Thr Chenderoh Dam or Chenderoh Power Station is located at Tasik Chenderoh, some 30 kilometres from Kuala Kangsar. The dam was constructed in the mid-1920’s as the hydroelectric scheme for Lower Perak and was considered the biggest industrial undertaking in the Malay Peninsula at that time. The Chenderoh Dam is also the oldest hydroelectric dam and power station in Malaysia.
The dam cost about £3.5 million and was built by Messrs. Armstrong, Whitworth and Co. with half of its cost provided by the British Government under the credit scheme, and the British Government was represented on the board of Perak Hydro-Electric Company (known to many as Perak Hydro). Under this scheme, the company was able to raise a large amount of the necessary capital at a reduced rate. The British government also provided the financial guarantee to the creditors of the company. This provisional guarantee was made public at the request from the British Parliament for transparency. A “no preference” clause was also provided so that both small and large mining companies will be able to be powered by electricity generated at Chenderoh. Furthermore, Perak Hydro did not have full control over the running of Chenderoh Dam during a period which was given as eighty years, with the government having the power to take over after fifty years.
For the construction of the dam, Sungai Perak was raised about 60 feet, creating a lake extending ten miles from the dam. A certain amount of land above the dam was consequently flooded but the area involved was comparatively small given the steepness of the river banks, and it is sparsely inhabited.
Six hundred and forty feet long at its crest, sixty feet high, and eighty feet broad at the widest part of the base, the dam was built based on a hollow type which was favoured by the engineers during that time. In several ways, the Chenderoh Dam structure was different from the popular idea of dams. Instead of holding back the water by its own weight being a solid wall, the Chenderoh Dam sloped backwards from the water, the thrust of which will thus hold it more securely on its foundations, as it consists of a series of walls at eighteen-foot intervals behind a facing of slabs of reinforced concrete. A steam auxiliary plant was installed to provide 5,000 kilowatts in case of floods or drought.
The crest of the dam is curved, and that curve is a matter of precise calculation, the idea being that if another great flood comes, it will flow over the dam and down the slope on to the spillway at the foot. All ordinary floods were dealt with by opening two steel gates fifty-one feet wide by sixteen deep in the middle of the dam, which will release 60,000 cubic feet of water a second, and prevent the level of the impounding reservoir from rising more than two feet except in very abnormal floods.
The power derived from its two turbine generators, each of 9,000 kilowatts capacity was important as the main source of power supply to Kinta Valley, which was the heart of the tin mining area. The power produced by Chenderoh Dam was also able to supply power as far as to Batu Gajah, Kampar and Tanjung Tualang.
In April 1929, there was a strike by the labourers on misunderstanding over wage reduction. Nevertheless, it was completed finally and the dam was officially opened on 28 June 1930 by the Sir Hugh Clifford, the High Commisioner at that time.
With the completion of Chenderoh Dam, the hopes of Perak was realised in securing electric power for its main industry, without further depleting the forests of their timber to supply fuel for the steam plant. The dam was also built as part of the Government dealing with the disastrous floods which are such a scourge of Ipoh.
 The Perak River Hydro-Electric Power Company was formed in London in 1926 to supply power to the mines and dredges in the Kinta Valley as well as for domestic use. In 1930, it undertook to build a hydro-electric station and dam at Chenderoh on the Perak River north of Kuala Kangsar. For many years, Perak Hydro was the largest power supplier in Malaya. Its subsidiary, Kinta Electrical Distribution (KED), distributed power to 60 towns across Perak by 1956.
1. Arkib Negara Malaysia
2. Wikipedia: Chenderoh Power Station
3. Virtualmalaysia.com: Destination Perak
4. The Straits Times. 1925 December 17. p9.
5. The Straits Times. 1925 December 18. p8.
6. The Straits Times. 1930 June 13. p13.