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Photograph collection of the British Association of Malaysia and Singapore

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/BAM

Scope and Contents

The collection comprises some 1400 prints, chiefly gathered by the BAM. When acquired by the RCS, the collection was arranged for the most part geographically by state, with handlists outlining the scope of the material. Exceptions to this arrangement were some of the individual collections in the form of albums, and a few commercially produced items. This arrangement has been largely adhered to in BAM 1-6 which progresses from Singapore and the Straits Settlements to the individual Malay states. BAM 7-9 introduce newly formed thematic categories containing material not easily absorbed elsewhere or which cut across a number of geographical areas. BAM 10-17 consists mainly of albums, individually compiled collections of prints and in two cases (BAM 15 and 17), commercially produced material. BAM 18 forms a very general category of more modern material which also contains a number of miscellaneous photographs not originally part of the BAM collection. Some other photographs which have been in the possession of the Library since the 1890s, have been included for convenience with the BAM material, particularly in BAM 1 and 2. The photographs’ captions have been recorded as found and may include language which is offensive, inaccurate or inappropriate. They have been retained to reflect the context of the collection's creation.
Photographers work represented in the collection:
G.R. Lambert - in 1879 Lambert made a trip to Siam and returned early the following year having been appointed official photographer to the King of Siam. This was the first of many trips all over the islands of South East Asia, and by 1884 the firm were offering, from their studio at 430 Orchard Road, views of the Straits Settlements, Siam, Borneo and other areas, as well as portraits in the best style and by instantaneous process (Straits Times, 3 January 1884). It is difficult to make any accurate assessment of Lambert's own photographic contribution since his own direct connections with the firm ceased in the mid-1880s, and most of the work which survives dates from a slightly later period. He appears to have quitted Singapore in circa 1886, although he may have made a further visit in 1890, and from that time on until the early years of the 20th century the firm was managed by Alexander Koch, who had entered the business as an assistant in circa 1883-1884. Kochs position as manager was taken over by H.T. Jensen, who ran the business from circa 1908-1910 and whose portrait appears in 'Twentieth Century impressions of British Malaya.' The present century, however, saw the rise of the amateur photographer, and while Lambert and Co., in common with other professional photographers diversified into the production of postcards and the servicing of amateur needs, their heyday was over, and from circa 1910 until the final demise of the firm in 1918 it was run by a number of managers who appear to have functioned in little more than a caretaker capacity. The only one of these of any significance was H. Nugent Buckeridge, who managed Lambert and Co. from circa 1914-circa 1917 and who was later an independent commercial photographer in Singapore up to the outbreak of World War II.
Charles J. Kleingrothe;
August E. Kaulfuss;
Leonard Wray (1852-1942). Leonard Wray entered the Perak Civil Service in 1881 and became Superintendent of the Government Hill Garden, Larut in January 1882. The following year he was appointed Curator of the State Museum at Taiping and in 1886 he collected and prepared the Perak exhibits for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition. In 1890 he was appointed in addition State Geologist. From 1904-1908 he was Director of Museums, Federated Malay States. Wray had been elected a member of the Royal Photographic Society in 1872 and the 1901 edition of 'The Chronicle and Directory for China, Japan' lists him as President of the Taiping Photographic Society. Wray was an enthusiastic photographer and his use of the medium can be followed up in the museum reports contained in the F.M.S. Annual Reports for Perak. He also sent specimens, artefacts and photographs to the Oxford Museum and the F.C.O. Library holds an album of his views of public works in Perak taken in 1892-1893 (Malaysia v. 5). His portrait appears in Twentieth Century impressions of British Malaya (p. 245).
Collectors: These individuals serving in Malaya collected, but not necessarily took, photographs for the collection: Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham (1850-1946) arrived in Singapore in 1871. He served in Penang, Perak and Selangor, and he was the originator of the scheme which led to the Federation of four Malay States in 1896, and he was appointed first Resident-General. He retired in 1904 as High Commissioner for the Malay States and Governor of the Straits Settlements, but continued and active interest in Malayan matters and was one of the founders of the Association of British Malaya in 1920. A number of photographs of Perak and Selangor in the 1880s were his property and may well have been taken on his instructions. (See also BAM 3/43, 4/26-29, 6/26, 7/18-19);
William Langham-Carter (1869-1940) was appointed a cadet in the Straits Settlements in 1890 and held various posts in Province Wellesley (1895-1897 and 1907-1913) and Singapore (1898-1906) until 1913, when he became British Advisor in Kelantan. He returned to Singapore as a judge in 1916 and his last post, from 1922 until his retirement in 1925 was as Resident-Councillor Malacca. His collection of 63 separate photographs, two albums presented to him and a booklet of views of Singapore was included in the BAM collection. It includes scenes in his main postings and also some in Selangor and Perak presumably taken on leave. These originally had a serial number preceded by LC and though the collection has now been distributed by geographical location, these numbers have been included. They can be found as follows:
1: BAM 2/78; 2: 2/68; 3: 2/66; 4: 2/64; 5: 2/69; 6: 2/65; 7: 2/43; 8: 2/76; 9: 2/75; 10: 2/77; 11: 2/67; 12: 2/70; 13: 6/25; 14:; 15: 6/11; 16: 6/12; 17: 6/13; 18: 6/23; 19: 4/52; 20: 4/53; 21: 5/101; 22: 4/18; 23: 2/40; 24: 2/49; 25: 2/50; 26: 2/47; 27: 2/48; 28: 2/44; 29: 2/45; 30: 3/63; 31: 3/28; 32: 3/32; 33: 3/33; 34: 3/67; 35: 3/68; 36: 3/69; 37: 1/81; 38: 1/82; 39: 1/63; 40: 1/67; 41: 1/68; 42: 1/66; 43: 1/64; 44: 1/65; 45: 1/69; 46: 1/62; 47: 1/55; 48: 1/52; 49: 1/54; 50: 1/53; 51: 2/74; 52: 2/73; 53: 1/48; 54: 1/44; 55: 2/71; 56: 1/45; 57: 2/72; 58: 6/17; 59: 6/15; 60: 6/16; 61: 6/14; 62 6/18; 63: 13/1-12; 64: 14/1-12; 65 Sunny Singapore (not listed); 66: 2/79.


  • Creation: 1880 - 1969


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

The Association of British Malaya was founded in 1920, replacing the Straits Settlements Association which had existed since 1868. In the light of changing circumstances it became the British Association of Malaya, the British Association of Malaysia and the British Association of Malaysia and Singapore. From 1952 to 1967 the Secretary of the Association was Hugh Bryson. Apart from the routine duties of this post, he organised two important collections of historical material through the BAM. In 1960, in cooperation with the Royal Commonwealth Society, Hugh Bryson initiated the gathering of original documents - memoranda, diaries, correspondence - and the writing of special reminiscences by those with first hand experience of the area covered by the Association. As the material was received it was deposited in the Royal Commonwealth Society Library and forms a valuable collection. Bryson also began collecting photographs, particularly those reflecting the history of South-East Asia; not only did he accumulate rare items, but did much to document the collection, using the pages of the British Association of Malaysia and Singapore's journal Malaya (later Malaysia) to enlist the knowledge of members in identifying scenes and individuals. Hugh Bryson continued to assist with the identification of photographs until his death in 1977. A few further donations were received from former BAM members.


20 archive box(es) (20 boxes)

12 folder(s)

Language of Materials



As in the description.

Other Finding Aids

Simpson, D.H. (ed) (1975), The manuscript collection of the Library of the Royal Commonwealth Society, London : Mansell.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposited with the Royal Commonwealth Society in 1973 on the dissolution of the British Association of Malaysia and Singapore.

Existence and Location of Copies

This collection is available on microfiche. Fiche numbers 211-236. The first photograph album in this collection has been digitised and is available to view on Cambridge Digital Library; follow the digital object links to view these images.

Related Materials

Other material relating to the British Association of Malaysia and Singapore is held at RCMS103.


A general account of the photograph collection will be found in Falconer, John (1984), The photograph collection of the British Association of Malaysia, South-East Asia Library Group Newsletter, nos 27-28, July, pp. 9-11. There is also an account of it, The British Association of Malaysia Collection in the Library of the Royal Commonwealth Society by D.H. Simpson in South-East Asia Library Group Newsletter, Nos 27-28, July 1984, pp. 7-9. Cartwright, H.A. and Wright, Arnold (eds) (1908), Twentieth Century impressions of British Malaya: its history, people, commerce, industries and resources. London : Lloyds Greater Britain Publishing Co. Long, Edward E. (1927). The wild folk of Malaya. British Malaya, January


This collection level description was updated by PJ using information from the original typescript catalogues.


British Association of Malaysia and Singapore

Includes index.
2002-02-22 17:07:51+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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