Contractor Defends Tearing Down 120-Yr-Old Trading Post

The Bombay Burmah Trading Post.

PHRAE — The demolition of a Colonial-style building in Phrae province left netizens seething with anger on Tuesday, though a contractor responsible said it will be rebuilt in full.

As part of what is said to be a renovation project, the Bombay Burmah office building, built by a Far Eastern trade company during the British Empire, was torn down by a group of bulldozers on Monday. It’s located at Chetawan Arboretum, where another building used for forestry education was also razed to the ground.

Theerawut Klomleaw, the president of a historical preservation group, said that the demolition of the 120-year-old trading post took place without consulting the public.

“They do not even have clear architectural plans for the rebuilding,” Theerawut said.

Local residents were informed the building would be fixed up as part of a 4.5 million plan to renovate the Chetawan Arboretum, though Theerawut doubted the fund would be enough to fully rebuild the structure to its original state.

“I don’t believe it can be done in that budget,” he said.

The Bombay Burmah Trading Post is a 120-year-old building raised by the Bombay Burmah Trading Company Ltd. for moving teaks from forests in Phrae to export markets. The teaks were cut down in such large quantities that effects can still be seen today.

The company itself was founded in 1863 by the Scottish merchant house Waller Brothers.

In a backlash to the demolition, director of the province’s historical preservation office Issaret Sittirojanakul said that plans to tear down other structures in the arboretum would be put on hold for now.

But the contractor behind the work said criticism from netizens is unfair because the building was in a dire state of disrepair.

“Wood gets old with time. The building was falling apart,” chief contractor Kasemchai Tatan said by phone Tuesday. “These projects need proper approval, it’s not like the governor can just sign off of anything.”

Kasemchai also said the future rebuilding of the trading post will be worth the heartache of watching it being torn down.

“You can follow the hivemind if you want,” he said. “Later, you will be the ones praising me. Berate me for now.”