once Government House
Located behind the
old airport is the Botanical Garden which was formerly the site of the
Government House, locally known by "Bumbung 12". Built in 1852,
the house was a long and low structure with an interesting roof design.
Today only the water storage tank remains, along with a small grave of
a much-loved foxhound named 'Jim'.
The Botanical Garden is a recreational park with old trees and beautiful
landscaping. And what fascinating tales they are!
Tales of the Government House
It was believed that Hugh Low, Colonial Secretary for many years and persistently
passed over for governorship, did much of the early work on the Garden.
Many of the older trees were planted by him. The house was completely
destroyed during the War.
On the grounds are found two graveyards that are believed to be the oldest
on the island. One of them which is very overgrown, has graves dating
back to 1847. These graves were transferred from Ramsey Point along the
beach, where repeating tides resulted in the erosion of old naval grave
sites. One of the two graves relocated was that of Commander James A.
Gordan of HMS Wolf, present at the handing over of Labuan to the British
24th December 1846 and who assisted in the construction of the grounds.
Like so many at that time, he fell ill and died at the early age of 28
on board his ship anchored offshore.
The other grave is that of Sergeant Adam C. Sutherland of the Royal Marines,
who died in a fight with Balanin pirates in May of the same year. Another
memorial commemorates other sailors who had died, but some of the inscriptions
on the stone are now illegible.
There is another interesting grave located on a ridge in front of what
was the Government House and it belongs to a foxhound named Jim, and pet
of M.S. MacArthur, first Resident of the Straits Settlement administration
which lasted from 1906 until the outbreak of the Second World War. The
date of Jim's grave reads 20th June 1908.