In memory of Brunei's Churchill Memorial Exhibition Building

I am writing an article for a travel magazine and one of the photographs I needed was that of the Churchill Museum. You remember? The famous Churchill Museum with the statute of Sir Winston Churchill and his famous two finger V shaped signature? (V actually stands for Victory but in the 1960s that two finger V shaped sign became a symbol for Peace.)

And guess what? I could not find a single photograph of that museum. I have been scouring through all the coffee table books, the annual reports, the commemorative books and whatever else that the government has published over the last 50 years in my collection and zilch, nien, nyet, nada.. Other than Churchill first day covers (and Lat's cartoon), not a single blooming photograph anywhere. It was still standing until 1991. I can't believe it.

The closest I could get was this aerial photograph of Bandar Seri Begawan in the evening celebrating either National Day or Birthday sometimes in the late 1980s. The museum was part of it and that's the closest I got for the last two weeks. You can barely make out Sir Winston Churchill standing in the middle of the courtyard of the museum.

The correct name for the building was The Churchill Memorial Exhibition Building but we tend to call it the Churchill Museum. It not only housed the Churchill exhibits but also Brunei's Aquarium and also a smaller exhibiton of Brunei's old dcouments. The statute of Sir winston Churchill was outside. When I was much younger I remembered Sir winston Churchill towering above me whenever we visited the Museum. He looked so big.

Anyway, I asked around. I also trawled the internet for the last two weeks. All I found usually was my own posting on the Churchill stamps and First Day Covers (after today, this posting will appear if you search for Churchill Museum). Nobody seemed to have any photographs of the museum. People remember having it and taking photographs in front of it but still not a single one came my away. I was finally given one yesterday and I was really looking forward to it but it turned out this one even though was slightly better and clearer than that aerial photograph but the statute was still too tiny. So I give up. I am half beginning to think there is a conspiracy to hide any memory of it.

It seemed that we don't really take photographs of our own attractions. The Churchill Museum might not be a good example of the Brunei's attractions as compared to the Royal Regalia Building. But you would be surprised that this is the kind of thing that attracts people to come. The odd thing. I remembered in 2005 when I was in Jeju - a Korean island made famous by a Korean drama which I have forgotten - it had one interesting museum - a Teddy Bear Museum, and not just any Teddy Bear Museum - it's the world’s largest museum that is wholly dedicated to teddy bears. What has Teddy Bears and Jeju got in common? Nothing. It is still an attraction. When I was studying in the States, the town I was living in was famous not just for its university. It has the world's largest Swatch Museum! Connection? Again, none. But people come. So I guess, building something for the fun of it sometimes work.
Photo credit and copyright: Lat's Cartoon from 'Lat and his Lot again' Berita Publishing 1983; first photograph - 'Brunei Berdaulat' Brunei Government; and second photograph - Information Department.


Anonymous said…
Refering to the jeju teddy bear museum, the teddy bears of that museum was featured in the Korean Drama "Princess Hours," which was aired on RTB2 last year on which in one of the episode the casts visited the museum while they were in Jeju. For more info:

Talking about attractions, Bruneians tend to think of operating cost but not the profit and preferred to be on the safe side of the fence and try not to be belabih. Thats why there's not much attractions for fun available in Brunei
Anonymous said…
My most vivid memory of the Churchill was of course of the statue (school trip and very bad class photo)and believe it or not, the turtle (leatherback?) that was happily swimming around in the tank. What my memory fails me is the reason why the memorial was dismantled. Where is the statue now by the way? I can't help wondering if it's now rusting away in someone's backyard :-)
Anonymous said…
Yes what is the reason for the demolition of the building and statue? Ive been wondering about it all this time. Does anyone out there have an answer?
Anonymous said…
Aside the statue, the architecture of the building was unique on its own. A shame that they've redone it. To me it's like having a face lift surgery that turns aweful.

I had very fond memories of the aquarium, may be it wasn't big; but we had somewhere to go in the weekends when little. Now, I've nowhere to bring my kids but overseas for this kind of attraction.
Anonymous said…
The Churchill memorial was the only one of it's kind outside the UK. The late al-Marhum Sultan Hj Omar Ali Saifuddin was a great admirer of Sir Winston Churchill.

As can be seen from the pictures, the building is C-shaped, C for Churchill.

Another building, the State Secretariat building,where the British administrators used to be, is E-shaped. It is located along Jalan Elizabeth ll. No prizes for guessing what E stood for!

The building has a mural that depicts life in the 50's ... including bare-breasted figures.

(oops, now that I have highlighted it, go and take your pixs now before they get covered-up!)

As for changes, well they become necessary as people change...

These 2 buildings would have made great tourist attractions esp those from the UK and Australia.

Anonymous said…
I remember visiting Brunei in 1974 and visiting the museum. It was very interesting but at the same time I thought it was a strange place to have a museum dedicated to Winston.
Im in Perth and mentioned to a young person from Brunei that I had visited it and they just looked at me blankly and said they had no knowledge of it.
Im digitizing my slides at the moment so if I come across photos of it will advise you of it and send them to you. I have hundreds so could take a while
Shane said…
Found a photo of Winston outside the museum

Hope its of interest. May find more as I digitize slides
Anonymous said…
Here is another photo here taken in front of the Churchill statue.

It would be interesting to trawl through similar older photos posted on Flickr.
Sodafox said…
Our family went to that museum in 1960's. I remember that spiral staircase. We used to go up on it and climb around. I might have pictures. I will have to dig them out. I remember the aquarium, that was my favorite part. Wow, surprised they demolished it.
cyberridz said…
Rozan, I happened to stumble upon an image of the Winston Churchill War Memorial on the net taken by a photographer named Michael S. Yamashita

This is the image:

This is his Facebook page:

This is also another image that I found:

Hope that helps in any way...
cyberridz said…
This is also interesting - The designer of the Winston Churchill War Memorial statue, Astrid Zydower
Abby said…
Oh, you'd be pleased to see this:

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