After a lapse of nearly 180 years, schooner The Royalist to make a “return” to Kuching

Abang Johari (second left) launching the World Cleanup Day at Masjid Bahagian Kuching.

KUCHING, September 15: A 142-tonne topsail schooner The Royalist played an instrumental role in establishing the White Rajah’s foothold in Sarawak – James Brooke bought the vessel in 1836 and used it as an expedition vessel.

No living Sarawakians have ever seen it with their own eyes of course, because this famous sailboat first arrived in Kuching in 1839 and was recorded in Brunei in September 1843, about two years after James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak.

But all is not lost, as they say, because a replica of The Royalist will form part of the old Brooke Dockyard, which is being transformed into a trade and craft bazaar.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said: “As you know, the Brooke Trust and Hollywood is now doing shooting for the White Rajah film. The replica of the Royalist, with the exact scale of the original boat, being built in the United Kingdom (UK) will be used in the film.

“What we are planning is after the shooting of the film is done, the boat would be placed at the renovated Brooke Dockyard and to be converted into a floating restaurant.”

He added that the Sarawak Museum would manage the “The Royalist” replica.

Image of The Royalist at Sarawak History Walk at Kuching Waterfront.
3D model and specification of The Royalist, courtesy of Brooke Trust website.

It was recorded that The Royalist retained its name but ended up as a trading vessel in the Sandwich Islands in Auckland, New Zealand, before being wrecked at Kawhia there on December 11, 1854. It was carrying a cargo of timber and wheat then.

Meanwhile, Abang Johari told reporters after officiating at Masjid Bahagian Kuching’s World Cleanup Day here this morning that renovation work on the old Brooke Dockyard, which includes connecting it to Kuching Waterfront, was progressing smoothly.

He added that it would take two to three years for the work to be wrapped up. The ongoing first phase, which is to connect it to Kuching Waterfront, cost about RM6 million.

The second phase would include restoring and renovating the building. It would cost around RM10 million. — DayakDaily