© 2017 by MIKL & Heritage Output Lab. 

Trilby Touch

A.B Hubback’s Mughal-Eclectic buildings in Kuala Lumpur were once dubbed ‘Trilby Touch’ (after A.B Hubback’s nick name; Trilby, coined as he was often seen wearing a trilby hat). The Trilby Touch presents 27 buildings in the country that have been confirmed to have had his involvement; 14 in Kuala Lumpur, 4 in Kuala Kangsar, 3 in Ipoh, 1 in Klang, 2 in Seremban, 1 in Tanjung Rambutan, 1 in George Town and 1 in Bukit Betong, noting that two of his designs in Kuala Lumpur were demolished/bombed. The two would be both the old Selangor Museum 1906 & 1914, which preceded the present Muzium Negara at the same site. A.B Hubback listed a Police Station in Seremban as one of his 1908 designs in his R.I.B.A. application, which may or may not be the Seremban’s State Secretariat (further investigation required here). Widely known for his railway station designs in Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur, with the latter dubbed the most beautiful railway station in the Far East, A.B Hubback received an invitation from the Hong Kong Government to design the Kowloon-Canton Terminus Station. The station was demolished in 1977/78 except for its clock-tower which was listed as Hong Kong’s declared monument in year 2000. Thirteen of his buildings in Malaysia have been formally listed as the country’s National Heritage, a huge recognition of his contribution as an architect to the Peninsula.

His designs were acknowledged by an international architectural journal known as ‘Building News’ which featured three of his projects; the Jamek Mosque in December 1912; the Ipoh Railway Station & Hotel on 27 February 1914 and the Kowloon-Canton Terminus Station on 31 November 1913. These media coverage would have helped highlight to the international architectural scene, the architectural developments in the Federated Malay States at that time. His most renowned work is actually the Jamek Mosque. A landmark of Kuala Lumpur since its completion in 1910, the mosque was widely featured on the stamps of the F.M.S and was even replicated at the British Empire Exhibition 1924 in Wembley as the Malaya Pavilion.

In general, A.B Hubback’s buildings in Malaya can be grouped into four styles; Tudor Revival, Mughal Eclectic, Pseudo Graeco Roman and Neo Classical Eclectic. All of of his Mughal Eclectic buildings are in Kuala Lumpur, with the exception of the Ubudiah Mosque in Kuala Kangsar. He applied the Pseudo Graeco Roman treatment to institutional buildings like the Malay College Kuala Kangsar and the Neo Classical Eclectic style for administrative buildings outside Kuala Lumpur, apart from the two Selangor Museums of the Queen Anne Revival Style (1906) and the Free Renaissance Style (1914). There are only three of his Tudor Revival designs and these are the Carcosa and Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur and the Federal Lunatic Asylum in Tanjung Rambutan.

Research on the rest of his buildings in Malaysia is still ongoing. There are leads indicating that he may have designed several more buildings in the Federated Malay States. As these leads are still being pursued, the buildings are temporarily placed under the ‘ The Trilby Touch - Further Research List’. His family also confirmed that A.B Hubback had designed a house for his sister in law, Evelyn Voules called Tyrell’s Way in Burley, Hampshire. 

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