|Death Railway Museum|
Founded by Rod Beattie
THE THAILAND-BURMA RAILWAY CENTRE (TBRC) KANCHANABURI
The Thailand-Burma Railway Centre is a privately funded project built in Kanchanaburi. It has been established to provide an unbiased, rounded and accurate account of the story of the Thailand to Burma Railway built in 1942/43 by Prisoners of War of the Imperial Japanese Army and by both forced and willing Asian laborers. Although not specifically a memorial, it facto is one. The object is to provide a center in Kanchanaburi that is part museum and part information and research facility, but devoted entirely to the Thailand-Burma Railway. A further aim is to complement the existing Australian Memorial Museum at Hell Fire Pass about 80 km north of Kanchanaburi. See new site featuring new research!
The Museum part of the Centre guides visitors from a gallery devoted to the historical background and the reasons behind the construction of the Railway to one devoted to the engineering aspects, the way in which it was built and the difficulties that had to be overcome. A third gallery deals with the struggle for survival, life in the camps, and the conditions under which the work was carried out. Yet another gallery looks at the contribution made by the many Asian labourers and by the Thais themselves. This leads to the aftermath of the War, the work of the War Graves Parties and the end of the Railway.
The information part of the Centre comprises a library containing books, documents, maps, photographs, personal records, video interview and other material to assist students of history in their studies into the Thailand-Burma Railway. One of the most important aspects of the Centre is the Personnel Database containing records of Servicemen of all nations who worked on the Railway and died as Prisoners of War. Much of this database has been prepared with the help of Dutch, Australian and British organisations.
The site was acquired close to the War Cemetery in Kanchanaburi. Construction of the Centre began in March 2001 and completed January 2003. The two-story building includes a coffee shop, toilet facilities and a small shop, in addition to the museum area. The entire project cost over $A300,000 to build, equip and fit out. Donations have come from interested veterans, their families and other individuals, a Thai benefactor and the promoters of the project. There is no sponsorship from any government body, or from any major international company.
The Centre is run initially as a Limited Company (TBRC Co Ltd). It is intended to convert to a Foundation under Thai law in due course. Research Director and Museum Curator is Mr. Rod Beattie. Mr. Beattie is currently the Supervisor of the Commonwealth War Cemeteries in Kanchanaburi. He has spent his spare time since 1994 investigating many aspects o the Thailand-Burma Railway, mapping it and collecting records and data. Operations Director Mr. Hugh Cope has lived in Thailand for many years, has a wealth of business management experience and is responsible for the day-to-day running of the center.
The opening ceremony was held on 20th January 2003. This is a wonderful facility which, in addition to the Museum at Hell Fire Pass, 80km north, enhances visitors understanding of conditions on the line and the terrible treatment of the Prisoners of War.