The road along Northam Hotel now named Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah (formerly called Northam Road) was known as the “Millionaire’s Row” in the 1900’s. It housed all the big mansions of all the richest families in Penang. At the beginning of the road at the corner of Pangkor Road next to the presnt Gleneagles Hospital is “Hardwicke House*”, the oldest heritage building on that road. The 3 acre property, built at the turn of the 20th century, was originally owned by the Penang Club which then sold it in 1887 to Dr. WC Brown, a medical doctor from Harley Street. He named it “HARDWICK HOUSE” after “HARDWICK HALL” in Derbyshire, England.
“HARDWICK HALL” owned by the Duke of Devonshire, was built and designed for the Bess of Hardwick, who was at that time, after Queen Elizabeth, the most powerful and richest woman in England. Today it is an English heritage building managed by the National Trust. In 2006, it was selected by a BBC documentary as one of Britain’s Best Buildings. HARDWICK HALL was used as Malfoy Manor in the book and movie “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”.
In 1905, the house was sold to Khaw Sim Kong of the Raja of Ranong family of Southern Thailand (the most famous member of which is Khaw Sim Bee). During the 1st World War, the house was in turn sold to prominent lawyer Lim Cheng Ean who would later become a Legislative Councilor and the first Chinese magistrate of the Straits Settlement. The last owner occupant of the house was his 3rd son, Lim Kean Siew, a well-known Penang lawyer and social activist. It used to house horse stables and tennis courts.
Today it housed two restaurants, Heritage Coffee and Sommez Heritage Bistro. Walking into the premises was like walking down memories through time. It has a wonderful heritage ambience coupled with an inexpensive dinner over a glass of wine. The whole atmosphere was like during the colonial days where rich businessmen with cigars would frequent the place to seal a deal. It was great to be able to experience such great existence of our history today.I'm thirsty for a drink now. Would you be kind enough to treat me?