Chew Jetty is one of six wooden Clan Jetties in George Town on Penang. These jetties feature buildings and are currently inhabited by members of Penang’s Chinese immigrant community.
Chew Jetty is easy to reach (its near the car ferry terminal to Butterworth), its open from 09:00 to 21:00 every day and admission is free.
About Chew Jetty
Chew Jetty was one of 5 wooden jetties constructed in 1888 as part of a development project on the quay side in George Town. 2 other wooden jetties were built in the same area in the 1960s. One of the jetties burnt down which means there are are now six remaining.
Over time different Chinese family groups, known as clans, took over control of each of these jetties and fees needed to be paid to the clan in charge to use the jetty. As well as a Chew Jetty, which is controlled by the Chew Clan, there were also jetties controlled by Lim, Tan, Lee, Yeoh, and Koay clans. The late 19th Century was a period of often violent rivalry between different immigrant groups for control of economic resources in Penang and the jetties were at the forefront of these conflicts.
The Chew Clan still occupies the Chew Jetty although it no longer used for loading and unloading cargo having been superseded by the large commercial sea port nearby. You can’t unload large freight ships on a small wooden jetty. Chew Jetty is now a tourist attraction with the clan members using the lower part of their houses as shops.
Chew Jetty remains in something of an historical time warp. Running water and electricity were introduced in 1957 but the people still live on the jetty in wooden houses on stilts as close-knit community as they have done for over 100 years.
The Chew Clan’s continued survival as a community on the Jetty is uncertain. The city government does not recognise their rights as land owners, indeed the residents are not taxed by the local government as technically speaking they do not reside on Penang Island but live on the water.
Ancient Chinese traditions are being kept alive in this community, including the ancient Taoist religion.
There is a Taoist temple just inside the entrance to Chew Jetty, which is principally dedicated to the God of Heaven, referred to by various names including Tian and the Jade Deity. The God of Heaven is the most important of all the deities worshipped in the Taoist Religion. There is also a temple at the end of the main jetty dedicated to the Taoist Sea Deity, Haisen, which in Taoist belief is one of a large number of more minor gods.
Location of Chew Jetty
- Chew Jetty is located off the Pengkalan Weld Road in George Town on Penang Island.