View this email in your browser
History of Ceylon Tea is an industry-service project by Dilmah. Click HERE to read more.
31st May 2022


  • Travails of an early Coffee Planter by Hugh Karunanayake
  • Feature Article of the Month - Tea Tasting Tales by the late Tony Peries
  • Memoirs of the Month - J.D.S. Wickremesooriya & Co.
  • Photo Album of the Month - Diyagama West Estate, Agarapatna - Hydro Power Station
  • Contributor Photo Album of the Month - Richard Boyle
  • Planter Profiles of the Month - Saman Doranegama & Maithri Liyanage
  • Down Memory Lane - Happy 75th Birthday Upali Wijeyesekera
  • Historical Events in 1827
  • Tea Radio by Dilmah


By Hugh Karunanayake
If one lived in Sri Lanka in the mid-1900s, a name such as F.L. Dick would have raised more than a few titters. The unfortunate man lived in Ceylon a century before such a possibility, in an age when neither ‘F.L.’ nor Dick meant anything other than a mere name. Frederick Lacy Dick was the elder son of Samuel Dick, a wealthy landowner from the Isle of Wight who invested heavily in opening coffee plantations in Ceylon in the mid-1800s and which eventually succumbed to the ‘coffee crash’ of the time.

Fred and his brother who came out to Ceylon to manage their plantations lost their means to a livelihood as a result of the coffee crash. That was the time when the country was a Crown Colony and the British who were running the country were able to do as they pleased, and people in their early teens were appointed to the Ceylon Civil Service presumably in the belief that a 13 year old lad from England had more intelligence than that of the thousands of adult ‘natives’ he was expected to administer!
Memorial to F.L. Dick at Holy Trinity Church, Colombo.

Let me digress here briefly, to advert to the doings of Ceylon’s first Governor Frederick North, who arrived in the island on 12 October 1798 accompanied by officials appointed to assist North in running the country. Also in this group were three boys, each of thirteen years age, Sylvester Gordon, Robert Barry and George Lusignan, who were expected to “learn the languages of the country” and work under the first assistant to the Chief Secretary William Boyd until they were “fitted for promotion to responsible posts”.

Barry and Gordon accompanied North on his tour round the island in 1800 when each of the boys would have been 15 years of age. Sadly, both Gordon and Barry were killed in the Watupuluwa massacre of 1803 at the age of 18 years, as members of the failed expedition to capture Kandy and its king. Of the three boys only Lusignan survived, despite “some indiscretions” to adulthood, and died at the age of 41.

Click HERE to read the full article.



By the late Tony Peries
(first appeared in “The Ceylankan " -- the Journal of The Ceylon Society of Australia)

Tea-tasting as an occupation has always intrigued people whose reactions vary from thinking it an easy way to make a living, to the slightly incredulous, or the comment, “You must have a fantastic palate”. Having been a tea taster for 21 years from 1952 to 1973, I feel a little de-mystification is desirable.

Prior to World War II, tea traders in Sri Lanka were almost exclusively British, as they dominated commerce anyway and the tea firms like Lipton and Brooke Bond employed no Sri Lankans at the tea-taster/executive level. There were some small local firms like M.S. Heptulabhoy & Co. who traded in tea very early (late 19th century) though that organization was owned and run by Borahs whose families had been domiciled for generations but were not ethnically Lankans.

By the end of the 40’s a few British firms had seen the necessity (post independence) to employ local executives and among the first of those were Errol de Fonseka and Mahinda Wijesekera at Forbes and Walker, and Bartleets respectively, both firms of brokers, and Austin Perera at the export firm English and Scottish Joint Cooperative Wholesale Society.

Tea Tasters fell into three broad categories – buyers like Liptons and the like, brokers, as just mentioned, and sellers like George Steuart & Co, Ltd. or Gordon Frazers, who were real estate agents and employed tea tasters to check the quality of tea produced on the plantations. To be a senior buyer for a big firm was a quite complex task and a taster at George Steuart & Co., as I was, had a much simpler life.

Click HERE to read the full article.


J.D.S. Wickremesooriya & Co,.

By Hemannath Wickremesooriya

Mr. J D S Wickremesooriya, my Grand Father, was one of the pioneer Transport Agents in the Dimbula District. He had branches at Kotagala, Nawalapitiya and Talawakelle.

My father Lionel and his elder brother Francis look over the business in the late 1930s, with my father Lionel, taking charge of Talawakelle and Kotagala branches, whilst the Nawalapitiya branch was handled by uncle Francis.

He, my father also undertook the supplying of cash to the estate for the monthly labour wages.
My father had a buildings department, fuel shed under the banner “Mobilgas”. He also had a department in his office for the Madyama Lanka Bus Company, of which my father and uncle were the main shareholders. This company alone was given the license to operate in the Nuwara Eliya, Talawakelle, Agarapatana, Hatton, Maskeliya, Nawalapitiya and Gampola and hence the name Madyama Lanka.

Talawakelle bazaar was subsequently sold to my father and half of it was given to Mr.Chandradasa Hemachandra, who was the Proprietor of Messrs. M Y Hemachandra & Co, inherited from his father, Mr. M.Y. Hemachandra.

Click HERE to read the full article.


 Diyagama West Estate, Agarapatna - Hydro Power Station

Click HERE to view the album.


Richard Boyle

A selection of historical images and sketches that are in the public domain

Click HERE to view the album


 (L-R) Saman Doranegama & Maithri Liyanage

Click on respective photo to view profile


Not exactly 'down memory lane', but a happy birthday to stalwart Upali Wijeyesekera who celebrated his 75th birthday on the 21st of May, in the company of family and friends at the Capri Club.
Photo credit - Prishan Pandithage.


In Ceylon:
  • Ratnapura Railway formally opened by H.E. Sir Henry McCallum.
  • Colombo Wireless Telegraphy installation completed and first message sent to Bombay.
  • A Sinhala typewriter is invented.
Elsewhere in the world:
  • The Republic of China is established.
  • The African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa is founded with John Langalibalele Dube as its first President.
  • RMS Titanic Sinks after Striking an Iceberg.
  • Alaska becomes a territory of the United States.
  • Italian forces become the first to use airships in war, dropping bombs from an altitude of 6,000 feet on Turkish troops.


The world’s first tea inspired radio station

Tea Radio has developed a global audience reaching over 90 countries worldwide; with the promise of ‘music inspired by tea’, and features news and views on tea, tea gastronomy and more, amidst the music of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

Stay updated on the latest tips and trends in the world of tea right here. Download the Tea Radio app on the Google play store or the Apple app store, or stream music inspired by Tea on
If you have received this newsletter from a third-party and wish to receive future newsletters from Project HOCT direct to your mailbox, please sign-up here.
Copyright © 2022 Dilmah Tea, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp