Friday, 25 November 2011


                                       an engraving in the Sabah Museum

                                                               William Burges Pryer

William Pryer in 1867 in Shanghai
working as a clerk with Thorne Bros & Co.

When Sandakan/Kampung German was burned down by accident on 15.6.1879, William B Pryer decided to move to new settlement near to the mouth of  Sandakan Bay. This was situated 12 miles from the old settlement which was further inside the bay to hide from marauding pirates. By this time, he had the confidence to do so because he had managed to gain the cooperation of the various tribal chiefs by having a plan to defy outside intruders.
On 21.6.1879, Pryer cut down the first tree at the new site. He named the city he had founded, Elopura, which means Beautiful City. This is the present day Buli Sim Sim area of  Sandakan  today where there was a narrow strip of land between the sea and the heavily forested hillside. It was a clever strategic choice as the township was screened to the north by dense mangrove and then out to sea, the island of Berhala blocked the view from the entrance of the bay. Behind the town were the hills where one could have a look out. With the help of the British navy he was able to consolidate the establishment of the new town. This was important as the Spanish as well as various native chiefs had their eyes on Elopura.
With time, the town  as well as the centre expanded southwards as more land is required. The natives continue to use the old name of Sandakan and as a result Elopura eventually became Sandakan again. At present, Elopura is the name given to   a state constituency centred around Bandar Kim Fung at mile 4 of Labuk Road in Sandakan. I tried to get a postmark there a few months back but it is practically undecipherable.

The postmark on the bottom stamp is very faint. Again it has been in my collection for years, unnoticed. I posted it because it has the inverted month AP in the date. All Ps for pm, no morning postal services in Elopura! 

A sample of Pryer's writing and signature

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