Brunei's Churchill Museum and Stamps

I wanted to write about the Churchill Museum today and searched for a photo of the museum. That's when I discovered I don't have a single photo of the museum. I will have to ask my dad later on today if he has one in his collection.

But what I do have are three Brunei first day covers depicting Churchill. The authorities clearly adored him in those days - the first first day cover was issued in 1966 to commemorate his death in 1965,

the second first day cover issued in 1973 was to commemorate the museum and

the third first day cover issued in 1974 was to commemorate his 100th birthday anniversary.

The Churchill Museum was an interesting anachronism in Brunei in those days. Churchill if you remember was the British Prime Minister during the Second World War and was remembered for leading Britain during the war. His famous sign was the two finger v shaped signifying V for victory. But later on that gesture became known as the peace symbol - I think it must have been brought on by the 1960s peace movement using that gesture.

The Churchill Museum in Brunei, now the Royal Regalia Building, had that statute of Churchill in the middle of the courtyard with the statute having that sign. It was the most famous of all Brunei's tourist symbol in those days. That Churchill Museum was at that time the only Churchill Museum in the world I was told. In fact in 2005 when the British opened their GBP6 million Churchill Museum, it was called the first major Churchill Museum in the world! I guess they didn't consider Brunei's a major Churchill Museum.

The Museum then housed the Churchill memorabilia and the one that I liked the most was the one where Churchill was a young boy and he had all these toy soldiers around him in formation. That was the display. Another one was the display where when you pressed the button it showed London being bombed during the London blitz by the Germans Lutwaffe. This was in the 1970s, those were the most modern techniques then. The Museum also housed the Brunei Aquarium. That was another fantastic display of the various fishes in Brunei. A number of people also said that there was another display on Brunei's reptile. I honestly cannot remember this display.

The museum was converted to become the Royal Regalia Building in 1992.

Comments

Fabian said…
Yes I remember both the Museum and the Aquarium. I particularly enjoyed seeing the turtle the aquarium had, even if its tank was depressingly small.

And I also have all three Churchill first day covers you've lister. I have my father to thank for that.
Anonymous said…
As much as I enjoy the Royal Regalia museum, I was saddened to see the end of the Churchill museum. Was it necessary? Could it have been housed somewhere else or perhaps have a gallery at the Brunei Museum? The Second World War was one of the most important event in the history of the world. It affected Brunei. Come to think of it, was it ever remembered in Brunei? No memorials? Remember a picture on this website a while back with a picture of an unknown place with what appeared to be a cenopath for a war memorial perhaps? That is gone now.

And what about the aquarium? Could the authority bring it back?
Anonymous said…
As a young Bruneian (being a student), I was disappointed not being able to visit such museum. It could have been a great place to visit. These buildings have high historical values.

I just hope that Gov't should not let other buildings with historical values to renovated back to its original looks and not to be demolished.
Anonymous said…
I remember both the Muzeum and Aquarium well. I can recall asking my dad to bring me there often just to say hello to the "turtle" and look at the toy soldiers (while wishing there were toys like that in "Klasse").
Anonymous said…
I remember seeing some snakes and probably also some wild birds. If this old memory serves me right, I think there were some sharks and piranhas too. There were wild rumors that the piranhas were set free in the kampong ayer waters when they closed down the aquarium.

Talking about aquarium, why don't the relevant authorities here open up a marine center and a proper modern zoo? I think we've learned from our neighboring countries that those attractions can be a boost to promote tourism in Brunei. Besides that, it'll create more interesting job opportunities especially those who've always wanted to be a marine biologist or a zoologist.
LSM said…
I can distinctly remember the statue of Churchill at the old memorial, head down arm raised with the V-sign. Now that I'm older, the aquarium just seems so out of place there.

Was any reason given for the removal of the memorial? Casting off the vestige of our British protectors, perhaps? And where is that statue now?
s.a.s said…
I remember the statue and the aquarium. But I do not remember the museum :)

The good old days...
Anonymous said…
I too remember the Old Churchill museum and the aquarium. I know I used to ask my dad to take me there to see the turtle all the time. It would be nice to see someone set up such a place now, it would be both educational and fun for kids and adults alike.
kediaku said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kediaku said…
remember the aquarium and the museum well. We used to ask our father to drop us off at dewan bahasa in the afternoon, but secretly we walked to the museum and aquarium.

Actually, if i remember well, there were 3 exibition there. The aquarium in the centre, churchil museum and a museum dedicated to Brunei, which displays exibits on the adat istiadat. They was also a section on the Brunei Constitution, where we could hear recordings of the actual discussion of that September day.
Anonymous said…
if i m not mistaken, his majesty the late sultan omar ali saifuddien III had a passion for collecting churchill memorabilia. He loved his hobby so much he opened a museum and opened his collection to the public. since he passed away the collection was inherited by the present sultan. i believe parts of the collection are now loaned to the british churchill musuem.

such a shame to have knocked down the musuem... we could have had built the royal regalia building somewhere else. the museum was a legacy of his late highness that should have been honoured.
UcingItam said…
yup i remember the turtles and the huge phyton at the aquarium. I wonder what happened to the Churchill statue
Anonymous said…
where's the churchill statue now? where is it placed after the museum was "renovated"...
Staffian said…
I too would very much like to know where the Churchill statue is. The sculptor Astrid Zydower was a friend of mine and I am writing a book about her life and works. This particular one seems to have vanished. If anyone knows where it is please let me know. Thank you
Gordon B said…
The Churchill statue was erected at the behest of the late Sultan Sir Omar Ali Saifuddin afrer attending the famous Prime Minister's funeral in London. He felt that it would instill bravery in what he saw was as a brave warrior Brunei Nation. I would like to know who was the brilliant interior designer who conceived of the first musspeeum display for Churchill.

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