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Life along Gurney Drive

The Evolution of Gurney Drive
Gurney Drive 

Photos as appeared in PenangMonthly.com.



Gurney Drive is indeed currently undergoing major transformation. Ironically, a grass fence hording bordering the walkway and the rocky beachfront creates the seemingly 'environmentally friendly and sustainable' idea that the land reclamation project is not only necessary, but desirable. Personally, I have my reservations.
Growing up as a child, my annual visits to Penang would include following grandmother to Gurney Drive to greet the fishermen, and catch a glimpse of what the 'Catch-of-the-Day' would be... sometimes it would be squid, fish even crabs! Those memories are imprinted in me and I suppose that's why nostalgia and storytelling is important as it was a moment in time, experience by people yesterday, never to be experienced again unless if it was retold. 

At a recent visit, I stood on the pathway with the two mainstay coffee shops - Carnation Cafe and Song River behind me, and pried to catch a glimpse of the horizon past the green fence and I felt a sudden flush of sadness. I hope I will live to share more tales on life along Gurney Drive. I suspect many a lovers would have walked hand-in-hand with their futures hopeful, proclaiming their undying love, discussing imminent marriage that would lead to children (like me) while grandmother would be tasked to chaperone them a steps behind. I believe there are many many more stories that can be unravelled... Gurney Drive, I will gather your stories and we shall share them.

My cousin David shared this article written by Anwar Fazal, formerly the Asst. City Secretary, City Council of George Town
and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award. In there, he wrote...
"The idea of a promenade along the north beach had long been in the minds of the people of George Town. In 1930 plans were completed for what was described as the “new coast road” between North Beach and Cantonment Road Ghaut. 
The Commissioners of the Municipality gave considerable time to persuade land owners to give up land for the construction of the road and by 1934 it was possible to construct 510 yards of it. The first section was opened on October 19 that year, and it proved extremely popular – and the new “Osira” lamps with which the streets were lit marked the first step for improved street lighting in Penang. By the end of 1935, the length open for public use was 1,970ft and in February 1936 the construction of North Beach to form a connection to Northam Road was completed.
That Gurney Drive is already one of the most popular resorts in Penang is a tribute to the foresight of those who planned for Penang to remain what the great travel writer Isabella Bird said about the island in her book, The Golden Chersonese, published in 1883: 
“A truly brilliant place
Under a brilliant sky.”
Read more.

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