The photo shoot for Collection 1, The Crag, took place at the Crag Hotel in Penang, Malaysia.
Crag Hotel is the grand old lady of the Penang Hills. Initially it was a private residence in 1845 and later on it was operated as a sanitarium in the early 1850s.
The Straits Times noting ‘The sanitarium on Penang Hill is likely before long to be turned to account for the benefit of civilian officials on the East Coast of Sumatra who, for the recovery of their health, need a sea voyage and a cool climate without the heavy expense attending a trip to Java for the purpose.’
In 1896 a Scotsman by the name of Captain Kerr took over the lease and continued running it as a sanatorium. He made numerous improvements and by all accounts it was a very popular retreat. The Captain and his wife presided over The Crag until 1905, a period that seems to have coincided with a surge in popularity for the hotel, with the Kerrs becoming its most legendary hosts. On their retirement they returned to England where the Captain died in 1925. Following his death, Mrs Kerr returned to live quietly in Penang until her own death at George Town in 1936.
By 1905, The Crag’s lease was taken over by the Sarkies brothers (who were well-known hoteliers in Southeast Asia and were responsible for the construction of other famous hotels in the region such as the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and the Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang). After some minor renovations, it now boasted some nine bungalows of varying sizes as well as a large main building.
The hotel comprised a ‘village of bungalows’ grouped around, or close to, the central building where the dining and sitting rooms were located. In its heyday The Crag was the place to stay on the hill. Numerous parties were held here and there are reports of guests dancing until dawn on its manicured lawns.
The Crag prospered until the outbreak of World War I, and in 1919 it was sold to the government for $275000. Despite this sale, The Crag continued to be operated by the Sarkies, but from the middle of 1920 onwards, operations were handed over to the Federated Malay States Railways. Business started to slow, and sadly it would continue this way until late 1941, and the invasion of the Japanese.
It reopened for business in 1947 but wasn’t as popular as it had been and finally it closed its doors in 1954. In 1955, it was leased to the Incorporated Society of Planters, Malaya, who added four chalets and converted it into a school under the name Upland School.
Upland School served Malaysian and European children whose families didn’t want to send them to boarding school in the UK but still wanted a British education. Queen Elizabeth visited Penang Hill in 1972 and was greeted by Uplanders. It fulfilled this function well until closing in 1977.
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