1889 ~ Present
The Secretariat was the home and administrative seat of British Burma, in downtown Yangon, Burma. Built in the late 1800s, the structure is more than 120 years old.
An early 20th century photograph, showing the original dome and turrets
Be awestruck by the historic Secretariat office built in British colonial time; now over 120 years old, take a relaxing stroll in the quiet and relatively unpopulated neighborhood of Yangon and soak up a city as beautiful as it is historic.
Secretariat office is a historic landmark in Yangon which exemplifies imposing and defensive Victorian-colonial architecture. The place was the home and administrative seat of British Burma. It was the place where General Aung San, the father of Modern Myanmar, and 6 cabinet members were assassinated on 19 July 1947. The building is currently on the Yangon City Heritage list.
Yangon’s Secretariat Office is on Theinphyu Road. The building is situated on 6.5 hectares and takes up an entire block with Anawyahtar Road to the north, Theinbyu Road to the east, Maha Bandoola Road to the south and Bo Aung Kyaw Street to the west. Across the road to the north is Basic Education High School 6 Botahtaung, originally St.Paul’s Hogh School run by Catholic missionary brothers.
The construction of the current Secretariat Office began in 1896 and which is made of red and yellow brick and constructed in a U-shape. Before building new Secretariat office, the former one was originally located on Strand Road with miserable conditions. After the British annexation of Upper Burma in 1886, the colonial government’s administrative work increased exponentially and there was an urgent need to expand the cramped and poorly lit former Secretariat office. The colonial government decided to build a new one and assigned the duty for it to Henry Hoyne-Fox, executive engineer at government’s public works. Hoyne-Fox designed numerous government buildings in the city including Yangon General Hospital, the original law court, and the President’s House. The central building was completed in 1902, while the complex’s eastern and western wings were finished in 1905, at the cost of 2.5 million kyats. Until 1972, the complex was called the Government Secretariat.
View of the Secretariat from Dalahosi Road
Beautiful Secretariat during British Goverment
After Independence, the new government of the Union of Burma used this building and Prome Court to house various ministries and government departments. The Secretariat then became known as the Minister’s Office.
General Aung San speech at the Secretariat
Over the past decades, the administrative center was of power has shifted to other buildings and the Ministers’ Office has fallen into disuse. When the former government moved Nay Pyi Taw in 2005, this complex was mostly abandoned.
The Secretariat was one of five buildings selected by the Ministry of Construction to undergo basic renovation in 2011. The roofing, which had been damaged during Cyclone Nargis in 2008, was replaced with temporary fixtures. During the renovation process the majority of the roof frames, which were built of good quality teak, were found to be intact. Soil testing was also conducted and showed that the southern wing (constructed between 1889 - 1893) had subsided by 21 inches in the decades after it was built; though the soil appears to have stabilized since then, this has left the building with structural challenges that need to be addressed.
The Secretariat was constructed by a father-and-son team form Northern India.
Naitram Rambux tool over the family’s construction company when he was just a teenager after his father was killed by a train in 1894. His father was responsible for the first wing of the Secretariat, and he erected the latter wings. Within a couple of decades he was employing thousands of workers and had become a respected member of Rangoon society, with an entry in the Who’s Who of Burma and a 1920s guidebook starting that his “Impress on Rangoon will endure long after he and everyone in the city have passed away.”