Arthur Benison Hubback

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Arthur Benison Hubback
(A. B. Hubback)
Arthur Benison Hubback

(1871-04-13)13 April 1871
Died8 May 1948(1948-05-08) (aged 77)

Arthur Benison Hubback CMG DSO (13 April 1871 – 8 May 1948) was an English architect and soldier who designed several important buildings in British Malaya. He was active in sports, especially football and cricket.[1] Hubback was promoted to brigadier general during his service in the British Army.[2]

Early life[edit]

Arthur Hubback was born at 74 Rodney Street, Liverpool, England, son of Joseph Hubback (1814–1882), who was Mayor of Liverpool in 1870 and a merchant, and Georgina (born Eliott-Lockhart). Arthur attended Fettes College, Edinburgh, and then started work as an apprentice for the city architect in Liverpool, Thomas Shelmerdine.[3][4]

Career in architecture[edit]

Sultan Abdul Samad Building, first major work in Malaya A. B. Hubback was involved in

In 1895, Hubback became chief draughtsman of Selangor public works department, which was then working on the building of government offices now known as Sultan Abdul Samad Building. The Sultan Abdul Samad Building was originally designed by A.C. Norman and R. A. J. Bidwell in a Classic Renaissance style, but Norman's plan was then reworked on by Bidwell in an Indo-Saracenic or Moorish style, and Hubback also worked on the building.[5] After work on the building was finished in 1897, he worked in private practice for a few years, before returning to public work in 1901.

Kuala Lumpur Railway Station (right) and Malay Railway Administration Building (left), both by Hubback

From then until the outbreak of World War I was a period of great construction projects, and he worked on buildings in Malaya and Hong Kong, from mosques to railway stations.[3] An important work designed by Hubback is the Kuala Lumpur railway station. Among other major works he designed are the Jamek Mosque, Kowloon railway station, and Ipoh railway station. He designed at least 25 buildings in Malaya, and many of these are now considered an important part of the architectural heritage of Malaysia.[4]

He returned to England in 1914 and did not design any further buildings in Malaya, although some of his buildings were not completed until later.

Military service[edit]

Hubback took charge in the Federated Malay States Volunteer Rifles Force (M.S.V.R.) in 1907. He was appointed as a major in the M.S.V.R. in 1910 and he was in command of F.M.S. Contingent to George V's coronation in 1911. He was then promoted as lieutenant colonel in the M.S.V.R. in 1912.

In 1914, at the start of World War I, he became a major in the 19th battalion, London (territorial) regiment. In 1915, he was the lieutenant colonel commanding the 20th London Regiment Territorial Force, 47th Division B.E.F. He served in France, fought on the Somme and was wounded. He became brigadier general of 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Division in 1916, and brigadier general commanding of the 63rd Infantry Brigade, 37th Division B.E.F. in 1918. During the war he was mentioned in dispatches six times, and won the CMG and Distinguished Service Order. Following the war he continued in the military, commanding the 5th London infantry brigade of the territorial army from 1920 to 1924.[3] He then retired, but attempted to rejoin at the outbreak of the Second world War and was turned down due to his age. He ran instead the Soldiers', Sailors' and Airmen's Family Association in Hertfordshire to look after the families of the armed forces.[6]


Hubback married Margaret Rose Frances (Daisy) Voules, the sister of a colleague, in 1901 and they had two children, a son (Arthur Gordon Voules Hubback, R.N.) and a daughter (Yvonne Hubback).[3]

He had two brothers. Theodore Rathbone Hubback joined Arthur in Malaya, and was a civil engineer and contractor, as well as working for a while as a rubber planter, and after early adventures as a big game hunter became a conservationist and author. George Clay Hubback was bishop of Assam and of Calcutta.

He died in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, on 8 May 1948 of heart failure.[3]


Old Town Hall of Kuala Lumpur
Jamek Mosque

Hubback worked on the following buildings:

F.M.S Railway Headquarters, now the National Textile Museum
  • 1905
  • 1906
    • Residence of High Commissioner, Kuala Kangsar
    • Selangor Museum, Kuala Lumpur. Rebuilt, (National Museum)
  • 1907
    • F.M.S Railways Terminal Office, Penang (Wisma Kastam – Malayan Railway Building)
    • General Post Office, Kuala Lumpur[10]
Malay College, Kuala Kangsar
Kuala Lumpur railway station
Kowloon railway station (demolished 1977 except for the Clock Tower)
  • 1911
    • Federal Lunatic Asylum, Tanjung Rambutan, Ipoh (renamed Central Mental Hospital and subsequently renamed in 1970 Hospital Bahagia Ulu Kinta)[16]
    • The White House of Klang (The Sultan Abdul Aziz Royal Gallery)[17]
  • 1912
    • British Residency, Seremban (Kompleks Kraf Negeri Sembilan [Handicraft Centre])[18]
    • Preparatory School, Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) – Prep School, Kuala Kangsar, Perak
  • 1913
Ipoh Town Hall
  • 1914
    • Selangor Museum (Extension & alteration) Kuala Lumpur
  • 1915
    • Supreme Court, Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur High Court)
  • 1916
    • Town Hall and Post Office, Ipoh[18]
  • 1917
    • Idris Memorial Mosque, Kuala Kangsar (Ubudiah Mosque)[18]
    • Malay Railway Administration Building, Kuala Lumpur[19]

Source Included From: A.B Hubback: An Architectural Celebration in Malaya Exhibition. Located at National Textile Museum, Kuala Lumpur.
Jointly Organized by PAM Heritage Conservation Committee, Department of Museums Malaysia and National Textile Museum Officially Supported by Masjid Jamek, British Council, Arch, webmaster of, midor, ALFO, MIBOUTIQUE and Kuala Lumpur.

The significance of Hubback’s work[edit]

Hubback’s architectural work, on the one hand, is rooted in 19th-century eclectic historicism. One style of his architecture may be known as Indo-Saracenic, which is a blend of Mughal forms with Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic details.[21] The first major work Hubback was involved in, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, is in this style. It was largely the work by R. A. J. Bidwell following the design direction set by the State Engineer Charles Edwin Spooner, and Hubback made additions and alterations to the building under Spooner's instructions.[22] This strand of English colonial architecture was based on Indian Islamic architecture and not native to Malaya. Hubback and Bidwell effectively introduced into the Malaysian architectural vocabulary the onion dome. The Federal Secretariat/Sultan Abdul Samad Building formed the perimeter of the Padang or Merdeka Square is as much a part of the architectural consciousness of Malaysia as the Houses of Parliament is to Britain.[23] Many of his buildings, such as the Railway Station and Jamek Mosque, are landmarks in Kuala Lumpur.

The twentieth-century quality of his architectural output is that he created a number of large buildings to house the colonial government's administrative functions, an architectural recognition of the increasing spatial demands of an official bureaucracy, but in elegant dress. While in post-independence Malaysia these functions have moved elsewhere, these buildings remain as a potent visual symbol of the country and its multicultural heritage.



Hubback was an active sportsman who played the following sport:[25]

  • 2 June 1894 – Played Cricket for Liverpool in the Liverpool vs. Birkenhead Park match, Aighburth Liverpool.
  • 9 September 1896 – Made his first century in cricket
  • 4 February 1897 – Played cricket in Selangor vs. Singapore match.
  • 24–25 October 1897 – Took leave to play for the Straits Settlements Cricket Team in a Cricket Festival in Hong Kong.
  • 8 November 1897 – Played in the Interport matches: 1897/98 Hong Kong and Shanghai vs. Straits Settlements, Hong Kong Cricket Club Ground, Hong Kong
  • 14 November 1897 – Played in the Interport matches: 1897/98 Hong Kong and Shanghai vs. Straits Settlements, Hong Kong Cricket Club Ground, Hong Kong.
  • November 1899 – Represented F.M.S in a cricket match in Burma.
  • 4 February 1905 – Played in Straits Settlements in F.M.S cricket match, F.M.S vs. Straits Settlements at the Padang Kuala Lumpur.
  • 1906– Captained the F.M.S team in a cricket match in Burma
  • 16 August 1906 – Cricket match, F.M.S in Straits in Straits Settlements 1906, Straits Settlement vs. Federated Malays States at the Padang, Singapore.
  • 30 March 1907 – Played in Straits Settlements in Federated Malay States 1906/07
  • 5 August 1907 – Played in F.M.S in Straits Settlements 1907 cricket match, Straits Settlements vs. F.M.S at Penang Cricket Club Ground, Penang.
  • 31 July 1908 – Played in F.M.S inStraits Settlements cricket match 1908, Straits Settlements vs. Federated Malay States, The Pedang, Singapore.
  • 30 January 1911 – Played in Straits Settlements in Federated Malay States cricket match 1910/11, F.M.S vs. Straits Settlements, The Pedang Kuala Lumpur.


  1. ^ "Kuala Lumpur Sports". The Straits Times. 7 February 1902. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Untitled". The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. 13 October 1917. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gullick, J.M. (2007). "Hubback, Arthur Benison". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Archived from the original on 4 March 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  4. ^ a b "The Man Behind Malaysia's Iconic Buildings: Arthur Benison HubbackExpatGo Staff". Expatgo. 13 August 2014.
  5. ^ Zain Abdullah (23 June 2014). "Sultan Abdul Samad Building's Architectural Highlights". Virtual Malaysia.
  6. ^ "Arthur Benison Hubback".
  7. ^ "Sanitary Board/Town Hall, Raja Road, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor". flickr. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Former FMS Railways Central Offices". warisan peliharaan. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  9. ^ "Market Square (Medan Pasar) Shophouses (Sin Seng Nam Restaurant), Kuala Lumpur, Selangor". flickr. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Untitled". The Victorian Web. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  11. ^ Demissie, Fassil (2012). Colonial Architecture and Urbanism in Africa. p. 98.
  12. ^ "Malay College (MCKK) – Malay Residential School, Kuala Kangsar, Perak". flikr. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  13. ^ "About Us". Galeri di Raja. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  14. ^ "ANDERSON SCHOOL – IPOH, PERAK". The Hubback Brothers Tribute. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  15. ^ Middleton, William D. (2012). On Railways Far Away. Indiana UP. p. 236.
  16. ^ "Patients' Activities in the Central Mental Hospital (Hospital Bahagia Ulu Kinta), Tanjung Rambutan". Ipoh World. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Thursday October 18, 2007 White House becomes Royal Gallery". The Star Online. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  18. ^ a b c "Brigadier General Arthur Benison Hubback – Empire Builder". The Thrifty Traveller. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Malayan Railway Administration Office (KTM Berhad)". Dewan Budaya. Pusat Pengajian Seni, Universiti Sains Malaysia. Archived from the original on 30 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Untitled". Ipoh Tourism. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  21. ^ Ariffin, Amanda Suriya (8 June 2014). "Architect of History". New Sunday Times: 8–9.
  22. ^ Gullick, J.M. (1992). "The Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad". Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 65 (1): 27–38. JSTOR 41493197.
  23. ^ National Textile Museum, Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) (May–June 2014). "A.B. Hubback: an Architectural Celebration in Malaya". exhibition.
  24. ^ "SOCIAL AND PERSONAL". The Straits Times. 11 August 1913. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  25. ^ A.B. Hubback: An Architectural Celebration in Malaya Exhibition. Located at National Textile Museum, Kuala Lumpur. "The Life and Time of A.B. Hubback", 17 May 2014, 9.30am–12pm. Dialogue with Dr. Peter Barbor (Grandson of A.B. Hubback), Mr. Llyod Gan (webmaster of & Ar. Rosli Mohd Ali (PAM Heritage Conservation Committee).

External links[edit]