Butterworth, Penang

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For the federal constituency represented in the Dewan Rakyat, see Bagan (federal constituency).
Tow Boo Kong Temple in Raja Uda
Tow Boo Kong Temple in Raja Uda
Butterworth is located in Peninsular Malaysia
Location of Butterworth in Peninsular Malaysia
Coordinates: 5°25′N 100°24′E / 5.417°N 100.400°E / 5.417; 100.400
Country Malaysia
State Penang
District North Seberang Perai
 • Member of Parliament Lim Guan Eng
Elevation 8 m (26 ft)
 • Total 107,591
Time zone Malaysian Standard Time (UTC+8)

Butterworth is a town in North Seberang Perai, Penang, Malaysia. Named after William John Butterworth, Governor of the Straits Settlements (1843–1855), Butterworth was established in the mid-19th century as a landing place across the channel from the capital of Penang, George Town. The town has a population of 107,591 [1] and it is also known unofficially in Malay as Bagan, meaning "jetty". Butterworth is the site of the Malayan Railway station for Penang, and is linked to the island by the Penang Ferry Service and by the 13.5 km Penang Bridge.


Butterworth sits in the southernmost tip of the North Seberang Perai district, sandwiched between Prai River in the south and east of the town and the North Channel in the west which separates Penang Island and Seberang Perai. The town with a low-lying area close to sea level is bordered by Perai in the south, Seberang Jaya in the east, both are separated by the Prai River, and Telok Air Tawar in the north. The west coast facing Penang Island, especially near Bagan Ajam is lined with sandy beaches, while the shores lining Prai River is covered with mangrove swamps.


When the British East India Company acquired Province Wellesley (Seberang Perai) in 1798, Butterworth did not exist as a settlement. It was later developed by the British. A railway station was constructed in Butterworth to transport tin ore from Taiping (then known as Larut), which was then loaded onto steam ships docked at Butterworth's wharves.[2][better source needed]

Railway passengers from George Town were transferred to the railway ferry which took them to the train.[2][better source needed]

After Malaya's independence in 1957, as part of an effort to advocate import substitution industries in the 1960s, the Penang state government under the Alliance led by Tan Sri Wong Pow Nee developed Mak Mandin as the first industrial estate in Penang.[3]

In 1953, the Butterworth Town Board was upgraded to a town council with elected councillors. Nine years later, the Butterworth Town Council merged with the Rural District Council to form the District Council North. This also had appointed councillors since local government elections had by then been suspended.[3]

In 1974, the Penang state government under the leadership of Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu merged all the three district councils in Seberang Perai into a management board, officially known as Lembaga Pengurusan Kerajaan Tempatan Seberang Perai. It was transformed into a municipal council in 1976 and renamed Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai (MPSP) following the provisions of the newly minted Local Government Act, 1976.[3]

Besides being the seat of the local council, Butterworth also played host to many government offices and facilities, including the district police headquarters, district hospital and district office. As a result, the town boundaries were enlarged and the population grew from 3,900 in 1911 to about 43,000 in 1957. By 1980, there were 77,000 people living in Butterworth. However, since then many of these government offices have been moved to Kepala Batas, the district hospital in Seberang Jaya, and the Seberang Perai Municipal Council headquarters in Bandar Perda.[3]

On 31 July 1988, the passenger platform of the Sultan Abdul Hamid Ferry Terminal collapsed which injured more than 1,600 persons and 32 lives were lost. This tragedy is due to excessive crowding of pilgrims heading to two separate religious festivities, which is the Kwan Yin Goddess festival in George Town and St. Anne's Feast in Bukit Mertajam. In 2001, a fire destroyed a three-storey bus station cum shopping centre near the ferry terminal.[3]

Today, Butterworth is a town suffering from decentralisation with administrative and commercial centres shifted to nearby suburbs such as Seberang Jaya, Prai and Kepala Batas. Recently, the RM2bil Penang Sentral project is set to be proposed at the current site of the ferry terminal, bus terminal and railway station which is set to be the modern transport hub for the Northern Corridor Economic Region.[3]


Local attractions[edit]


  • Padang MPSP

Also known as the Seberang Perai Municipal Council field, this public open space in Butterworth town centre is a popular venue for major events such as the National Day parade and the festive open houses organised by the Penang state government. Also located in this field is Dewan Dato' Haji Ahmad Badawi.

  • Pantai Bersih

This sandy beach is located in Bagan Ajam. It is a popular picnic spot among locals.

  • Penang Bird Park

Situated in Seberang Jaya, it boasts a collection of over 300 species of birds with enormous walk-in aviaries and is the first and largest bird park of its kind in Malaysia. Popular among bird enthusiasts, the park was built in a garden landscaping concept with natural ponds and a vast collection of flora and several other wildlife including mousedeer, giant alaipaima fish, phytons and monitor lizards.[4]

It is a beautiful 1.85 km-long cable stayed bridge which connects Butterworth and Perai across the Prai River, which forms part of the Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR). Its distinctive feature are the twin 40m-tall concrete pylon which resembles the Penang Bridge.[5]

  • Taman Selat Rope Walk

A flea market in Taman Selat where antique goods such as old coins, watches, iron are sold. Local food stalls and boutiques are also located there.[6]

  • Taman Tugu Demokrasi

Recently, a speaker's corner, known as Taman Tugu Demokrasi is opened to the public by the Penang state government in Taman Cantik, Mak Mandin to enable the members of the public to express their thoughts and feelings on state affairs. The 0.6-hectar park consists of a children's playground, exercising equipment and a gazebo for relaxing.[7]

  • Tow Boo Kong Temple

Also known as Nine Emperor Gods Temple, the large Taoist temple complex was completed in 2000 with a flamboyant entrance arch completed in 2008. The temple is located in Jalan Raja Uda consists of a Front Prayer Hall, Sacred Prayer Hall, inner courtyard and the Dou Mu Prayer Hall. The annual Nine Emperor Gods Festival is being held there for nine days in the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar.[8]

  • Air Hitam Dalam Educational Forest (Hutan Pelajaran Air Hitam Dalam)

A protected freshwater marshland in Sungai Dua managed by the Penang State Forestry Department which offers a myriad of flora and fauna. Visitors walk on boardwalks, suspension bridges through the forest and view from the observation towers and gazebos while enjoying the natural surroundings.[9]

Sree Maha Mariamman Devasthanam Temple is a Hindu temple in Bagan Luar. It is in fact the biggest and probably oldest Hindu temple in Butterworth. Maha Mariamman Devasthanam, a temple dedicated to the mother deity Amman, is the temple for the Hindu community that dwells along Jalan Jeti Lama. The area within the vicinity is a Hindu settlement called Kampung Benggali. Today, there is still a substantial Hindu population living in the area, and businesses such as the Sri Ananda Bharvan Banana Leaf Restaurant is a reflection of the Hindu presence. The Hindus are mostly associated with the Butterworth port. They either worked directly there, or provided supporting trades such as opening sundry shop and food outlets.

Sea transport[edit]

Butterworth ferry terminal in February 2011.

The Penang Ferry Service connects Butterworth to George Town. The Pengkalan Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal is located to the north of The Deepwater Wharves.[2][better source needed]


An air force base - RMAF Butterworth - is located in the north of Butterworth.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]