A visit to Marudi, a quiet riverine town in northern Sarawak, would be incomplete without a visit to Fort Hose.
Located about 100km upriver from Kuala Baram, Marudi used to be the administrative centre of this area before Miri was founded.
Today it is the largest town in Baram district.
It all started in 1883 when the then-Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Abdul Momin ceded the Baram region to Charles Brooke, the second White Rajah.
The Baram region became the fourth division of Sarawak with Mamerto George Gueritz installed as its first Resident.
Whenever the Brooke administration attained an area to govern, the first thing it would do is build a fort.
Construction on the fort began in 1889 and were completed in 1901. The fort was named after Charles Hose, who was appointed as Resident of the Fourth Division in 1891.
The fort was built with durable belian hardwood on top of a hill overlooking the Baram river.
Two large cannons positioned at the front of the fort would protect the building against invaders.
Fort Hose was also used as an administration office and Resident’s house.
In 1899, the building became the site of a historical peacemaking ceremony that would end bloody ages-old wars among all the tribes in the Baram region.
Since then, various authorities have used Fort Hose over the years: the District Office, the Welfare Department, Immigration Department, Land and Survey Department and Information Department.
When the Japanese invaded Sarawak during World War II, they reportedly used it as a Kempeitai or Military Police Corps’ headquarters.
It was last used as a Community Development office of Penan Handicraft Exhibition centre.
On 24 Aug 1994, around midnight, Fort Hose was razed to the ground almost 100 years after it was built.
In 1995, the communities in and around the Baram area contributed Belian poles towards the fort’s reconstruction. It was then rebuilt according to its original dimensions and design.
It was officially renamed Baram Regional Museum on 25 May 1997 and declared open by former Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Numpang.
Baram Regional Museum
At the museum, visitors can find a collection of photographs taken by Hose himself.
Most are portraits of the Orang Ulu taken in the early 20th century as well as aspects of their daily lives like salt processing.
Local textiles, beaded items, wood carvings and ceremonial items such as wooden masks used by the Orang Ulu communities of the region are also on display.
It also houses a 30-foot-long sape which made it to the Malaysian Guinness Book of Records for the being the biggest of its kind. Built in 2008, the lute-like musical instrument was made by sape makers Anyie Wan, Hillary Tawan Achai and Noel Along Anyie.
Although it is relatively smaller than other museums here in Sarawak, it offers a comprehensive guide to the history of Baram and its people.
It may be the only museum in Malaysia focusing mainly on the culture and history of Orang Ulu communities which include the Kayan, Kenyah, Penan and Kelabit.
Visitors can also take a walk in the park surrounding the fort as it offers an excellent view of the Baram River.
The museum is open Tuesdays to Fridays (9am-4.45pm), Saturdays and Sundays (10am-4pm). Admission is free.