The old government’s stationary stockist and printing office
When it was built in 1912 this was the government’s stationary depot and printing press for the civil servants across the road in The Secretariat. At its height more than 1,300 people worked here to print and distribute all government publications: reports, expansion plans, gazettes and the census. Until the government moved to Nay Pyi Taw in 2005, the building remained the government’s printing house and book depot.
New lease of life?
The building is still owned by the Ministry of Information. It is now home to the Pan Shwe Pyi bookshop and the Myanmar Libraries Foundation which was set up to help restock village libraries after cyclone Nargis. There are plans to turn the site into a printing museum with bookshops and cafés.
Begg’s first Yangon project
This was the first building of the then 43-year-old Scotsman John Begg. He was one of the first architects to introduce traditional elements to suit the tropical climate. With success, as many more commissions followed: Central Telegraph House on Pansodan Street, Custom House on Strand Boulevard and the General Post Office in Bombay (now Mumbai) are all Begg buildings.
Nice to know
When the building was commissioned by the Public Works Department in 1906 funds were short, so the site lay idle for two years before construction started.