A trek through the streets and homes of the people who lived in a small town called “Bambalapitiya”, in the city of Colombo (00400), in old Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the 60s
Bambalapitiya, affectionately known to all its residents and even those living within the other bordering zones of Colombo as, “Bamba”, is a small town located on both sides of the Galle Road between Colpetty (Colombo 00300) on the North and Wellawatte (Colombo 00600) on the South. It spans about one and a half kilometers in length, north-south. The West is ringed by the big beautiful waters of the Indian Ocean, while the East borders Havelock Town on the North and Kirulaponne on the South, connected to each other by Havelock Road. “Bamba” is also classified as Colombo 00400 on the zonal map of Colombo, today, and lies within the Municipality of Colombo.
Bambalapitya in the early 19th century was a thick jungle infested with venomous snakes. “CadjuPulang” (cashew apple) trees (Anacardium occidentale) were common to this area and it was the belief that outlaws hiding in this dense jungle would hijack and plunder bullock carts carrying produce between Galle, in the south, and Colombo. It is narrated that these bandits would murder these traders and hang their bodies on the “Cadju Pulang” trees. The song sung at the big school cricket match, “we will hang all the Thomians on the Cadju Pulang trees …“ is said to have been derived from this ancient legend.
Vast tracts of Bambalapitiya, on the south side, were owned by the Senanayake family, relicts of our first PM, The Hon Mr DS Senanayake.
The descendants of this family, Haig, Brian and Shelah live in their ancestral home down Mary’s Road. Shelah passed away in 2019
Herbert Bartholomeusz JP and retired Engineer PWD bought 10 acres of land in Bamba for Rs 6.00 per acre in 1896. Today land in the town is worth Tens of Million Rupees per perch (one acre = 160 perches).
Galle Road (The A2)
Galle Road, classified as the A2 highway, begins at Galle Face, somewhere at the roundabout, in front of the old Parliament building at the southern entrance to The Fort of Colombo, and stretches its tired asphalt tracks all the way to the town of Galle, a 100 Km down south, hugging the coastline like a leech all the way through. It used to take two lanes of traffic, one up and one down, driving everyone standing in the center to cross, into sheer madness and jitters until the person gets safely across to the other pavement.
Since of late, the section within the District of Colombo has been divided in the middle by an island, thereby, preventing many crazy road hogs from displaying their antics in the center. Further, the section from the Savoy Cinema, at the Dhammarama Road intersection, is one way up north, all the way to Galle Face. To compensate this, the parallel street, Duplication Road (now renamed to RA De Mel Mawatha), west of Galle Road, is also one way now, from the Liberty Cinema intersection at Dharmapala Mawatha, to Dhammarama Road. While this may have created some inconvenience to the residents between these two points it has certainly helped to move the vehicular traffic smoothly in both directions.
At Bamba, similar to many of the other towns along Galle Road in Colombo, parallel streets, commonly referred to as lanes interspaced by a few blocks of land and residential houses, ran perpendicularly down to the beach. Here, they meet the southern railway tracks, and, beyond it a myriad spread of coconut trees and wild bushes that ring the white sands of the beautiful beach that curves all the way south, like a mermaids bottom. On the sea front, right at the end of Station Road located at the northern end of “Bamba”, is the Bambalapitiya Railway Station, constructed in identical fashion to the several other stations that ring the southern tracks from Colombo Fort all the way to Matara. Two sets of tracks, parallel to each other take the perspiring office rail commuters to the big bustling bazaar cities of Maradana, The Fort, The Pettah, and, back home to roost on a daily basis.
The southern coastline railway is a way of life for many office workers and commuters. On the land side, similar parallel lanes take off from the Galle Road, some running all the way, cutting across Duplication Road, to end up at Havelock Road (now renamed to Sri SumBuddha Jayanthi Mawatha), while others ending up in dead ends or curving across to meet the network of inland roadways at some point along the way. From a bird’s eye view, the roads would have looked more like the upper skeleton of a human body with the spine representing Galle Road and the ribs reflecting the parallel lanes on either side. Galle road is the main link between Colombo and the South and is always heavily loaded with trucks, petrol tanks, cars, buses, motor bikes, scooters, bicycles, carts, three-wheeler taxis (tuktuks), and, in the old days the manually pulled rickshaws.
On some festive and religious occasions one can also see elephants and white cows joining in a festive parade or traditional arts, decked in all their finery, being dragged from temple to temple, celebrating some ritualistic event.
Rush hour on Galle Road, mainly during the mornings and evenings, and also during the afternoons, when the many schools located on it close for the day, can be traumatic. Traffic slows down to a crawl and horns and abuse blow out in chorus intermingling with engine noises and fumes that turns the towns into melting pots of absolute pollution. Tuktuk cabs work their way in between the snarling vehicles causing enough mayhem to an already chaotic tangled web of men, machines, and noise. Traffic policemen and policewomen, nattily dressed in their khaki uniforms, wave their arms and legs in a frenzy to try and bring some order and sanity to such a mess of a normal working day.
In recent times even the calm and quiet atmosphere of the by lanes have become a hive of activity with many commercial outlets sprouting up in what used to be the heavenly old homes of yore. Traffic screams up and down in order to access the Marine Drive that runs along the beachfront. Tourist Guest Houses, posh Restaurants, high-rise condominium apartment blocks, Telephone communication Services & Internet Cafés have all emerged out of a sleepy old town of middle class men and women sixty years ago.
The sprawling foliage of old is slowly disappearing with the clearing, blocking, and decentralization of the huge old mansions that once stood, in the name of development. Overcrowding, and the demand for more housing and business premises in a fast developing city is bursting its seams.
“Bamba”, the Town
The town of Bambalapitiya begins, in the North, a little before the intersection of Bullers Road (now renamed to Bauddhaloka Mawatha) and Galle Road. Here, stood the massive FOAMTREADS advertising hoarding (later converted to ELASTO) with its shiny flickering pieces of aluminum clicking away in the sunshine and the lights of the night in its own swishy washy way, a landmark that was unmistakable to all and sundry in the sixties.
Anne Salvador-Dunlop wrote in 2007
Today, a massive five star hotel is being built on this site, facing the Galle Road.
On the seaside, facing Galle Road and opposite to Bullers Road, stood the respected IC Drug Stores patronized by the residents of “Bamba”, and other nearby towns, from time immemorial, serving its customers in all its glory and splendor. This was no ordinary down-the-street pharmacy as it had its aura of professionalism, respect, and honor by way of its design and interior and also its white coated salespersons, who looked more like the members of a hospital staff rather than a corner store pharmacy.
The town extends, all the way, along Galle Road, to end at the Wellawatte Canal which borders the next town of Wellawatte (Colombo 00600), on the South. To the East it is bordered by Havelock Road, which begins at the roundabout located at “Thunmulla”, (three cornered junction) on Bullers Road, and extends down, southwards, to what used to be the Wellawatte Spinning & Weaving Mills located at the bridge that crosses the same Canal which winds its way across a large extent of the city of Colombo. The Textile Mill, once a bustling industry, managed by Solih Captain, employed thousands of workers, is now closed and dysfunctional. A massive housing complex project, “Havelock City” with Chinese development company participation has sprung up, offering executive class residency to the rich and famous, at prices that would boggle one’s mind.
RANDOM MUSINGS OF A SENILE MIND
by the late Rodney Vandergert (a third party perspective written in 2006)
“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven” [Wordsworth: Preludes]
In the Nineteen Forties and early Fifties, Bambalawatte was the center of the universe. It was where all the meaningful action took place and where the principal actors were mainly Burghers and a group of expatriates drawn from half a dozen nationalities.
This was brought most forcibly to my mind after reading the recent obituaries which appeared in the local press – one to Zoe Jayatilleke by Tita Nathanielsz; the other to David Gladwin Loos , C.C.S.. by Bradman Weerakoon.
The two articles made reference to a host of distantly remembered persons who figured prominently in those halcyon days, persons who were just names to me but spoken of quite frequently by, or were known to, my younger aunts like Beryl and Aileen and older cousins such as Allanson, Rene, Noel and Inez.
Bradman Weerakoon in his appreciation of David Loos brought to mind a dozen or so distinguished young Burgher Civil Servants of that time. While David stood out as the “Adonis” in that constellation there were others equally note-worthy such as Neville Jansz, Anton Mc Heyzer, Donald Speldewinde, Raine Wright and someone whose Christian names alone made an indelible impression on my generation of Government Service colleagues as we perused the old “Civil List” – Dirk Philippus Rutgert Paulusz.
In various ways they distinguished themselves during their period in the C.C.S., despite the fact that many left prematurely either to take up more lucrative appointments in the private sector or to seek their fortunes abroad. I am informed that even in today’s war-affected Vavuniya, a portrait of Donald Speldewinde continues to hold pride of place in the Kachcheri, while the MacHeyzer Stadium is still the main venue for sports in Trincomalee.
The persons referred to in the Zoe Jayatilleke obituary included Harry Nightingale, the swimming coach; Greg Roskowski; Rolf Sando Mirsky; Marjorie Sample; Dr. Justin “Dadda” Flamer-Caldera and his brood; Harry and Olga Koch; Stanley and Christobel Livera; ‘Budgie’ Metzeling; the Driebergs and the Felsinger sisters Jean and Miriam. Though not referred to, other names conjured up by association were Yvonne Gulam-Hussain (nee Toussaint); Dr Larry Foenander, Rodney Jonklaas and Trevor Oliver (Tod) Dias.
Associated with the above and what gave Colombo at that time a very cosmopolitan character was Yvonne Bradley, a dance instructress from England; Madame Maryse Fumet, a French cookery expert; Thelma Kai who taught Hawaiian dancing and the Hawaiian guitar; Rupert Wagn, a Dane who taught the piano; Frank Harrison, a ballroom dancing teacher from Australia and Gerd Von Dinklage, a German who was Sri Lanka’s pioneer spear-fisherman..
To these must be added Ms. Marjorie Sample and Mrs. Spencer
Shepherd and the two earlier mentioned Poles, Greg Roskowski and Rolf
Sando-Mirsky, the latter name also bringing to mind his preferred mode of
transport- the Triumph Speed Twin on which he met his untimely death..
The scenes of much of the activities of the above named were the Otters Swimming Club; the BRC, Colts Cricket Club, and the Havelock Rugger Club. Strangely the DBU did not feature in their revels, being much too straight-laced for the likes of the above.
A major influence in fashioning this sub-culture was the newly created Commercial Service of Radio Ceylon, headed by Clifford Dodd and assisted by Livy Wijemanne, Bob Harvey and Norton Pereira. The last of that line of Mohicans, Jimmy Barucha passed away earlier this year, creating a great void in the lives of many people of my vintage. What great pleasure Jimmy gave my aunt Daisy and me in Mutuwal every Saturday night with his radio program “Melodies that Linger”: and his characteristic introduction to each singer – “Now approaching mike- side is………”. But this little microcosm of life could not withstand the political changes that rapidly swept Ceylon from the mid-1950s. Most of the people referred to emigrated to Australia, U.K. or Canada while some of the expatriates returned to their countries of origin.
The process for me was completed when we no longer saw “Pinkie” Gerreyn and Johnny Ayscough trawling the streets of Bambalawatte, the former on his Harley-Davidson, the latter in his Standard 8 Tourer.
Like many an ageing Burgher1, I bemoan the passing of that happy, innocent era when men wore lounge suits or, at least, long-sleeved shirts and cravats to the 6 o’clock film show at the Majestic and the Savoy and their ladies wore hats and gloves to evensong at the DRC Church, Arethusa Lane, Wellawatte.
But “tempus fugit“ and all of us have to accept the necessary changes which time must inevitably bring . As Shakespeare wrote –
lads and girls all must,
As chimney sweepers, come to dust.”
[reproduced with the kind permission of his wife, Cheryl Vandergert, in Ratmalana, Sri Lanka]
Down The Streets of Bamba
This establishment was originally, Ahmed Salie & Brothers, started by that erstwhile gem merchant from the south, Ahamed Salie, where he carried on his lucrative gem business catering to both tourists and locals up to the early seventies.
The store has since changed ownership and has been transformed into a general tourist shop offering a variety of Sri Lankan produce and also a wonderful collection of valuable books and publications by Barbara Sansoni, who is an artist, writer and designer who has exhibited her drawings and woven panels across Asia, Europe and North America. She founded Barefoot in the mid Seventies and has been the designer of rural fabrics and hand woven products of Sri Lanka. Her work is characterized by its colors and simple rectilinear forms. Barefoot Gallery, within the premises, now hosts a café for the literati, art, drama, and music lovers to meet and chat. A restaurant, patronized by writers and literature buffs also stands in the open space at the rear.
Some may claim that Barefoot resides in Kollupitiya since it stands on the border between the two towns. However, it is included here for all what its worth as an intrinsic part of the Bamba heritage.
Everyone in “Bamba” will remember the quaint little Menezes music store located on the seaside on the border between Colpetty and Bamba.
One may still debate which of the two towns it really belonged to. It was located on the basement floor, where the instruments were displayed for sale, visible to the Galle Road, and the rear section of the basement was used for the maintenance and tinkering of musical instruments, which was carried out by the famous musical Menezes family in Colombo.
The family is said to have originated from Goa in India and claim Portuguese descent from the old colonial era. The shop was first famous for its 78 rpm gramophone records, later 45 rpm’s, and then even later EP’s and LP’s of the latest music in the industry. They also specialized in the import and distribution of acoustic pianos, guitars, wind and percussion instruments and music theory notes. In addition they also taught music.
The family members, comprising, old man “Papa” Menezes, and sons, Mickey, Tom and Ralph, and daughter, Helen, were all very talented musicians, each specializing in many instruments. Helen is a famous pianist and crooner.
They also formed a band called “The Papa Menezes Combo” and played jazz, blues and oldies at parties, dances, weddings, concerts and other musical galas in town. With the passing away of Papa and Tom the rest migrated abroad to Australia and the business was closed, much to the sadness of many faithful patrons and musicians who used to visit the shop like a prayer almost every single day.
The family of Mickey Menezes still lives down Temple Lane in Bambalapitiya. Ralph Menezes, is the only son of Papa Menezes who sought academic excellence and qualified himself professionally at Medical school in Colombo, and passed out as a doctor.
The rest of the family, were all professional musicians right to the end. Dr. Ralph now lives in Chicago, USA.
The Sunday Observer of Dec 11 2005 wrote that Helen Menezes and hubby, Ron Lucas, are in Colombo for the festive season to play and entertain all their fans at the Mount Lavinia Hotel.
They will commence their gigs on Tuesday December 20 and will be a star attraction for New Year's Eve as well.
Helen Lucas a famous band leader in Sri Lanka in the early years headlined her highly successful dance band the Helen Lucas Combo and held center- stage for many years before she and Ron decided to move over to Australia.
As the daughter of the famous Papa Menezes whose name was synonymous with music in Sri Lanka, she was and still is deeply involved in teaching music and a constant friend to other musicians-young and old. What her major plus in her music artistry is her elegance and sophistication in expression be it Pop, Latin or Jazz and that is hard to beat. Ron an exciting vocalist and percussionist sings a wide repertoire of Michael Buble the current rage, Frank Sinatra's songs as well as songs by the time honored greats like Elvis Presley and Nat King Cole.
Now performing at some of the leading hotels in Sydney, Ron and Helen's music has taken them overseas for performances in Germany, England, Malaysia, Goa and recently a successful tour of Los Angeles, Chicago and Vancouver.
Catch their gig at Mount Lavinia Hotel, you are bound to make returns. - (MP)
Sunday Observer of Dec 11 2005
Tom wrote in 2009…
I endorse all the encomiums heaped on you on your efforts. As an undergraduate of the University of Ceylon I lived in Kollupitiya down Schofield Place. Once a month or so I used to walk from that road to Savoy in Wellawatte for a show and return by CTB or vice versa.
I knew most of the roads you mention. I avoided the rail tracks after the "PULLE GIRLS" were killed by a LGR train near Bamba station.
Near Menezes Music Stores there was a Tony’s Record Shop and the sales girl was one Arlene Vice (?) or Arlene Wise! To my eyes she had the best pair of legs!!I have been to this shop many times just to glance them, but on the pretext of buying a record!!.
You also should write about the Dutch Burgher Union and about Prof. EOE Pereira, a gentleman to his fingertips.
There was an eating place called “Terang Bulang” at the top of Bagatelle/Galle Road on the sea side. Good joint for Malay Food.
I also frequented Mayfair Hotel as well as Lion House, Saraswathy Lodgel & smaller ones in front of Majestic Theatre. In those days (as a bachelor), Sundays were the best. The morning starts off with Radio Ceylon's Top of the Morning music then BBC news for 15 minutes and then I turn the radio off. I read the Sunday Observer. Fly by night by Tarzie Vitachie, the Cartoons by Collette on the Animals of the Island and Sooty Banda's stories. (of course there were spurious articles too one caption I recall is "The Best Injuns are the Dead Injuns) While all what were VISIBLE was good SATAN was at work behind the scenes. He worked on all but with some he overworked them by means only he knew!!
CEYLON was an unalloyed PARADISE. But soon Lucifer got down to work. And GOD ALLOWED - LUCIFER to WORK because GOD was neglected
Anyway there is a ray of hope. One branch of Lucifer has been amputated!! But keep the good work. Also remember that what cannot be recorded is still in our SOULS
Gift Boutique, a glamorous gift shop was located right next to Menezes and run by that erstwhile and lovely young Malay lady, Shinir Amit, from Barnes Place in Colombo 7, who married Emran. Shineer, sadly, passed away early in life. The shop catered to both middle and upper class hoi polloi who flocked in to buy their trinkets and gifts for all occasions. Shineer kept the business running in a spirit of greatness and success during her tenure at the shop. Gift Boutique was previously called Alice in Wonderland.
Another wonderful gift store, adjacent to Gift Boutique, that has now ceased to exist stood on the Galle Road and served its many customers in all its splendor and glamor. The place catered, mainly for women, offering gifts, cosmetics, perfumes and many other necessities for the feminine pallet.
Lindsay Girls’ School
Lindsay Girls School is the next of the many buildings that blot the seaside of the town. A tall and stone bell tower stands in front of the school facing Galle Road threatening to ring out the ears of anyone who passes by. Many a young lady who grew up in Bamba attended this school, which was managed by the members of the Dutch Reformed Church which also stood within the school premises. Most families descendent from Dutch Burgher ancestry sent their daughters here to learn of books and a resplendent life.
Paul wrote from Australia in 2006 to say,
My wife went to Lindsay Girls School from 1959-1967....Her name is Barbara Bowles...Are there any past pupils that knew her...She also worked for Unical (Ceylon) Ltd from Sep 1969 to April 1971 before departing to Sydney Australia...
Adamaly Place is the first lane, adjoining the IC Drug Store, and runs down, westwards, towards the beach. The name is reflective of its inhabitants who belong, mainly to the Bohra2 community, a small clan of people from Gujarat and Punjab in India who had migrated to Ceylon in the early days and were involved in trade, industry, and business, in a very successful manner. Some of the families who lived on this street were:-
Abid Moosajee, Asker Moosajee, Chathulani, Hussain, Davoodbhoy, Jeevunjee, Khanbhoy, Mahendran.
Next to Adamaly Place on the south side just south of the Petrol station was the Victoria Liquor Store.
Glen Aber Place
The Bohra community of Colombo has built their Mosque down this street where they congregate for their prayers and other religious-social events. On weekend evenings one can see the many ladies of the community, clad in their purdah overcoats, walking along Galle Road towards this place of worship.
The Fowzie family, owned a joint property down this street. Fowzie‘s wife and son moved to Wellawate and his brother, wife, son and grandchildren are still resident here.
Some families who lived down this street were:-
Edward Lane is situated on the land side of Galle road, opposite Lindsay Girl’s School. The landmark on the left was the Old Great Wall Hotel, and on the right was Tolarams Sari shop which was demolished in 2011. The Cycle Shop still exists. Behind the shop was the "Dara Maduwa" (wood shop), which provided fire-wood to all the people in the neighborhood who cooked on an open fire.
Don Charles Weerasekera who stayed at No 35 “Mildred House”, was a Station Master and after retirement was appointed Shroff at Mercantile Bank, presently known as Hatton National Bank Ltd.
It was here that the famous and tasty "Godamba Rotti" (Paratha like bread), cart was parked, and catered to the residents down the lane towards Thummulla (three cornered), junction on Bullers Road and further. Everyone in the locality enjoyed the rotties.
No. 25 was owned by Papa Menezes’ daughter, Helen, who, before moving to Australia, sold it to Mrs Seyed Ahamed and her family in 1975 after the demise of Advocate Seyed Ahamed at Gregory’s Road in Colombo-00700: the children comprised Mahaz, Shameema, Moin, Nizam and Zooni. Mahaz and Moin established a garment export industry, with Mahaz handling the head office at Horton Place in Colombo-00700, and Moin managing the factory at Ibbagamuwa in the Kurunegala District, wherein he settled.
Zooni married Dr MFO Lafeer and shifted to Maryland in the U.S. Nizam continues to live with his family at No. 25. Moin was an ex–Royalist of the ’61-Group, joining from St Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia.
He contested the Bambalapitiya Municipal Elections in 1940 and lost to Gilbert Perera. Charles was married to Alice Wijeyagunawardena from Kandy. They had a son, Willie Weerasekera who married Dulcie Jayasinghe, and two daughters, elder being Olive Beatrice who married Victor Ratnayake, a proprietary planter from Deniyaya who was once attached to the Rubber Research Institute, Agalawatta. He was also Junior Minister of Lands and first Sri Lankan Chairman of the Planters Association of Ceylon. Victor Ratnayake owned No 42 at School Lane and the Garainde’s were occupying the house until the Ratnayake’s moved there in 1970. Garainde worked as Manager at the Galle Face Hotel and had three sons named Desmond, Pinkey and Sonny.
The youngest, Phyllis married QC Siri Perera Weerasekera, one of the leading Criminal Lawyers at that time, and was High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in New Delhi in the 1960’s. He was the President of the Y M B A, Borella. He gave Buddhist talks at the Servants of the Buddha, Maithree Hall at Mettarama Temple, Lauries Road, Colombo 4. He appeared as Defense Counsel for Kirambakanda in the famous “Pauline de Croos” well murder case.
Asoka Weerasekera, (known as Geevaka among the neighborhood), son of Willie Weerasekera and grandson of D C Weerasekera lived at No 31 Edward Lane since 1942.
Asoka worked for Lever Brothers, later known as Unilever, for -over 37 years. His wife Pat runs a Hair Dressing Salon. He has 3 sons – Dinesh, an IT specialist who lives at No 31 with his family, Nishan, a Product Manager, now settled down in Sydney with his family, and the youngest son, Padmesh CEO, George Steuarts Consumer, who lives at No 31-1/1.
Gamit was the inaugural President of the ORAUK and was instrumental in forming of the Old Royalists Association in the UK under the patronage of Mr E L Bradby and Mr J C A Corea, both former Principals of Royal College.
He was a student of the College from 1954 to 1962 and has been the winner of Governor General’s Prize for General Classics in 1960 and English Literature in 1961. He was also the Editor of the College Magazine from 1961 to 1962. Gamit was a member of his College House team in 1961, and has played Hockey for College from 1960-1962. He was awarded College Hockey Colors in 1962. He has represented College in Table Tennis from 1959 to 1962 and was awarded Table Tennis Colors. In 1961 Gamit was made the Royal College Table Tennis Captain.
Gamit then joined Unilever London Financial Group from 1966 to 1974 upon his arrival in the UK in 1965. He was in the travel Industry in 1974 before establishing Taprobane Travel - Sri Lanka Tours in 1971. It is the longest established Sri Lanka Travel Company in the UK and the Number 1 Travel Agent for Sri Lanka. Gamit’s cousin was Margo married to Noel Senarathna, reporter at Times, now lives in the UK.
The Abeysekera’s were the immediate neighbors of the Weerasekera’s. Buddhi Abeysekera, an Accountant is in USA and his late brother Dayal a famous hurdler at Royal College passed away in Australia.
The Hoffman’s family also lived down Edward Lane. Mr Hoffman was an engine driver and the eldest son was Wilhelm, followed by David, Larraine who used to sing at the Little Hut (now in Canberra) and Everard, the youngest. Wilhelm played cricket for St Peter’s College and was a bowler and had an unorthodox action.
Donovan Andree, the star of the show business, his sister Mrs. Ferdinand's lived at No 38 next to the Weerasekera’s. They used to have lavish garden parties where the cream of the show biz, singers and musicians attended. Erin de Selfa too came to their place and sang there.
A good part of the garden is now the Duplication Road.
Rosemary and Bunny Ferdinand’s, siblings, are settled down in Australia. Bunny worked at National Bank of India, now Standard Chartered Bank, and in the evenings he helped his uncle Donovan Andree at the Stadium. Rosemary visited the Edward Lane neighbors in 2010. Incidentally this house was the ancestral house of D C Weerasekera until his grandson
Thilak Perera occupied it in 1970. The premises are now owned by Pership Company who have constructed their own building there.
Lawyer Thuraisingam, his wife Leela and their children lived down Edward Lane. He had 4 daughters – Sharrada - in Perth, Australia and Shankari, Thango (Meena) and the son Sivaprakasapillai (Thamby) in Toronto. Siva is working as a Sales Executive in Sears - a leading Departmental store in Canada. Chutti (Sivakami) the youngest is in Canada.
Siva Sivapragasam, who was the Marketing Manager for Express Newspapers in Sri Lanka lived at 32A with his wife Rani and only daughter Premilla. Since 1993, the family moved to Canada where Siva continued with his Media work as a Consultant for an English Newspaper in Toronto.
Siva lived in the second house opposite the Weerasekera’s.
The Pandita-Gunewardane's lived at 36 Edward Lane, and after some time the house was rented to the Perera’s.
Mohini Gunasekera, and her brother, Harsha, an old Royalist Civil Servant who passed away in 1967, after an unfortunate accident at a very young age, also lived down this street.
Mohini qualified as a Barrister at law Lincoln's Inn UK and is now retired from practice as a lawyer in Australia and is residing in Melbourne and a great Buddhist worker. Her sister, Indra, is a Paediatrician in Baton Rouge USA, and another sister, Praneetha is in private practice as a medical practitioner in Australia.
The Perera family had, 2 boys and 4 girls – Sarath (Royal, now
practicing as a doctor and living in a very posh area in Bloomfield Hills in Detroit),
Ranjith (known as Massi) (in Aussie), the family left Edward Lane in the 1960’s and the Atha’s family moved in.
Lenny Wijesinghe lived at No 45. He was the General Secretary of the Colombo YMCA. His son Geoffrey was a journalist at Lake House, daughter Gita (Methodist College), left to the U.S. for studies and married and settled in the State of Florida. Hugh Wijesinghe, Lennie’s brother, was Charity Commissioner and later, a teacher at Royal College, Colombo. His sister Constance (Connie) was a teacher at Lindsay Girls’ School, also lived down the lane.
Margo Wijesinghe, Hugh's daughter married Noel Senaratne who was a journalist at the Times of Ceylon.
Mr Friar was a retired pensioner whose wife Maureen had 10 cats and didn’t enjoy the boys, especially Hansie singing Xmas Carols at her gate. Also the Gonsal Korala family lived opposite our house prior to the Perera’s moved in.
Mrs Mayfu Mohammed lived in the second house on Edward Lane and her son Razik, old Thomian, Chartered Accountant is back in Sri Lanka after spending many years in Zambia.
Opposite her house was “Dadibidi” Silva. He was a politician. His house is now occupied by his son Sobitha who is a ship engineer. His wife runs a spare parts shop adjoining their house facing Bauddhaloka Mawatha. District Judge DQM Sirimanne (an ex-Royalist and classmate of my Dad, MT Sameer), whose son, Dulamba, also attended Royal College, Colombo (planter, Dambatenne Group), migrated with his
Family to the USA after the estates were taken over. He passed away a few years ago. The second son, Lal (Thurstan College), travelled to the UK for higher studies and qualified as an accountant, and, on his return to SL, was employed at Ceylon Tobacco Company Ltd. He passed away in May 2011. Dualamba’s sister Manori (Ladies College, Colombo) is resident in Melbourne, Australia. The youngest sister Dilrukshi also attended Ladies College, a lawyer by profession and musician, resides in Borella.
Opposite Sirimanne’s lived the Wickremaratne family at No 52. Mr Wickremaratne worked as an Accountant at the Central Transport Board. After they left Mrs. Aruna Bala and family moved in. Husband was an Accountant and she is a Soprano singer, who took part in many concerts and stage performances at the Lionel Wendt. The two sons, Ganesh (known as Gundo) and Hansi, attended St. Thomas College. Ganesh is now in Denmark and Hansi in UK.
Next to Sirimanne’s, lived the Peiris family. Mr Peiris was a master at Thurstan College and his wife Charlotte was a teacher at St. Bridget's Convent. Their daughter Chaturani attended St Bridget’s Convent, and, son Gamini (more popularly known as Gabo) attended Royal College, Colombo.
Gabo, initially, worked as a steward at Air Lanka (now SriLankan Airlines) and continued his music career, as a top class drummer and percussionist. He started his musical adventure playing for the Royal College Swingtette, a jazz band. He then played for the famous dance band, “Sam the Man & his Gaylords”, and finally formed his own band "Gabo and the Breakaways" which blossomed into a very famous outfit at weddings, parties, concerts, and dances in the 60s and the 70s.
Gabo also ran his own Travel Company known as “Gabo Travels” with his charming wife, Savithri, who managed the business after Gabo’s illness. Gabo passed away in 2012.
The Peiris family are engaged in many social activities to uplift the lives of the poor and needy.No. 59 was the home of the Walpola family. Mr Walpola, a tennis player was a government servant attached to the Meteorological Department. He travelled in a Morris Car. All three daughters attended Methodist College. Myrle the eldest obtained her degree from the Univesity of Peradeniya and joined Radio Ceylon in 1961 as an announcer.
She married Raja Wiliams, a Trinitian, also a member of the CR & FC, who represented Sri Lanka in Rugger. In 1986 Myrle became Director of the Training Institute of Broadcasting at the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), now in retirement. Her daughter Nedra Wiliams, known as TV and radio broadcaster as well as director of many theatre productions, married Jehan Bastians. Manel Walpola, married Dominik Fernandez and now lives in Toronto with her family.
The youngest Jeanette Walpola (Methodist College) studied at Collage of Fine Arts and left to Germany for further studies, where she met Norbert Edelmann, who is an audit accountant.
She lives with her charming daughter, Samantha. Jeanette visits SL very often and is still in close contact with a lot of old friends in the neighborhood and is a very hospitable personality. Many neighbors have visited her lovely house in Nurenberg. In July 2019 Razic organized a get-together at the Dutch Burger Union and a few Edward Lane neighbor were present.
No. 61 was the home of Mrs Amybelle Corea and her son, Vijaya, who continued to live there after the demise of his
mother. Vijaya attended S. Thomas' College, Mt Lavinia. He abandoned his career as a student of Chartered Accountancy, having been lured by his success in front of the microphone and joined the Commercial Service of Radio Ceylon. He has been recognized as being among the most outstanding media personalities in the country and was presented the National Gold Award by the State for his contribution to the enhancement of radio broadcasting.
Subsequently, the Voice of Lanka Foundation too presented him with an Award for his pioneering endeavors. He is by far the most renowned Broadcaster and Show Biz Compere in Sri Lanka and, in addition, is on record as being Sri Lanka's first ever TV Compere, appearing on global television.
He reached the top end of his career when he was appointed Director General of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and, simultaneously, served on the Board of both the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and the National Film Corporation.
After his marriage to Ranjini (nee Wickremasinghe) he had a son and daughter, namely, Viran and Sashika.
Viran, after his secondary education at S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia entered the University of Colombo and obtained the LL.B and LL.M Degrees and is today a leading Lawyer whilst Sashika, after her secondary education at Ladies' College entered the Kelaniya University. She qualified in English and Psychology and was both a counsellor and teacher at Bishop's College and then served on the staff of Stafford International School.
Nagamuthu’s, Wijeyasekera’s, Jayasekera’s, Atha’s family and Ramanathan’s came later to Edward Lane. The Burger families who lived down Edward Lane were the Hoffman’s, Fryer’s
John’s, Thiedamen’s, Paternott’s, Vanhouten’s, to name a few. Ivan John qualified as a Chartered Accountant worked for Unilever (known as Lever Brothers at that time).
H. Wijesighe, a Vice Principal at Royal College, used to live down Edward Lane and he conducted tuition classes at his residence. It was a reputed place where lots of intellectuals got their grounding. He had two children Lucien and Maud.
Also, in the 40's lived K.B.Renganathan, brother of "riot" Ramanaden and SP in the police force. K.A.Veeravagu lived there and his son V.Thirunavkarasu Civil Engineer attached to the Public Works Dept. Veervagus other son Dr. V Ramanathan a distinguished old Royalist and a Civil Servant who won many prizes at Royal. Dr.Ramanathan finally ended up as a nucler scientist and was domiciled abroad for a long period before coming back to Sri Lanka.
There use to be a chummery where one Mr.Sabaratnam and Dr. Mylvaganam lived.
Mohini Gunasekera wrote in 2008…
Our family the Pandita-Gunewardane's lived at 36, The Sirimanna's lived further down and Donovan Andre's sister's family lived across the street from us.
My brother Harsha a civil servant died in 1967. I qualified as a Barrister at law at Lincoln's Inn UK and am now retired from practice as a lawyer in Australia. My sister, Indra, is a Paediatrician in Baton Rouge USA, and another sister, Praneetha, is in private practice as a medical practitioner in Australia.
Thank you so much for a fascinating and nostalgic post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it brought back many memories as an ex-Edward Lane resident. I am one of the Gonsalkorales who lived at No 36, just opposite Jeewa and next to the Minister Jayaweera Kuruppu. Our house was rented from Mt Panditha Gunawardena at a very reasonable rate as he was fond of my father Edwin and wanted to help him educate his sons who all went to Royal College and the only daughter who went to Visakha. The house as we knew it is no longer there but I recall visiting it some years ago and it struck me how small it was. We used to play cricket in front of the garage and I used to think the 'pitch' was quite big!
Temple Lane is a narrow street that moves down to meet Duplication Road.
The FazleAli’s live down this road, and, Mansoor & Mazher attended Royal in the early forties/fifties. Mansoor, who is no more, holds the record for the highest number of wickets taken at cricket against Trinity College, Kandy, to date. Their father, Dr. FazleAli served the community with honor and respect and was much loved by one and all. The FazleAli’s also owned and ran a printing business in Colombo called “Captain House” in Colombo.
The wife of the late Micky Menezes owns a house, and lives, down this street.
The next street on this side is School Lane which is also a narrow cul de sac that winds its way down to meet Duplication Road.
Ermin Jayawardena lived at No. 27 from 1942 and had a son by the name of Arthur Jayawardena who continued to live in the same house. Ermin had two daughters, namely Daisy who married Stanley Jayasekera. His grandson Rohan Jayasekera, a Thomian, played cricket for the College as wicket keeper/batsman and represented Sri Lanka too. Wimala married SD Gunaratne and resided in Gampaha.
Kenneth Rodey and family lived at No. 29. Mr & Mrs Stork, Lempehers, the Cook brothers, George and Erick and their sister Brighty who married former Army Commander, General Sepala Attygala, who also lived down this street. Frank David who taught at St Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia, was nicknamed “Bambu David” as he wore short trousers most of the time.
Albert Edirisinghe and family lived at No. 36. He founded the Albert Edirisinghe Opticians Ltd bsiness, and presently his son Gamini Edirisinghe is the current Chairman/Managing Director. Albert Edirisinghe retired from active corporate life at a certain point in his life and turned towards pursuing on the spiritual side of life.
Mrs Mulgirigama lived at No. 17 and her daughter Chitra married a Jayawardena in the Army. Ananada Tissa de Alwis, former Minister of State under the JR Jayawardene government, lived at No. 34. His sister, Dodo de Alwis, married Noel Gunatilake and continued to reside in the same house. They have two sons, Elmo and Frank, who attended St Peter’s College, and a daughter, Helen.
Arthur Samarasinghe, a Thomian, who married ex-DIG Police, CC (Jungle) Dissanayake’s daughter also lived here. Professor KKYDS Perera, former Chariman of the Ceylon Electricity Board and President (as it was known then) of the Moratuwa University resided further down the street.
In 1942, a Royal Air Force plane which took off from the race course on a training mission crashed into the rear garden of the Cook’s house after hitting a coconut tree. It was a miracle that the family survived, but all of the crew died. This incident was related by Mrs Margo Senaratne (nee Wijesinghe), the daughter of the Charity Commissioner who witnessed the incident as a child.
The original school down School Lane, which was functioning for many years, has been demolished and a new house constructed there.
Mahendran and family lived closer to the Peiris’s.
An article which appeared in the Times on Sunday, 05 February, 2012, written by S. Sivendran (a Peterite), retired senior superintendent of Police.
”Former Deputy Inspector General of Police P Mahendran passed away on February 2 in Sydney after a brief illness. He was a giant of a man with a massive physique who excelled in athletics, boxing and rugby football. He had the unique distinction of participating in the National Athletics Championship and winning the Putt Shot championship in the afternoon and in the same evening he represented the champion CR&FC team in a rugby Clifford Cup match and went on to win the National Heavy Weight boxing championship later in the evening, all in one day. Thus he earned the title “Brute”.
Though in appearance he appeared to be huge, he was very soft hearted and an amiable person. He joined the Police as an Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1958 after obtaining a Degree with Honours in Chemistry, having had his primary education at Trinity College and Royal College excelling in studies and sports.
The same year I too joined the Police as Sub Inspector, and during our Police training days at the Katukurunda Training School we became good friends and traveled to Colombo every week to represent the Police at rugby in the car of the Superintendent of Police Fred Brohier who was the Assistant Director of Training and Coach of the Police rugby team. We played together for the Police rugby team from 1958 to 1963 in the illustrious company of Mike Schockman, Quintus Jayasinghe, SS Bambaradeniya, Franklyn Jacob, Rodney Aluvihare, Tony Mahath all from Trinity College, James Senarathna, Sumith Silva, and Raja Pothuhera from Royal College and from St Peter’s College, Letcho Ephraums, Terry Williams and Muni Gomes.
Brute captained the Police rugby team in 1962 and I captained the team in 1963 after which he hung up his rugby boots, even though he continued to contribute to rugby as a Referee and coach of the Police team. He also played cricket in the Police Inter Division Tournament. He always sorted a sense of honor on and off the field with his wit and wisdom. In 1961 the Police were permitted to play against the leading Clubs and in the match against the star studded CH&FC which then comprised of all foreigners in the likes of Peter Sawdy, John Banks, John Burrows, Mike James, mike Birch, Keith Andersen and Neville Leafe to name a few who were huge and some who had played international games. The police team played ferociously and drew the match 3-3 to shock the local rugby world. In this match “Brute" played a brilliant game tackling the burly British for them to shout “ET TU BRUTE” for which Mahendran will shout “LONG LIVE CAESAR” to the amusement of the spectators and continued with
Before joining the Police he was a regular member of the champion CR& FC rugby team from 1955 to 1958 which had some of the brilliant local rugby players such as sprint champion Summa Navaratnam, Tevor Anghie, Ana Gunawardena, Mahes Rodrigo, Ago Pavia, A K Doray, Brian Vantwest, N Numan, Ashey Cader, Geoff Weinman, R Edwards, SS Babaradeniya, John Weinman, Kavan Rambukwella Malcolm Wright, Rajah Williams, R C Pathmanathan, Norman Gunawardena and “Puggy” Gunaratna.
Brute was saddened by the turmoil that was taking place in the country during the eighties and found it too much to bear and decided to call of his Police career prematurely and migrated to Australia with his wife Dr Lalitha, daughters Vishantha and Rathy and son Neelan. There too he was gainfully employed in the Motor Traffic Department till recently. I visited him in Sydney recently with my wife and found him in a happy mood as usual even though his health was not as vibrant as before. He leaves behind his loving wife and three adoring children. His funeral took place in Sydney on the 4th of February, 2012. “MAY HE ATTAIN MOKSHAM” unquote
Theva, of Royal College fame, also lived down the street with his folks. Theva married Olwyn and moved to Australia sometime in the eighties. Olwyn was formerly married to Sriyan de Silva, ex-production manager at Usha and Singer factories at Ratmalana.
An appreciation for Gabo Pieris appeared in The Sunday Leader of Feb 26, 2012 as follows:-
Gabo Makes his farewell "Breakaway"
It was in the late sixties and seventies that Gabo dominated the music scene in Sri Lanka. The then stages were always packed with stellar performers, Jet liners, Sam, Spitfires, Los Caballeros, Moonstones, CT and Harold Seneviratne; but is Gabo who led them
All by the charisma he carried as the leader of ‘The Breakaways’ playing fascinating music that took entertainment to its zenith and beyond.
Anyone young strumming a guitar or scratching the keyboards or blowing horns and drumming or having voices searching for recognition wanted to be with Gabo. That is a statement I make without any hesitation as it was simply the accepted truth when Gabo ruled the band music. No, it wasn’t the Breakaways, it was Gabo, finding talent and doing the arrangements and creating his own brand of music in his childhood home down School Lane in Bambalapitiya. He and his ‘chuda manike’ resonated to be remembered for life. The man had the magic and the looks to match and the personality was spell-binding.
That is to say a lot about somebody and my sentiment is sincere.
Those who clapped hands and shouted ‘encore’ and jingled and jived on Gabo music would know what I am talking about. The memories may have faded, but recollections would be instant, not just simple remembrances, but with a glint in the eye. That was Gabo the Band Leader at his mercurial best.
Then came the airline part; that’s when I met him and his lovable wife Savi and forged a friendship that lasted a lifetime. They were young years and our days sure were wild and winsome resulting in many a little fairytale in memory circuits. Such is always recalled when the bell tolls and someone has to go, like now.
From flying, Gabo went to the travel trade. He did have a Midas touch, not by luck, but by constructive imagination and a personality that made him the ‘total people’s man.’ He took ‘Gabo Travels’ way beyond anyone’s imagination. Gabo had the ‘Band Leader’ name, and the vision and the drive to lift his infant travel company to its present success, right up to the top shelf.
Of course the guardian angel was always there, Savi, the one who stood by him for all flavours and all seasons and gave the anchor to the man and trimmed the sails when the winds howled and the seas got rough.
Gabo’s beginnings were humble, his father was a respected teacher, his mother a housewife and a loving sister completed the family, the norms of the multitude. He would have ridden his bicycle and eaten his celebrations at Sarasvathi and watched movies in the first front rows of the Majestic Theatre. Somewhere in that ‘run of the mill’ life Gabo picked a pair of drum sticks and that changed it all. His was certainly a self-made story, an architect of his own fate who took the blows as ‘Old Blue Eyes’ sang and made his life a script of strictly ‘my way’.
No one can go from where he began to where he ended without having a fall or two, we all do that. Gabo conquered himself and along with Savi raised three lovely children, Sasha, Natasha and Dania, who in turn added their own offspring to the ‘Gabo Band Wagon.’
We always kept in touch, sometime
back met and shared a meal and had a great time speaking of bygones and laughed
loud like fools, in the warmth and happiness of ancient camaraderie. That was
great. Then came the health problems, sad and unfortunate and demanding in
every way. Savi’s strength held and she combined multi-roles and kept the ship
afloat. The last I saw Gabo was a few months ago. The warmth was all there, the
voice was soft and the words were chosen and scrimp, mostly a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’
from a face dressed with a ghost of a smile. It seemed that he was having a
silent last laugh to ‘what it was all about’ in his carnival of a life. I was
in many ways happy for him.
Gabo had found peace. That much I was certain.
I said ‘so long’ and took my leave. Sadly his final words are haunting me now.
“Come and see me,” that’s what he said, waving a feeble hand that had once ruled music with a drum stick.
The Sunday Leader - Feb 26, 2012
Theva of Royal lived here with his folks. Theva married Olwyn and moved to Australia sometime in the eighties. Olwyn was formerly married to Sriyan de Silva, ex Production Manager at Usha and Singer factories at Ratmalana.
Bullers Road (Bauddhaloka Mawatha)
Bullers Road, is a very broad street that runs all the way from Galle Road to meet the roundabout at Thunmulla, which spans Havelock Road on its right and Reid Avenue on its left, and goes further down straight towards Jawatte where Radio Ceylon, now the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, is located.
At the helm of the road was the Great Wall Hotel which was previously owned and occupied by the Sheriff Hadijar family, (aka Pulla Kutty Sheriff, meaning many children Sheriff as he had a total of 32 children from two marriages), who later moved to Davidson Road. Sheriff Hajiar’s Car Number Plate was – X4965 – Vintage AUSTIN 10 (Dark Green).
The Mosque, attended by Muslims of Bamba stands on this street on the left. Since of late the buildings of this place of worship have been renovated and built up into a three floored structure meeting the many demands of the increasing number of Muslims in that area.
Eliyas master and his sister Ms Ahadiya, who tutored children, and her mother lived close to the Mosque. The Kitchil family lived in the garden at the rear of the Mosque. Tuan Ariff Kitchil attended Royal College from 1959 to 66.
The Bamba central bus station was also located at the beginning of Bullers Road. Many a bus that hailed from the south along Galle Road used to take the Bullers Road turn to the right in order to shuttle their many passengers to various locations inland, viz; Korteboam (105), Layards Broadway (106), & Wattala (104). Since Bullers Road is now a one way street from Duplication Road to Galle Road, all these buses have to turn around Alfred House Gardens, further north of Bullers Road, and return on Duplication Road to take the left turn into Bullers Road.
Later, the destinations of these bus routes were changed to, Mattakkuliya (155), Kiribathgoda (154), & Wattala (134).
Other modes of transport at Bamba were, the Bullock Carts, Buggy Carts, Hackeries, and the old London Transport Red Double deck Buses run by the Southern Western Bus Company. Traffic Police on Motor Bikes, the tar barrel’s lining the road, effectively dividing the road into two traffic lanes, ugly, yet very practical.
Many large residential bungalows stood tall on Bullers Road in the old days. They have now been converted into office complexes, fetching very attractive rents, and the whole environment surrounding the street has changed from a very cozy, quiet and calm VIP residential location to a bustling business bazaar.
“Kos” Dias a Botany teacher at Royal used to live down Bullers Road and every student who passed by in the school
bus never failed to miss his home while the bus passed this way. Mr Dias used to stand in front of his gate to board the school bus in the mornings. The adjoining house was occupied by Robin Soysa and family. One of Robin Soysa’s daughters, Neelika married HS de Silva who captained Royal Rugby in 1959/60. The twin two-story houses were built and occupied by Charlotte (Wife of Francis Peiris) in the 1950s.
[contributions also made by Graham Koch (Aus), Vajira Gunewardena & Kusum Perera (Aus)]
And then there was “Rupperty”, Mr Rupesinghe, who lived down Adams Avenue, who also used to stand on the sidewalk waiting for the Royal School Bus every morning.
Bullers Road intersects the newly constructed Duplication Road at right angles, and now house branches of many international banks and corporations.
The Standard Chartered Bank and the HongKong & Shanghai Banking Corporation have a notable presence here. Elite Restaurant, the UN Head Office, and many stately government mansions are also located on this street.
The Kariapper family, originally from the Eastern Province town of Batticaloa, lived on one of the side streets on the right of Bullers Road. Daughter, Dr. Nazli married Dr Shahnaz Ozeer, a reputed dental surgeon, and moved to Australia. Shahnaz is the son of Khaneema Saleem and MSM Ozeer, formerly of Mary’s Road, Bambalapitiya.
The Dutch Burgher Union is also located on the left, further down, opposite to the roundabout. In recent times the CBA Copy Center and Bookshop has also started a successful office adjoining the DBU.
Lion House & Mayfair Hotel
On the landside of Galle Road, starting from where Bullers Road begins, are a row of restaurants, shops and business enterprises, some having been in business for more than five decades. The most famous of these used to be Lion House and Mayfair Hotel, two restaurants located next to each other, where schoolboys, referred to as the “bambalawatte boys”, meaning the boys from the gardens of bamba, playing truant gathered together to light up a quick ciggy before hitting the matinee movie at the Majestic Cinema across the street.
Lion House, the "Sinhala Kade" which dished out the most savory dishes of Sinhalese tradition from the spicy and lovely "katta sambol" “lunumiris”, and steaming hoppers, just off the pan, not to forget the mouthwatering kavun and kokis especially during the Sinhala-Tamil New Year and festive season. The "bithara appa" (egg hoppers) laced with red hot chillie “katta sambol” soaked and a good cuppa, steaming hot, plain (black) tea, accompanied by a Three Roses cigarette (Four Aces for the guys who wanted it cheap) was the "diet" of the hundreds who patronized the "Lion" in all its glory and splendor.
The Lion House cuppa tea was something truly special to all young smokers. Every schoolboy in Bamba knew Lion House almost as second home.
Lion House was patronized by a cross-section of guys. Royalists, of the “Bamba” and Wellawatte breed, Peterites from their Bambalapitiya homeland, Thomians too, from far off south as Mt.Lavinia. The Mount boys “jumped” a South-Western bus to be at Bamba in a short span of time as traffic was sparse on the Galle Road in those times, unlike at present where a run from Mount to “Bamba” junction would take about an hour.
This was also the hide-out for the schoolboys (it did not serve much as the showcase at Lion was there for all and sundry to see) for a "punt"(a cigarette) as the next one will have to be in the toilet at home where chances of being detected by "pater boy" (dad) are sixty to one in the possibility.
"Lion" apart from the schoolboys also had their lion share of press reporters, hangers on, Majestic theatre patrons, (a somewhat downtown branch of the YMCA of Fort patronized by such breed) and of course the "Bambalawatte boys". These “boys” are a clan of young chaps who live in the “Bamba” and Wellawatte area, most of them strumming a guitar and sporting an "Elvis Presley" hairdo with sideburns to adorn their pimply faces, and whose past time was dishing out remarks at the gals who walked by. Once the "Lion" patrons glue themselves to their seats around the rectangular tables it was "finitos" for the waiters and management. The ones who come in first wouldn’t leave in a hurry, but spend hours chatting in groups, while only totting up a bill for a few rupees to the dismay of the "Lion" management and the poor waiters who longed for a five cent tip to keep their home fires burning. Sadly the "Lion" exists today at its original site, the showcase outside the restaurant remains but the floor space has been halved and rented out and the other half is no longer an eating house.
Many were the arguments, debates, brawls, and even fisticuffs that started off from within the walls of Lion House and spilled on to the Galle Road, eventually ending up at the Bamba Flats or even on the shore line of Bamba. Disputes ranged from simple stuff like territory, school flags and cheering to major stuff like “girls”, who is taboo for whom, etc.
From the "Lion", just next door, stood another famous eating
place of the 50/60 era, the "Mayfair Hotel" a renowned place run by Indian Muslims, synonymous with Biriyani and Watalappam.
The aroma and mouth-watering taste that came out from Mayfair's delicious meals is still etched in the memories of the 'gluttonous" of that by-gone era. The roast chicken could not be matched by any other eating "joint" in town except, maybe, by the original "Pilawoos" restaurant in the Pettah run by the Palandis of South Indian roots. Mayfair too had their fair share of Hoppers, which, soaked in mutton kurma (meat curry) with all the masala (spices) added gave a good run to their competitors next door although patrons still favored hoppers with chillie hot sambol served by the Lion.
If it’s "Biriyani" its Mayfair, and they did a splendid job with it and their take-away specials of chicken and mutton is something still spoken of by the old timers, a taste that has never been matched even to this day. "Mayfair" was also a boozer’s favorite.
Although the place did not serve liquor many a patron came there soaked and swinging, to wind up their long and thirsty day with a good biriyani feed as their "old ladies" (wives) would not be awake when they would eventually get back home in the wee hours of the morning.
Mayfair sales used to sky rocket during the end of the month when pay-day came around as a good biriyani was sold for around Rs 3/50, a fairly expensive commodity in the days when a bus ride from Fort to Bamba cost only 15 cts. The name "Mayfair" exists even now at the same location with "new" added to it but it is a far cry from the good old "Mayfair" of old.
It was here, within these two premises, that many of the ideas that emanated from the youth of Bamba were discussed and plans hatched to carry out whatever mischief they had in mind, whether it was scaling the walls of St. Pauls’ Milagiriya Girls’ School or raiding the echelons of Holy family Convent.
These two restaurants along
with many more that have now sprouted up along the Galle Road, extending all
the way to the Bambalapitiya Market and even beyond, also served as eating
joints for those driving past after midnight.
Some significant characters of Lion House/Mayfair fame were, the Guneratne’s, local toughs, Douglas Roberts, Tough Kum, & Rutman. The one & only Gerd Von Dinclage of Kinross fame, and his Harley Davidson, Tissa Ariyarate “ Saigon “Hilmi Khalid, and Turab Jafferjee,. This area became known as the domain of the Bambalawatte Boys, of whom much was written by internationally renowned journalist Tarzie Vittachi and newspaper cartoonist Colette.
“Once again to those days”, written by Geoff Wijesinghe – in the Daily News of Sat, Mar 2, 2002, gives a very interesting and illustrative account of some of the happenings in Bamba around Lion House in those times as follows:-quote George Siegertsz, who passed away in London last week at the age of 82, was one of the last of a generation of post-World War Two musicians.
George was a regular at Lion House at the Bambalapitiya Junction. He was one of the motley group of young men who visited the popular eatery, which served more as a "cup tea punt" (a cup of tea and a fag) club where these youth chatted for long hours of this, that and the other. Although the group comprised many toughs who walked around like pocket editions of Humphrey Bogart, George Raft and Spencer Tracy
the tough guys at the time of the silver screen, George Siergertsz was more interested in chatting and in music.
He was the country's number one whistler, a fine art and often his friends at Lion House, would gather round a table and listen to him whistling the popular tunes at the time.
About one in two months or so, George Siegertsz had a 15-minute program over Radio Ceylon and would whistle the popular tunes of the day, haunting melodies, many of them World War Two favourites such as "Time Goes By", "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square", "A Long Way to Tipperary" and "The White Cliffs of Dover".
Many of us younger one who kept in touch with the Lion House crowd knew well in advance when George Siergertsz, a lean, tall, gangling figure was going to whistle over Radio Ceylon.
Incidentally, although some of his pals operated in grey areas, George never blew the whistle on them to the cops. He was only interested in whistling fine musical tunes. The Lion House group, I would not like to describe them as a mob, although some of them were men of violence looking out for a fight.
One morning we read the sensational news in the "Daily News" of two of the Lion House boys having stowed away successfully on board a ship from Colombo to Southampton. If my memory serves me right they were Hula Mortier and Kingsley Rodrigo who, according to their buddies, have gone to the UK to become coal miners. When I last heard of them many years ago they had in fact made their way to London and were domiciled there.
The years following World War Two produced musicians of
fine vintage in this country. Foremost of them was Erin de Selfa who was discovered by the doyen of Sri Lankan showmen Donovan Andre, a former racing correspondent attached to the Times of Ceylon, which was published in the evenings and on Sundays.
She was recruited to sing in the group which was known as Red Tail Minstrels and grew up to be dark and dusky, and her voice was very much like the posh Shirley Bassey. Once she grew up, Erin was a regular over a Radio Ceylon. She then left for London under contract to the famous "Talk of the Town" nightclub in London, which was patronized by celebrities.
I had the privilege of listening to Erin over the BBC one night. This was the first time that a Sri Lankan musician had been honored by BBC, at the time the premier broadcasting station in the world, a highly prestigious achievement.
Her renditions of "Blue Moon", "As Time Goes By", "I can't help Falling in Love with You" and several other sentimental songs, were of the highest international standards.
Several years later, another Sri Lankan Yolande Wolfe, an old girl of Holy Family Convent of Bambalapitiya and whose father owned a building at the top of Retreat Road, followed in Erin's footsteps and became popular in the US.
That was in the early 1950s, the George and Gerry Crake brother were the seniors in the local music scene and they too were regulars over Radio Ceylon. They had a band known as the Crake Brothers, Gerry had a rich, deep tenor. There was also the Millionaires' dance band that practiced in a house at Edward Lane.
They had the big band sound and their rendition of the Glen
Miller favorite "Take the A-train", a perennial, was simply superb.
The biggest end-of-the-year dance in the late 1940s was at the Town Hall where several bands played and there was one hectic rush for tickets.
Some of the Lion House "boys" used to get involved in a brawl at a New Year's Eve dance, which ended tragically once with the death of a young man, who fell out of an upstairs window when taking a punch.
The pint-sized Carl Cooke, the former Thomian wicket-keeper, had a ballroom dancing school opposite Lion House directly behind the petrol shed at the Bambalapitiya Junction. In this sprawling old house he also established the 20th Century Club, no doubt getting the inspiration from the name 20th Century Fox, the international film producer.
One night, some of the boys who had the habit of dropping in for drinks at the 20th Century Club, imbibed more than they should have had and inspired by Bacchus, took all the club's flower pots and placed them on Carl Cooke's billiard table. Being a mild mannered man, all Carl could say was "what have you fellows done? You have damaged my billiard table. And I will have to replace it with new clothes."
Carl, of course, being a peace-loving man, paid for the repairs. But the neighborhood was very angry with the Lion House crowd for having abused Carl Cooke's hospitality, for he was very popular. Carl's brother Percy who has played for S. Thomas' was my headmaster for long years
In between these shops are the lanes of Lauries Road and Majestic Avenue, and, at the end of this row the Bambalapitiya Market stands like a monument from the past, for several decades.
A notable corner store that was gutted to cinders during the '83 Sinhala-Tamil riots that erupted, is the banana shop displaying its variety of fruit in all shapes and colors and sizes. Navavi, a textile shop run by a member of the Tamil community and Samarasinghe
Brothers a utility store were also located along this row.
On the south side close to Samarasinghe store was the house of E B and Malini Fernando. Kumar, Dilip, Ajith and Priyan were the boys and all went to Royal. The youngest was daughter. They were a devout family of Methodists who to this day is involved with many social and welfare activities in the Sri Lankan community. E B Feranando’s ancestral family can be rightfully described as original inhabitants of Bambapitiya. Mr. Fernando did Mathematics honors at the university and later became the head of the Tax Department.
Prasantha Dias Abeygunawardena (Royal College 59er) and Kulendrasingham (58er) both lived a few houses east. Next came the Mettaramaya temple.
Further east was Lauries Lane that connected to Fonseka watta. During 1930s and 1940s, No. 33 Lauries Road was the residence of Francis Edwin and Charlotte Peiris and their four children, Pearlyn, Merlyn, Princy and Shirley. The girls went to Methodist College and Shirley was at Royal.
This property was contiguous with New Buller’s Road.
Shirley later owned a Garage on New Buller’s Road and had transportation contracts with the Colombo Port.
On the south side was St Mary’s Church. Many an older residents had connections to this church.
Still further east was the Peugeot service garage. And the south side of Lauries Road ended in a Petrol Station.
On the north side of the street was a connector to Tummula that served as an alternate for access to Galle Road heading south. [contributions also made by Graham Koch, Vajira Gunewardena, & Kusum Perera]
Received by email from Mr John Henry de Saram, ex Form Master and English teacher at Royal College Colombo in the 60s:-
Many thanks for your warm response and the links to your blog. I am ploughing through the material in installments and find it all fascinating.
It is one of the oldest thoroughfares in the area, being the link between Galle Road & Havelock Road at a time when 'New' Bullers Road was populated by coconut trees, shrubbery & small game (hunted by my uncle) and Vajira Road was not much more than a footpath which our rickshaw man had difficulty negotiating en route to the Visakha Kindergarten.
Incidentally it was my grandfather who purchased Clock House & an acre or so of land surrounding it in the early 1900s when it was 'abandoned' by the fledgling HFC.
Good bye for & look forward to seeing you in December.
JH de Saram.
This was a narrow street that ran by the side of the Majestic Theater. It had a high wall on the theater side with a small opening for the admission no more than 5-6ft by 2-3ft It served as the entry to the Gallery for a fee of 55 cents. Many a school boys took the afternoon off (cut classes) and stood in the gallery queue for the early matinee.
Shanghai Chinese Restaurant (near Rippon road on the land side and opposite the Bambalapitiya Police station) renowned for its meatballs and mushrooms Shanghai style.
[contributed by Graham Koch, Vajira Gunewardena, & Kusum Perera]
We lived down Majestic Avenue from about 1963 to 1970 at No 11. My father was the famous building contractor of the time ASM Ibrahim who catered to most of the Borah community of Colombo. It was fun as I went to Royal College from Majestic Avenue. Those were the days of yore!
The Fonseka gals, Shahani, Michelle, & Janaki also lived here.
The “Bamba” Municipal Market
The Market square at Bamba is, to this day, managed by the Colombo Municipal Council and provides stalls and booths for the sale of fresh vegetable, fruits, fish, poultry, and meat. Built many moons ago the building used to be in such a dilapidated state that one used to wonder when it would come tumbling down. One could even see small Bo plants growing on its roof. In recent times, however, some renovations have been carried out and a fresh coat of gray paint has given the market some semblance of sanity that didn’t exist for decades.
Once inside the market one sees an arrogant display of groceries, meats, vegetables and fruits ready for the picking. The many Bamba ladies who haunt this environ with their hefty baskets, some more affluent ones with their housemaids tagging along behind them, do use this place as a meeting venue to discuss the daily dose of town gossip and exchange tidbits before trucking back home with their goodies. In modern times the crowds are most during the evenings what with many of the modern day middle class ladies choosing to work in order to keep the home fires burning. Dogs, cats and crows outnumber the number of humanity that haunts this place, picking up the bits and pieces of meats and fish that are disposed of by the vendors.
Streams of water run down along the side streets originating from the many stalls where the washing of the meats, fish, verge’s and fruits take place. The place reeks with a mixed smell of uncooked food, fishy smelling and sometimes a bit difficult to stomach to those with weak dispositions.
A Municipal Inspector has his own room within the premises and is expected to ensure that all produce sold within are in conformity to local government food sales and hygiene laws. To live in Bamba and not have visited the market would be equivalent to blasphemy.
Adjoining the market, to the south, is a private road wherein the Aziz family lived. The head of the household, MHA Aziz was an Advocate belonging to the Poothan Haji Family from Galle, who founded the Ahadiyya Movement in Sri Lanka, which was an organization that trained young Muslim children to read the Qur’an in Arabic and study Islam.
His children are Shibly (married Fathima Waffarn, daughter
of the late Dr Waffarn), Presidents Counsel, Imthiaz, who spent long years in Saudi Arabia working with the Saudi Arabian Airlines, and Ifthikhar, who is involved in business in Colombo, all of whom were fervent Royalists. The daughters, Minna married Proctor Iliyas of Galle, and Ryhan, married Mazhar Ghouse, son of Matheen Ghouse (of Lever Brothers Ceylon Ltd.) who was also an ex Royalist from the same batch as her brothers.
Shibly is married to Fathima Waffarn, daughter of Dr ARM Waffarn, from Wellawatte, while Imthiaz married Yasmin Mahamoor the late ASP’s daughter of Pieris Road Kalubowila, and Ifthikhar married Fathima Rezani Markar, daughter of Zain & Rifka Markar.
Ifthikhar Aziz wrote in 2019 . . .
O those unforgettable Bamba days........
My love for the laid back but interesting and eventful Bambalapitiya commenced in my infancy when my Dad, Late M. H. A. Aziz decided to bring his family down from Matara to settle down in Colombo as he found it increasingly difficult to travel to Matara during the weekends due to his lucrative and committed legal practice and his involvement in many public sector and private organizations.
He initially leased out a spacious home for us behind the Bambalapitiya Municipal market from where my brothers Shibly, Imthiaz and I attended Royal College, Colombo and my sisters Minha and Ryhan(Babsy) went to Lindsay Girls School.
We had as our immediate neighbor I. A. Cader, a Proctor and Notary Public of repute who was my Mom's younger sister Bahiya, and their kids.
Interestingly, my Dad and Adham (IA. Cader) were very close friends since their childhood in Talapitiya, Galle where they were neighbors and next door neighbors in Bambalapitiya, they made a pact that they would marry in to the same family, which they did. My Dad had a very lucrative legal practice and he Founded the Ahadiyya Sunday Schools Movement. Sadly, he succumbed to a massive heart attack while playing tennis at the Moors Sports Club in Colombo at the relatively young age of 44 year. I was just 4 and my siblings were all below 11 years of age, Shibly being the eldest of them.
Adham Cader went to be elected Member of Parliament for Beruwela, Deputy Speaker and Ambassador to Egypt.
We also had Deputy Governor of the Central Bank Lambert Weerasekera, Commissioner of Motor Traffic Daya Gunasekera and his wife Barbara Gunasekera (who was at that time, Principal of St. Paul's Milagiriya as our immediate neighbors. We all lived in perfect harmony and it is sad that the situation in our beloved country has changed so drastically over the years.
Entertainment Maestro Donavan Andree's entertainment complex was just across the road from where we lived and we were never short of good, clean entertainment like Holiday on Ice, the famous musical Seven Sisters, the wrestling champions King Kong and Dara Singh and so many other memorable treats.
For 10 years after we attained Independence from our British colonial masters, all of us from the different communities lived in almost perfect harmony. Almost perfect I say because the Sinhala Buddhist racially biased flank on which UNP dissident SWRD Bandaranayake won the 1956 General Election made fissures into the social fabric of our nation.
The Tamil people were a disillusioned lot because Banda went back on his promised policy of equal treatment of the minorities to a heavily biased Sinhala only policy. This led to various incidents involving the Tamils who carried out hartals and civil disobedience campaigns which were largely very peaceful. However, this triggered off the first communal riots in Ceylon as our nation was then known and it resulted in several thousands of Tamil homes and businesses being razed to the ground and many hundreds being killed by violent Sinhala Buddhist extremist goons.
SWRD tried his utmost to reverse this dangerous development by even going back on his declared policy of Sinhala Only, but was gunned down by a Buddhist monk, Talduwe Somarama, who was working in cahoots with the Chief Monk of the venerated Kelaniya Temple, Buddharakitha and Banda's own Minister of Health.
Sadly, all of these events together with other issues like the university entrance standardization policy, the need for all Public Officers to be proficient in the Sinhala language and other discriminatory policies, led to the emergence of Tamil youth movements which took to arms against the South in their determination to seek a separate state for them within Sri Lanka.
The streets that followed are Joseph Lane, Pepin Lane, Daisy Villa Avenue and De Vos Avenue. On the land side facing the old Stadium location ringed a row of business enterprises all the way up to the massive Hindu Kovil that still stands, and ends at Vajira Road, and is venerated by many of the Hindu’s from all parts of Colombo.
Anonymous wrote in 2008…
Joseph Lane, like other streets and by lanes in Bamba, produced its share of prominent citizens. The Fonseka’s
were, perhaps, pre-eminent of all its residents. The street was named for Joseph Fonseka and several pockets were known as "Fonsekawatte”. Ben Fonseka was an outstanding student at the University and joined the Foreign service ending up as SL's Ambassador to several first world capitols and to the United Nations.
His brother Michael was well known for his social work and the owner of a prominent Construction Co" DD Fonseka and Sons. Francis another brother was also in construction and was among the kindest people I knew. There were many branches of the Fonseka family dispersed throughout the Lane.
The Paiva family was also from and of Joseph Lane. Mr J N Paiva the patriach had a feel for small business and real estate and made money in both.
During the war years he catered to the British soldiers in town with the "Paiva"s Corner Houses", two small fast food stops at intersections at Bambalapitiya and Wellawatte mimicking the 'Lyons corner houses" of London. One of his sons was Augo Paiva who captained CR&FC rugby team in the '50s.
One of the most distinct Landmarks on Joseph lane was the "Dhoby House" a local Laundry for the area and beyond. You could pick up your clothes neatly pressed and starched on the due date provided it did not rain- as all drying was in the outdoors- we were using solar energy ahead of the curve. Also on this street were Norshir and Homi Rustomjee, both Parsis and well known Attorneys. The Redlich s and the da Silva's too lived here prior to their departure for Australia. The Vaz family, The Lovell's, The Abeysinghe's were all longtime residents, who may have also cracked the 50 year barrier.
When you add it up you will find that the ethnic diversity that was so typical of Colombo was celebrated down Joseph Lane. Thanks for the opportunity to share this memory.
The Bambalapitiya Hindu Kovil (Temple)
An annual processing marking the Hindu Vel Festival was carried out at this premises with the arrival of the traditional Vel Cart all the way from the Gintupitiya Hindu Temple, driven by white bulls and carrying symbols of the Hindu religion. This cart also proceeded to the next temple in Bamba usually referred to as the Wellawatte Kovil, about a Kilometer away to the south.
The occasion was a massive gala that provided sweet meats, traditional goods, clothes, toys and trinkets with lots of amusements for the children in an event that lasted almost a week during August of every year.
Sugarcane was the most abundant delicacy at this event and one would see the cane trees piled up against every wall and pillar waiting to be cut, cleaned and relished by thirsty people passing by.
Sugarcane was the most abundant delicacy at this event and one would see the cane trees piled up against every wall and pillar waiting to be cut, cleaned and sold to people who would relish the cane with glee.
Mohans, a large textile retail outlet, was one of the big businesses that occupied the long row of shops, traders and businesses that ran along the front of the Hindu temple. The nature of these trading stores is innumerable from temple flowers, camphor, joss sticks for the devoted to heavily decked gold and jewelry for the rich and famous.
Annamali Navaratnam, born in 1957, is one of them. He comes to his small garland shop, early, each morning to make the garlands with his two assistants, by hand. He is also known as "Nava" amongst his fellow garland makers, neighboring businesses and customers.
Nava has been making garlands at this location since 1982. He recalls his memories with a smile, "I had the privilege of making cash garland ("Kaasu Maalai"), made from currency notes and coins for Kasiananthan. I made flower garlands for Kirupaanathavaariyar when he visited Sri Lanka, and also for Kambavaarithy Jeyaraj and several other politicians and well known celebrities whenever they visited the Temple."
His two assistants help him to make the garlands and deliver them to his numerous customers on time. "I get many orders during wedding seasons and temple festive occasions," he said.
Nava buys his flowers and garland strings, in bulk, from the town of Matale in the central province. "Flowers are very delicate, like human hearts, and I have to take extra care in having them shipped and delivered without damage", he says.
The Bamba Gas Station & Bill Forbes
Crossing back to the seaside of Galle Road, bordering Adamaly place, along Galle Road, is a gas station that dispenses, petrol, diesel, cooking gas, vehicle servicing and washing, very popular with local residents.
It was here where the famous Sri Lankan crooner Bill Forbes once worked as an attendant. The pump still stands and serves its citizens valiantly until today.
Bill Forbes was born on 17th December 1938 in Sri Lanka. He came to Britain in 1955 at the age of 17 doing menial clerical work by day and renting a flat in Victoria, Central London. During 1958 Bill lived out his dreams of being a famous singer by appearing regularly at the “Bread Basket” coffee bar in Tottenham Court Road.
It was while he was performing one night in September 1958 that two talent scouts representing Jack Good approached him and asked if he wanted to audition for the “Oh Boy!” show. The series had just blasted onto the nation's television screens a few weeks earlier and Bill was already a big fan of the show.
The show was a groundbreaking British pop music event from 1958-1959, in London with Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde, Bill Fury and others. He released 12 hits for EMI Columbia among them 'Too Young/It's Not the End of the World,' Sri Lankans still sing his baila hit: 'Aacha England,' recorded under the name of Kal Khan. 'Oh to be in England!' is still a favorite of many vintage Sri Lankans. Bill Forbes also appeared on Donovan Andree's musical shows in Colombo in the early 1960s and he was interviewed over Radio Ceylon by the late Vernon Corea.
“I was one of 30 artists who were invited to perform before Jack Good,” recalls Bill. “I turned up for the audition which was held at the actual venue for the live show itself - the Empire Theatre in Hackney- and I was absolutely petrified.”
On entering the theatre he
saw for the first time many of the series regular stars, such as the Lord
Rockingham XI, the Dallas Boys, Don Lang and the Vernons Girls.
From the 30 artists who auditioned that autumn morning Jack Good personally picked just two to appear in his “Oh Boy!” series - Emile Ford (who appeared just once on the 29th November 1958 edition) and Bill himself.
“I was over the moon,” Bill said, “but the audition didn't exactly get off to a great start!” Bill chose to sing Marty Wilde's current hit “Endless Sleep” as his audition piece. But at the end of the song Jack Good told him his performance was “OK” but he sounded a bit too much like Marty.
“We don't want two Marty's in the show do we?” said Jack, and he got Bill to sing another song. Bill's second audition piece was the Johnny Ray classic “Just Walking In The Rain” which was enough to convince Jack to put him in the series.
“In those days Jack told YOU
what songs you will sing, and nobody answered back. None of the artistes dared
argue and being young and a novice I did as I was told.”
Bill continues “Jack gave me an American record of the upbeat spiritual song `God's Little Acre' (from the film of the same name) which he wanted me to learn and perform on the show. To be honest I wasn't too pleased with the choice because I was a BIG rock `n' roll fan and to me it just wasn't right for the time...and it definitely wasn't rock `n' roll! Oh well I thought, I'll just have to put up with it and sing it.”
Bill attended the painstaking rehearsals both at the Empire Theatre and the Four Provinces of Ireland Club in Islington during the latter part of October in preparation for his “Oh Boy!” television debut, which was due to be on Saturday 1st November 1958. (Show Number 8).
However a few days prior to the live broadcast Jack called Bill with some crushing news. Tommy Steele had agreed to come on the show at short notice and so Bill's spot was cancelled. “
I was devastated by the news. I didn't hear anything from Jack for several weeks after that. I was in limbo at that time.
I began to think he didn't want me at all and the call was just a polite way of letting me down.”
Then at the beginning of December Bill was finally given his big chance- and a date for his debut show… Saturday 13th December 1958 (Show Number 14)
Bill sang the spiritual number backed by the Lord Rockingham XI with the Dallas Boys and the Vernons Girls providing the vocal backing and choreography.
Shortly after the show Bill signed a recording contract with Columbia Records and between 1959 and 1962 released eight singles, the biggest of which “Too Young” reached the number 29 position in UK Charts during December 1959.
His biggest success however was in his homeland of Sri Lanka, where his 3rd Columbia release “Too Young” backed with “It’s Not The End of the World” became a double-sided number one hit at the beginning of 1960.
Bill was regarded as something of a hero in Sri Lanka, because although they had never seen the “Oh Boy” show over there, its reputation had spread worldwide and it was big news that one of its homegrown talents was starring in it.
Today, Bill is still regarded as the first Sri Lankan solo artist ever to secure a recording contract and a hit recording outside his native country.
When he returned there for a 10-day whistle stop tour in early 1960 - topping the charts with his version of the evergreen ballad “Too Young”- he was mobbed in the streets and even invited to lunch with the Prime Minister at his official residence.
“The biggest kick for me was
that “Too Young” knocked Cliff Richard's “Living Doll” off the top of the Sri
Lanka charts. I really felt I'd made it! It all happened so fast it's just a
blur when I think about it now. All the detail gets lost when so many good
things happen at once,” Bill said.
On 17th January 1959 Bill Forbes made his 2nd of 11 appearances on the series. He sang another song chosen for him by Jack called “Woman From Liberia” which would prove a big hit with the viewers. “She gave me water but it was not from the well” are the songs most memorable if not politically correct lyrics, which warns against accepting suspect liquid refreshment from dodgy African women!
Despite its popularity here in Britain the song was never released as a single.
Bill sang the song again the following week 24th January (as well as “God's Little Acre”) and for the very final show on 30th May - at Jack's request. Fortunately this final show has survived so at least one Bill Forbes performance has been preserved on film for posterity.
Bill's unscheduled 4th appearance on the 7th February 1959 show came out of the blue and proved to be a highlight in his career.
Bill recalls; “On the Friday - the day before the live broadcast- Jack called me suddenly to say that Cliff was sick with laryngitis and was unable to appear. And he wanted me to stand in as Cliff's replacement.”
Cliff was due to sing 3 solo songs as well as a duet with Marty, and I had to learn all five numbers with just 24 hours’ notice.
“I sang “Hot Dog”, and “Love Me Tender”. Fortunately I was an Elvis fan so most of the lyrics were no real obstacle. “For the finale Marty Wilde and I closed with a duet singing “Rip It Up”, “Keep On Knocking' (But You Can’t Come In)” and “Bird Dog”.
“That was my biggest moment! Normally I would only get to sing just one song but because Cliff was such a big star by this time he would always get about four or five numbers to sing. The show went very well and was my chance to shine as the big star for the week.”
Bill's 5th appearance on “Oh Boy!” was on 28th February singing “Bim-Bom-Bey”- a country hit in 1959 for Jimmy Rodgers in the USA.
A modern casino, catering to foreigners only, now stands right next to the gas station where in days of yore a very popular wine and grocery store, owned and managed by the famous food people, the Corera family, used to stand.
Then comes Arthur’s place, a narrow lane that winds its way down to the beach. The next block was previously occupied by the old Majestic Theatre and car park which was famous for showing MGM movies from Hollywood, three times daily on weekdays and four on weekends.
Today, the block has been converted, by the same management of Ceylon Theatres Ltd., into a sprawling metropolis called Majestic City which houses a massive department store, famous fast food restaurants, KFC, and also multi-cinema facilities showing the latest movies from Hollywood to the Sinhala screen.
Near the Majestic City behind the Gas Station resided the late
Hamid Ariff and family and SithyMa married to Mohideen Textiles son. A daughter of theirs is married to politician Fowzy’s son.
The block ends with Station Road which is located right opposite to where the market begins. Station Road is so named, in several towns in Colombo, representing the fact that the railway station is located at its sea-front end. Bambalapitiya is no different.
The family of MHM Muhseen, married to Khadeeja Ghouse, lived down Station Road. Their son Imtiaz worked for Ceylon Tobacco Company Ltd and then moved to Uzebekistan and is presently employed and living in the UK. Imthiaz is married to Tirmizi Naina-Marikar. The daughter is married to Nawaz Vilcassim from Galle and lives in Singapore where Nawaz is employed and they have now migrated to Australia. The youngest, son Fazal, is married to Naizar Cader’s daughter, also from Galle is also now is Australia.
At the end of Station Road a perpendicular right turn would take one to meet the bottom of Arthurs Place thus making it an easier way to move round in a rectangle back to Galle Road from either street. Station Road and Majestic Avenue stand face to face and in recent times a very necessary set of traffic lights have been set up at this junction in order to bring some sanity to the chaotic flow of men and machines on this busy highway.
“El Patio Yveony”
The beautiful home and mansion,”El Patio Yveony”, owned and lived in by Onally Gulamhussein and his celebrity wife Yvonne Toussaint starts off the next block of land adjoining Station Road.
Onally, nicknamed “Jutehessian” and his wife the socialite Yvonne Gulamhussian, nee Toussaint, was referred to as Mrs. Ooh La Jute Hessian.
Onally was a rich Muslim business man who went for dance classes to the Yvonne Toussaints dance school. Once married she inherited wealth which Onally used to propel her to be the Fashion setter in the capital. Onally was a businessman and Yvonne ran a Fashion shop and fashion shows. 'Atrocious fashions' some critics would claim....some out of jealousy no doubt. Probably ahead of its time!! On occasions she would be at a rugby match played at the Havelock sports club leading a poodle whose hair was dyed to match her own hairdo. I remember on one occasion a guy by the name of 'bada' Cassim followed close behind leading a 'pariah' dog just to annoy Yvonne.
The area facing the Galle Road which used to be the front yard of the villa has now been blocked, sold and built up into another mall where many lucrative and flourishing businesses have sprung up alongside including Perera & Sons bakers, Vijitha Yapa Book Store and several other new and old enterprises.
Along this same row was located the famous Stadium that hosted many scintillating entertainment performances organized by the famous Donovan Andree during his hey days of the entertainment business.
They lived on the sea side on the lane adjacent to the Majestic cinema. The entrance was from Bamba Station Road. This was a large property bound on the east by Galle Rd and ran at least half way to the beach.
[contributions also made by Graham Koch, Vajira Gunewardena & Kusum Perera]
The stadium which belonged to Donavan Andree and Mubarak Thaha where there was a lot of water circus and many overseas performance that took place and was later managed by Donavan’s son Malcolm Andree who was famous for various broadcasting and musical shows along with Chris Greet as his compere. Along a row of businesses, which included Silk Paradise owned and managed by a Sindhi family, was a two storey building which was used for residential purposes one of which was occupied by the Jansz family. Linda Jansz attended St. Paul’s Milagiriya at Bamba.
The whole place has now been torn down to give way to a massive department store complex.
Julian Fernando I did D.J. at her place at Bamblapitya. The whole house carpeted like in U.S.A.
Jeanette Edelmann: Yes can remember her very well. I was fascinated by her eccentric clothes and how she carried it off very well. She was courageous, out of the ordinary lady and I admired her very much. She was often in the Sunday newspaper fashion page.
Michiko Chiba: Yes! That woman was LEGEND!
Rushi Soza Moraes: lady gaga of an era gone by
Gauri Samarawickrema: Loved seeing her with her poodle
Shelagh Paul: Oh yes I remember her. She used to have her poodle doggie with her. She was a legend in Colombo. Linda Lovell: Remember her very well! She was always in competition with my Mother at the Grand Hotel April ball... the lady who arrived last was quite key.
I remember her arriving in a pink outfit, with her poodle also in pink.. someone dyed the poor dog pink!
I have never seen that before, or since then! Oh... and my Mother arrived after her, so got more attention! She was not pleased!!
Sonali Chuts Mendis: Linda Lovell I remember her at Nuwara Eliya races - she used attend with an amazing outfit and poodle in same color, how fab was that. I was too young to appreciate her style but waited for her arrival at the races.
Rhonda Molloy: Remember her very well especially at the various dances/balls, very striking lady.
Jenny Van Cuylenburg Pereira: Yes I remember her well. I was just 6 years old in 1957 when she was in her prime! Didn’t understand much then, but remember my mum talking about her outrageous outfits!
Miranie Abeysinghe: She was Spectacular! her style very unconventional her house was near the Majestic theatre Bambalapitiya.
Shirley De Zilwa: Sure do remember her and her poodles. Also remember something about a bee stuck on her cheek to match her outfit. She indeed was daring.
Karminie De Silva Moses: I can still remember her as if I saw her just yesterday. She was unique and she made her own fashion statement wherever she went.
Kumudini Anoja Gunasekera: Her house was behind the wall of Bambalapitiya main bus stand (when going towards Colombo). Remember the name well. Have seen her coming on the newspapers fashion page.
Lakmini Jayanetti Perera: Kumudini නැන්දා, next to Unity Plaza. පුංචි අම්මි relates this story on how Lalantha පුංචි used to play the accordion in YGHs fashion shows & අම්මි used to say how YGH used to color her poodles to match her outfits
Romayne De Alwis: I lived in Bambalapitiya as a child. Majestic Theatre was by their grounds, which was a huge block on the seaside behind the Bambalapitiya bus halt. There was a mini zoo, in the garden near Station Road with an aquarium, and I still remember the giant gourami fish peering at me from the tank!
They also owned "the Stadium" which was a stage with open air audience area. For a few rupees (and sometimes free) we watched all kinds of shows. There was also an annual talent show where budding artistes would show their talents. Leon Belleth of Radio Ceylon was the compete and Malcolm Andre the son of Donovan Andre put on the musicals.
Wonderful days of clean happy fun... about horseracing in Colombo and the way people dressed so smartly there. My mother mentioned Yvonne G's sudden appearances at the races dressed in her creative outfits, often inspired by the latest fashion trends in Paris or London.
Cherryl Duff-Tytler: Yes, she & her poodle dyed to match, were always featured in the papers (no TV!) a fashion icon of Ceylon then......their own Kim Kardashian!! She was Burgher.
Rohan Weerasinghe: Although I haven't met her she was my mother's (Doris Daniels) best friend. They both were in the same class at St. Clare's college, Wellawatte.
Ramani Leanage: i did not know A Doris knew her. I saw her at many fundraiser/ fashion shows. I used to play school netball games at the Stadium near her house.
Rohan Weerasinghe: Ramani Leanage yes they were best friends, my mother's family lived in Colombo before moving to Kurunegala. She was a Burgher (Toussaint) who married a rich Muslim. Before posting this I double checked with aunty June.
Deanna Graham: Didn’t she drop her hankie for Prince Philip to pick up? Sort of remember something !!!
Roshana Suriyaaratchy: Rather eccentric in her ways. I remember my mom saying that she had attended the horse races with a hat being a basket of fruits.
Ranil Perera: If am not mistaken she even designed her own coffin with red satin linings
Aruna Kirtisinghe: I used to take most of her fashion photographs for newspaper Observer and Daily Mirror. She and Yrol Jayewardene did the fashion page and I was their official photographer. She even got me to take a photograph of her tomb at the Jawatte cemetery long before she died. She and I got along very well during that time.
Druki Martenstyn: Yvonne was quite a character but with a very kind heart.. She was a ballerina & an excellent water skier... Always made a dramatic end when she finished skiing!!! Used to wait to see her outfits
Kathy Kitchilan Overlunde: There's always a pic of her in the newspapers be it fashion hair or her lovely poodles of course matching her outfits or her hair color. She certainly was a beautiful and gracious lady.
Chris Defonseka: I remember her very well as she was a famous fashion icon whenI was very young Rohan as I used to follow the Observer Fashion pages by famous designers Kirthi Sri Karunaratne Yrol Jayawardena and photographers like Rienzie Wijeyeratne who was working with my father and brother Fred & Dalton de Silva at Lakehouse Newspapers. We used to be fascinated by her fashions. Those were the good old days
Nooranie Cuttilan: Of course yes. She came to the race course once wearing a self coloured blouse and news spread like wildfire that she had come topless. She would also dye the doggies the same color as her outfits.
Vernon de Zylva: EY1551 Buick 2 Door power hood convertible Sky Blue and Black Convertible top it was a present to Mrs Gulam Hussein penalty was Rs 500/-to replace the Tuckers AutoDrome Show Room Glass Widow the car was driven inadvertently through the glass window dynaflow automatic engaged in D took some seconds finally the car surged forward and landed in the middle of the road
“If the In Places for Sundown dances (60s & 70s) were Ceylinco, Coconut Grove, Little Hut to name a few, the In Place for getting dolled up for the occasion was Laxmi's at Bambalapitiya.
The birth of Laxmi’s was in 1948 at 113, Chatham Street, Fort, when I was only 5 years old, then just a young boy attending Kindergarten at St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya. Laxmi’s at that era of time catered for White Collar Workers, mainly Bankers, Insurance, Office workers, Planters, Diplomats and some Politicians.
This was an era when readymade garments were not available and clothes had to be tailored to personal measurements. Textiles imported and Laxmi’s employed the best tailors in the country.
At a very young age I was forced to go to the shop during the holidays and was asked to learn the tricks of the trade. This helped in getting experience at a very young age.
1966 was the birth of the branch of Laxmi’s at Galle Road, Bambalapitiya (Next to the Bambalapitiya Police Station). This was the beginning of my real working life as I was asked to take charge of this wonderful shop.
The Mid 60s and 70s were the years of Rock ‘N’ Roll, The Beatles and the beginning of Rock Music. Thus Laxmi’s had to change according to times and cater for the Beat groups that started looking for clothes to suit their style. Bombay was the In Place for Beat Groups in India and I had to travel to Bombay to look at the styles that would suit our Beat Groups. Remember, the trend for readymade garments was still not in vogue. Special Materials were imported for Suits, Trousers and Shirts; Jeans were not yet in fashion In Ceylon. Thus the birth of the then Modern day tailoring outfit, to cater for the Beat Groups, Actors, Diplomats and the Hip Hop Guys who flocked Laxmi’s Bambalapitiya.
The meeting place for the Jetliners, Spitfires, X-periments, and other popular beat groups was on Saturday Afternoon at Laxmi’s. The fans too gathered to meet their favorite groups and know what they wear and then followed the trend of their favorite groups. Saturday Afternoon was the busiest day of the week for the boys at Laxmi’s headed by yours truly, Late Donald Seneviratne (Bass guitarist X-periments), Late Anton Cowley, Maurice, Farook, Zarook and not forgetting young
Perera sisters Rio and Eva. Together we worked round the clock to satisfy our customers, fitting them with tight lace or flowery shirts, bell-bottoms or Drainpipes. Working was fun with these groups of customers.
The bottom line would like to get back to Colombo and re-establish Laxmi's.
Responses to Thaku's story
Clarantha Perera: This Interesting Post by Thaku Chugani -the Vocalist/ Band leader of X-Periments - was posted nearly Two Years ago on this page. I used to get all my way out gear tailored by him !!!- Trust it'll be of interest to all new members including Kenneth Honter, Kumar Molligoda, Jude Goonewardane & others
Kumar Molligoda: It is exactly as THAKU SAID. As a member of Spitfires I would walk in to Laxmis to collect my shirt, or HAT. [yes we wore hats long before GYPSIES] that had been ordered for me in the same matching colour and style as the rest of the others I still have the black silk handkerchief I bought from Laxmis in 1966.
Recently I went to the so called leader in men’s fashion to get a similar one but for all their bragging they didn't have anything like it.I still have the gold plated guitar shaped tie pin and several cuff links bought from Laxmis . Men’s dress accessories today is just rubbish compared to what we got from Laxmis in the 60s . I am still in business just as in the 60s ,so it would be great to have Thaku back in business in Colombo. We are in touch with Thaku and though he promised to be here in June he has not turned up yet.
WE ARE WAITING FOR YOU!
Jude Goonewardane: As a teenager living in Ja-Ela at the time didn't allow me all the luxuries that you folks from Colombo used to enjoy those days. However, I had the good fortune to have a few shirts tailored by Laxmis (Of course with large stiff collars!) during the late 70s! There were only a handful of tailors who had the facility to do the 'overlock' stich, and Laxmis was one of them. Still remember their black label with Laxmis embroidered on it!
Jeanette Edelmann: I can remember Laxmi's Bambalapitiya very well, have gone there many times, not far from my home in Edward Lane.
Kumar Molligoda: When Thaku's family left ,Laxmis Bamba shop opened as Silk Paradise which later became a shop selling Motor cycle helmets .
Thaku Chugani: Hi guys thanks for the wonderful comments. To be honest miss Sri Lanka. Promise will try to be there hopefully this year and will be a great pleasure meeting all of you.
Jayraj Singham: Hi Thaku, I remember coming to your place with Indra (Jetliners) to practice "heart beat" which u sang at the contest. I live in Switzerland, see Indra often. By the way, the Jetliners with Mignonne are playing in Sri Lanka end of February 2013.
Thaku Chugani: Jayraj, yes I do remember you. Loved the song Heartbeat. Stay in touch and say Hi to Indra, did speak to him once in Switzerland.
Joey Lewis: Remember it well Thaku! Even though I was much younger than you guys...Spent all my pocket money there...
Brilliant shop, it was the place to be seen at, and you were extremely generous with your discounts for young guys like me. Much appreciated with fond memories. Cheers!
Fashion Outlets in the '60s
With the Advent of The Beatles & the Swinging '60s came a new generation of teeny boppers eagerly following the fashion trends of the day. Much to the horror of the older generation it became a fad to wear drain pipe trousers, stiff broad collars, collar less coats and the trade mark pointed shiny (Beatle) Boots. Some of the renowned shops at that time to buy your gear were : Selections (later Attractions- in Fort) - who specialized in the 'Beatle Trousers",- a must wear trade mark trouser... and LAXMIS -' in Bambalapitiya owned by The X- Periments ' original vocalist - the ever affable -THAKU CHUGANI.
Donald Seneviratne (of The Spitfires) too worked in this fashionable shop. They catered to the fancy & whims of anyone who dared to be (then) outrages in dress !. Psychedelic shirts, Lace Shirts, Pajama stripped trousers- you named it - they made it.
This writer had the privilege of winning "The Most Smartly Dressed Guy'' in a Pop concert in Moratuwa in '67 or '68 thanks to the gear tailored by Laxmis '.
As for shoes or 'The Beatle Boots' - as they were then called. There was Art Shoes & Majestic Shoe shop in Bambalapitiya. But most guys in the know then went to 'Wijesekera' - the poor old cobbler at The Wellawatte Market. He turned out the best pair of Pointed Beatle Boots that money can buy made out of Shining German leather.
Oh yeah, there were saloons & barber shops too !. But I ain't writing about them. 'cos WHO THE HELL WANTED TO CUT HIS HAIR then !! - well I didn't !!!
The agony & frustration of the youth in the '70s - due to restrictions placed in the manufacture and import of textiles, clothing & all fashionable accessories by the then government is another Topic that will be discussed soon on this Board.
Cheers, Clarantha Perera (extracted, with permission)
Ladies fashion from those times
by Jeanette Edelmann
Well well, it's time for me to say something about the girls. Sari's were JJ Brothers "Butter Nylon". The hoola-hoop days, miniskirt bell bottoms and hot pants ( not so hot like in the west no permit from moms) Evenings Hipster Sari, Hipster Lungi (Batik Boon) worn with cutwork bell sleeve mini blouse.
(mod hip version of cloth & jacket)That was the start of the "Hipster" fashion, sari worn on the hip and not at the waist like our moms. Hair-style Pony-tail, donkey-fringe or Sandra Dee look (from A Summer Place).We too did look very glam :)
The Police Station
St Alban’s Place comes next, followed by Emildas Lane (now renamed to Ransivi Lane) and Buchanan Street, which is located opposite Daisy Villa Avenue on the landside, between which stands the Bamba Police Station that occupies almost all the land up to the beach front.
The Police quarters are located at the rear of the station.
Ransivi Lane follows next and Haig Road, rather broad in contrast to many of the other streets on either side of Galle Road, comes after, located right opposite to De Vos Avenue on the landside.
St Albans Place
A unique establishment called "Colombo Hatcheries" was owned by Durham & Yvonne Saldin. It was situated at no: 7 St. Alban's Place and was in existence from 1958 - 1973. They had one Incubator to do the custom hatching of eggs brought by customers. As business was booming, they moved to the Studio Lekha premises which housed three Incubators. They also delivered their own poultry food called Mitsui Poultry Foods to homes in Colombo.
No. 7, St Alban’s Place also had a sinister history. It was the residence of Mr & Mrs Mahadevan Sathasivam. M. Sathasivam was renowned for his All-Ceylon cricketing career.
On October 09, 1951, at 3.15pm Mrs Yvonne Foenander, who lived at No. 2, came to No. 7 to use the telephone, and, while observing the two children playing in the garden, came across a dreadful sight in the garage: the dead body of Mrs Sathasivam, who was later found to have been gruesomely murdered. She telephone the Bambalapitiya Police, and Inspector Thiedeman arrived at the scene at 3.25pm, and commenced investigations.
The Sathasivam Murder Case has been recounted by former Supreme Court Judge AC Alles in his Volume-4 of Famous Criminal Cases of Sri Lanka; by Professor Sir Sydney Smith, CBE, in his book, Mostly Murder; and in recent times by Prof. Ravindra Fernando in his book, A Muder in Ceylon: The Sathasivam Case.
It was also at the top of St Albans Place that a small "coffee cup" sized cafe called Supernova thrived and was patronized by many who passed along Galle Road. It is said that their Chinese (Spring) Rolls were the best ever in the whole city.
Emilda Lane (Ransivi Lane)
Emilda Lane, a very narrow and winding lane that had homes bordering the edge of the street where two cars would not be able to pass each other comes next abutted by the Police Station. Buchanan Street followed by Ransivi Lane , and then Haig Road, a rather wide street in contrast to many of the other streets on either side of Galle Road in that area, located right opposite to De Vos Avenue on the landside.
Right down Emilda Lane at No. 36/5, lived A. Matheen Ghouse and family from 1970:
Mr Ghouse was the younger brother of Uzair Ghouse, who held a managerial post at Tuckers Ltd. Mr Matheen Ghouse was area sales manager at Lever Brothers (Ceylon) Ltd, and his first two sons, Shahul Hameed and Mazhar joined that organization on his retirement; he had two more sons, Miqdam and Miswar. Shahul Hameed married Omar Kamil’s sister and moved to Horton Place, while Mazhar presently serves as managing director at Intissel Lanka (Pvt) Ltd in Dehiwala, a subsidiary of Intissel, SA, France, moved over to Elibank Road, Colombo-5. Shahul has one son and three daughters, Mazhar with four sons, and Miswar with two daughters, while Miqdam remains a bachelor.
The Issadeen family moved from Melbourne Avenue to Haig Road, and have been residents there for decades. SS Issadeen, ex Government Agent at Matara moved to Colombo on completion of his assignment in the south.
His sons, Ismeth, Kabeer, Fazal, Imthiaz schooled at St Thomas’ and were noted citizens of Bambalapitiya during the sixties-seventies. Issadeen’s daughter is Yasmin who went to Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya and later married, “Birdie”, the son of Sharker Mohideen of Dawson Road.
Lida Deen wrote
We lived down Haig Road Bambalapitiya till 1972, then we moved to De Fonseka Rd. However, the best years were spent down Haig Rd. We had lovely neighbors whom we all played with till, we "grew up".
Played cricket, hide&seek, enjoyed “concerts”, 😄 visited each other's houses with no restrictions!
Early morning walks by the beach with dad & during fasting, after the early morning meal (Suhoor/Sahar) we used to walk up & down the road, whilst the rest of the world was asleep. Still remember the school holidays, travelling by train to Nawalapitiya, to our maternal grandparents home, with all the cousins; or piled in to dad's Austin Cambridge. Surprising how we all managed to fit in, without worrying about seat belts etc. That was a lovely time, going to the "peella" (water spout) to have a bath; getting together for the many Quranic recitals, especially eating the special food served at the end of it......
Then there was the time when we went to Yala & I almost drowned!! We had just gotten settled in & there was a lake, a little away from the bungalow but visible from it; which my dad went to explore.
Of course I went running after him, whilst the others walked slowly towards it... Well, didn't realize the rock I came & stood on had moss & down I slid into the murky water...
(didn't know to swim then & still not quite sure now!) My aunt who by now had come there, saw me going down tried to pull me up to no avail. Luckily the driver/chauffeur, who was a little away from us saw my aunt trying to pull me out, came running & pulled her up as she was slipping in too & pulled me out as well! Alhamdhulillah for small mercies, or should I say a big one! Needless to say we left early the next morning, as no one was able to sleep that night with the mosquitos & the animal sounds at night! That memory is one that I will always carry around! Dad loved exploring places & took us with him & so whilst coming back from Trincomalee through GalOya, on the way back to Colombo, it started pouring with rain & the car suddenly had a flat tyre. It was getting dark & people said it wasn't a good time, coz the elephants used to come out. Luckily for us, we managed to find a small garage where they fixed it & we drove away!! Oh the memories, it's all there, fun & carefree times.
Note: did you know there were two Izadeen/Issadeen families down Haig Road at one time. One was my dad, MS Izadeen, we were at 52 & the other was uncle SS Issadeen at no 48! & yes, forgot to add, my younger sibling & I went to HFC Bamba as well.
Kotelawala Gardens where the Nilams lived followed next. Firoz Nilam attended Royal College, Colombo, went on to become a national Table Tennis Champion. He now lives in the USA and works as a Chemical Engineer for the pharma industry. A manual dhoby-washing-industry flourished down Kotelawala Gardens where the wet linen could be seen drying under the sun. Next came Upatissa Road.
On the seaside again, came Beltona Lane, Janaki Lane and
Indra Lane, followed by Asoka Gardens, where the Dias Abeygunawardena’s occupied the first house on the left whose gate was slanted at a 45 degree angle to the Galle Road.
MCF Abeyakoon and family lived at #1. Their older daughter is married to Chandrasiri Weerasinghe, cricketer from Nalanda College. The second daughter, Sakuntala Mohini, who attended Visakha Vidyalaya, married Sachithananthan, from Jaffna. The youngest daughter married Erajh Guneratne, Director at Metropolitan Group. They lived there in the 70s.
The Abdeen and Ahamed families lived down this street. Of them Adil Abdeen was most noted for his revelry with Tony Sitlani and his mini ensemble at Bamba. Shums, Noor Thaha, were the Ahamed boys who were no second to Adil in their mischief making and antics in town. Kotelawala Gardens, Uptaissa Road, where the Nilams lived, Firoz Nilam who attended Royal College and went on to becoming a national Table Tennis Champion.
Lal Abeysekera and Sivabalasunderam, who went on to become a doctor, lived down this street. Both belong to the Royal College ’59 Group.
Dr.Indra Karalasingham said...
I guess some of this is only based on information and people you have had contact with. While I have to say it’s a good account of Bambalapitiya, there is a lot more that could be written.
I lived in Bamba all my years in Sri Lanka and our family lived in Davidson Road and then Janaki Lane (I note no mention of it-possibly because it was a very private and less prominent lane).
Davidson Road and its residents (in the lower half), had a very good neighborhood and were notorious for the Parties and gatherings and socializing which was phenomenal and the friendships and neighborly camaraderie was unbelievable in the 70s and early 80s.
Unfortunately I suspect you may have not had any contact or info from anyone about lower Davidson Road. My father Mr.P.Karalasingham was a famous Income Tax Lawyer and lived in Davidson Road, first and Janaki Lane later and was respected as a Pre-eminent lawyer and authority in his field as well as being well known in the Social circles and numerous Clubs such as the Rotary Club and the Beach walkers etc.
I think he would easily be categorized among the famous people of Bamba by people of his Era, for he was well known. (until his passing away in 1998).
Binahameds (photo studio) is another that could be considered in the long standing Businesses of Bamba category.
Dr.Indra Karalasingham, NSW, Australia
One of the pioneer photograph studios established in Colombo in 1954. Thy specialized in all types of photography and were also retailing vinyl audio records in 78 rpm and 45 rpm formats. The business was located at the beginning of Janaki Lane, facing Galle Road.
Ramya Road came next. The Dhahlan family lived here with MHM Dhahlan being a senior citizen of the Muslim community.
and who was a very active social worker involved with the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home, Inc., in The
Fort, in Colombo 00100.
Shrubbery Gardens was next, where the very popular vegetarian restaurant in Colombo, Greenlands Hotel, is located.
A very wide street, it runs straight down to the rail tracks enveloped by big villas on each side. Many high rise apartments have now sprung up on this street.
Retreat Road followed adjacent to which the Holy Family Convent Girls School stood tall with its Church facing the Galle Road in all its splendor and grey. Harris and Damayanthi Wijesinghe lived here. They subsequently moved to Kawdana and then to Peterson Lane at Wellawatte where Harris now runs his lucrative hair dressing salon and beauty culture shop, assisted by his active sister. Damayanthi has since moved to Mount Lavinia with her family.
HOLY FAMILY CONVENT (HFC)
In the year 1903, the parish of Bambalapitiya felt that it needed an English school for girls. Archbishop Melizan invited the Sisters of the Holy Family, who had worked strenuously for many years in different parts of the Island, to start an English School for Girls in the Parish of Bambalapitiya.
The Directress of Provincial Superior, Mother Celeste Marchall responded with great enthusiasm, and at her bidding came Sister Agnes Stouter to start a small school at “ Clock House ”, Lauries Road, Bambalapitiya. The number on the role was 28. Sr. Agnes was joined shortly after by the Superior of the House – Mother St. Paul. Thus was laid the Foundation for this beautiful mission-oriented edifice of Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya 100 years ago, on February 3rd 1903.
After 5 years of its humble beginnings, they were able to purchase a permanent residence “Retreat Bungalow” extended over the years to situate the present building of Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya.
These first years from Feb. 3rd. 1903 to 1st. February 1908 serve as the most important period in the history of HFC Bambalapitiya …. It was the period when the seed was sown- to grow, bloom and bear fruit in the years to come-rooted firmly in the Spirit of God Alone following closely in the footsteps traced out by our Founder the Ven. P. B. Noailles
Message from Astrid Sargent (nee LeMercier) in Canada in 2006:
Hi I am Astrid Le Mercier now living in British Columbia Canada. I went to Holy Family Convent, Bamlapitiya. Rosemary Le Motte was a classmate of mine. My brother Tyrone LeMercier was a Josephian.
It certainly brought back memories reading your blog. I was 18 when I left Ceylon, so did not have a lot of adult experience there. But remember my parents talking about all those places.
Thank you for the memories.
Astrid LeMercier (Cockett) now Sargent
The Huzair family lived at the far end of Nimal Road where a Mosque and a school was run for the benefit of the community living in the locality. Zuhair, an active social worker involved with the MICH in Colombo, and his sister, Shaharaza Huzair, now migrated to the UK, lived there.
Issam Salih and family lived down this street.
Jaya Road, a very narrow and winding street that ran all the way down to the rail tracks, came next.
A Memon family named Eliyas, owned property and were also residents of the massive house facing the Galle Road between these two lanes.
The Le Mottes lived down Nimal Road and migrated to the UK in 1964. Rosemary stayed back in Sri Lanka while Sybil moved to the USA
The popular Chinese restaurant on Galle Road, Chinese Dragon Café, managed and run by the late Roger Solomons, is housed here, facing Galle Road. The place was and is still being run very successfully and attracted a large clientele, especially for evening dining. During the war a rumor was spread that crow and cat meat were served instead of meat and chicken. Papa Chou, the owner vehemently denied these allegations. Rumor has it that Papa Chou had a reputation for having a keen eye for the lasses.
Another well-known General Physician, Dr G R Muttumani, who practiced down Station Road at Wellawatte, hailed from Milagriya Avenue. Patrick and David Muttumani, who both played cricket for St Peter’s, were his sons. Andrew worked for Air Lanka as a Flight Engineer for some period. At the bottom of Milagiriya Ave lived the Thiagalingam family, Sons Parathalingam & Jothi Lingam played for Royal, Jayalingam played for St Thomas.
Chinese Dragon Cafe has since moved to Milagiriya Avenue from its original Galle Road location.
Civil Servant AI Mohideen lived, with his family, at No 8 Melbourne Avenue. His children are Mohammed Jesmy and Sithy Shireen, married to Shahul Hameed Aslam of Pendennis
Avenue (Abdul Caffoor Mawatha), in Colpetty.
The Maldivian Embassy was also located down Melbourne Avenue. Since recently a splashy Thai restaurant has sprung up catering to the rich and famous and also tourists in town.
A massive condominium apartment complex, a new icon commonly seen in Colombo in recent times, is also raising its head right next door to the Mohideen residence.
Ms Selvarajah lived at the far left end of Melbourne Avenue and subsequently established the reputed Tiny Tots Nursery school where many a young lad and lady of Bamba attended.
District Judge Ameen and his family, comprising son Isfahan and two daughters, lived there. One of the daughters Azmiya has since moved to USA with her family. The son Isfahan moved to Skeleton Road, at Colombo 5, with his family.
Isfahan spent several years working as an expatriate Accountant in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia in the mid-70s, before moving back home to Colombo.
The Randeniya family (at no. 30) were residents of Melbourne Avenue, since they are living down Melbourne Avenue for more than 80 years.
The Cooray Mansion
The stretch of land between Melbourne Avenue and Frankfort Place housed the massive mansion that belonged to the Cooray Family now converted to Belvoir International School. Many a story is told about this abode which has been even claimed to be haunted in many a folk tale that has been woven around its magnificent history.
Auggie Ranaweera ran a music recording studio where many famous rock bands practiced and recorded. Then came the Kannangara’s, Jansen’s, and Dr Sandirasegaran, whose two sons, “Thosay” Para and Vythilingam, attended Royal College.
Both boys went on to become doctors. Another younger boy, Kumar, attended Royal Primary School and later went on to complete his secondary education at Isipathana. He later worked in the health sector in the UK. The two daughters attended CMS Ladies College in Colombo 7.
Next, came Mr Sambasivan, who was attached to the Tea Board and later moved on to Akbar Brothers.
At #15 lived Mr Edmund Ranasinghe who was employed in the public sector.
The Canagasabeys live down #17 Frankfort Place of whom Nihal attended Royal College and then worked with the Hemas Group of Companies in the Fort. Nihal has also been a very active member and office bearer of the Royal College ‘59
Alumni Group, in spirited camaraderie and celebration during the cricket and rugby seasons each year, since they left College in 1966/67. His older brother Shanthi was a planter and passed away early in life.
#19 was occupied by the Gnanasekarams. George and Skandan were Royalists. George is a senior Paediatric Urologist in Nevada, USA. Skandan worked for Hatton National Bank in Colombo, moved to the Midddle East, and is now resident in Canada.
The Namasivayam’s lived at #21. Three daughters attended Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya.
The Le-af family lived in a massive house down the street and they have transformed it into a massive condominium apartment complex.
I lived down Frankfort Place from 1964 - 1972 until my parents left for Zambia.
You have rightly mentioned the Canagasabeys and the Le-affs (of Mode Jewellers fame) but I think you missed out a few other important families who stayed down Frankfort Place- the Cherubims (lawyer whose boys went to St Peters), the Ismails (lawyer and doctor whose boys were Thomians), the Gomezs who had two girls, the Vallipuram sisters and were others whose names fail me.
Our neighbors at 21 Frankfort Place were the Pereras - son Michael was my pal, is an Accountant settled in Perth, Australia.
My dad was a Surveyor who worked 14 years in Zambia before passing away.
Mum was a teacher and now lives at Kalubowila whilst my brother is settled in Botswana with his family.
I am reading this blog in far off Abidjan, Ivory Coast and guess I must be the second Bamba boy who has set foot in Abidjan. The other being Gamini de Alwis who used to live down Haig Road, and, who worked in Abidjan for a few years earlier. Guess there must be one or two more Bamba boys in Abidjan working for the UN and the likes.
On the morn of July 16, 1989, the ex-Surveyor cum PLOTE chief Uma Maheshwaran, who was resident at Siripa Lane off Thimbirigasyaya Road in Colombo-5, while walking down Frankfort Place, was shot dead by an alleged renegade member of his group, though many still suspect Indian Intelligence RAW involvement.
Three days prior to this murder,TULF chief and the Leader of the Opposition A. Amirthalingam, MP, and Yogeswaran, MP, were suddenly shot dead by three LTTE representatives while at a discussion with them on the first floor of Yogeswaran’s residence in Buller’s Road, Colombo. M. Sivasithamparam, MP, escaped with a shoulder injury. The three assassins were shot dead by the security guards.
The Bamba Flats
And then there was the Bamba Flats, a vast acreage of land containing several three storey apartment blocks spanning from the Galle Road all the way down to the beach. The Bamba Flats land was the Seminarywatte (Seminary Garden), in which novice priests were trained to the order of SJ. The Seminarywatte was also a favorite cricket ground of the Bamba lads - mainly Peterites, who started nurturing their cricketing talents here - names H. I. K. Fernando, Pat Kelly, Dion Walles, Jayantha Fernano, Bin Mohammed, The de Silva Brothers, Conrad Ephraums, Tony Fernando. MSM Ghouse,
are some of the names that come to mind of great cricketers of that era who distinguished themselves at Cricket at various levels.
The Abhayasinghes, of whom the father was the Editor of a Sinhala Daily published by the Lake House Group, and his son Kumar, who attended Royal and daughter Kumudini, who attended Visakha Vidyalaya, lived in the first block on the left viewed from the Galle Road.
The Amarasinghams comprising “papa” who was Director at Lever Brother Ceylon Ltd and sons Anton, Mano who went on to become a lawyer before migrating to Australia, and Gnanakumar, and daughters Evelyn & Edna, both migrating to and settling in the UK after the 83 havoc.
The Miskin family headed by Papa Miskin of the “Latiff Miskin Combo” fame and sons Farook who played drums and Ahmed a great crooner who died early in life. A row of shops sprouted up on the ground floor of the building parallel to and facing the Galle Road.
They comprised, from left to right, The Milk Board, Koffee House, a coffee shop where the Latiff Miskin Combo played nights, Woolworth, a department store, Anoma’s Hair Dressing Saloon, Femina, another department store, and a Cooperative Store managed and run by the people of the area.
There were the de Kretsers, on the third block on the left viewed from the Galle Road, of whom Nigel attended Royal and Rozanne & Rochelle attended St. Pauls Milagiriya. All of them have migrated to Australia. In the same block lived the sought after piano teacher, Ms Mignonne Kelaart, who used to shuttle between Rajasinghe Road at Wellawatte and the Bamba flats. She too migrated to Australia where she died of old age. Many a young lady and lad living in the localities were her students who excelled in music in their later years.
Further down towards the beach lived Loranjan Dias Abeygunawardena, who attended Royal, and his sister, Shiromani, who attended Visakha Vidyalaya. They both migrated to LA in the USA. Shiromani married Rifky Mackeen, also an ex Royalist, who excelled in the banking profession at Citibank in Colombo and later on in the USA.
Lakshman Kiriella, who also attended Royal and then went on to politics to become the Minister of Plantation Industries in the UNP Government, was boarded at the flat of Ms Jayatilleke. Trevor Jayatilleke is her son.
Raja Rajapakse, uncle of Prasanna Mendis of Melbourne, Australia, ran the tyre department of Rowlands, and his wife, aunty Violet, was a well-liked matron at the General Hospital, in Colombo, were prominent dwellers at the flats.
Their boys -Lalith a medical representative, passed away early in life; Sriyantha Rajapakse played cricket for St. Thomas' College, Mt Lavinia and also for the Sri Lanka national team and was employed at The Maharajah Organization in Colombo. The other son is Ranil.
Shireen Deen, who married Furqan Mansoor, of Royal also lived in the E block at the flats. Her sister, Dilhara has since migrated to New Zealand with her family.
Khazeena Cassim and her Mum also lived at the Flats.
Thahir Fuard, who married Mueeza Sheriff of Davidson Road, also lived with his parents and siblings in "M" Block.
Ms Coomaraswamy, nee Sinnathurai, ex teacher at St. Pauls Milagiriya and Muslim Ladies College, also lived at the flats. In her later years, after retirement, she spent most of her giving private tuition, sometimes to children of her own past pupils.
The Solomon’s family of whom Pamela, Joan, & Kathy were very popular amongst the young lads of the area also lived at the flats. Their brother is David Solomons who married Zahara Uduman, who also lived in the Flats.
The very popular figure, Ms Misso, whose sons attended St. Peters College also lived in the same block as the Solomons’ family, right behind the front block facing and parallel to the Galle Road.
Aunty Misso's hubby was Donny. They have a son and a daughter both migrated to Australia now. The daughter married Ralph D'Silva, a Thomian (cousin of Lorensz and Roger D'Silva, Thomian cricketers) and presently a leading car dealer in Melbourne.
The fun part of living within the flats or nearby was the daily morning meeting at the bus stop, waiting for the various school buses to take the young lads and lassies to their destinies. Life was a bustle at the flats where everything that could ever happen, happened, and life still moved on harmlessly.
The intrigues, relationships, events and other interesting going-on’s are voluminous in number and would make delicious reading if they could only be collected and compiled into a dossier. And then there was the Bamba Flats Welfare Society, housed in the far block by the seaside, which catered to the entertainment, amusement and general welfare of all its residents on special occasions, festivals, and holidays.
Another glamorous inhabitant of the Bambalapitiys flats was Gillian Thorne. She attended Vivil Ludowyk's Academy down 8th Lane, with the other students lounging around at the head of the lane, cigarettes dangling from their lips trying to make her acquaintance. Carl Fernando, last heard of in Switzerland, is another name that pops up at the Bamba Flats.
Penny White, who married Ravi Jayawardena, son of President JR Jayawardena, and her sister Melanie White, also lived at the flats. Elmo, Herman & Frank Gunasekera and their sister Helen who married the famous Rugby player Gamini Fernando also were flatters of great fame.
Mr Samad, Rugby coach of Zahira who won the Schools Rugby Championship under his guidance was another resident known and loved by all who lived at the flats.
Jan Vanden Driesen (the famous swimmer and Accountant) and his family also lived at the flats. His dad was in the Police. The Patternots were also another famous family in the Flats.
Roy Clogstoun and his family also lived at Block M. Roy migrated to Australia in 1969 and has taken up residence in Melbourne. He joined the Australian Government Service. He has, recently, in June 2007, taken up an assignment as First Secretary at the Australian Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He is married to Joan and has two lovely daughters, Isobella & Sophie.
Other names that come to mind are Najo Lye, Bachchi Samahon Oumar, the late Hiran Rajap, Anslem Pereirra, Joe de Silva, Kamy Lye, Peter de Silva, Sherry Lye, Tameem Al Ayad, the late Sandy Hamid, and Ramani, all from Block P2.
There are many other names of people worth mentioning. Starting with Maurice Wanigaratne who lived in the same E Block, ground floor. Maurice was a prolific opening batsman for St. Joseph's College and later played for the SSC. He became a diplomat and passed away a couple of years back. Maurice's nephew Nihal Kodituwakka also stayed with him. Diminutive Nihal 'Kodda' played for Royal in the 60s and also won his national cap in Cricket playing against a strong
West Indies XI. Then there was the Ranchigoda family from I Block - Winston (now in LA), Nihal (Australia), Lucky (still at Bamba Flats), Maurice (Toronto) and a whole bunch of others. I believe Nimal Ranchigoda played Cricket for St. Joseph's and NCC.
It was Dr. Lester James Peiris & William Blake who Revolutionized the film industry in Sri Lanka by taking it outside the studio into natural settings and thus made Sri Lankan film known worldwide.
Willy, Wife Yvonne and Daughters Valerie, Melanie & Sandra lived in the Bambalapitiya flats.
according to last rep[orts. He was a great buddy of Tony Sitlani and they were quite a formidable bunch.
MANULAL - BANDARA SALUWADANA (Manu) Son of late RB Saluwadana, beloved son of Shanti and brother of Chandu, Chandika and Dhanushka (Luxembourg), passed away on the 9th August 2009 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Funeral took place on the 12th August 2009 in Rotterdam.
Ubey Wickrematunga lived in block A and was the son of Mr Kavidasa Wickrematunga. His brother Abey lives in Aussie
Abeygunawardene - on the
2nd. May 2009 - after a long battle with cancer.
CHINNAKONE - Mr. CHELLIAH DAVID CHINNAKONE. Beloved husband of Gnanasoundari Chinnakone, loving father of David Jeyaseelan Chinnakone & Sarah Jeyarathy Mohan, grandfather of Dhivya Mohan, Harin Mohan & Jonah Chinnakone, father-in-law of Kandiah Mohan & Raji Chinnakone, brother of late Mrs. Jesupathy Kandiah, late Mrs. Radha Venayagam & Thirupathy Kanapathipillai, brother-in-law of Mr. Sangarapillai Balasubramaniam, late Mr. Sangarapillai Kandiah & Sangarapillai Yogarajah was called to be with Jesus on Saturday 12 December 2009. Funeral arrangements will be notified later.
CASSIM MOHAMED NIYAZ SHUMS Beloved husband of Sithy Ferial, father of Fazna, Faziya, Rizna, father-in-law of Ziyan and Rishard, all of Canada, son of the late Senator Mohamed Shums Cassim and Sithy Shums Cassim, brother of Nizar Fawzia, Khazeena all of Canada and Ismeth. Janaza took place on 23rd Dec. in Toronto, Canada. 601-821, Kennedy Rd, Toronto, Ontario MIK-2E5.
NAGESWARI NADARAJAH (MALAR) Born: 24 April 1923 - Died : 30 March 2010 of 20/24, Edensor St, Epping, NSW 2121, Australia formerly of J/6, Govt Flats, Bambalapitiya passed away peacefully aged 86 years. Was born in Taiping , Malaysia to late Arumugasami & late Rasamani. Dearly loved and loving wife of late W W Nadarajah(Ananthan), devoted and loved mother of Wijekumar(Ravi) and Rajkumar(Rajan) of Sydney, Shevanthi(UK), Rajanthi and Neelanthi(Baba) of Sydney and Dushyanthi(Dushy) of Brisbane and caring mother-in-law of Thuvaraha and Vasuki(Elili) of Sydney, K.Shanmuganathan(UK), V.Ravindra and M.Panchalingam of Sydney and K.Vaheesan (Brisbane).
FERNANDO – Margie (nee Cramer), wife of late D.W.Shelton Fernando, mother of late Stanley and of Marlene, Carl and Wendy, on April 1, 2010.
SAMAD - HAJIANI SITHIE AMEERA Wife of late Al Haj A.H.A. Samad, daughter of late P.R.M.S. Abdul Cader and Dane Ayou, mother of Ashra (Australia), Sithie Faira (Rosie), Bari (Canada), Dr Shanaz (Shan) (Sri Lanka), Liaquat (Lee) Samad (Canada) and Dr Imtiaz Renza (New York), mother-in-law of Deva, late Al Haj Z.A.M. Bari and of Behan, Edith and Aziza Hiyam, grandmother of Ashan, Tasha, Dr Basel, Shahryaz, Minousha, Dinesha, Chamithra, Reza, Tameez, Arin and Hana, great-grandmother of Kieran, Tahren, Keisha, Haneke, Aneesah, Amaan, Sulaiman, Anah, Alaia and Romrick, sister of late Sithi Baseera and Shafi Hassan. Janaza was conducted at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto on Sunday July 25, after Zhuhr Prayers Insha-Allah. 0011-9054753037 (Canada)
Wilma Dorothy Wickremaratne, wife of Claude, lived in the flats, Block H No. 5 2nd floor, mother of Shirani, (USA), Ewin (UK), Vinitha (Dec), Malintha (USA), Hugho (Saucy-AUST), & Angelo (SL) migrated to the US in 1980's
Grandmother of 10 and great grandmother of 6 Sister of Adeline Chandrasena of Block K No. 2, 2nd Floor
Thahir Fuad moves on - 21 Feb 2014, Beloved husband of Noor Muhiza, Son of Marhoom A M
Fuad and Sithy Hafeela Fuad, Father of Fathima Zameena and Fathima Rifka, Son
in law of Marhoom Sheriff Hadjar and Mazaya Sheriff, Brother of Hamziya,
Huzaira and Iqbal, Father in law of Shahnawaz Othman and Marhoom Faizer,
Grandfather of Zainab,
It is with a great deal of
sadness that we inform you that Dawn Martyn, wife of
Malcolm Pereira and sister of Georgie and Therese, has passed away. Oct 6
2016: Farook Miskin (drummer, Papa Miskin Combo), in Australia
2017: Hope Weerakoon. (Block H 8 Second Floor) A Memorial mass will be said on Saturday 18th/2 at 4pm at St.Kevin's in Hampton Park 120 Hallam Rd. Hampton Park.
2017: Fenton Loyola: Passed away on 31st January.
Feb 7 2017: Mrs. Merle Solomons wife of Willie Solomons and mother of Jean and Robin, (H4 Ground Floor) passed away
Apr 5 2017: Ravi Vimal Jayewardene, (husband of Penny (White),the son of former President J.R. Jayewardene
July 17 2017: de NIESE. Estelle Mignon. 14.11.1926 - 12.7.2017 Much loved daughter of Esme and Cedric Joseph (dec. ) loving mother of Peter, Stephen, Alan, Christopher, Richard, Valerie, Marion, George, Damian, Paula, Camille,
Jan 29 2020: Russell Muller passed away on Tuesday evening. Russell would be one of the longest residents at the Bambalapitiya Flats.
Apr 18 2020: Florence Cramer passes away
2017: Hope Weerakoon. ( Block H 8 Second Floor) A Memorial mass will be said on Saturday 18th/2 at 4pm at St.Kevin's in Hampton Park 120 Hallam Rd. Hampton Park.
2017: Fenton Loyola: Passed away on 31st January.
Feb 7 2017: Mrs. Merle Solomons wife of Willie Solomons and mother of Jean and Robin, (H4 Ground Floor) passed away
Apr 5 2017: Ravi Vimal Jayewardene, (husband of Penny (White),the son of former President J.R. Jayewardene passed away a short while ago. He was eighty-years-old at the time of passing. After serving as a Pilot in Air Ceylon, Ravi Jayewardene served as the Presidential Security Adviser and pioneered the elite Special Task Force during his father’s regime
July 17 2017: Mrs Estelle de Niese, loving mother of Peter, Stephen, Alan, Christopher, Richard, Valerie, Marion, George, Damian, Paula, Camille, has passed away.
Although not Flatters, they supported and attended many functions we had, and have many Flatters who they call friends.
de NIESE. Estelle Mignon. 14.11.1926 - 12.7.2017 Much loved daughter of Esme and Cedric Joseph (dec. ). Loving sister of Vilma and Monica and the late Averil, Alastair, Eudora, Marlene, Dennis and Merrill. Darling bride of Douglas (dec. ), adored and most loving mother of Peter, Stephen, Alan, Christopher, Richard, Valerie, Marion, George, Damian, Paula, Camille and spouses, loving grandmother of 30 and Great Gran of 19. Renowned singer and much loved performing arts teacher at several girls' schools in Colombo. Choir member of St Francis Church Melbourne. Choir Mistress at St Paul's Coburg for over 20 years, you will always be remembered for your rendition of Schubert's Ave Maria. Enjoy the reward you so richly deserve Mum. Always inspiring and strong, you will remain in our hearts forever. 'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. '
Jan 29 2020: Russell Muller passed away on Tuesday evening. Russell would be one of the longest residents at the Bambalapitiya Flats.
Apr 18 2020: Florence Cramer passes away
May 3, 2020: Jennifer Amarasekera passes away. The following Sad News was sent to me by Sherin Colombowala. Tilani Gray, (Johann De Silva's sister) who lived in M Block and now lives in London and are good friends of the Amarasekera family notified Sherin of the following. “I wanted to inform you that Jennifer passed away at 6.25 pm today(02/05) in hospital, her suffering is over and she is now at peace.
Jennifer will be cremated. Anita and Christopher will fly to CMB to intern them. Due to the "Lockdown" he is unable to get to London.”
July 18, 2020: Former Richmond College Cricket captain Jagath Perera passed away. He was an outstanding Cricketer, who learned the rudiments of Cricket, at Isipathana College. It was at Richmond College that he blossomed out to be a fine Cricketer. He topped the magical mark of thousand runs that year and was also selected as the most popular Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, held by the Sunday Observer. He was a fine all-rounder. He bowled medium pace, and was a brilliant fielder in any position, particularly, at cover point and at slips . He always joined us, to play Cricket, Soccer, and Rugby at Bamba flats.
He leaves, behind his wife, and bros, Mohan, Chula, Anil, Amal and Nalin . They lived in ''A", block . May he attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana.
July 31, 2020: Sakuntala Williams passes away. Saku passed away peacefully this morning following a heart attack The funeral will be held tomorrow at the AF Raymond funeral parlour Kanatte It will be a private funeral.
Nov 21, 2020: Edward Bernard Frugtniet – passed away peacefully. He was 94 years of age and a Good Man.
Jan 19, 2021: Ronnie De Silva - ex Chartered Bank, Colombo, beloved husband of Pam (née Bartholomeusz of Block G4 Ground Floor, Bambalapitiya Flats), brother-in-law of Russell and Merrill, passed away on the 19th of January. The burial was held at Kanatte Cemetery on the 22nd of January. Pam can be contacted at the following address: Mrs Pam de Silva 25/1G, Wedekande Road Ratmalana Sri Lanka Tel: +2 730 586
Dianne Suzette Anne Joseph, Beloved daughter of Jackie (Dec.) and Vilma Joseph (Dec.) Sister and Sister in law to Jacqueline, Taro, Jeremy, Emma and Linda.
Jan 21, 2021: Furkhan Munsoor, of E 4, 1st floor, a long standing
flatter, passed away, funeral was held yesterday the 25th Jan 21.
Jan 21, 2021: Furkhan Munsoor, of E 4, 1st floor, a long standing flatter, passed away, funeral was held yesterday the 25th Jan 21.
Bamba Flatters, block by block, identified by Kamy Lye in Austria
Starting off with the Blocks in alphabetical order.
A: --“Abey”- from the Abeywickrame family who was famous for his Mode & Fashion Designing from the famous Duo “Chandu and Abey”.
B: --“Johan Cook” - & Family who had the one & only Floral shop in Bamba- next to the Starline Pharmacy.
--“Hamish Patternot”- an amazing rugby player who went places with the Havelocks.
C: -- “Ravi Emmanuel”- another great rugby player, who played for St. Peters College and then for CH&FC.
D: --“Desmond de Silva” - The famous King of baila who needs no introduction.
--“The Outschoorns” -a family of musicians who grabbed the scene in the 60s & 70s.
--“Rodney Rabo”- another Talented Guitarist and musician still in action & touring the night spots in Colombo.
--“Sonia Tucker” -Runners-up Miss Sri Lanka 1981
E: --“Christine Tambimuttu”- who needs no introduction in the Music & Show business. Was excellent in Language Training.
--“Joe Tambimuttu” – an amazing Musician , The youngest Musician to Tour Mid-East with Ice & Fire. Performed with various bands. Was involved with many major projects such as “Jesus Christ Superstar” with Amazing Grace. Toured Europe with “Fame The Band”. Perfect Pitch was his gift!
--“Shireen Deen” – married to Furqan Mansoor.
F: --“Ranjith Ameresekara” a Rugger player who kept the Peterite Flag flying. An amazing all-rounder.
--“Iqbal Uduman”- Played Rugger for Wesley Collage. Had a very successful career at Havelocks Sports Club.
G: --“The Speldewinde Brothers Timothy & Kevin”- who really don’t need any introduction.
--“Mr.Balasuriya”-Secretary to the late President Premedasa.
H: --“Michael (Lal) De Silva”-, a
member of the best “ Soft Rock” Band “STILL” Sri Lanka has ever produced. And a
Member of the Famous “Purple Rain“ touring Europe since 1980.
--“Sandy Hamid”- a Sportsman who needs no introduction. Played for Isipathana College and then for “Havelocks Sports Club” and CH & FC. Represented the Sri Lanka Rugby XV as well.
--“Chummy Pereira”- ex President of the Flatters Welfare Association. The first in Sri Lanka to organize a Road Dance. The first to invite the former President of Sri Lanka Mr JR Jayawardene for the Flatters Christmas Party at the Bamba Flats Sports Grounds.
--“Angelo Wickramaratne”- his popularity says a thousand words. A Peterite who just created an amazing name in the Cricket scene as well as in the Rugby. Played for St. Peters' College and Havelocks and represented the Sri Lankan Rugby Squad.
--“Toni Amith”- Sri Lanka's best Full Back ever. Represented CH&FC & the Sri Lankan XV. Now a great Refree with a great reputation.
--“Evans Cooray”- Press Secretary to the late President Premedasa.
I: --“Chandu” - from the Saluwadane family who was famous for his Mode & Fashion Designing from the famous Duo “ Chandu and Abey”.
K: --“Michael Muller”- another great Rugby player. Known as the Gentleman of Rugby. Great reputation as a sportsman. First with Royal Collage and then with CR&FC.
--“Noel Muller”- created a big name in the sports scene playing Rugger for Royal Collage and then for the CR&FC.
--“Asith (Kito) Chandrasene”- , a guy who really went places in his method of drumming and entertainment ,performed with “Blue Sapphires”
--“Noel Guneratne”- another amazing rugby player. Played for St.Peters. Was known as one of Sri Lanka`s best when it came to Skin & Deep water Sea Diving.
--“Ronnie Guneratne”- another rugby player. Played for St. Peters’ College & CH&FC. A great diver like his brother,
--“Ravi Wijeyadevendran“ and family (daughter Rohini now in USA)
L: --“Russel Kern”- Cricket was his major sport. Played for Wesley College & county cricket in Holland. An excellent all-rounder.
--“Dwight van Langenberg”- A Musician who really brought up the scene at the Flats. Played for the Very First School Boyz Band that Sri Lanka produced “The Junior Rhythmiers”
--“Duncan Clyde”- an amazing Drummer. Still to be spoken about.
M: --“Faiz Ismail”-, (Mr. Speedy) an Isipathanian with colors. Played for Isipathana College and Represented the Colombo Schools. Proudly held many school as well as all island records in athletics.
--“Ray Perera”-, A name still spoken in the Cricket Scene. A gentleman and example to follow.
--“Raj Usoof”-, Zahira College and CR&FC – a Rugger player with special colors. Continued Rugby at the CR & FC Club.
--“Shriyantha Rajakaruna”- Isipathana College and Cap. Sri Lankan Schools Rugby XV.
--“Papa Miskin”- The Famous papa Miskin Combo. Papa, was most renowned when it came to horns.
N: --“Shanaz Cassim”- A Member of the First Sri Lankan All Girl Band, played Keyboards for “The Planets”
P: --“The LYE Brothers- Sherry & Kamy”- who represented Isipathana College Rugby XV. Ended up doing Music for their band “SKAR”, which was the first Sri Lankan band to be taken on Tour to Switzerland in 1980 through the Swiss Music Agency “Bugra Productions”. The first Band to Produce an Album in English, “Still in Love with you” which was released in Europe in 1986.
--“Najo LYE”-Represented Isipathana MV in the U15-U17 Rugger teams and then played rugby at DS Senanayake College representing the senior team. A passion for music. Plays with Arpeggio Trio & 3 Dimension in Switzerland.
The Bamba flats produced some of the most outstanding men as well as women in the sports arena. History was made when the Bamba Flatters Rugby Team (BSC) beat the veteran team the “Pink Elephants” which was made of all National Rugby Players. Some other fantastic rugger player beside those already listed here are Anwer Jaya, The Cassim brothers, namely Dilshan & Renza, Malla Selliah, Ralston Kern, Ruwan Rajapakse, Rohan Frugtneit, Rohitha Gamage, Hiran Salgadoe, Nimal Silva.
--“Bharatha Mendis”- (Mr-Speedy) Represented Isipathana College and Trinity College and then Havleocks Sports Club.
--“Priyantha Devapriya Benedict”- A rugby player with a special image. Represented St. Peters’ College and Havelocks Sports Club.
--“Rezano Rajap”- A Stylish and Stunning Ruggerite. Played for Isipathana College, Colombo Schools & Sri Lankan Schools XV. Created a big scene after scoring the winning try against The British Schools.
--“Wadham Dole”- one of the very first Jazz Percussionists Sri Lanka has produced.
--“Chris Greet”- the guy who needs no introduction. The best in animation when it came to compering.
Lekha Studio, facing Galle Road was a sprawling and massive old cottage style structure that offered high quality photography and development for the public. Equipped with modern technology it was manned by a very professional photography expert who also lived, with his family, at the back of the studio.
The well moved lawn and foliage in the front yard was the envy of all who passed by.
The house was originally owned by MLM Ismail and named “Ismail Villa”. Ismail is an ancestor of Sireeha and Azhara Ramiz, who both lived down Sagara Road.
Clifford Place followed where the Zacky & Kuthdoos family lived. Rizvi and Ifthikhar Kuthdoos were the sons, who were part of the great cricket team down the street, while Fakhriya, Azhara, Mumtaz & Farahana Kuthdoos were the girls. Rizvi migrated to Vancouver BC in Canada with his family where he passed away in 2000. Ifthikar too passed away some years back.
Next door lived Inayat Akbarally, Director of Akbar Brothers, his wife Fareeda and children.
At the top of the street was the de Pinto family of which Claude used to be one of the lads who played cricket with the rest of the gang. Claude was a Peterite. Tony, who lived opposite Claudes place was also a Peterite and later went on to become a missionary preaching Christianity.
The Jesuit Missionary office is located down Clifford Place and extends backwards to Sagara Road.
Mohammed Abidally said in 2007...
Hi fazli and everyone else. This has indeed been one of the most nostalgic reads I have ever had. Wonderful recollections of the old times, and, many congratulations on an excellent job well done. Many may remember me as "Taju" from Clifford Place, where the Akbarally family lived and my uncle Inayet lives there till today.
My father Abid and Uncle Abbas live now on Layards Rd. My grandfather Mr Akbarally and grandmother Shireen passed away some years back.
Small world, indeed. Thanks for the kind words and comments about the blog. I met with your uncles Abbas and Inayat last August in Colombo during our summer vacation and also visited them at their homes. Hatim, was a student of my wife in his pre-school years almost 35 years back. I have been in contact with all of them and Abbas, together with some of his contemporaries, Allister Barthoilomeusz from OZ, Mohammed Iqbal from NZ etc. has discussed the possibility of publishing the Bamba story as a book. I am working towards that goal, hopefully soon. The responses from the public for the story have been awesome. I, myself, brood over the thought
whenever I read the text over and over again. Those were the days...!
The late Stevie Overlunde:
Fantastic!! brings back a lot of memories. A bit of nostalgia too.
The Lalvani Brothers famous for their import and distribution of “GOYA” beauty products, owned the last property down that road which stretched onto Sagara Road.
It had a massive garden and house that accommodated Thaku Lalvani, wife and daughter, Dina, and his siblings. When the family was expanded and the children were growing up Thaku purchased a house at Thimbirigasaya in Colombo 5 and moved over.
The Lalvani Family was a large one, comprising four boys & seven girls). Of the boys, Thaku Lalvani passed away in 1979, Vishin Lalvani passed away in 1982. Mohan Lalvani who married Mohini Sitlani still lives in Colombo with his family. Of the girls, Ganga, who married Susil Moonesinghe, lives in Colombo as well. Of the remaining six sisters, three, Devi, Sundri, & Sheila have passed away. The others, Kala, Chandri & Mohini, one lives in India and the other two live in the U.S.
Ram Lalvani, husband of Sheila, passed away in Colombo on Mar 8 2006. His remains were cremated on Friday Mar 10 2006 at the General Cemetery Kanatte in Colombo 8. He leaves behind his children, Vinod (TVS Lanka (Pvt) Ltd.), Dhinesh (USA) and Vinitha (Australia), daughter in law, Veena (St. Thomas' Preparatory School) son in law Rufus (Australia), and his grandchildren Heeran and Nithin.
Tony Sitlani, Mohan Lalvani's Brother-in-law, of the Sitlanis
Laundry fame, passed away in 2003. Tony's Mum, Brenda, also passed away in 2006. Dina Lalvani and her husband Narendra Jhangiani have since migrated to Toronto in Canada.
The Hebtulabhoy family lived down Clifford Place, sons Abbas, Abid and Inayet. Abbas was the Chairman of MA Akbar & Co Ltd. (Akbar Brothers), one of the largest tea exporters in Sri Lanka today. He passed away in 2019. Inayat is the Managing Director.
Abbas was a great sportsman. He swam the two miles swim from Bamba to Mount Lavinia on several occasions, He encourages all types of sport. Abbas Akbarally, during his semi-retirement was still interested in sport and maintained close contact with his friends throughout the world.
The Fernando’s lived at No 32 of whom Tilak and Angelo are the sons. Angelo is currently living and working in Arizona in the USA while Tilak presently lives in Negombo in Sri Lanka.
Daughter Marinez has also migrated to the USA and lives in Arizona. Mr Joe Fernando passed away on Oct 16, 2005. He was a an old Peterite and served as a government school teacher, who taught at St. Aloysius College, Galle and Thurstan College, Colombo. He also served as the Vice Principal of St. Aloysius. Pictures of the Fernando family may be viewed at this link:
Jan Vanden Driesen (the famous swimmer and Accountant) and his family also lived at the flats. His dad was in the Police. Guy Thiedeman, who actually was the only Swimming coach at St. Joseph's College and coached all the swimmers such as Tony Williams, Randy Gray, to name a few, and who also
coached Mark Spitz, who later won an Olympic Medal, lived here too.
Manivannan is another name that comes to mind, yet whose whereabouts are unknown.
He was the only person in the whole of Sri Lanka to have gone to the UK and trained and studied to become the only Athletic and Swimming coach from Sri Lanka. He was also a founder member of the Kinross Swimming & Aquatic Club, Most of his children now live in the U.K. and one in the USA He and his family of 10 lived at Clifford place near the Kuthdoos home. He passed away in 1973.
The Gomez family, comprising Christie, Blaine & Minzie Gomez were the three sons of Mr Gomez who owned and managed MP Gomez & Company in Colombo.
The Gomez's had entrances on both Sagara Road and Clifford Place although the Sagara Road entrance became the main gateway to the Nirmala Jesuit Chapel when it was established by them within their premises.
Sagara Road followed, where the famous Maliban Mudalali, AG Hinniappuhamy, had their home.
The Weeratunge’s also lived down Sagara Road. Asoka Weeratunge’s wife worked for UNICEF in Colombo.
Following further down lived the Noor Mohideens, whose sons were Noor Hameem, Ramiz, Rizwi, & Reza, and the daughters, Kurrath Nissa (married to Azeez) and Aynul Rifaya (married to Ahmed).
The Farouks, whose wife, Sireeya was the sister of Noor Mohideens wife, Azhara, who belonged to the family of
Ahmed Lebbe Marikar, referred to as the “Shothian” family amongst the Ceylon Moors, lived next door. Their sons are Fazal, Shiraz, Feiroze, Rumu, Ifthikhar, & Thabriz, and the daughter, Fazneena. Feiroze passed away in Riyadh in 2020.
M Farouk was the son of Avoo Lebbe Marikkar Mahmoud & Zumrath Umma and served with M/S E B Creasy & Company Limited in the Colombo Fort for many long years before retirement. He passed away in 2003. His sons are all employed and living with their families as expatriate workers in the Middle East, mainly in Saudi Arabia, except for the youngest, Thabriz who is located in Bahrain. Two brothers of Azhara and Sireeya, Hussain Ramiz and Zuhair Ramiz also lived at the same location, since their family owned several houses down Sagara Road. They were the children of Ummu Zofi Shamsi Lebbe Marikar and Mohamed Ismail Ramiz who belonged to the “Jemmi” family amongst the Ceylon Moors.
Another famous and popular young man of the street was Nimal Jayatilleke, whose mother was a Burgher, who also was a keen member of the cricket team. Nimal took up employment on a ship and was away from the island for a considerable period of time sailing the seven seas. He has since migrated to Australia and lives in Melbourne now.
Mr George M Barrow was notable resident of Sagara Road. A significant feature of his large house was that it had a bell connected to the gate which the boys down the street loved to ring and run away much to his annoyance and yelling.
All the young lads down the street were part of the cricket team which usually played on the lawn of the last house on the right that belonged to the Lalvani family after they moved out.
The Casiechitty's lived at No 39 and owned the last four houses on Sagara Road as well as on Castle Lane, south of it. All the cricketing gear used by the boys down the street was stored at No 39, their residence.
Oswin and Romello Anandappa lived on the last house on the left by the rail tracks at No 43. Their family lived there since 1940.
The Lalvani's lived at the last house between Sagara Road and Clifford Place, facing the sea. They were a large family of four boys and seven girls. Of the boys, Thaku Lalvani passed away in 1979, Vishin Lalvani passed away in 1982, Ram in 2006. The other is Mohan. Ganga Lalvani married Susil Moonesinghe and lived in Colombo. Of the remaining six sisters, three passed away, one moved to India and the other two migrated to the USA.
298 Galle Road
At the top of Sagara Road, facing Galle Road, smack bang in front of Lorenz Road, stood the famous Number 298, occupied by Mohamed Sameer, formerly of the CMC and also ex Managing Trustee of the Maradana Mosque. He was the son of Haji Ismail Effendi, a respected religious teacher and senior citizen within the Muslim community in Colombo.
Sameer’s mother hailed from the famous Cappodear family of Colombo, who trace their genealogy back to a place called Konya in Central Turkey in Europe. His maternal ancestors are reported to have arrived in Ceylon as physicians to the Sinhalese King way back in 1100. Mohamed Sameer and his wife Raliya Noordeen, lived at 298, Galle Road with some of
their ten children who were yet to be married. Raliya was the oldest daughter of AC Noordeen and OLMALM Ummu Habeeba.
Sameer was employed as a Chief Clerk at the CMC under Mr Orr, a British gentleman, where he served the institution with diligence, respect and honor until his retirement. He was also a very active social worker involved with the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home in the Fort.
His research into the origins and heritage of the Ceylon Moors has been deeply appreciated by the community and his many writings on these cultural issues and topics are widely read and valued. He also contributed magnanimously to the first book on Sri Lanka Muslim Genealogy published by the MICH in 1968.
He passed away peacefully at 298 in 1972. His beloved wife, Raliya, passed away a few years earlier and since her demise Sameer was a broken man. They had enjoyed more than five decades of happy married life and produced eleven children of whom one, Honey, had died in infancy.
An interesting episode in the life of Sameer, after his retirement, is the monthly trek he made by bus, accompanied by one or two of his many grandchildren, to the Colombo Municipality to collect his pension. The trip was gladly looked forward to by those who accompanied him as it was a delightful event filled with the many goodies of sweetmeats and delicacies he would purchase on the way back home. Almost all of his male grandchildren have made the trip at least once in their lives. The most frequent of them were Fazli & Firoze Sameer, sons of his oldest son, Thahir, who lived next door at No. 300.
Two of Sameer’s married daughters, Rameela, (married to AWM Ghouse), and Saleema, (married to MM Sheriff), had already moved out from 298, after their marriages, to Slave Island and Wellawatte, respectively.
The rest, together with three of the unmarried boys remained with them. Subsequently Noor Jazeela married Ibrahim Naina Marikar, Ameena married Ibrahims younger brother, Zain Naina Marikar, Sithy Rahma married Fareed Zaheed, son of Proctor NM Zaheed of Kotahena, and Farooq married Mazeena Junaid of Wellawatte, and continued to live at 298 until Farooq decided to move to a separate home of his own at Elibank Road in Colombo 5.
Later, the youngest daughter, Khalisa married Faleel Sherriffdeen, of Mary’s Road two blocks away, and lived at 298 with her family until Faleel passed away.
Sadiq, the youngest of the boys attended St. Peters’ College at Bamba and set off to the UK seeking greener pastures in 1958. He remained a bachelor and returned to Sri Lanka more than 40 years later to reside at Lily Avenue with his sister Noor Jazeela where he passed away after a brief illness.
Eventually the families moved out of the grand old mansion at 298 to Colombo 6 leaving the old couple with Sithy Rahma and Khalisa’s family behind. Sithy Rahma has two boys, Rizvi Zaheed, presently an Exective Directorat Hayleys & Riaz Zaheed, who manages his own travel and IT training businesses in Colombo. Both Rizvi and Riaz attended Royal College, Colombo. Khalisa & Faleel have a daughter, Azra (married to Rizwan Ramieze in Colombo) and a son, Falih, who worked for Muslim Commercial Bank in Colombo and is retired now. Faleel Sheriffdeen, a fun loving and much loved in law to the Sameer’s passed away some years back. Farooq Sameer passed away in 2019 at the age of 92.
The family atmosphere that prevailed at 298, in those halcyon days, is unparalleled today.
All the children, together with their individual families, converged at 298 on weekends and what a grand time they enjoyed. A cricket match was the order of the day, played on the side garden bordering Sagara Road. A sumptuous and steaming lunch, prepared by the womenfolk, served on long green banana leaves spread out on the floor was relished by all after a tiring outing on the playing field. Elephant House Ice Cream served in Family Blocks was the favorite for dessert.
Mohamed Sameer’s oldest son, Mohamed Thahir, moved into the adjacent twin house to the south of 298, at No. 300, soon
after he married Ryhan Rasheed in 1943. Ryhan’s parents, Mohamed Rasheed & Ummu Thahira, and siblings, Zubair, Faiz & Ummu Naseeha, also lived with them at Number 300. Ummu Thahira’s mother, Zulaiha Umma Ahmed Lebbe Marikar used to visit and also stay over at 300 on many occasions, cycling her stay with her four lovely daughters.
Zubair Rasheed married Zuhry Razeen, daughter of MCM Razeen, step brother of Mohamed Rasheed, and moved to Canal Lane in Wellawatte. They have three children, Roazna Naleer, Zulaiha Munzeer and Ejaz Rasheed.
Ummu Naseeha married MIM Sahill from Matara and also moved to Canal Lane in Wellawatte, next door to Zubairs, and then later on to their own home at the Kiribathgoda housing scheme. Sahill worked as a shroff at the CTB after having served the Ceylon Government railway for many successful years. He hailed from the famous Ibrahim family of
Kotuwegoda, in Matara. They have four children, Rhusdia (married AMM Suhail of Station Road Wellawatte and now resident in the UK), Yasmin (married Faizal of Colombo), Azlaff & Zinoon (married to Ajmal Mohamed), both currently resident in LA in the USA.
Faiz married Huzaima Hathy, daughter of ARM Hathy, and moved to his wife’s residence at Rosmead Place in Colombo 7. They have three children, Mirzeth (married Rizmi Saleem of Wellawatte), Matheeha (married RezaIdroos of Davidson Road at Bamba) and Hathy Shukry Rasheed (currently resident in LA, USA). Mohamed Rasheed passed away at 300 in 1972 and Ummu Thahira was deceased in 1979.
Thahir & Ryhan had a daughter, Mumtaz, born in 1945 and attended St. Pauls’ Milagiriya,
and two sons Fazli, born in 1948, and Firoze, born in 1950, who both attended Royal. Mumtaz has a son, Nishtar Ali Mohamed.
Fazli, proceeded to University in Colombo and embarked on a career of Computing before moving out to Colombo 6 in 1974 after his marriage to Shirani Ibrahim, daughter of the late Customs Appraiser, Husain Ibrahim & Hibshi Mazaya Saleem, formerly of No 15, Mary’s Road in Bambalapitiya. They have two daughters, Melina and Nadia. The family left for greener pastures to the Middle East and lived there as expatriate workers from 1979 to 2018.
Firoze pursued a career in Accounting and Finance and married Qureisha, daughter of MYM Nizar, Attorney at Law, of Wattala. He too spent two years in Saudi Arabia, in 1980-81, prior to his marriage. Since then he was attached to the State Trading Corporation (General), at Nawam Mawatha in
Wekande, and ended up as Deputy General Manager and also Secretary to the Board of Directors. Firoze now works as a consultant to American Water Company in Colombo. They have a daughter, Nabila, and a son, Yazdhan, who have both moved to Australia.
298 & 300, which was named “Sukhasthan”, on Galle Road, were sprawling old houses that had gardens that stretched back down to almost half way towards the sea. They were twin and identical houses side to side like a mirror image to one another, in an L shaped design.
The two massive gardens were filled with lanky coconut trees and various other fruit trees comprising mango, guava, custard apple, lemon, banana, papaya, jam, jumbo, passion fruit, beli, tamarind, and almond (kottang).
Each house occupied almost 65 to 70 perches of land in extent.
The two backyards were always filled with chickens, geese, muscovy ducks, goats and even a cow, that lived there.
It is said that both houses were built by the notable Muslim philanthropist, Wapchi Marikar Baas, grandfather of Sir Razik Fareed. He used the rubble from the existing old building at the Colombo Fort GPO premises, when he was commissioned and awarded the building contract to construct the GPO, which stands immaculate to this day, to build both 298 & 300 Galle Road. He also built the Colombo Museum at Colombo 7.
The houses were built in the early twentieth century and still stand tall and proud as significant monuments of the past. 300, has since been sold, sometime in the nineties, and now runs a car dealership within its premises.
An interesting memory of the fifties was when Thahir Sameer used to drive his sons Fazli & Firoze to school in his black Hillman Minx car, registration plate EL 1468, and picked up Philip Stork from De Fonseka Place and sometimes the Aziz boys from the private road next to the “Bamba” market, where they lived. Thahir owned a green Skoda, number CN 7522, prior to buying the Hillman. Before that he owned a maroon Austin which was the pride of his possessions. Thahir passed away at #300 in 1989 after suffering a stroke. Ryhan passed away in 2014 at the age of 95.
Castle Lane came next where the famous Ms Spillers (nee Ebert) and her ladies tailoring establishment thrived. Her business was a very famous and elite one patronized by all walks of society. She specialized in tailoring wedding dresses, mainly for ostentatious Muslim Weddings in Colombo.
Her sister, Clementine, who was a spinster throughout her life, lived with her in the house. Mrs. Sipllers did not have children and left a major share of her property to the Church after her death. Her husband was an Englishman who worked at Millers Ltd, and they had a/c room for their numerous Scottish Terrier dogs.
The vast coterie of young Sinhalese girls who worked for her were managed by a male supervisor and master cutter named Siriwardene.
Siriwardene eventually married one of the girls called Hema and lived at the back of the house where they were provided with living quarters. He was killed in a tragic train-bus crash at an unprotected railway crossing on his way back home from an excursion with friends. They have a daughter who inherited part of the Spillers home by way of a will that was left behind by the grand old lady. The house was a large one with lots of garden space at the rear bordering a largesection
of No. 300. The white and red Jumbo trees that bore fruit abundantly in the garden were relished by all the neighbors around.
The portion at the top adjoining Galle Road on the right side of the street was originally occupied by Mrs Spillers’ brother, Ebert, who had a son, Roger, and a daughter, Carol, who married a gentleman from Caterpillar Co. and migrated to Pocatello, Idaho USA. Roger followed in 1962, completed his national service in USAF, served in the UK in the Medical unit.
They had a dog named “Jock” whom the family loved very much. The property was later blocked off and sold to Dr Peter Fernando whose family lived in the house for several years
before selling it to Chandra Senanayake Holdings, an automotive business enterprise managing the Volvo agency.
Dr. Peter Fernando conducted his private medical clinic at the top of Frankfort Place for a long period of time before he passed away. His widow and children migrated to the UK.
Abdul Hameed, who was a leading building contractor by profession, came to live down Castle Lane with his family in later years. Haseeb, his son followed in his father's footsteps and continued the building contracts that his late father established successfully.
Stanley Lumanaw lived at #12 Castle Lane, next to Ms Spiller’s residence. His backyard fence bordered the back garden of No 300 Galle Road. The house was owned by Mrs. Mignnone Jansen nee Ebert (her husband was Harbour Pilot then) who is also the sister of Mrs. Spillers nee Ebert. Stanley’s mother's was Ms Walles connected to the race horse people who lived at Thimbirigasyaya Road, while his father Willem
is an Indonesian national. After 1963, Stanley and family lived at #29 Charlemont (named after Charlemont Gauder) road Wellawatte till 1971, which was the one before the last house by Marikar Bawa's # 5 Station Road. At #12 lived Stanley’s mum's relative Mona Walles relict of Denzil, founder director of Rowlands Ltd. The Gauder family owned land from Frances road to Charlemont, at Wellawatte, in the early 19 hundreds.
Opposite #12 lived Dr. Nalliah.
The neighbours towards the seaside viz # 14 & #16, twin houses, were the quarters of the US. Marine Corp. At #18 lived the Balasubramaniam's.
At #20 was "The Castle" occupied by the Shaideen family whose father was a medical practitioner at Wattala (Wattala Dispensary) and who moved in from Forbes road Maradana. The sons are Mohideen, Faizal, Zuhair, Shibly, Fazli, and Shualy. The daughters are, Noor Suhuda (married Faiz), Noor Muwaffika (married Khalid and moved to Canada), Fauzul Haniya (married Mackeen Sherriffdeen of Mary’s Road, Bambalapitiya), Riyaaya (married Rizwi Hafeel), & Mumtaz (married Mubarak).
Across the street lived the Shums family. Further down on the left in the one before last house lived Senator Nadesan (brother in law of the Maharajas) and the last house was occupied by a bachelor, Mr. Rankine, a writer.
In the last house on the right lived the Muthubalasuriyam (Tamil family), of whom Rajan and Nirmalendran (now ascetic in Himalayas) were brothers.
An interesting house down Castle Lane was named “The Rook” where the Vilcassims from Galle used to live. An open garden area provided a small cricket ground for the boys to wield the willow. Faizal Quassim, brother in law of the Shums lived here.
At #22 lived the Amunugama's and at #24 the Somasunderams whose sons Sathikumar, Sivakumar and Skandakumar, retired Chairman at George Steuarts & Co Ltd, were all Royalists. Skanda, later, went on to Australia as High Commissioner for Sri Lanka. Sathi becoming very famous as a pace bowler for the Royal College Cricket XI. Sivakumar passed away early in life. Skanda also played cricket for Royal and has since moved to his own bungalow in Haputale.
Right at the end of the street bordering the rail tracks was a very popular dancing school patronized by many who wanted to learn the rudiments of swinging their feet on the floor. The school was run by a Burgher family of Dutch origins. Jiffry Careem and his family also lived down on the left side of this street in a mansion that he built since he moved in from Galle. One of his daughters is married to Faiz Mustapha, PC, and currently Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in London and one of the sons married Farahana Mohideen from Pennedins Avenue. He died on his eldest daughters wedding night soon after the Nikah ceremony.
A summary list of the families who lived down Castle Lane is as follows:-
Right Side of the street:
2 Dr. Peter Fernando
4 & 6 The Spillers Family
8 & 10 Mrs. Jansen (later the Lumanauw’s and even later Mr Chanaka Amarasinghe, Leader of the Liberal Party)
12 & 14 The Nallasekeram's
16 Mr. Theivendran
18 & 20 Dr. Shaideen
22 Mr. Dunbar de Zylva
24 Mr. Latiff/Mr. Weerasinghe
26 Mr. Somasundaram (Sathi, Sivaku & Skanda)
28 Mr. Thambyrajah
30 Mr. Mervyn Casiechetty
32 Mrs. Perera
34 Mr. Muthubalasuriyar
36 Mr. Bandaranayake
Left Side of the street:
5 & 7 Hamid
17 Wickremanayake / Nair
21 The Rook (later by the Zahir family)
31 Ms. Perumal
Facing the Galle Road on the seaside, immediately after, was a sprawling old mansion with a large grass filled garden in front, owned and occupied by a Bohra family. They have their shop called “AMSONS” dealers of sanitary ware etc.
Right next to it was a small illegally constructed shack that served as a convenience store that offered small knick-knacks to its passer by customers. Here also lived the Wickremanayke family of Legal fame. Sons Elanga and Rakita were good cricketers. Rakita was Chairman of Air Ceylon, and one of his
Sons, Nimal, was appointed as Crown Counsel in Australia, The first Sri Lankan to achieve this honor.
The Wickremanayakes had a large property where cricket matches were played on Saturdays & Sundays. The other family was the Caders. Mr Cader was a strict disciplinarian.
Next door, and on the corner at the top of Mary’s Road, was an Auction Room run by the Coomaravel family, which later was converted to a fast food restaurant called “Chariot” by Shiraz Thaha, who was married to a Sellamuttu then.
Mary’s Road is a narrow street that starts at the Galle Road, almost opposite to Kensington Gardens, and ends at the railway tracks. The Senanayake family, descended from Canon Senanayake of St Paul's Milagiriya, and Christ Church Dehiwela and Thimbirigasyaya, owned all the real estate from the Galle Road end of Castle Lane to the beach front at Kinross Avenue.
The Canon was married to a lady from the Obeysekera family and his children comprised a daughter who inherited all the property on Kinross Avenue, Brook, a son, who inherited the Mary's Road homes, another son who inherited all the property down Castle Lane, and the youngest, a daughter, who was married to Lady Molamure's (D R Wijewardene's wife, Ruby's sisters) son.
Brook was first married to a Ms Gooneratne and had two daughters from this union, the older of whom was Dora who inherited two acres of the Mary's Road property at the beach front end. The second daughter was killed in a fire. On the death of his first wife, Brook married Laura Senanayake of Botale, who hailed from the Don Stephen (DS) Senanayake
(first PM of independent Ceylon in 1948) family. The second union brought forth Griselda, who passed away early in life at the age of 29 and was married to Roland Seneviratne. Griselda and Roland had seven children of whom two passed away early at birth. They have two children, Lucien and Rowena. Rowena has a son Christopher and a daughter Sriyani.
Brook's second child was a son who also passed away early in life at the age of 19. He also had another son and his youngest daughter was named Phoebe who married a Karunaratne. Phoebe had three children of whom Shelah was the oldest and remained unmarried.
The second child is a son Haig who is also unmarried. The last child is Brian married to Thilaka and who have one daughter and four sons. All of Brook's children and grandchildren live down Marys Road at No 8, 10 & 12 on the right side of the street when entering from the Galle Road.
Brook was a Government Servant and passed away when his daughter Shelah was only 14 years of age.
Brian Coomerawel passed away
in Colombo in July 2007. Kevin has since moved down under and lives in
Right behind to Coomerawels Auction Room on the right was a plot of land with a large Kottang (Almond) tree and opposite to it stood the large building facing the Galle Road which was occupied by a few families. One of the families had a daughter named Sriyani and a son, Christopher and they were, both, students at St Pauls Milagiriya. Christopher and Shirani Ibrahim, who lived at No 15, were in the same class at SPM. The Claessan family also lived in this building. Adrian Jansz, sister of Linda, also lived here with her husband until they left for Australia.
Behind their house was a small place where a Tamil family lived and the lady was referred to as 'Sinnamma'. They used to prepare Pittu and Stringhoppers together with Babath (tripe) curry and their daughter used to deliver the food to the homes down Mary's Road.
Here, on the left, lived the Bartholomeusz family at No 9, “St Bee’s”, the head of whom were Francis Carlisle Bartholomeusz & Esmee Bertha Susannah Maynert Herft. Francis used to be the Santa Claus at the annual XMas parties that were held at the Motha residence in Wellawatte.
Their children are Carol (married Frederic Renshaw Clarke), and moved over to a small flat down St. Peters Place. Allister (who was born on April 30, 1934, married Christobel Ebert), Myrna, Ioni (married Jerry Carroll) and Heidy (married Laurie Munding).
Allister was a keen supporter and member of the Kinross Swimming and Aquatic Club on the beach at Wellawatte. He was also a champion swimmer at the Kinross Club and tied for third place in the two Mile sea swim from Mount Lavinia to Wellawatte held in 1954. he held the posts of Club Captain, and was a Bronze Medal Holder of the Sri Lanka Swimming Association (SLSA) in and around 1959. He was the youngest ever Hony. Secretary of the CASA & Kinross Club, and a delegate. to the CO & CGA. He Capped for Ceylon in 1956.
The family migrated to Australia and live there now with their respective progeny.
At No 15, “Trevine”, 17 & 19, Mary’s Road lived WM Saleem and three of his sisters, Safiya Umma Wapu Marikar, (wife of Uduma Lebbe Marikar A.L.M), Ummu Saeeda Wapu Marikar, (wife of Shahul Hameed Abu Bakr), and Zainambu Wapu
Marikar, (wife of ACA Hamid) and their respective families.
All three properties were owned by Safiya Umma, who had no children, and who, thereby, bequeathed No 15 to her brother WM Saleem, and Nos 17 & 19, jointly to Ummu Saeeda and Zainambu as undivided co-owners.
The Wapu Marikar (WM) siblings were the children of the late Wapu Marikar Sheikh Marikar & Mariam alias Puwachi Umma (sister of Shekadi Marikar Cassim Lebbe Marikar’s wife).
WM Saleem had three wives. His children by his first wife, Noor Naleefa, were Ahamed Shaharan (married Iynul Huzaima Abdul Basheer of Kandy), Hibshi Mazaya (married Husain Jiffry Ibrahim of HM Customs, Colombo) and Hibshul Hana (married to Zacky Salih of Flower Road, Colombo 3).
His second marriage to Sithy Lareefa from Galle had no offspring.
The third to Sithy Shareefa Ahmed Lebbe Marikar, produced Khaneema (married to MSM Ozeer of Dematagoda), Zackiya (married to M Mansoor Hassan), Fareeda (married to M Nuhman Noordeen, son of Sithy Saleema Thaha, brother of Mubarak Thaha) and Hamza (married to Ummu Saliha Ansari of Bandaranaike Mawatha Colombo 12). The children moved to different locations within Colombo subsequent to their marriages and Fareeda and her daughter, Dina & family, still live at No. 15 having inherited part of the estate of her father after it was sold and disbursed subsequent to the heirs after his death.
Husain Jiffry Ibrahim & Hibshi Mazaya Saleem had four children, Firoze, Shirani, Jasminah, and Fairuf.
Firoze married Bisreeya Ahamed, formerly of Asoka Gardens in “Bamba”, and embarked on a career of Draftsmanship and Architecture, venturing into building construction. Subsequently he moved to Dhahran in Saudi Arabia and then to Hafar Al Batin in the north where he spent many years with the Ministry of Defence project there. He, subsequently returned to Colombo and spent a few years with his family before embarking to Dhahran once again to work with the Royal Saudi Air Force where he specialized in fresh water treatment. Firoze passed away in Dhahran.
Shirani married Fazli Sameer of No. 300 and Jasminah married Faizer Zahir of Castle Lane. Fairuf married Zaheena Subair from Mount Lavinia. Sadly, he was killed in a car crash in Riyadh on Dec 31, 1996.
He worked, initially, at Jafferjee Brothers in Colombo and then moved to Dhahran and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia where he was employed by GAMA, a hospital management project attached to the Sports Medicine Hospital, and served them until his demise. The Ibrahims moved to St. Peter’s Place at Bamba, and, on the early death of Husain moved, once, again to Vihara Lane at Wellawatte. Hussain died suddenly of heart attack in 1963 at the age of 44 while delivering a speech as the President of the Customs Officers’ Union at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo. Hibshi passed away at Vihare Lane in 1996.
Zacky Salih & Hibshul Hana Saleem had seven children. The last one died at child birth. Fidha, Shiraz, Moreena, Faris, Fahmy, and Shahul Hameed were the others.
Fidha married Razana and passed away after a sudden illness after the pilgrimage of Hajj in Makkah. Shiraz married Faizeen Haniffa from Kandy.
Faizeen Haniffa used to work with Sifani Jewellers in Kandy and Colombo and then moved to Jeddah, where he served with the Intercontinental Hotel for several years and GMA, before returning home to Colombo to roost.
Moreena married Faizeen Hassim of Alexandra Road in Wellawatte and worked with UNICEF. Faariez married Fazna Mowjood Nafi of Habib Bank and Shahul married Fazmina Alavi Mohamed.
Fazmina passed away after an illness in 2003 after having
lived in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia where her husband, Shahul Hameed was employed. The Salih’s moved to Swarna Road at Havelock Town and then again to Kalyani Road in Kirulaponne where Hana passed away in 2002.
Khanima Saleem married MSM Ozeer, who passed away in 2003, and now lives with her children at Model Town Road, Ratmalana. Her children are Mafooza Samsudeem Dr. Shahnaz Ozeer (married to Dr. Nazli Zainab and migrated to Australia), & Shanooz Ozeer (married to his first cousin Minna Saleem, daughter of Hamza Saleem.
During a visit, in August 2006 to Khanima's place in her quiet home at Ratmalana, she narrated an interesting story of how a burglar was caught down Mary's Road during the old times a few days after her fathers demise. The crook had been stealing from many homes down the street and the people and Police were vigilant and making every attempt to catch him. On one occasion the thief was hiding under a table at the Saleem's residence and Khanima and her step sister Hana spotted him. Hana got cold feet and ran away but Khanima was bold enough to start the screaming and shouting to alert the neighbors and the Police who came rushing to her aid. The thief jumped across to the Bartholomeusz's at No 13 but was finally apprehended and marched away to the police station. The next morning newspaper carried the story relating the
brave attempt of a 14 year old conservative Muslim girl who helped to catch the elusive thief down Mary's Road.
Zackiya Saleem, who married Mohamed Mansoor Hassan passed away in 1981 now lives down Fredericka Road at Wellawatte.
Her children are Imthiaz (married to Mueeza also of Fredericka Road), and Rizvi (married to Aynfa Haleem of Nawalapitiya). Both sons were bankers in Colombo and subsequently moved to take up employment with banks in Saudi Arabia where they are resident now. Imthiaz moved out of the banking sector to take up employment with a large private sector corporation in Jeddah, and passed away several years back. Rizvi and his family live and work in Riyadh.
Fareeda Saleem & Nuhuman Noordeen (son of Saleema Thaha and grandson of WM Thaha) lived at 15 Mary’s Road where Nuhuman passed away suddenly in 1979. Her daughter Dinazad, son in law Malik Ashraf Ali and their son Nuhuman now live on the upper floor of the same residence at No 15. Her other children are Yousoof (married to Farah Salih), Asgar Ali (married to Amana Sufi Ismail) & Mohammed Ali (married to Farwin Mohamed) and now in USA.
Hamza Saleem and his wife Ummu Saliha Ansari, of Bandaranaike Mawatha, Colombo 12, now live at Ratmalana. Their children are Mohamed Shezmin (USA), Fathima Minna (married to her first cousin Shahnaz Ozeer), and Mohamed Shazleen.
The Sherriffdeens lived next of whom Faleel married Sithy Khalisa Sameer of No 298, Galle Road, mentioned above, and Mackeen married one of the daughters of Dr Shaideen, Fauzul Haniya, of Castle Lane, at Bamba. Mackeen passed away in May 2005.
Alavi Sherriffdeen married and moved to Dickmans Road (now renamed to Dr. Lester James Peiris Mawatha) at Bambalapitiya. Sulaiman married Khairi and the youngest Yehiya was attached to the Air Force.
Of the daughters, Sithy Fathima married Ajward, Saliha married a doctor and moved out of Colombo, Noor married Mubarak and moved to Wellawatte while Badri married Zachraff Azeez and moved to Mount Lavinia. A Japanese fishing crew moved into No 19 after the Sherrifdeens moved out. They were there for a short time and when their business didn’t succeed they moved out.
The Lye family, members of whom were Xirach, Okley, Sydney, Patricia, & Amy, lived next door at No 19. Okley passed away in Canada in 2005. Amy is married to Asad Amath (old Pete) and left Sri Lanka for Montreal, Canada where Sydney and Okley were already established. She has two daughters, Anika, born in 1981 and Amara, born in 1986. Anika graduated with a BA in Criminology. Amara is a second-year student at McGill University majoring in Political Science. Amy worked as an Executive Assistant in an insurance brokerage company until she took early retirement in 2005 and is now into handicrafts and sells her work to clients and friends, a hobby which she is very happy with.
The Billimorias, Sattars and the Pieris families, came nest, in succession. Fricky Khan, the notorious racing driver belonged to the Sattar family with his brother Azeez Iqbal and Yousoof and sister Abida. Indrani and Chitra Pieris, who attended Holy family Convent at Bamba, are members of the Pieris family. The Wimalaratne’s and also the Billimorias, together with their twin daughters, Shereen and Sonia, also lived here.
The right side of Mary’s Road began with the Coomarawel
Auction House whose entrance was titlted at a 45 degree angle to the Galle Road. Kevin has since moved to Australia.
Right behind it lived Sriyani and Christopher followed by a large open and spacious garden which was famous for its Kottang (Almond) tree where all the youth of the neighborhood used to haunt.
A family lived in a small house within this garden and used to eke out a living by preparing String Hoppers and Pittu which were quickly snapped up by the rest of the residents for their evening meals. Brian Karunaratne and his family lived next door, followed by the Goonerwardena’, Navaratnams who sold the house to a Muslim shipping owner and at 18 was the Saverimuttu namely Dharman, Patricia and Sushila.
The Serasinghes, Ebels Pereira (Dutch Burgher), Livy Wijemanne Radio Ceylon announcer and Walcart show organizer and Noor (Borah) familes followed.
Mrs Serasinghe was a widow
and worked at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital. Her son, Preman, is now a Priest. The
Vallipurams, a Tamil family, lived in the last house.
Mrs. Serasinghe was Dr. Serasinghe's widow as I (Tubby) recall. Her late husband was an Anglican Priest. Preman became a lay preacher.
Opposite the Vallipurams lived Fr. Christian Thambimuttu and his family. Fr Thambimuttu was associated with St. Paul's Milagiriya. His son Cuthbert (Tubby) Thambimuttu is an Entomologist / rare book collector in America. Both homes have now been torn down to make way for the Marine Drive.
Mr Nicolle, a notable auctioneer and broker in Colombo, also
lived down the street during its latter years and spent his last days there, living alone, in an annex of the Saverimuttu residence.
In the 1950-1960 years, Marys Road residents considered themselves as one large happy and united family where everything was done collectively by the neighborhood with unity and strength.
The Goonewardene family also lived here prior to moving to Vajira Road, Bambalapitiya.
Another significant family down Mary's Road at No 24 were the Pereira's who comprised of Dolart, Deloraine, Macky, Roger, Yvette and "Small Boy" who was tragically killed in a bicycle accident. Jerry Pieris and "Small Boy" were rushing home to beat the curfew when they met with an accident which killed "Small Boy" Jerry broke his leg in the incident. Jerry has since passed away and his brother Frank is now married to his widow.
The Fernando's lived at No 17. Mr & Mrs Fernando were referred to as Aiya and Amma and were the head of the family. The children were Matilda, currently resident in South Africa, Rani, Jerry (UK), Rose (last heard of as a Nun), Guy, Jean, Antoinette (South Africa), and Sherine. They, subsequently, moved to Charlemont Road at Wellawatte.
Mr & Mrs Carwallio also lived down the street. Their family comprised Jennifer, Stanley Benny & Wife. They moved to Kensington Gardens, in Bamba, in 1962 and then on to Arethusa Lane at Wellawatte.
Mrs Serasinghe was a widow and worked at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital. Her son, Preman, is now a Priest.
The Vallipurams, a Tamil family, lived in the last house.
Many residents still reminisce of the old days they spent there in excellent peace, tranquility and harmony.
George Pereira wrote in 2008.
Email received on Mon May 19 2008:
I stumbled across your website on Bambalapitiya. It was sheer joy to read the names of streets and people. Brought back lots of memories. Although I lived in Wellawatte, Mary’s Road was my hangout. I would like to get in touch with the following. If you have any emails address for them it would be most appreciated.
Tubby Thambimuttu, any of the Fernando family (Guy, Jean, Rani, etc.), Azeez and Fricky (Farouk) Sattar and Heidy Bartholomeusz. When I visited Sri Lanka in 2004 I was amazed at the development and also sad to see that Tubby’s old house was gone. We used to sit on the wall by the rail tracks and while away the time. I was also surprised to see how narrow Mary’s Road was. The streets seemed wider in the old days, but after having lived overseas for many years and seeing wide streets I guess it’s only natural that all Colombo streets seem narrow. I still don’t know how two cars could pass each other. I am attaching a picture I took from Tubby’s wall in 1960 of an afternoon train having left Wellawatte station and crossed over the canal bridge on its way to Fort. Notice the pier in the background.
Thank you once again for the nostalgic piece. It’s most appreciated.
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for the memories. I am an old Pete and lived all my life in Bamba, first down Mary's Road at No 41 and then at No 35. Moved to St Alban's Place in 1954 to No 31.
I remember all those intricate details that you have mentioned in this fantastic article.
There may be some who may wonder why you have talked of mostly people of your community. But, should you get information regarding other communities in Bamba, I have no doubt you will include all those as well.
I have a few important infor on St. Peters as well as other info that I will email to you so that you may see fit to include if necessary.
Thank you once again for the memories.
Raj Philip - Welland, Ontario, Canada. (My email addy.. email@example.com)
I have been trying to get in touch with a friend of mine who used to live in the M Block at the Flats.
He is Milroy de Siva - brother of Desmond de Silva the singer. He emigrated to Sydney, Australia. We used to sing together in the St. Mary's Choral Group of Revd. Fr. Claver Perera.
I am trying to contact Milroy de Silva, brother of Desmond de Silva.
These two and Winston made up the Beetle Sellers, performing the Beatles songs.
I am told that Milroy is in Sydney, Australia. If anyone knows his address or email please contact me and let me know.
Raj Philip - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Message from Shirani Ibrahim:
TO ALL THE LIVING MEMBERS OF THE MARY’S ROAD FAMILY
F's place has brought about many a reunion and it is very touching indeed.... Tears filled my eyes when a member of the Mary's Road family contacted me through F's Place. Wow! it was a pleasant surprise. It has brought back many unforgettable childhood memories in all its pure innocence. Just want the Mary's road family to know wherever they are whoever they have turned out to be they are ALWAYS ON MY MIND. Many members of our Mary's Road family have passed away ...young and old but "to live in the hearts of those you love is not to die" Golden Memories and Silver Tears are our souvenirs...
I am a mother of two adult daughters and have been blessed with a beautiful granddaughter and a wonderful grandson and they give me so much pleasure. My youngest aunt is now the owner of the premises i was born in.. and i do take a walk down this road with memories that has not and will never ever decay ...OUR PRECIOUS MARY'S ROAD FAMILY, SO PERFECT INDEED.
It will be great if the other members of the Mary's Road family will contact F's place with information that have been missed out....
Thanks to ALISTAIR and AMY LYE....
The Free Town Boys
PLEASE MEET MY COUSIN OF FREE TOWN BOYS –
by Ian Hepponstal
Francis lived in a big house down a narrow road, between Kinross Avenue and Castle Lane in Bambalapitiya. He was always my favorite cousin, friend, mentor, and guiding light during those early days of my childhood.
I always looked up to him for guidance and knowledge. He taught me both the good and bad things in life, and still earned my respect, as he would radiate a great feeling of love and kindness whenever I was around him, that made him more like a brother to me than a cousin.
Francis had many skills, one of which was being Secretary of the Free Town Boys Cricket and Athletics Club of that narrow road he lived in. He was a third generation member of a well-known family, and so enjoyed the privilege of this office. As the club name suggested membership was free and the only qualification was that you had to be a resident of this road. In my case, the requirements were ignored, for after all, I was the cousin-brother of the Secretary. He ran this club successfully with no financial backing, and the Club did not even seek a donation from anyone. May be this was a good thing in a way, as the only beneficiary could have been “ Saraswathie Lodge”.
Someone had to only come up with a cricket ball, and out when a host of written letters inviting other clubs to participate in a game of cricket. Some of the names of these clubs that come to mind are “Dead End Kids C.C.”, “The Golden Eagles C.C.”, “ Silver Arrow Sports Club” and “ Royden Cricket Club”. I remember very well the opening paragraph of this letter ……Quote
“We the members of the above mentioned C.C. challenge you to a game of cricket on this day the…….in month of…….. in the year of our Lord 19……., notwithstanding, the terms and conditions herein stated.” Unquote.
This document sounded more like something coming out of the Attorney Generals Department than from a club of meager means.
On the morning of the match, Francis would be up with the birds for there was work to be done, firstly the venue had to be booked, by this I mean stumps put in place and someone of authority (in other words a toughie) left at the grounds to ensure all went well when we arrived ,by then other clubs too would have arrived and there were more stumps planted, more than even crosses found in Kanatte.
At times you really did not know whether you were batting against or bowling to the right opponents. ".
Some of the grounds we played at were St. Peters, the Golf Links down Greenlands Rd., the park next to the BRC, Kotalawella Gardens, Shruberry Gardens and the Seminary grounds with all but five hundred coconut trees.
Francis had still more work to do…... like visiting the homes of all the players confirming availability, as at times some would be grounded for domestic reasons, then there was cricket gear to look for, this was easily solved by picking a rich kid with plenty of gear and no cricketing skills.
Makeen S was captain, and our opening bowler was a demon called Johnny R., he had a slinging action, and every ball he bowled was a thunder bolt, but sadly accuracy was not part of his repertoire.
The first ball could be aimed at the batsman’s throat, the next would sail over the wicket keepers head, and the next would have third slip running for cover, but whenever he got it right,
he either broke the stumps or the batsman leg, for we wore only one pad. It was regimental, that after every over JR would reach for his comb and rearrange the “Yankee Puff “ that fell half way down his forehead.
John M. was wicket keeper, and got the job as he owned one and a half wicket keeping gloves. We shared equipment with the other teams and vice-versa, and in days gone by “Helmets “were not even worn in Toobruk.
Raju was our umpire , and the very sight of him was enough for the opposition to summon the ICC. However with a promise of fair play he was allowed to take his place.
If in anyone today thinks Darrell Hair is biased and controversial, then Raju set the bench mark.
Faleel, was an important player in the side and whenever we could not get a batsman out he was sent to the position of short leg to taunt and frustrate the batsman into losing his wicket. The plan always worked. Some of the other members of this honorable side were, Allister B. (Francis), Hamza S., Haig K., Guy M., Farooze, and Ian H.
At the end of the day the game of cricket was played as only gentleman will , and maybe the time has come for of our international sides to learn how the game should be played from our humble beginnings. Finally, it is with great sadness that I have learnt that some are no longer with us, and although some of us have moved to alien climes, I hope that when the time comes for us to abide, our souls will return home to rest in better places in better times.
Kinross Avenue boasted a very wide and short street with many luxurious mansions. The Affans, brother of ARM Mukthar, and his family lived there in a large house whose tiles were all painted green. After Kinross Avenue, a row of shops faced the Galle Road and also St. Peters’ College on the land side.
Sun Dial, a watchmaker owned and managed by a very illustrious personality in Mr. Fernando offered watch making and maintenance services. Fernando was also a great philosopher and wrote many interesting books on his thoughts and discourses. Several other shops lined the rest of the Galle Road to Ridgeway Place. The famous Rupee store
Kinross Ave was noted for
its large homes. Down this road lived the family of Sir Chittamplan Gardiner,
The Williams family, son Rajah of Trinity/CR&FC and Ceylon fame, Irene
Williams champion female athelete of that era.
The Garnier family – son Geoff of Rugby fame – St Peters/Havelocks/Ceylon and later a planter.
The Samuel Family – owners of Samuel Bros, who helped by donating material to the Kinross Swimming and Life Saving Club.
Another name that comes to
mind down the street is Jit Pereira.
The last home was occupied by Mr Jansz, Municipal Magistrate who supported the KS&LSC with encouragement and assistance in the Clubs activities, knowing the contribution made by this Club to the public.
Between Kinross Avenue and Ridgeway Place was situated The Rupee Store where you could buy every type of delicacy
and merchandise under the sun. Most of the items on sale were imported from the UK. This store served the need of the local community adequately.
Shane Lawrence also lived down this street.
The Kinross Swimming & Life Saving Club (KS&LSC)
The Kinross Swimming & Life Saving Club was originally located on the beach at the end of Kinross Avenue and was subsequently moved further away to Wellawatte at the end of Alexandra Road, where it still stands. An interesting account of the club sent in by Allister Bartholomeusz from Australia is given below.
On the Beach stood the Original KS & LSC – established in 1940. This great Club produced several Champions in Swimming & Aquatics. The Club produced several outstanding spear fishermen and introduced the sport of spear fishing to Ceylon. To name a few, the legendary Gerd Von Dincklage, Ralph Forbes, Tissa “Saigon “ Ariyaratne, Rodney Jonklaas, Hilmi Khalid, Turab Jafferjee, Langston Pereira, Ron Bartholomeusz, Hildon Bevan were all world class spear fishermen. Rodney Jonklaas was an authority on marine life. Rodney invited Sir Arthur C Clarke and his companions Mike Smith and Tony Buxton to explore the wrecks off the coast of Ceylon and film the magic of the sea and glorious reefs of this magic Isle. Rodney Jonklass was the Assistant Superintendent of the Colombo Zoo in the days when the Dehiwela Zoo was one of the best in the world, The Superintendent of the Zoo, the legendary Aubrey Weinman also had a close Bamba connection.
The Kinross bathing enclosure was situated opposite the site of the original KS&LSC. The enclosure was located in the sea. It consisted of two rafts and several orange barrels placed in a semi-circle, a relatively safe bathing area for both bathers and swimmers. This was the idea of Mr. Guy Thiedeman, a champion athlete – Municipal Playground instructor and Lifesaver who resided in the area.
However, several incidents of drowning did occur which prompted Mike Sirimanne, who was a regular swimmer, to decide that it was necessary for the presence of Life Guards. Mike with the help of his close friends, Herbert Pathiwela, Elmo and Lou Spittel, Anton Selvam, Ron Kellar, Basil Misso, Hugh Stewart were the first life savers, who received their training from Guy Thiedeman and later on Harry Nightingale, an Australian who introduced the Australian method of Surf Life Saving. This gave birth to the Kinross Life Saving Club in 1941. The club sought and obtained affiliation to the Royal Life Saving Society of U.K. and the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia.
In the course of time the club ventured into competitive swimming and other aquatic sports and was named the Kinross Swimming and Life Saving Club with Guy Thiedeman the first President and Mike Sirimanne, the Legend of Kinross Club, General Secretary. The original HQ of the Club was a shack build by the founders on the beach opposite Kinross Avenue. The KS&LSC soon became a byword in swimming and dominated the Two-Mile Sea Swims. Swim Champions Gerd Von Dincklage, Ralph Forbes, Hugh Stewart, Hilmi Khalid. Carlislie Chalon, Allister Bartholomeusz, Ian Kelly, Tony Williams (1960 Olympics) Desmond Templar, Rattan Mangharam, Randy Gray, Henry Perera, are names that come to mind.
Other names who made significant contribution to the Club, were Tissa Ariyaratne, Gunaseelam Kanakratnam, Aubrey Van Cuylenberg (Water Polo, Ceylon Soccer goalkeeper), Langston and Fred Pereira.
In 1955, an improved clubhouse was built on the beach just opposite the Station.
The club was built on the proceeds from the carnival, sponsored by Mr Thaha, which ran for about two months on vacant property owned by the William Pedris Family, free of Lease.. The Club was moderately damaged by the recent Tsunami and the present committee of management is hoping to restore the Club and improve the facilities for members. Unfortunately due to changing situations the Club is not in the forefront of aquatics any more. The fierce competition and the “Spirit of Kinross” for which the Club was renowned in the period 1941 – 75, no longer exists, sadly.
The beach, bordering the Bamba Flats, running south, towards the Kinross Club was always very active area for the young and old, each seeking their own. The elderly enjoyed their walks while the young ones looked for nooks and crannies to hold hands, steal a hug and a kiss. Some anglers were seen with rod and line at the edge of the two piers bordering the point where the canal emptied into the sea.
Ridgeway Place starts off with the popular department “Rupee Store”, run by the Paiva family, at the helm with one side of the store facing the Galle Road and its entrance at a 45 degree angle from it.
The Hashim family, comprising Azeem, Zeeniya and siblings lived on the far right.
The Maharoof family, comprising Jaufer Sadiq, Nowfel, Ashroff, Ismail (married to NurJehan), Ramziya (married to Hamid Ariff) and Firodusi (married to Fairoze Hassan, son of Dr. Mohideen Hassan of 5th Lane, Colombo 3), lived down the street.
The old ramshackle Home on the Galle Road between St Peters Place and Ridgeway Place was the abode of the Vantwest family. Old Man Vantwest was a cricket umpire. His eldest son, Ivor Vantwest retired as DIG Police. The other son, Robin Vantwest, was Wesley College Colombo opening batsmen in the 1950s. A huge condominium is being erected, by a developer, on its premises now.
The Corerra’s also lived here.
St. Peters’ Place
Finally St Peters’ Place, followed by The Canal View Stores, a grocery store that provided the customer with everything under one roof, and then the Dutch Canal at Wellawatte, spewing itself into the sea culminated the boundary of Bamba on the seaside.
At the top left was a laundry that served well for the residents living in that area.
The twin flats down St. Peters’ Place were built by the Wimalaratna brothers. They were also the owners of Alerics a famous ice cream joint in Wellawate Galle Road.
No 13 was occupied by a British Family called Mr. Bell and they had a daughter.
No 15 was occupied by Husain Ibrahim and family, formerly of No 15 Mary’s Road, and No 17 was occupied by the Gnanpanditha family.
At the end of the street was the Abdeen flats where Naufal Jabir and his sister Jasmine, children of SM Jabir of Beruwela lived. Yasmin marred Hassan Mohamed, son of MH Mohamed, MP for Borella, ex Speaker and Minister in the UNP Government for several decades.
The Nizar Sherrif’s, whose wife Fathima Khani Thaha, sister of Mubarak Thaha, and hailing from the WM family, lived in a house facing the sea. They had two sons Jizvy, who married Ramona and presently living in Australia with their children, and Azmi who married Amira Moinadeen who used to be employed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and have since migrated to Toronto, in Canada.
DIG Van Twest also lived here.
Canal View Stores & Restaurant
The Canal View Store and Restaurant was owned by the Ratnapala Family. Danny Ratnapala hailed from deep down South of Ceylon and was an extremely good businessman, and noted for his generosity. He knew the area very well and was famous for his Sugar Buns and Seeni Sambol Sandwiches and regularly kept the impossible appetites of the boys and girls in the locality very much in trim, with these delicacies, He was very proud of the Bamba scene and encouraged sports and other activities for the Bamba youth.
I had the good fortune of being acquainted with Nishi Moonesinghe, a member of the Canal View family, and her husband, Nishantha in recent years. They have moved back to Sri Lanka after having spent many years in the UK.
The Bamba Hindu Temple
Moving back to the landside to trace the motley of streets that crisscrossed from the Galle Road towards the innards of Colombo, we return to the Bamba market and the Hindu Kovil, once again where we left off in an earlier chapter.
Mohans, a large textile retail outlet, was one of the big businesses that occupied the long row of shops, traders and
businesses that ran along the front of the Hindu temple. The nature of these trading stores are innumerable from temple flowers, camphor, joss sticks for the devoted to heavily decked Gold and Jewelry for the rich and famous.
De Vos Avenue
This street is named after a Dutch Burgher family. The Ziard family lived at No 33. The Razeens and Rafi Joonoos family also lived there. Neville Fernando, presently in Australia, and family also lived here.
The Pep Inn Bar
The Pep Inn Bar a local watering hole was situated between St Joseph’s Lane and Vajira road, It was pleasant place to visit for a tot and some devilled beef/prawns etc, Pep inn was the meeting place of journalist and others who thought they were a special breed of intellectuals, Close to Pep Inn was the surgery of Dr EMV Naganathan who gave up a lucrative practice to represent the Tamils in parliament.
Vajira Road begins at the end of this Hindu Temple at Bambalapitiya on the landside. The famous Buddhist Girls School, Visakha Vidyalaya, is located down this street and borders a Buddhist Temple that is patronized by the many devour Buddhists in the area and beyond.
Vajira Road extends all the way down to meet Havelock Road where the Police Station and Police Grounds are located. A short distance before the intersection, on the right side extends the continuation of De Fonseka Place which begins at the Galle Road and veers at right angles to meet Vajira Road.
The Stork Family, of whom Philip attended Royal, used to live there in a massive house with a large garden in front. Current owners have converted it into a residence cum Aquarium where tropical fish are exported and sold.
The Goonewardena, of whom the head was BRP, lived in a large mansion opposite Visakha Vidyalaya.
The Mack School of dancing (British) was also located on the same side as Visakha but towards the end of the street closer to Havelock Road.
The Goodacre’s, all of them from the UK also lived there but in separate buildings.
The school began under the name of "Buddhist Girls' College" in a house called "The Firs" at Turret Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was moved to its present premises at Vajira Road on the 21st of November 1927 and named "Visakha Vidyalaya" by Lady Herbert Stanley, the wife of the then Governor of Ceylon. From humble beginnings, Visakha Vidyalaya has risen to the position of the most sought after school for girls in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, it is the only girls' school identified amongst the first National Schools in the Island.
Sitlani’s laundry, owned and managed by the Sitlani family came next. Tony Sitlani, the son, was a popular figure in the
town of Bamba, being a famous character who got himself involved in almost every single schoolboy incident that took place within the town. He married an Indain lady and has a daughter Christina. Tony has three sisters, Rani who married and moved abroad, Mohini who married Mohan Lalvani, and Sonia, who attended St. Pauls' Milagiriya and now lives in Kuwait with her Kuwaiti husband Fuard and family. Tony and his Mum, Brenda, both passed away in 2006.
Saraswathi Lodge, affectionately known as “Saras”, another Saiva Restaurant serving vegetarian food followed Sitlani’s. This was the haunt of many a young schoolboy playing truant or wanting to smoke a fag and enjoy a cuppa tea before proceeding to the Majestic or Savoy Cinema for a matinee movie at 3:30 pm. Saras was the in "Thosai joint" in Bamba for more than half a century and the quality of the South Indian styled Thosais, Vadai, Idli, accompanied by a spicy hot gravy, referred to as the “Sambhar”, was relished by many young and old. A Thosai cost only 5 cents and a Vadai, 3 cents in the fifties, served with spicy hot sambols.
Schoolboys used to revel going into "Saras" for a Thosai feed, as it is well within their measly pocket monies to wash it down with a steaming hot cup of plain (black) tea and a "punt". The "Saras" meal also helps them to save some their pocket money for a measly 50 cents gallery ticket to the movies at the Majestic or Savoy.
Saras is a small eating area littered with rectangular tables side by side that one has to knock over others to seat himself. It is mainly patronized by men and one rarely sees a female face inside the place.
Food used to be served on banana leaves before but now they use stainless steel dishes and mugs. “Saras" has an added attraction when the school big matches like the Royal-Thomian and the Joe-Pete are on, as this is the place where many a school boy heads for during the lunch break at the cricket encounters. It’s an absolutely chaotic mess on these occasions with hundreds of flag waving and sabre rattling boys standing outside on the sidewalk waiting for their turn at the tables inside.
The waiters have to play it cool and so do the management, in view of the match fervor and hyper nature of the boys during this event, as any provocation of even a minor nature could easily spark a massive brawl. Such events usually end up with fisticuffs, blood, sweat and tears, and eventually the cop shop, parents, teachers and maybe, even lawyers.
And then there’s the lot who eat and scoot without paying the bill amidst the mayhem and madness that prevails within and outside the premises. Oh what an annual picnic this is that one must see to believe! The boys are usually clad in various forms of fancy dress and travel in an old “croc”, specially hired for the occasion, accompanied by one of the funeral bands from Wattala who dish out spicy baila rockers that keep the youngsters swinging to the quantity of liquid protein in their bellies. Flags and rattles and whites are the order of the day and noise is something out of this world.
Dharmadasa Bookshop is located at the top of Visakha Road that came next in line. The bookstore was well stocked and the most famous place for school books for almost every grade.
The massive oriental castle styled mansion that belonged to the famous Bohra merchant, Carimjee Jafferjee, stood tall
facing the Galle Road. It was located almost bwteen Shrubbery Gardens and Holy Family Convent Girls School on the seaside.
De Fonseka Place
De Fonseka Place came next where the Zanoon family lived at the first house on the left. Much is spoken about the python they reared, in their garden, for a pet. Naufal, attorney at law married Mumtaz Ahamed, daughter of MLM Ahmed of Ahmed Brothers at 3rd X Street in the Pettah, and moved to Horton Place where he passed away after a brief illness.
Rizvi went on to pass out as a doctor and is practicing in Colombo. Shehara married Muiz Marikar, spent some years in Saudi Arabia and is now back with her family to live at the family residence at de Fonseka Place.
Cycle Bazaar was a massive hoarding on the landside that displayed and sold bicycles, both, imported and locally made in Sri Lanka. It was located on the building facing the Galle Road immediately after de Fonseka Place.
Sittams Pharmacy & Chemists, a well-stocked drug store, came next attached to the same building. Immediately after, a private road led down to many residential homes.
The two gasoline stations, Shell and Caltex, came next side by side. They offered various auto servicing facilities in addition to gasoline. At the end of this stretch of Galle Road, southwards, began Dickman’s Road.
Gita Marcelline in Colombo wrote, in 2019
I used to school from my grandmas place at No.16, De Fonseka Place. Starting with the neighborhood there were Mr. Lyn Dassenaike to the east, Mrs. Jayawickrama to the South; Dr. Gomes to the West and Mrs. Koch to the North.
My friends in the neighborhood were Shahla Saleen, Chandi Senevirarne and Diane Ambalawarner. We used to hang out together and do stuff mostly during the weekends. Zellers, Bombay Sweet House and Cream House were our favorite haunts. We also used to go see movies at Majestic and Savoy among many other cinemas.
At HFC too I had a select group of friends among whom were Fuona Devotta, Susan Barsenbach, Sandra Hepponstall, Jilska Nathanielz and Charmaine Schargnivel, all of whom lived in Banbalapitiya.
In and out of school we had our fair share of fun especially during the boys school cricket match times when the Peterites used to store. The school during parades and had the nuns running around trying to protect the girls from the 'hooligans' at Sports meets at St. Peter's College, charity/fundraisers like beat shows, fairs, etc. It was innocent fun back then devoid of alcohol and drugs. Need I say more?
Right at the top, on the intersection of Galle Road was the residence of Lord Mowjood.
#9 – Mathany Ismail, Noor, Sadiq & Salih
#14 was occupied by SLM Abddullah.
At #15 there was Nilam Haji.
#17 – Abdul Cader, Niyaz, Faikna, andd Sithy
#25 – Abbas Haji
#35 – Dr Turab FazleAbbas, acclaimed ENT specialist
One of the most famous residences down Dickman’s road was the Eastern Aquaria which exported and sold ornamental fish. Owned and managed by a Bohra family this place was a favorite with kids who enjoyed keeping fish as pets.
Sri Lanka’s well known and sought after ENT Specialist, Dr. FazleAbbas, a member of the Bohra Community, also lived and practiced down Dickmans Road.
Dr. HSR Goonewardene, whose son Ramlal attended Royal (’59 Group) and excelled in Rugby and Athletics and later joined the CID and was a member of the War Crimes Tribunal for Bosnia in the Hague, also lived down this street. Dr HSR was also an old Royalist who was a batch mate of Thahir Sameer who lived at No 300 Galle Road. Ramlal passed away early in life.
The Madani Ismail Family, consisting of Madani, his wife, and their children, Salih, Sadiq, and Nazeera, lived right opposite the side section of St. Pauls’ Milagiriya. Advocate Nazim and his family lived further down the road towards the Havelock Town section. Ms Nash, who belongs to Mack School of dancing was also a teacher at St. Pauls Milagiriya, lived here. Her niece Jennifer Batholamusz too lived with her.
Ebert Place branches off Dickmans Road, opposite the gate of St Paul's Milagiriya, and meets De Fonseka Place. Many palatial homes, engulfed with foliage, used to be located there.
The Bogoda Flats in bright pink stood at the right end of Dickman’s Road, bordering Havelock Road.
Theo wrote in 2013... I lived in Bethesda Place since 1960 attended St Peters, and left Sri Lanka in 1983 I enjoyed reading the article it is fantastic the people mentioned many of my class mates or sisters of my class mates some notable name missing are the Sellayahs of the flats, Michelle Wright daughter of Malcolm Wright the rugby ref in McLeod Road, Dawn Martyn's brother George (my Classmate),
the Jeganathans, M S and N S masters at St Peters, the Soysas, Alles, Nagendras, Denis and Neil Chamugam, David and Richard Heyn all of Bethesda Place
The afternoon hang out for a thosai and a cigerette for the Peterites--Ramjee Lodge which was next to Rohana book shop
Ebert Place branches off Dickmans Road, opposite the gate of St Paul's Milagiriya, and meets De Fonseka Place. Many palatial homes, engulfed with foliage, used to be located there. Stubbs Place was located to the east of Ebert Place and the well-known Abeygunawardena family lived there. The tennis twins Susima and Srima were two of the better known members of this family. Rajasooriyar (59er) also lived down this lane.
Further to the east of this lane was the Havelock Town (Colombo 00500) Post Office. This facility also house the telephone exchange for the area. De Fonseka Road was a few houses to the east of the post office. East of where De Fonseka Road joined Dickman’s Road was a medical clinic run by Dr. Nimalasuriya. Next, Anderson Road ran north from Dickman’s Road.
Bogola Flats was at the southeast end of the road and adjoined Havelock Road. The Professor of Chemistry at Peradeniya Sultan Bawa, had a flat opposite the flats on the north side. Dr. Mutucumarana, later Professor of Physics at Colombo University lived in the Flats. Ven Malewana, was a Buddhist monk who lived in an adjoining house on Havelock Road and dispensed of native medicine for various ailments.
[contributions from Graham Koch, Vajira Gunewardena, and Kusum Perera]
No 1 - Roche (Maurice Roche % Co Ltd)
No 3 – Boarding house for males
No 5 - Mr/Mrs Correa
No 7 – Mr/Mrs Saleem (snr) grand parents & M A Q Saleem & Gulnar Raheems Dad - Engineer CEB & mum teacher at St Paul’s Milagiriya
MrMrs Saleem - Sheerin & Shahla (Now Mothercare on Duplication Road)
No 9 - Ratnagopals - eldest daughter Sashi married Vijayslingam (from Milagiriya Avenue - QC Thiyalingams son)
The next was Lalith Kotellawela (assessment no was fm de Fonseka pl) That’s the junction
No 2 - Enid Perera (music teacher)
No 4 – Selvadurais
No 6 - Dr/Mrs Goonewardena (the whole lane bought eggs from them)
No 8 – Ambalawarners
No 10 - Daniels
No 12 - Mr/Mrs Silva
No 14 - “Polwarth” It’s still in the same condition - now Amaliya Foundation, owned by Baladubramanim
No 16 - Chinese family - Labu, Suffein, Baby
Next was Dr Gomes - ( assessment from de Fonseka Place, whose neighbor were the Marcellines – Geetha
That’s the street where we lived. Cars were washed on the lane on Sunday’s, & children cycled all the time !
[sent by Shahla Cassim nee Saleem]
"My father bought our house at 23 Anderson Road, off Dickman's Road, Colombo 5, in the mid-1960s. It was a delightful bungalow type house set at the end of a shady, tree lined road that has not changed much in all these years. Other families living on this road included Barbara Sansoni and family (her son, reputed photographer Dominic Sansoni still lives there), Gaston and Lakshmi Perera and their sons Chamath and Dylan, the Ekanayakes, the De Mels, and the Chinese Embassy was at one point located in the house adjoining us. The iconic St Michaels' Nursing Home was located at the top of the road, but sadly is relegated to history now.
Our house was the 'last' one in a sense, for there was a metal pole barrier that rendered the road a dead end from beyond our house. Residences on the other side of the barrier had to be accessed from Havelock Road through a lane adjacent to the Thimbirigasyaya Road petrol station. From our side, by foot, the road offered access to Thimbirigasyaya market, Cindy's Milk Bar next to the petrol station, and other landmarks of yore." [Ajita Kadirgamar, May 17, 2020]
The Portuguese, during their reign of Ceylon from 1505 to 1640, built a church to Nossa Senhora Dos Milagros – “Our Lady of Miracles” – on the landside bordering Galle Road in Bambalapitiya.
The Dutch, during their subsequent rule, tore it down and raised a “Reformed” church on the same location. When the British overruled the Dutch and took possession of Ceylon, in 1815, they converted the church to a Presbyter of some sorts and giving it the name of St. Pauls.
Eventually a girls’ school sprouted up within the church premises and to this day is called, St. Pauls Milagiriya. Since then, even the locality around the church is referred to as Milagiriya and an electoral Ward named Milagiriya also exists to date. St. Pauls Milagiriya Girls’ School is located right at the top of Dickman’s Road and stretches all the way along Galle Road to de Kretser Place.
It also borders Dickmans Road all the way down to the first cross road on the right which meets de Kretser place at right angles.
The school, which was founded on the 14th of January 1887 as a Parish school attached to the St. Paul's Church of Milagiriya with just 24 students and 4 teachers, it is worthy of special mention that it has a student population of approximately 4000+ students, a tutorial staff of 140+ members and a non-academic staff of 25+ members. The Rev Canon Ivan Corea, Vicar of St. Pauls Milagiriya Church, also lived at Milagiriya.
He is the father of the late Vernon Corea, broadcaster and Ernest Corea, former editor Ceylon Daily News and also Ambassador to the US. Ivan Corea is the grandson who now resides in the UK.
De Kretser Place
St Anne’s Maternity & Nursing Home was located down de Kretser Place.
A very famous location at Bamba, where many interesting people were born in later days. Vijaya Corea, also a famous broadcaster of Radio Ceylon vintage, is a cousin of Vernon and Ernest.
The Nayar family whose daughters went to SPM lived there and so did the Moosin family the then famous glassmaker lived in a large house down this street.
Rama Ratnam and his family lived at No 23 De Kretser Place in the early 1970s when he was barely 10 years old then. The Ratnam's were from India and his father was serving in the Indian High Commission Office in Colombo.
There is a little dead-end lane that branches off De Kretser Place, on the left, to one side of SPM. The Ratnam’s bungalow
was across the little lane facing the SPM wall. On the same side and down the lane was a retired judge named Weerasuriya. The one-storey bungalow was owned by a Tamil lady who had migrated to England and she had, in turn, rented it out to the Indian High Commission. It was a charming bungalow, across the street from St. Anne's Maternity Hospital & Nursing Home. Actually the hospital was to one side across the street. There were two elderly Burgher sisters, who lived in a house by the side of the hospital, and they were right across the street from us.
They would have the Ratnam siblings over for tea now and then. Their verandah was filled with variegated plants and they served these lovely little cakes and things. They were kind and gentle people and so affectionate to the neighborhood kids.
Rama states that he liked the write-up on this blog because it mentioned two families that he and his siblings knew very well. There were the Moosins (a wonderful, happy, large sprawling family living in this wonderful sprawling house that looked more like a hotel than anything) and the Nayars. They hung out a lot with some of Mr. Moosin's younger children (Nazeera and Mumtaz who were roughly Rama's age at that time).
And then there were the Nayar's daughters who went to SPM and were somewhat older (they were perhaps in their teens at that time). Their names were Urmila and Sharmila and they would play with Rama and his sister accompanied by tons of books. They were ever so nice people and the whole gang had lots of fun. It was so laid back then. Leaving sunny Lanka and returning to India was a wrench, as Rama writes, "I was barely in my teens when we returned to India, and it was big, chaotic, and so very noisy.
My heart was in Sri Lanka, and there is a part of me that still lives in Bambalapitiya (after so many years). I still consider myself a Royalist and keep in touch with the old boys. May all of this live long and prosper. I loved it all." [Received from Rama Ratnam, currently in India, by email on May 20, 2006].
Between de Kretser Place and Nandana Gardens stands the beautiful home of Newton Wijeratne and his family at No 321, facing the Galle Road where he lived with his wife Freda and children, Shalini, Kusum, Kumar, and Naushad.
Newton, brother of Donald, owned and managed his own photography studio at Maradana but died under very tragic circumstances in the sixties. Freda and the rest of the children have since migrated to Australia.
It was here that David de Kretser, now Professor and also recently elected Governor of Melbourne, Australia, lived. The street took its name from this famous Burgher family in Ceylon at that time. David and his family left Ceylon and migrated to Australia in 1949. Other significant members of the family, in recent times, are Nigel de Kretser, Barrister, who lived at the Bamba Flats, whose family also migrated to Australia in the late fifties.
Rama Ratnam wrote in 2009…
Some years ago I wrote about my childhood years in De Kretser place (in the early 1970s). You had very kindly reproduced my reminiscences, but I want to mention one additional fact that came to my mind. This concerns the two Burgher sisters who lived next to St. Anne's Nursing home, and across the street from our bungalow on 23 De Kretser. I had forgotten their names. But some time ago I mentioned your website to my sister and we got to talking about the people who lived on the street. My sister is very sure that that the Burgher sisters were the De Kretsers.
I think this is a fascinating little revelation, and I am wondering if you or some of your readers can determine which De Kretser sisters these were. They were getting on even then, perhaps in their 70s. I now recall that one of them was named Sybil. I am not sure but it would be nice if you can fill in the details.
On another note, I see that your website is thriving. This is very good, and it fills my heart./Sincerely, Rama Ratnam
I do not remember her name though but I do remember what she looked like very clearly in my mind. I have to check with my wife to see if her name is on any of the documents in my daughters baby file and will post it here if I find it. Thanks Rama, very useful memories from the great times of the old days.
I saw this rather dated note from Anne Salvador-Dunlop (January 19, 2007) just now. Anne said ...
"I recall 'Bookman' coming down my street each Sunday. He carried a 'reading library to your door'! He lived in Davidson Road and was of Indian decent. I heard that he returned to India possibly after the 83 riots."
I think I know who he is. He was "Henry". He was quite old even then (we knew him when we lived in Sri Lanka from 1971-1977).
My mum was a voracious reader and Henry would bring huge piles of books which he somehow slung on to his bicycle.
My sister and I would scream with delight when we saw him wobbling down De Kretser place where we lived. My mother was very liberal and would pass-on every book that she read to me and my sis. By the time I was 10 years old I was reading some pretty hard-boiled stuff for my age (D. H. Lawrence, etc.) It was fantastic!
After we moved out from De Kretser place we were no longer in Henry's "beat". So we would have to go to his house to borrow books. Henry lived in Wellawatte if I remember right. He was not very well off but he had a small Spartan house, and it looked exactly like a library inside! Long rows of tall shelves with books neatly arranged.
I acknowledge my love for reading and writing to Henry. Bless him where ever he is. He delivered happiness on a bicycle. He opened our eyes to the world of books and introduced us to the joy of reading.
Thank you Anne, for bringing this memory back. It is the quaintness and the utter charm of Bambalapitiya that I always remember. And all the people who were part of it, the endearing characters like Henry, they gave it soul and character.
Re Rama Ratnam’s inquiry on the De Kretsers:
There were two branches of the De Kretser family who lived down Joseph Lane from the late forties through the sixties, after which date they moved to De Kretser place ! I remember being told by the family that they were connected to the De Kretsers of De Kretser place.
For the Bamba record let me complete the picture; The De Kretser family who lived at 35 Joseph lane was made up of Dagma (Mack) Inez (Claessen) Lynette and Therese. Lynette who was known in the vernacular as "Lynette Missie” was a Matron at the "Lying - in- home" quaint but better known as the maternity Unit of the General Hospital.
Lynette was tall and very attractive - and a truly compassionate woman dispensing advice to those in the neighborhood and beyond on matters of Pre and postnatal care often delivered in flawless Sinhala. I am not sure whether Lynette or her Sisters were connected to St Anne’s as I lost contact with the family after the grandsons – my playmates- left for England.
Dagma was a widow and was truly resourceful . She gave dress making and cake decorating classes and also had a thriving home based business in custom tailoring mostly for the upper echelon Burger families. Inez was the wife of George Claessen founder of the celebrated 43rd group.
The family matriarch was "Ma" Schockman whose first marriage was to a De Kretser. Ma insisted on grace and courtesy from the neighborhood children and was particularly keen on giving timely advice to us- her grandsons’ friends – all adolescents - on avoiding the social evils facing young men in SL Society!!!
The second branch of the De Kretsers lived several doors away. This family had two boys, Brian and Maxim and two girls, one was Christine the other’s name I cannot recollect. Brian was a Police Detective and lived and worked in Colombo long after the rest of his family departed for Australia.
These De Kretsers were all delightful people . I hope Rama Ratnam finds this information useful.
sister, Rochelle, who are also in OZ. They lived at the Bamba Flats and must also be connected to the same families for sure?
So, I read Youngbro's post with much interest. I was thinking about the comment you made Fazli, about Henry's kindness. The gift of reading given at an early age has far-reaching consequences. If we can touch and transform even one life, then we have lived well.
Three decades ago, in poor countries with limited access to libraries, this was more so. It is humbling to think that a poor man carrying books on a bicycle, set me off on a voyage of discovery through reading. I wonder how many more he influenced in this way.
Henry probably influenced many although this may not have been his intention. But I like to think that his basic kindness and decency had much to do with it.
Nandana Gardens & Hildon Place
Next was Nandana Gardens and Hildon Place. Starline Pharmacy was a household name at Bamba for drugs and groceries. Located at the beginning of Hildon Place, facing the Galle Road, its clientele were far from few and the business was run very successfully.
The Weinman family who lived at #28 Hildon Place were also famous for many significant contributions to Bamba’s way of life.
Darrell, the oldest went on to become a very sought after and famous Neuro Surgeon and migrated to Australia. Lester was one of the founding partners of East-West, a premier computer company in Colombo. Rosaine studied at HFC and was a batch mate of Pauline Ratnayake (married to Nazeer Rasheed and living in New York now).
Freda & Newton Wijayaratna lived at the top of the road in their lovely home facing Galle Road, Children:- Shalini, Kusum, Kumar, Naushad and Damayanthi.
Newton is the brother of Donald Wijayaratna, and they both ran their own photo studios in Maradana. The boys attended Royal College and the girls went to SPM.
Other families who lived down this street were:
- Mr & Mrs Rosairo, Children:- Rajah, Imelda, Veronica and Gretchel.
- Richard Peiris and wife, Children Jerome and David
- Mr & Mrs Chandraratne
- Mrs Brohier and Major Fareed son Richard
- Mr & Mrs Thanikasalam
- Prof and Mrs Seneviratne, Children:- Manel, Chitra
- Mr & Mrs Reggie Candappa, Children:- Sriyani Tidball, Neela Marikkar
- Mr & Mrs Wijesinghe and son
- Mr & Mrs Liyanage and sons
- Mr & Mrs Nanayakkara and son, Wilson
- Dr and Mrs Oswin Fernando, Children:- Indrani, Puvi
- Mr & Mrs Chelliah, Children:- Thavendra, Dushan
- Prof and Mrs Appapillai, Children:-Prem, Mano, Daya and sister
- Mr & Mrs Alwis, Children Neville, and a sister
- Owner of Hotel De Majestic, wife and children
- Mr & Mrs Charlie Oorloff, Children:- Joseph, Jerry and sister
- Mr & Mrs Dirckze. Children:- Philip, Beverley, sister
- Mr & Mrs Anver and children at No 40
- Chelvathy & Prabahkar Muthukrishna (Polytechnic) and daughters Dinoo and Tarika
- Mr Cecil Bocks. Harold and Imelda de Sayrah, son and daughter
- Mr & Mrs Yogasundaram, Children:- Indran and Melani. Owner, Stanley Pharmacy
- Mr & Mrs Paulus, Children:- Saroja and Stanley
- Mr & Mrs Lucian Muththiah (S P Muththiah & Co, Contractors) and 2 sons
- Shuhaib Cader & family (Puvi)
- Mr & Mrs Wijemanne, Children:- Dil, Marise
- Pauline & Irene Senadheera
- Akbar & Niloufer
- Sithy Mihlar
- Anwar Hajiar
- Ali (Majestic Hotel)
McLeod Road is next with the Paiva family right at the helm. Tyronne Paiva, an old Peterite, worked for Citibank in Colombo in the Treasury before moving on to join Union Bank as a branch manager and has retired since. His wife Cheryl also worked for Citigroup and USAID and passed away, sadly, in 2020.
The Marikars from Mawanella also built their mansions down McLeod Road. Yassin Marikkar, his wife, Dr. Nafeesa and the two girls lived there. Yassins father was referred to as SP Appa in Mawanella, as he was the unofficial SP of the area, and everyone knew him by that name. The girls spent most of their time studying in the UK while Yassin and Nafeesa spent many a year as expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia where Yassin was the Chief Engineer at the Intercontinental Hotel in Riyadh and Nafeesa worked as a doctor at the Shemeesy Hospital. Yassin took ill towards his latter days and passed away in 2003.
He is the brother of Mukthar Marikkar, ex Vice Chairman Rupavahini Corporation who is married to Farahana Lathiff, granddaughter of the late Badiuddin Mahmud.
Zarook Marikkar, another brother is married to Neela Candappa, Director of Grants Advertising, and daughter of the late Reggie Candappa.
A massive, tall, glass building was erected on the landside, facing the Galle Road immediately after McLeod Road. It was owned and managed by the proprietors of Alerics Ice Cream and Piccadilly Café, the Wickremaratne’s at Wellawatte.
Other families who lived down this street were,
- Aleric Wimalaratne, (the famous Alerics Ice Cream magnate), at No 2
- Rosario Paiva lived at No 1
- The Mendis family at No 3
- Denders at No 4
- Staislaus Paiva lived at No 5
- Esufalis at No 6
- Fernando (Royal College teacher) family at No 7. Sons are Mohan, Jayantha, Bumpy, daughter Saroja
- Sooriyaratchi at No 8
- The Muthyapillai family whose sons are Radha, Rama, & Baalu, lived in a big house in the center of the street
- Proctor Kaleel
- Claude Fernando whose son, Rohan, captained St Josephs College cricket
- The Colin-Thome family, the famous judge
- Karunalingam. Their father was partner at M/S Ford Rhodes Thornton & Company
- Marikar (Auctioneer), daughter Linda
- Refai (Zam Gems)
- Hadji Omar, famous ruggerite, further down the road
- There was also a Tamil doctors family whose son was Ferdinand. Siblings are also doctors.
Akram wrote in 2007...
Fazli, Your account captures the spirit and cultural richness of Bambalapitiya. I wonder whether it would be the same any more. The Marikkars down Mcleod Road came from Mawanella and the old man used to be called SP Appa (as he was the unofficial SP of the area and folks wouldn’t know him by his real name). Also Mukthar Marikkar was married to Farhana
Latiff, (granddaughter of the late Dr. Badiuddin Mahmood) who was Vice Chairman of Rupavahini Corp.
The Wellawatte Hindu Kathiresan Kovil (Temple)
The Wellawatte Hindu Kathiresan Kovil came next, similar to the one at Bambalapitiya described above.
A row of businesses and shops marched all along Galle Road on its front face. The temple would throng with worshippers in the evenings of Fridays when devotees would attend to their rituals accompanied by the beating of drums and the blowing of long flutes and pipes. Jasmine was the flower that devotees usually carried to the temple or females wore on their hair. The businesses that thronged the front of the temple ranged from skin clinics to laundries.
The famous Mr Pillai’s Skin Clinic was the first in the row. It was here that the much attended Sai Baba Bhajans were held on a weekly basis.
Several vegetarian restaurants, Asoka Lodge and Ramjee Lodge, were also famous for their special south Indian culinary of Vadais, Thosays, Idli’s and Sambaar, not forgetting the Murukku’s and Pakkoda’s.The banana shop was located in between the two lodges and served the public with a variety of banana, beetle leaves, jasmine flowers and other temple ritual accessories for the devotees who visited the temple.
The main entrance to the temple was next. Podi Singho’s Motor Cycle and bicycle workshop was, and still is, the oldest establishment in the row. After the death of the father, Podi Singho, his sons took over and ran the business successfully extending their services to maintain cars and heavy vehicles too.
“I even bought my very first used Raleigh bicycle from him for Rs 50/-, paying him in monthly installments of Rd 10/-.”
– Fazli Sameer
Right next door was the largest grocery store in the area owned and managed by AMS Nadar & Company, affectionately known as “Nadar’s shop”. Later on this business was bought over by a young lad from Galle who renamed it to Piyasena Stores by which name it still runs successfully.
Lorensz Road came next, leading all the way down to the entrance of Saraswathi Hall and Hindu College on the left. The road ended at the Layards Road/Dawson Road intersection. Dawson Road is now renamed to Amarasekera Mawatha after Mudaliyar ACGS Amarasekera who lived there.
Dawson Road ran further down to meet Havelock Road at the point where the Colombo Colts Cricket Club is located in Colombo 5.
The beautiful Ms Maureen Hingert, Miss Ceylon, who went on to become the second runner-up at the Miss Universe Contest 1955 lived, with her parents, down Lorensz Road. The final results at the beauty pageant were as follows:-
Miss Universe 1955: HILLEVI ROMBIN Sweden
1st Runner Up: MARIBEL ARIOLA - El Salvador
2nd Runner Up: MAUREEN HINGERT - Ceylon
3rd Runner Up: MARGUT NUNKE - Germany
4th Runner Up: KEIKO TAKAHASHI - Japan
Maureen was born in Ceylon, the daughter of Lionel Hingert and Lorna Mabel de Run.
She won the Miss Ceylon contest in 1955 and also in 1955 she became second runner-up to Hillevi Rombin, Miss Sweden, in the Miss Universe contest.
In 1956-57, under her real name she stars opposite Maxwell Reed as Anura, a beautiful South Seas native girl, in the British TV series Captain David Grief, shot on location in Mexico.
Revealing photographs of her appear in the September 1957 edition of Playboy in scenes from the film Gun Fever. In 1958 she acts in the film Fort Bowie on location at the Kanab Movie Fort at Kanab, Utah. She had a daughter, Gina.
Many other small houses with adjacent common walls lined the right side of the street all the way down to the end. Sithy Zulaiha Ghouse bought one of the houses opposite the Saraswathi Hall where she lived with her husband, Huzair Zaheed. She is the eldest daughter of Rameela Sameer, grand-daughter of Mohamed Sameer of 298 Galle Road fame.
Zulaiha & Huzair have two children, Ruzna, married to Saheedulla from Galle, and Azad Zaheed, married to Mafaza Mohideen, from Wellawatte.
Rameela and family lived at No 43 Lily Avenue Wellawatte. Lorensz Road was located right opposite to Sagara Road. Mr & Mrs Fernando with their one and only daughter lived there before they moved to Australia Miss Rene and Miss Alvis lived down Skeleton Road and so did Mr. and Mrs Colin from Mack School of dancing (British).
Others who lived down this street are Nafisa TaherAlly and her family, the Dirckze’s, whose mum worked in the foyer of The Savoy Cinema, Ian Kelley, and Mr Viswanathan, a real estate broker.
Comments to a Pic Posted by Ian Kelly of his parents on Facebook on May 26, 2020
Jennifer Cader: Lovely couple. I think Desmond favors your father and you are more like your mother. Am I wrong?
Maria Jordanou: looks you but ... little slim and mum ,beautiful !!! nice pic senor!!
Kumar Molligoda: Ian Conrad De Silva and Mervyn Direckze also lived down that road almost at the top and Milroy De Silva lived down St. Marys Road .Exalted company and with your bro Desmond that was one hell of a musical neighborhood.
Ian Kelly: It sure was, we used to stand underneath the gas lamp and sing, Desmond, Rogan my younger bro then, Conrad, Milroy Silva who lives now lives in Canada still sings in a band. Milroy and his brother Glen also had their homes on Lorensz Road.
Nish Seneviratne wrote in 2007
Brings back great memories. Angelo De Silva (brother of Conrad) would love to read this, if anyone is in contact with him please forward this blog to him. We had some fun with the rickshaws between McLeod Road and Lorensz Road, not forgetting the “Thosay Kadeys” at the top of Lorensz Road, in the sixties.
Enjoyed discovering your blog and intend to delve into it for a quiet walk down memory lane.
Maureen Hingert had a younger sister, Melanie who was in our class, I think, at HFC. There was quite a little hill almost opposite their house where we loved to race down on our bikes, coming home with bruised and open knees after many a toss. We loved to proudly display those wounds, painted over with some red tincture, as signs of our bravery. Guess we were quite some tomboys!
Dina Lalvani was also at HFC. The Casie-Chettys from Sagara Road had three girls. Esha was in our class too.
Flatters: You might like to mention the Bhagwandas Family - their very pretty and warm-hearted mum who was always playing and running after one of her 11 children. The whole clan is in Melbourne and still quite closely knit. A wonderful family. Ruki was in our class and Mohan was like our big brother.
Joe Fernando's wife, Catherine, could bake the most wonderful cakes and desserts. A lady to her fingertips. Jean and Raj Fernando, grew up down Hildon Place and were neighbours of the Weinmans. Raj lives in NZ and Jean's daughter is a journalist who recently won a UN prize in USA for her work.
The diving club in Kinross served the most delicious devilled prawns that I can remember.
Were the Ebert sisters somehow connected to HFC? Can remember a big Miss Ebert and Small Miss Ebert coming to school in a small Bug-Fiat. I think they were teachers in the primary.
It’s not exactly Bamba - but think lots of us remember the Amarasekera School of Art (down Dawson Road)? Old Mr Amarasekera was quite a dapper old gentleman who taught us all about art and made a great impact on most of us during his Saturday classes. Lots of us owe our foundation knowledge in the Fine Arts to that great man. He was pretty academic, but it’s important to master the skills before delving into creativity.
It’s a pity that you don’t include Havelock Town area in your blog...Skelton Road, Elibank Road, Layards Road etc. Would love to discover some neighbors and friends from that neck of the woods.
Thanks and keep up the good work.
Sonia in Kuwait
The New Wellington Sports Club
Situated between Lorensz Road and Davidson Road on a block of land housing slums stood the New Wellington Sports Club. This club catered to the leisure and recreational needs of the local community. The President of this Club was Richard “Aiyar” Perera who was the "Chandiya" (strongman) of the whole of Bamba, Wellawate region right up to Vihare Lane in Wellawate. He had a huge Eagle with wings spread tattooed on his back.
Richards other brothers were Albert and Wilson, Albert the eldest was the original owner of the Giant Wheel, Ocean Ride, Merry ground and carnival amusement equipment which he used to lease for carnivals and fun-fairs. These were in frequent use at Vel festivals, local funfairs and carnivals.
The local kids were always treated to free rides. Wilson Aiyar ran a bucket shop, under the cover of a “They Kade” (tea boutique) which was the meeting place of people hoping for a win on the horse races held in the UK and many horse racing venues in India.
The members of this Club were very protective and respectful to the people of the neighborhood, but woe is unto those who crossed their paths.
The Bamba Police kept a sharp eye on some of the activities of this Club but seldom was there any major trouble.
As the children of this neighborhood frequented the Kinross bathing enclosure, and many were rescued by the KS&LS squad, there was a deep bond and respect for the KS&LSC members. The grandson of Herbert Bartholomeusz, a pioneer resident was accorded special privileges. In fact, he learnt the game of Billiards from none other than Richard Aiyar.
The descendants of the Perera Family, Henry and Edwin still live in Bamba and are still friends of the writer.
Another row of shops lined the Galle Road all the way up to Davidson Road which also ends up at Layards Road and turns left towards the beginning of Dawson Road and the end of Lorensz Road. Rajah Jewelers occupies the first business enterprise at the top of Lorensz Road facing No 298 Galle Road on the seaside.
The popular barber salon with its western style swing doors came next followed by the laundry. It was located right opposite to No. 300 Galle Road on the seaside.
A narrow cul-de-sac housing tenements and shanties came next with a billiards and bar club next door where bookmakers flourished taking bets on horses for races run in the UK. Richard was the most famous of the leaders of this mafia type gangland that lived, worked, and thrived in this small slum within the town.
Then came a “bottle shop”, so called because his business was the collection of old used bottles, scrap iron, clothes, and throw-away stuff for collection and resale.
Next door was a “night kade” restaurant that served delicious finger food for those who drove past in the late hours. The music on the radio was blaring all the time.
And last, but not least, in the row was another grocery store later renamed to “Gintota Stores” which also served the neighborhood successfully.
Davidson Road, during the fifties, was considered a kind of dangerous place where dangerous elements roamed. The Shareef Hajiar family (known as “Pulla Kutty” Sheriff on account of the large number of children he had) owned property on the left side of the street and lived there.
Old man, Shareef Hajiar, impeccably dressed with a white pointed cap on his head, was often seen driving his polished limousine up the street many a times. Shareef Hajiars second spouse, Mazaya, lived down the street with her many children, Jabir, Shafi, Mazeena (Shuhaib Ghouse), Lareefa, Ummu Zohra (Izzet Packir Saibo), Noor Mueeza (Fuard Thahir) & Nazly (Wahid), Hussain, Hassan, Muhsin, Ali Reza, & Imthiaz.
The Sanoon Caders lived there before they left to Frazer Avenue Dehiwela and on the opposite side lived Mr. & Mrs Sulaiman and Mr & Mrs Fowzie who later sold the house and the Sulaimans went to Malwatte road Dehiwela and Fowzie went to Wellawatte. A thriving entertainment business that provided carousels for carnivals was also located on the right side of the street.
The whole block from the billiard club to Davidson Road housed many a slum at its rear which was referred to as the “Watta” meaning “garden”. The place was famous for illicitly brewed alcohol and other shady going-ons, especially after dark. Many a fight or quarrel would ensue within the locality and would be sorted out by the Mafiosi in their own special way.
A plot of bare land facing Galle Road follows. Later on a tourist guest house called “Elephant Walk” was built there but also closed down on account of the many Police raids that were conducted for many shady activities that were taking place within the premises.
My dad was a ‘bambalawatte’ boy (was known as Sundu – truncated from Somasundaram!) He was Uncle Desmond’s (Baila fame) classmate.
We lived at 46 Davidson Road. I remember how as a kid I had to regularly visit M block at Bamba flats to yank my dad away from those rowdy baila sessions.
My dad’s other good friend was Fricky (Khan) uncle who was at our place on Davidson Rd the day before he died. That day Fricky got a good shelling from my grandma for drinking too much! Our generation still keeps in touch. Uncle Fricky’s niece and nephew Humera and Anwar Ahmad live in Scarborough Toronto and Tarick Ameen and I are good buddies
I still go to salon Anoma at Bamba flats for my “salon’ needs although I live in Kollupitya. Anoma salon is kinda “posh” now and even does manicures and pedicures!!
used to be in and out of Aunty Sheila and Uncle Haig’s place at Marys Road.
Aunty Sheila was a good seamstress. We had prayer sessions at Sriyani and Christopher’s
place. Right on top (next to the Coomaravel’s house) now is the Chariot food
Aunty Swanee’s (Jayewardene) son Rohan passed away last year. She closed her outlet in Kollupitya and re-opened a branch at Kirullpona at a place called Ghandara.
would like a contact number or e-mail address so that i can get in touch with them...my contact e-mail address is:
i live in Melbourne Australia and would appreciate if you could help me.... i loved your blog and reading about all the residents of BAMBA and was really sad to hear about the death of uncle Michael Mack who was a very good friend of my dead Ernie van Cuylenburgh who is now deceased can you also please convey my best wishes to Rohan de Silva and family...
regards / Dreena
The famous Bambalapitiya branch of KVG de Silva Book store came next at the beginning of a large two floor building that reached up to Kensington Gardens.
Just before the bookshop, at a lower level from the Galle Road slightly to the rear, was a small illegally erected stall referred to as the “Lottara Kadey” meaning “lottery shop”. Here a young Sinhalese lad ran a small store that sold comic books, fruit, and other knick-knacks. He also had a lottery offering several juicy prizes of sweets, comic books and other stuff that attracted the young. The place was demolished after many years of existence and many a youth in Bamba used to patronize the place for their weekly stock of comic reading or spicy mango preserve.
KVG’s as the bookstore was referred to had a wide array of imported books and novels that were the attraction of many residents who spent long hours in literary pursuit during those halcyon days of English learning and acquisition of general knowledge.
Next door was a textile store called “Padmini’s”, owned and managed by a Sindhi businessman, his son and daughter. The old man was much loved by the neighborhood. Adjacent to Padmini’s was a pharmacy followed by another Sindhi owned Textile Store called “Beauty’s”.
Kensington Gardens Kensington Gardens came next. The first house on the right was owned and occupied by the Rizan family where Shiraz Sharker, Rizvi Bishrul-Hafi and their families lived. A dashing Cadillac used to stand parked under their porch very visible to the traffic on Galle Road.
The family were very wealthy owning and managing a very lucrative textile store in the Pettah which was built and run successfully by their ancestors.
Mr & Mrs Jayah and Family too lived there together with their only daughter Shanaz. With them were the orphans Dhilma and Yasmin Sally and another cousin of theirs. In the annex was Mr. and Mrs Carawalio with their son and daughter Jennifer who married and went to India and Stanley who married one of the Suby girls. All of them moved over to Arethusa Lane Col 6.
The Muslim Ladies College was located on the right further down Kensington Gardens, built on land that was donated to the school by Sir Razik Fareed whose house abutted the school at the back down Fareed Place, two lanes next.
Another bookstore, “Rohana Bookshop”, facing the Galle Road, stood next. Its owner was an ex-employee of Dharmadasa bookshop at the top of Visakha Road at Bamba, who had ventured out into his own business.
Razeendale Gardens, a private road that also led up a garden path on a short cut to Muslim Ladies’ College was situated next.
The name was derived from its tenant Ms Razeena Abdul Rahman, sister of Sir Razik Fareed, who married Ghouse Mohideen and lived there with her family. She was also the first ever Muslim female Justice of the Peace, appointed by the British Government before Independence in 1948, in Sri Lanka.
MUSLIM LADIES COLLEGE
Muslim Ladies College is known and recognized in Sri Lanka as the premier state educational institution for Muslim Girls. It is located at No 22, Kensington Gardens, Colombo 04 and was started in 1946 by the Ceylon Moor Ladies' Union, on land and buildings donated by Sir Razik Fareed.
A school that started with 26 students, today has a student population of 2800 and a tutorial staff of 109. It has a student hostel. The school has completed almost 60 years of dedicated service to the cause of Muslim girls' education. The school follows the educational ideals of a good citizen and upholds a life of purity, discipline and service exemplified by the highest and the noblest in Muslim Womanhood. Students are given the opportunity to participate in planning sharing and managing school activities which would give them the experience to perform to the best of their ability to develop the confidence and self-understanding so necessary for a full and satisfying life.
Fareed Place came next where the famous Sir Razik Fareed had his sprawling mansion, with his orchid gardens in full
bloom throughout the year, at the bottom end of the street. Sir Razik, as he was affectionately known, was a very prominent Muslim leader who served the nation as Minister and also High Commissioner in Pakistan. He was the founder President of the MICH, a premier Muslim Organization,
inaugurated in the early nineties. His grandfather, Wapchi Marikar Bass was the owner and builder of the houses at 298 & 300 Galle Road, Bambalapitiya in addition to having been given the honor of building the GPO, NMLA bulding in the Fort, Customs building, and the Colombo Museum. WM Bass was also one of the founders of Zahira College, Maradana.
The Imamdeens also lived down Fareed Place, whose sons are Shamil and Shiham. Shiham married the granddaughter of Rameela Sameer & AWM Ghouse, of Lily Avenue Wellawatte.
Mr & Mrs Rashid Bin Hassan lived there with their one and only daughter Zeena who married Shibly Mohideen from Pendennis Avenue Col 3. Presently Shibly and his wife Zeena are staying there with their children and grandchildren.
I just love this site and wish my GrandDad was alive he would have been in his element. Thanks to whoever who is doing this.
Reeves Neydorff wrote on Facebook – July 23,
I have to tell this story men! It just keeps on bugging me to be told. So i'll let it out.
Late sixties! My big sis now gone on her journey, and her wild bunch from her school. I remember all of them, and they can tag if they wish!
Big show at St. Peters College hall. The best of the best. I'll start with Budrin Musafer, can't remember a gig without him.., and Mignonne and the Jets, and The Spitfires, and Randy Peiris, and Sohan, and Felix ,and Conrad, and a whole lot more. I see the faces, but pardon the names.
And according to tradition women had to have a male chaperone and guess who? All but less than bloody thirteen, still wearing shorts, because no lad was ever allowed to wear longs, till his father decided he was man enough.
To chaperone a bloody bunch of the most frivolous females to their first rock and roll show! No parents allowed!
Grannies now, and some gone now!
But they assembled at my place. And My home was a bloody female dominion! Men tread lightly! Aah! That's another story.
Anyway, these girls 14-16, wearing the microest of minis, and their legs and arms painted with flowers, and smelling like bunch of flowers that had just been picked. And with little old me in tow, (I hated women then), took the street by storm and took the double decker bus from Pudding house to St Peters, and decided to climb to the upper deck!
And those provocative females, decided to give the gawking conductor and a couple of the usual hangers on (I found out that some of them spent their LIFE on footboards to get a peek up women's skirts. a fetish thing) a full blast and "you ain't getting a thing you wanker, look but don't dare touch"! They'd just knock the blocks of any bugger who dared. All bloody athletes. Suffer!
I was the last up, and I looked back, (I had three sisters and I had seen it all) and gloated and gave them the old wag-wag shake with my hand. I had female power! That's the day, I truly grew up.
Anyway, after the short trip to College, I was a veteran, and knew the timings down to a tee, and I was bursting! I was the man! And we all got off, I was quickly brought down to reality. All pretenses were off. I was just a mere creature they had to endure. An unfortunate encumbrance!! And they had that look, and they covered their mouths and giggled and , big sis caught me by her favorite handle, and whispered sweetly into my ears that I don't really exist, if I value my existence. With a tug to express her point, and told me to bugger off and make myself scarce, and be there when they had to go back And I got her drift.
But while we all trooped into college her parting shot was straight from St.Lawrences. Don't get lost!
Me? At my College? I knew ever brick, and every trick, and had knelt in every college yard, and crept through all the old canal routes out of the normal eyes! And...,"Don't get lost"?? That was a quick rapier thrust in the butt from the boss. What are big sisters for? Women are relentless!
Then, it was the wildest show on Earth. My College Hall was filled with people, most of the guys, were guys who had just left school and so were the girls and they were screaming their heads off. All vying for the shrillest, and the guys with their pointy shoes and their slick hair and pants and all vying for the girls attention. (Something I latched onto early, and it became quite lucrative for me, having three sisters, and there was a queue and the poor buggers were soft prey to me. Just a promise to put a good word, was worth a pocket full of Peanuts, till I progressed to the ice creams!). All, a part of the learning curve. What are sisters for?
And then the show! Mignonne and the Jets, and Conrad and the Spitfires, and a whole lot of others! That hall was pounding, and I remember,Mig? in her Boots doing "these boots are made for walking", and Loretta Koch in that Tiger cat suit, doing,"I'm a Tiger", really hot and slinky. Like it was a competition of sorts. That's how they had it all set up
And that's the day I got hooked on rock and roll.
But to tell it to its end, when the show was over, my sis and her group all assembled at the class room next door to the stage to greet their idol. This gushing, giggling bunch of teenagers. To express their awe and affection to the greatest icon of our music industry, Mignonne! And there is only one Mig! And I was there, gawky eyed sidling up to get a closer look, and Mignonne reached out, and I thought she was going to grab me by my ear, as it seemed to have a fatal attraction to my mum and my big sisters, and teachers, and cousins and aunties (Auntie Eleanor, comes to mind), but she pinched my cheek!
I was lost then and there! My first love, at first sight!
The Queen of rock and roll, and to this day, I can feel that pinch, though I doubt she gave it a further thought, but she had that instinct! And I was hooked like thousands of others! What a legend!
And then through the years that followed and Sunil and his Gypsy beginnings in College, and other shows, and Noeline doing her Cher, "River deep...". I thought of the priests who lived over the Hall. They would have heard it all. But these were their kids, and they were letting off steam. And they had found the best medium to do it. I also believe they are all rock and roll, heavy metal freaks under those robes, but they had to maintain decorum, so they slowly influenced the kids to do it for them. Go out and express yourselves! Seek your own Salvation!
They were a different sort then, and they had sorted out most of these kids anyway. I think guys like Nimal Gunewardena, Jerome De Silva, and a heap of others had their grounding with these priests, and they will agree!
And we had quite a few girl schools they had to administer as well and these girls were always invading our territory so they had to provide us protection as well as maintain the peace!
Oh well! Grannies tales now!
"A time of innocence", and growing up! And Wella and the home of so many musicians!
And we all trouped back home afterward, and we seemed to have picked up quite a few guys, all trying to impress, the giggly girls, but mostly friends, and neighbors, and some who melted away when they saw my dad standing at the top of street. But they brought everybody home safely.
And that last fierce whisper from my sis, "Don't you dare."
"Ahh well, I am the only chaperone, so I get a free ride to all the shows"!
ST. PETERS' COLLEGE
And then, finally at the end of the eastern Galle Road section of the town of Bamba, came St. Peters College. A massive area of land bordering Galle Road in the West and the Wellawatte Canal on the South, stretching far down into the landside into the East.
The school building and chapel graced the front while the cricket and rugby grounds bordered the rear. A pavilion was built sometime later on and even later a swimming pool was added for the benefit of the students attending. With the road development of Duplication Road extending into the school, the grounds had to be separated with the school as the road
passed right in between spilling on to a newly constructed bridge over the Wellawatte Canal.
The school has a very colorful and old history dating back to old times when the children of Burgher railroad workers, engineers, engine drivers and policemen graced its halls of fame and went on to become me of honor and stature.
The eighty one year period of St. Peters’ College, beginning 1922, could conveniently be divided into six distinct eras. Firstly, The beginnings dominated by that great French missionary Very Rev. Fr. Maurice LeGoc; Secondly, the era of the First Rector Very Rev. Fr. D. J. Nicholas Perera 1922 to 1943 who laid a solid foundation, a period which saw St. Peter’s making a big impact on the local educational scene in next to no time; Thirdly, the aftermath of World War 11 and the Rectorship of Very Rev. Fr. Basil A. Wiratunge O.M.I. from 1943 to 1955; Fourthly, an era spanning 21 years which take in the Rectorships of five Rectors all of whom had to grapple with financial constraints brought about by the daring and bold decision not to be vested with the State, but to function as a ‘Non fee levying private school’- Rev. Fr. Arthur Nicholas Fernando (1956 to 1963), Rev. Fr. Mervyn Weerakkody (1963 to 1971), Rev. Fr. Theodore E. Peiris O.M.I. (1971 to 1975), Rev. Fr. Claver Perera (1975 to 1976), and Rev. Fr. Francis Madiwela (1976 to 1977); Fifthly, the enlightening and brilliant Rectorship of Rev. Fr. Joe E. Wickramasinghe (1978 to 1994) an era which could well be called ‘The Renaissance in Peterite
History’; and last but not least the nine year old Rectorship of Rev. Fr. Felician Perera (1994 to date) on whose young shoulders has fallen the responsibility of guiding St.. Peter’s into and during the early 21st Century.
The Dutch Canal at Wellawatte
A Milk Board milk booth stood at the end of the school wall adjoining the canal that served nutritious refreshment to the students and passersby. The Wellawatte Canal was the dividing line between Bambalapitiya and the next town to the south, Wellawatte. The waters of the canal brought forth waste and other waste matter from the innards of Colombo and its suburbs to deposit the waste into the vast open waters of the Indian Ocean.
The Boys of Bamba
George Siegerts took part in the film the Bridge on the River Kwaii, and is credited for whistling the theme music of the film the Colonel Bogey March.
Several of the Bambalawatte Boys, mainly from the Burgher community, featured in the film as Extras and were paid as much as Rs 100 a day, which was a tidy sum in those times. Turab Jafferjee, Ian Kelly, Stanford Chapman, and Allister Bartholomeusz were stuntmen hired for the many river scene takes in the Kitulgala river,
In fact, the famous film producer and director David Lean apologized to the aforementioned stuntmen, for perceived racial discrimination during filming at Kitulgalla. This made headline News by the Journalist Gamini Seniviratne of the Times of Ceylon now a Journalist based in UK.
Another Big band of that era was the The Harold Seniviratne Combo, a dance band of great repute for standards and oldies.
The band comprised of Harold on Sax, his brother Tissa on drums, Chandra Seniviratne, Ralph Maas, Ronald Bartholomeusz, and Raife Jansz. A great band that was in very popular demand at many gala’s. The Seniviratne Bros. lived down Lorenz Road Bambalapitiya. Bunny Ashbourne, and Anita Arndt of singing fame.
Deidre Jansz wrote in 2006…
I came upon your site quite serendipitously and was awash with memories as a result. Thank you. Just a few comments:
Vyvil Ludowyk's "Academy for the Backward" (never heard that nickname before, but it's catchy) was at No 5, 8th Lane, Colpetty so was sadly out of the Bambalawatte paradise.
I am his eldest son and knew Bamba well, being an ex of St Peter's under Fr Basil Wiratunge (a wonderful man); I remember having long theological discussions with Fr Mervyn Weerakoddy (who must have had the patience of a saint to put up with uppity me!), and I well remember Fr Theodore Pieris, an inspiring English teacher. Fr Noel Cruz I remember too. He wrote and produced a somewhat maudlin play on St Maria Goretti (called, I think, "The Pontine Marshes") which, because of my precocious then, I was determined not to swallow. Eheu fugaces!
Dad's sister Carmen taught English at Lindsay. Dad's older brother Lyn (E.F.C. Lud) was then Professor of English at Peradeniya Uni to which I went after St Peter's. Noel Phoebus taught me Latin and Classical Greek at St Peter's. I would dearly love to hear about this man who moulded me so much. Sadly, he must be dead by now. I would also love to hear
from or about my colleagues at St Peter's (vintage 1952) - Edgar Coorey, Michael Mack, Otley Perera (who joined me at Paradeniya but we lived in different halls and slowly lost touch), Cedric Forster.
Anent the B'pitiya Flats, one resident was Bernard Swan and his wife Irene (née Paul). Dennis Bartholomeusz (now retired as an academic at Monash University), Bernie, and I used to meet every Sunday at Bernie's to go for a lazy swim in the sea, followed by a lunch cooked by Irene and Angela (Dennis's wife) and an even lazier afternoon playing Monopoly or Battleships and Cruisers at which we all used to cheat outrageously (the point being not to get caught). Haec olim meminisse iuvabit!
Apropos Bamba and Galle Road, diagonally across from
St Peter's in the Colpetty direction and on the land side was the house set in a large garden in which Justice St Clair Swan ("Uncle Synco", a courtesy title) and his family lived. Uncle Synco's son David was at St Peter's, some years junior to me. I'm sorry to inflict this large screed on you. It's your fault for rousing my memories and yearnings for my past. I live in Canberra now and edit "Ozwords", a twice-yearly publication sponsored jointly by the Australian National Dictionary Centre at the Australian National University, Canberra, and Oxford University Press Australia.
Richard Heyn wrote in 2008… I came across your blog by pure accident and it brought back so many memories.
It really made me homesick. I lived in Hamer's Avenue, Wellawatte, in my growing years and Bambawatte was my home turf. It was a good life. Thank you for bringing those memories back.
If you, or any of your readers wants to contact me, my email address is below.
Ex - St Peter's College, Bambalapitiya & BRC, Colombo 5
Now Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
All the very best, / Richard
A response to Frederick Ludowyke's post by Rohan de Silva, received in the mail:-
Re Frederick Ludowyks post.
Otley Perera and Edgar Cooray live in Colombo.Otley
retired as the Head of the Inland Revenue Dept.Edgar practises law.
Cedric Forester lives in Melbourne.
Michael Mack passed away a few years ago after heading the
conglomerate Aitken Spence.He was also Honorary Consul for Greece His family live in Colombo.
Fazli 24 Jan 2009
Amazing, I studied at St. Peter's college from 1984 till 1998. I still do remember all those places each and every corner of Bamba. I was walking all the way from Kollupitiya junction to college by walk for basket ball practices while JVP riot era. I was very small and I use to play with very senior players like, Mario Motha, Chaminda Sembakuttiarachchi, Cruze, etc.
I do still very clearly remember this old style Bullion Exchange, Majestic Cinema, old style Barefoot, Lekha Studio, Hindu Temple, most of the old buildings are not to be seen now.
Truly Late Rev. Father Joseph Emanuel Wikramasinghe (Joe E. Wikramasinghe) is a legend. He controlled the conflicts between the management & the staff and he took the College to a different stage where parents were do anything to get their children to admit to SPC. Still the college is having that spirit. That why the I called him a legend.
Bamba is a small world where Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu & Islam people living in harmony. They live respecting each other.
The Burgher Community and Bamba
The Burgher community, who made a significant contribution to Ceylon, in the areas of Law, The Judiciary, Medicine, Administration - the Ceylon Civil Service, lived mainly in the belt of Bamba and the adjacent Havelock Town area in Colombo 5. It is a known fact that the Colombo Municipal
Council and the then Mayor of Colombo encouraged Burghers to settle in this middle class belt, where there were great schools – SPC, HFC, SPM, Lindsay, St Claires School, and later on Vishaka, & Muslim Ladies College.
The Colts. Havelocks and BRC cricket clubs were the breeding ground of champion athletes, cricketers and rugby Union Players. The Burghers lived in harmony and quite easily integrated with the Muslim's, Bohra's, and Sindhi communities.
Mary’s Road Colombo was indeed a good example of the successful blend of multi culturalism. In this street lived seven Burgher families, five Ceylon Moors, four Tamils, one Sindhi and six Sinhalese, who lived in closeness, friendship and amity.
Children referred to the elders as Uncles and Aunts. It was truly an example of respect, tolerance and unity of a kind unseen and unheard today, sadly - That was the way of the true Ceylonese of that era. Champions - representing the aforementioned Clubs - The fabulous Aldons Brothers of Havelocks Fame, Ernie Kelaart, Bob Bartels & Russell Bartels of Cricket/Rugby/Hockey fame.
The Schokmans, Michael, David and Patrick of rugby, cricket, and boxing fame. Frederick and Duncan Kreltzhiem, the De Kretser’s, represented Ceylon in Hockey/Cricket. Larry Foenander and many more who represented the BRC, Havelocks, Colts (Ceylon Champions, Sara Trophy, The Andriez Shield).
Female athletes Myrna Kelaart. June de Kretser, Carmen Joachim, Irene Williams, Irene de Silva and many more were of Bamba origin.
Distinguished Lawyers – The Anthonisz Brothers, Wickremanayakes, Loos, Drieberg.
Pusine Court Justices – St Clair Swan, FHB Koch, EFN Gratien,
The doyen of Sports Journalisim, SP Foenander lived down De Kretser Place. Australian Prime Minister Menzies, whilst on a visit to Ceylon called on SPF, such was his fame. His daughters Ruth & Carmen Herft were concert pianists who featured on Radio Ceylon classical music programs.
Duck Duetrom was a hot tempered and cantankerous old man. He received the nickname “Duck” after having been seen walking with a duck under his arm, a prize from a local church raffle.
Jumping J was the nickname give to a slightly mentally deranged and middle aged Burgher lady who hopped rather than walk. She was noted for her foul language.
Cap Silva the noted “Homo” used to hang around De Kretser Lane. He attempted to intimidate and molest young boys. However, on a compliant being made by a youngster, well known to the local toughs who used to hang out outside a local club,”Caps” activities were quickly put to an end.
Sports & Games
Every single lane and street at Bamba boasted a sports club. Names that come to mind are, The Freetown Boys of Mary’s Road, The Dead End Kids of Clifford Place. The Golden Orioles, Kotelawala Gardens, Devos Lane Boys.
Inter lane Cricket, Soccer, Athletics, and even Boxing was fiercely contested but sportsmanship ruled the day. Champion
Athletes like Guy & John Motha, Cricketer/Athlete Ian Hepponstall of St Josephs College, Haigh Karunaratne. the Chandraratne brothers, V John St Peters/ SL Cricket, Tyrell Gauder (STC Cricket), Jayantha Fernando, SPC Rugby/Cricket, Hamza Saleem (Zahira ) wrestling, Mackeen & Faleel Sheriffdeen Cricket, Fredrick, Malcolm & Michael Kretlzshiem (Royal), Trevor Anghie Royal – Boxing /Rugby and his brother Maurice, “Botam James” De Slva SPC/Ceylon Champ High Jump are some of the many boys born and bred in Bamba - the town like no other.
Many thanks to Allister Bartholomeusz, formerly of Mary's Road, Bambalapitiya, now resident in Australia, for his erstwhile support and contributions towards collecting material for the above story. Thanks also go out to all those who sent continuous updates to the evolving story. Regret, it is not practical to mention them all, individually by name, here.
Burgher1 – A community descendant from Portuguese, Dutch, and
British Colonials who inter-married with local communities
Bohra2 – A Muslim community who migrated from Gujurat & Punjab in India and have been involved in trade and commerce since the 18 century