Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld, GCMG (1823 – 1891), was born in Dorset, England, and was governor of various British colonies, including the Straits Settlements. He was initially heavily involved in the politics of New Zealand where he was cabinet minister, before returning to England in 1867 because of ill health. When his health improved, he returned to the British Colonial Service as governor of Western Australia in 1869. He became the governor of the Straits Settlement Weld in 1880 and began to take personal interest in the development of the Malay States.
In the middle of 1881, Weld visited the town of Taiping, in Perak. He found “the revenue increasing and everything going on excellent well…” but “labour for public works and roads and to develop other industries and sources of revenue besides tin-mining,” he lamented, “is the great want”. He also reported that:
“Water supply for Taiping from the hill (Maxwell Hill), the roads to Krian, which will connect Taiping town centre with Province Wellesley, and a rail and tramway from Taiping to the port (Port Weld, which was named after him) are amongst the next most necessary works to be undertaken. the town of Taiping has been much improved since the fire, which took place rather more than a year ago; new streets have been laid out to considerable width, and a better class of houses has been built”
The construction of the Taiping – Port Weld railway was the beginning of a major transformation altering radically the landscape of the Malay Peninsula. It also brought the first influx of Indians (mainly Tamils) and Ceylonese to Perak. Sir Frederick Weld was in Taiping again in 1883 where he “inspected everything”. He spent time going down the Port Weld railway line, then in the course of construction, “on a truck behind the Engine”. He also put into effect plans to build a telegraph line along the road linking Taiping with Province Wellesley. It was nearing completion after which a railway along the same route would be constructed.
Weld finally retired from political life in 1887, although he remained active in other fields of work. In 1891, visiting the Straits Settlements once again, he contracted a serious illness, and returned to England. He died in Chideock, Dorset on 20 July 1891.
Places named after Sir Frederick Weld:
1. Port Weld in Perak, later changed to Kuala Sepetang.
2. Weld Road and Upper Weld Road in Singapore and Weld Quay in Penang.
3. Weld Road in Kuala Lumpur, was renamed to Jalan Raja Chulan (after Raja Sir Chulan Sultan Abdullah) in 1982.
4. Weld Road in Swan View, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia.
5. Weld Hill in Kuala Lumpur, subsequently renamed Bukit Mahkamah. It is now the site of Menara Maybank.