It was erected in memory of J.W.W. Birch, the first British Resident of Perak who was assassinated in Pasir Salak on 2nd November 1875 by local Malay Chief’s Datuk Maharaja Lela. Birch has been described by R.O. Windstedt and R.J. Wilkinson in ‘The History of Perak’ as “a lonely pathetic figure of an Englishman with narrow rigid ideas as his daily companions”. The book also states that Birch once wrote that “it concerns us little what were the customs of the country nor do I think they are worthy of any consideration”.
The Birch Memorial Clock Tower which located in Ipoh was built in 1909 at a cost of $25,000 by Sir John Anderson, the British High Commissioner at that time. Standing in front of the Perak State Mosque, the square tower comprises a portrait bust and four panels illustrating the growth of civilization. The clock tower has one mother bell and four smaller bells which used to strike the chimes of Big Ben. At the corners of the belfry, mounted on pedestals, are terracotta figures, representing the four “Virtues of British Administration”. On the civilization panel, 49 famous figures in world history were portrayed.