One often-overlooked tourist destination in KL is probably the Royal Selangor Pewter Visitor Centre.
I believe it tends to get overlooked because although it’s not far from the city centre, it’s tucked away in a quiet part of the city and is a bit out of the way from the normal tourist route.
Nevertheless, I love taking people there because it offers a glimpse into Malaysia’s tin-mining past. Well, that and the fact that they give complimentary guided tours (available in various languages at that!), entrance is free, and there are no crowds to jostle with.
Before you get inside the building, you’ll find the world’s biggest tankard displayed outside. It’s apparently listed in the Guinness Book of World Records with its impressive statistics: 1.987 metres tall, weighs 1,557kg and has a capacity to fill 2,796 litres of beer. Naturally, the world’s biggest tankard is made of pewter.
A tour of the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre begins with The Gallery section that showcases the brand’s journey since its founding in 1885.
More pics after the jump…
There are also educational exhibits that offer visitors a better understanding of the technological aspects of pewter, like this simple chart that shows pewter’s chemical composition. And in case you’re wondering, ‘pewter’ rhymes with the ‘puter’ part of the word ‘computer’.
The Gallery also contains interactive displays such as Chamber of Chimes…
…the Hall of Frames…
…and a giant weighing scale that people can actually get on!
In the Pewter Museum, visitors will have an opportunity to ogle some very old pewtersmithing tools, a ledger with entries dated April 1946, and a collection of antique pewter dating from the late 1800′s to the 1960′s.
As you walk out of the Pewter Museum, you’ll find a wall of hand prints immortalised in pewter plates. They’re the handprints of Royal Selangor Pewter’s staff who have served the company for at least five years. Each plates is engraved with the respective staff’s names.
You’ll also walk past a replica of the Petronas Twin Towers made up of 7,062 Royal Selangor tankards, which stands two storeys high at a majestic height of 9.1 meters.
The Factory Tour, where visitors will get a first-hand view of the main processes involved in the pewter crafting process — casting, polishing, hammering. You can even try hammering a design on a pewter tankard by yourself. It looks deceptively easy but obviously requires a very good sense of timing and a lot of skill.
They even offer a workshop called at the “School of Hard Knocks” where you can hammer, scrape and polish away your own bowl and keep it at the end. The workshop costs RM50 per person, is open to groups of 5-50 and requires prior booking.
The Factory Tour is located on an elevated area just before the actual factory floor, which is very impressive with its neatness and cleanliness.
The Factory Tour will also include rare insights into the intricate handwork of crafting fine jewellery by Selberan, which is a Royal Selangor company (a small detail that I never knew until I visited the visitor centre).
Finally, at the end of the tour, you’ll find yourself in the strategically placed 18,000 square feet Retail Store, which features pewter items as well as jewelry by Selberan. Don’t worry — it’s not compulsory for you to buy anything in the shop!
Mind you, pewter is not exactly cheap. The chopsticks in this photo (just one pair) costs RM150, the bowl RM638. They’re trimmed with gold, you see…
This dainty tea set will set you back by a cool RM1,350.
And if you have a little more than RM3,000 extra pocket money, this limited edition Lord of the Rings ‘Battle for Middle Earth’ chess can be all yours (the chess board alone costs RM790!).
So what’s on my wish list? A very simple thing really — one of Royal Selangor Pewter’s airtight tea caddies…like this exquisite beauty that retails for RM120… *sigh*
You can check out the Royal Selangor Pewter’s online store by clicking here.
Royal Selangor Visitor Centre
9.00am – 5.00pm, daily.
No appointments necessary unless registering for a session at the School of Hard Knocks.
Guides are fluent in various languages, including English, Malay, Mandarin and Japanese.
Tel +603 4145 6122
Fax +603 4022 3000
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
website – visitorcentre.royalselangor.com
Royal Selangor International Sdn Bhd
4 Jalan Usahawan 6, Setapak Jaya
53300 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia