NBHS is Visiting the UK to Research Historical Archives of North Borneo

Since we started NBHS in 2011, we have encountered various places around the world which store historical records of North Borneo in the form of journals, books, photos and films.

Later this year, we’re planning to visit the places below with the aim to record and research North Borneo’s historical records which were never accessed before.

National Archives UK, Surrey


The National Archives (TNA) is a non-ministerial government department. Its parent department is the Department for Culture, Media and Sport of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the official archive of the UK government and for England and Wales; and “guardian of some of the nation’s most iconic documents, dating back more than 1,000 years.”

The archives hold many old photos of North Borneo. The following is one of the photos taken in 1921.

Based on our estimation, there are more than 1,000 photos and other historical records being held there.

British Film Institute, London

The British Film Institute (BFI) was founded in 1933 and is a charity governed by a Royal Charter. They combine cultural, creative and industrial roles, bringing together the BFI National Archive and BFI Reuben Library, film distribution, exhibition and education at BFI Southbank and BFI IMAX, publishing and festivals.

The BFI currently holds some of the films related to North Borneo below and we are keen to access them for research purposes:

  • NATIVE LIFE IN NORTH BORNEO (1909) viewing copy on 35mm film 2 mins. approx
  • POSSESSIONS ANGLAISES DANS LE NORD DE BORNEO [BRITISH NORTH BORNEO] (1911) viewing copy on 35mm film 3 mins approx.

We’ve made some initial enquiries and they have confirmed that some of the collections are available for viewing.

3. Chance Brothers Glassworks, Birmingham

Chance Brothers Glassworks is of enormous historical and cultural significance in the UK as it was part of the industrial revolution.

The reason why we wanted to visit this place is because the Batu Tinagat lighthouse in Tawau was built by this company in 1916.

4. People who are Affiliated with North Borneo

Over the years we have also built connection and made friends with people who are affiliated with North Borneo.

These are the people whose parents or grandparents who used to work or based in North Borneo as government officials or servicemen.

They also keep many records of old North Borneo and it would be a good opportunity to meet them as well.

One example below is Larry Dodds who lives in Northumberland. Dodds (far right) served in North Borneo during the Indonesian Confrontation in 1960’s.

During these visits, we plan to record, research and share our findings with all followers of North Borneo Historical Society on social media and on this website. If you have other suggestions on where we should visit please contact us.

Of course, there will be some costs involved therefore we are seeking your assistance and support. We also welcome sponsorship from individuals or companies.

We have recently started an online store which sells products related to historic North Borneo. The products are carefully curated by our team to create the most unique products. They are sold online and also available for COD in KK or KL.

Your purchase will assist us in funding this trip and at the same time help us preserve our history, culture and heritage.

Please support us by visiting our store here or simply by sharing this post on your Facebook.

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Richard Ker

I love the history of North Borneo (Sabah) and strive to digitally archive any related information on this website. I'm also the author of LifeinMy.com and CyberjayaCity.com. Follow me on Twitter @richardker.

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