Jesselton Declared As New Port in North Borneo in Year 1900

The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser published a short article of Jesselton being declared as a new port in North Borneo on 17 April, 1900, approximately 3 years after the first settlement on Gaya Island was razed to the ground by the indigenous Bajau freedom fighter led by Mat Salleh.

Undated photo of Jesselton but should be from c. 1920's. Courtesy University of South California


A correspondent of the Hongkong Daily Press who has recently visited North Borneo speaks very hopefully of the prospects of the new port of Jesselton, situated in Gaya Bay on the west coast of North Borneo.

It will be remembered that it is to be the terminus of a railway, the other end of which is at Beaufort on the Padas River, whence the existing line runs to Weston.

A contract for this Jesselton-Beaufort line has been signed by the British North Borneo Company in London, and construction is to commence almost at once.

Jesselton is situated almost opposite the old settle on Gaya Island, burned by Mat Salleh four years ago. The Gantian settlement at the northern end of Gaya Bay was formed to replace it, but it has not been found a very suitable spot, and to carry the railway line along to Gantian, instead of stopping two or three miles below at Jesselton, would mean a big bridge over the Inanam river, which would be a costly proceeding.

The new spot is much better adapted both as a settlement and as a port. The pier to be constructed – which will have the railwat taken to its head – will have a dept of 26ft. of water, quite sufficient for all the shipping that is likely to require accommodation for some years to come.

It is hoped that with these facilities and with the production of coal, which exists along the track of the railway, that the Admiralty may be induced to look favourably on Gaya Bay as a naval base.

At the present time the necessary Government buildings, the Resident’s house and Constabulary Barracks are being constructed at Jesselton. On their completion the Resident will be take up his post there and Gantian will be abandoned.

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