempuan. Dalam seramai itu 100 orang penuntut Melayu, iaitu 80 lelaki dan 20 orang perempuan. Lama belajar 2 tahun yang dibelanjakan oleh Kerajaan Persekutuan Tanah Melayu. Pada tiap-tiap seorang £2000. Penuntut-penuntut menerima belanja saku pada tiap bulan £2 dan masa bercuti £4. College ini mula dibuka pada sehari bulan Januari 1952, dengan  pnuntutnya mula-mula seramai 100 orang. Oleh sebab penuntut-pwnuntut ini dari berbagai-bagai bangsa iaitu Melayu, China, India dan Serani dari itu soal makan adalah terserah kepada satu jawatankuasa yang terdiri daripada penuntut-penuntut itu sendiri.

Walau pun udara sejuk tetapi penuntut-penuntut perempuan Melayu di college ini terus memakai chara Melayu, hanya bila berjalan-jalan keluar baharu memakai baju sejuk. Pada tiap-tiap malam minggu diadakan majlis dancing diantara penuntut-penuntut itu.

Esoknya pagi kira-kira pukul 11.30 saya berlepas dari Kirkby dengan dihantar oleh penuntut-penuntut Melayu laki-laki dan perempuan dengan secara bergurau mereka berkata : Sampaikan rindu kasihnya kepada keluarga dan Tanah Ayernya yang dikasihi.......”


Written by:

Harun Aminul Rashid



The following letter is from Louis Cheong (1954-1956)


Dear Zainal,


This photo ( taken 50 years ago) is produced to rekindle the nostalgia of cold, snowless, awesome morning of 25th January 1955, i.e. Chinese New Year Day (Year of the Goat) in Kirkby College.

In heralding simultaneously the traditional Festive Celebration in Malaya, the Kiriby Dragon Dance Troupe comprising Kirkbyites of classes 1953-1954, clad smartly in Mr Woolley’s black, woolen, track tops and white pants, went around the college premises with great excitement and enthusiasm. The beating of the small drum, handed down by our super seniors awaken the understanding residents peeking curiously at us out of the windows and cheering and shouting “Happy New Year”

Every member had once in a life time opportunity to outshine their skills in beating to near perfection the correct rhythm of the typical tune and maneuvering dexterously the tiny dragon head along the cemented paths between the black gloomy blocks.

That memorable and eventful Dragon Dance procession was a thing of the past but after five decades it can still be remembered by the sexagenarians and septuagenarians.

Well, Kirkbyites, in keeping with the Kirkby spirit of fellowship do drop a line or two to the editor of the Kirkby Newsletter, Zainal Abidin Manaf , whose thirst of information is overcoming his urge to keep shouting for you far and near. Others in the photo are also curious to where you are and how you are faring.

I would like to inform you that a group of Kirkbyites of ‘53 and ’54 have asked me to start an aerobic dance class. This unique dance exercise incorporates all the three components, i.e. Mr Wooley’s agile physical movements, our Dragon Dance stances and my aerobic dance steps. We meet once a month.

If you are residing in the vicinity of Petaling Jaya, come and join us for the sake of our health and physical fitness.




Louis Cheong



Front Row (L to R):

1. The late Khaw Mong Hwa,  2. Ooi Phee Teck,  3. Soh Kai Yin, 4. Chan Swee Seng, 5. Wong Choon Seng,  6. Loo San Hong,  7. Ed Keong Siew Liang,  8. Ooi Yeow Kim

Back Row (L to R):

1. Choy Yoon Choon,  2. The late Michael Yen,  3. Louis Cheong Koon Hoe, 4. Teoh  Chye Teik,   5. Jimmy Toh,  6. Tong Wai Kin,  7. Phung Tuck Yoon,8.  Woo Kok Keong

Dear Louis,

You are right. I have been shouting far and near every time I wanted to start a Newsletter. My shouting is not successful enough but thank God, people like you and some others do answer to my call. Terima Kasih. I don’t know how long more I have to shout. No more voice already la!


Subject:       Reminiscing Kirkby Days

From:           Paul Chong <>




Many Kirkbyites would recall the days of "Peaceful Slumber" in place of "Private Study", the rendezvous in Kirkby Woods or along the canal, week-end coach tours to nearby places of interests, endless summer holidays in the continent. For the romantics, what sweet remembrances of whispering sweet nothing in the quiet room or the lingering at the doors of the girls' blocks reluctantly saying good-night.

There were "bookworms" among us who buried themselves in the library trying to excel in their academic pursuit or winning trips on the "Blue Funnel". For most in general getting a "pass" or "straight As" made no difference at all. Sadly enough, it looks like many of those "bookworms" are no longer with us. During such times as "Private Study", our Papa Gurney used to be on the prowl and the Recreation Room was on the danger list, lest one should be caught playing billiards or snooker ( a favourite pastime with many) or table-tennis.

To the world at large, and America especially, September 11 will always be a significant and memorable date. About the same time on 15 September, some five hundred Kirkbyites gathered together for a great celebration of the past. . . a fiftieth reunion of the days gone by in the Malayan Teachers' Training College, Kirkby in Liverpool, England. . . meeting at the Concorde Hotel in Kuala Lumpur after an absence of, for some, up to 50 years, and for us after 40 or 41 years. It's a lifetime experience flashing through the conference room.

Recently, I heard again an old favourite song of mine "One day When We Were Young", and it brings home the fact that we could never return to our youth . . . to the days gone by . . . when life seemed so easy and free. On this extended holidays of ours, we have managed to return to our old home-town, the old schools, the old place of work, visited old friends and colleagues who are still around. Who would have thought that some people have passed on . . . the old place had progressed beyond your own recognition . . . and misfortune had befallen among some, while some unexpected ones have gone on successfully.

Back to the scene at the Concorde Hotel, a comment was made that night . . . who would have thought a Kirkbyite, Bainun Mohd Ali, would one day be the Queen of Malaysia. She, presently Raja Permaisuri of Perak State in Malaysia, was most gracious to grace the occasion and posted for photographs with us all. Proudly, Kirkby College has produced many distinguished personnel in the field of human endeavour, academically and socially.

Pity that such reunion had never been organised in the past. It would be good to keep the tradition going. A big thank you is in order to John Pillai and his committee for such a task well done. Kirkyites have spread themselves to all corners of the world, though many have remained and retired in the Golden Chersonese. Keeping in touch these days electronically is so easy, instant and cheap. There is absolutely no excuse for not trying.

Some of us are would-be grand-parents, while some are. Some unfortunately have passed on. For us who are still around, let's not neglect meeting together regularly for the days ahead are not many. Today, we find ourselves scattered all over the world - US, UK, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia with the majority in the Golden Chersonese, the land of perpetual summer. Yesteryears are gone and may tomorrow brings more glorious and exciting days!


Paul & Lilian Chong

(1959/60 and 1960/61)


From: Mr Chiam Tah Wen

August 9, 2005 was a day to remember.

Dear Friends,

A good cross-section of Kirkbyites from the second batch (1952-1953) to the 4th batch (1954-1956) as well as a sole representative from the Teacher Trainers group (1962) met at a film studio in Shah Alam for a photo-shoot session to commemorate the visit of Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman to the Kirkby College on February 7 1956. Tunku's visit was a historical occasion as it was at Kirkby that our beloved Tunku first made the announcement of independence for Malaya. Shouts of merdeka, merdeka, merdeka reverberated through the packed College Hall. Fists punched through the air in greeting this significant announcement. The message was clear: from August 31 1957 Malaya would be free from the shackles of colonial rule and we would be the master of our own fate soon.

At the August 9 gathering, the Kirkbyites though in their late sixties appeared to be pretty excited: they hugged and embraced one another freely, with tears of joy rolling down their cheeks. Many had not met for more than 50 years and were busy catching up on old times -- swapping tales and anecdotes, both the probable and the improbable. Present at the photo-shoot session was a Kirkbyite "Ho Chee Min" shaking hands with a 12-year Principal of a big secondary school in Kuala Lumpur, the articulate teacher of the animated Lats, the Kirkbyite mother of the director of the award-winning Sepet which beat the much-publised Puteri Gunung Ledang, the indefatigable Editor and producer of the 21-series Kirkby Newsletters, and the Kirkbyite actor/actress and the popular "beauty queen" who took part in "A Town Like Alice" which was then filmed at Pinewood Studios in London, Australia and Malaya

Also participating in the photo-shoot session was the Principal Assistant Director, Ministry of Education who is now a consultant to private education, Tan Sri CEO of Tafe Group of Colleges and former President of the Senate and Tan Sri Pro-Chancellor of  a University. Helping out in the photo-shoot session which lasted for more than three hours was the participating Kirkbyite mother of the Creative director and a bubbly assistant of a world-renowned advertising organisation. This assistant just came back from UK after studying there for 14 years!

Well, to see the result of the photo-shoot and the film? Please switch on your TV from August 25 onwards. You may catch it on Astro, TV1, TV2, TV3, ntv7 etc.

All the best to Kirkbyites and anyone interested in education. As someone has remarked "the seed of professional training of teachers in Malaya/Malaysia was planted in this first-class Kirkby College in England".


Chiam Tah Wen



May I take this opportunity to wish all my Muslim friends






Maaf Zahir  Batin


Part 2