Phuket Car Rental
The Kathu Tin Mining Museum
150 years ago Phuket’s wealth came
from the earth. This was Phuket’s “black gold.”
The rock and the hills of Phuket were rich
in tin ore deposits. Tin was a valuable trading
commodity and soon Phuket was at the centre
of a thriving economy and became a powerful
trading port for foreign ships.
Attracted by the wealth of Phuket, many
Chinese came to Phuket to invest or work in the mines and in so doing created a new culture in Phuket which still exists today.
Telling the story of early Phuket is the Kathu Tin Mining Museum. Nestled in the hills
of Kathu on the site of the old Torlung Tin Mine,
the museum has something of interest for
everyone If you are a budding geologist or
your children are avid dinosaur fans, if you enjoy
history, or if you are simply interested in Phuket’s
culture, this is the museum for you.
The museum is housed in a magnificent
Sino-colonial building, which was designed and
built two years ago. The museum is a work in
progress. Each area of the museum tells a
different story of Phuket with life-like exhibits,rare photographs and hands-on learning
experiences. This is a museum for the whole
On my recent visit I was very lucky to
have the museum’s historian accompany me
through the various sections. The first story is
the history and the culture created in Phuket by
the tin mining industry, the Sino-colonial
architecture that sprung up on the island and
the wealth that the tin created.
The second story took me into the earth’s
crust, its geology and how minerals were formed
through the ages. As tin is one of the earliest
metals known and used by man, its usage can
be traced through man’s development.
With my head still reeling from ancient
dinosaurs and fossils, I then stepped into a “tin
mine” and discovered the different types of
mining on the island.At the sluice mine I used
an old Chinese wood pan to gather tin ore, sand
and water from the stream bed and learned how
to separate the tin ore
from the sand. This
method of ground sluicing was used for many
years by the Chinese. With the involvement of
overseas mining companies Phuket soon had
the world’s first mining dredge. Information
boards in both Thai and English are excellent
and explain each type of mining operation.
Once I was out of the “mine” it was on
to the next stage and I followed the tin as it came
from the mine to the processing plant/smelter
and the many different uses of the final products.
Even Phuket’s roads were paved with tin. In
the boom days of tin, new roads would be laid
and at night innovative entrepreneurs would dig
up the tin and resell it back to the road engineers!
Next, I literally sailed away with the
Chinese immigrants on their month-long
journey from China to Phuket by ship.
one of my favourite exhibits. I embarked on to
a large wooden ship and experienced life at sea.
On arrival in Phuket the immigrants disembarked into the town and into the local Chinese shophouses lining the wharf. On my
journey at the museum, I sipped hot Chinese
tea at a Chinese merchant’s house and spent time learning shadow puppetry and browsing
through Chinese operatic costumes and headdresses.
The last slice of Phuket’s story is the
success that tin created for both the immigrants
and the local people. At the time of my visit this
section is still to be completed, but will house
photographs of local families, weddings,
buildings, mine concessions and locality maps.
Upstairs is a Research Centre and mining
library containing old maps, mineral licenses
and early photographs. These will be preserved
for future generations and a research Internet
facility called “E-Museum” is being set up for
students, historians and interested parties.
Outside, on part of the 400 rai of land
owned by the museum, are old dredge buckets,
railway lines and mine machinery. This is a great
area for both adults and children to explore and
the fact that the area was originally an historic
tin mine adds to the rustic ambiance.
The Kathu Tin Mining Museum is open
daily. It is located on Kathu Tin Mining Museum
Road (past Loch Palm Golf Club from Kathu
and past the British International School from
the By-Pass Road).
- Front Wheel Drive
- Regular Maintainance
- Rear Hatch Access
- Stereo Tape Deck
- Safety Belts
- Auto or 5-speed
- Child Seat Available
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