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History of Ceylon Tea is an industry-service project by Dilmah. Click HERE to read more.
31st September 2021


  • Beyond Borders by Bernard Vancuylenburg
  • Feature Article of the Month - Tea, Tytlers & Tribes by Beryl Mitchell
    Personal Memoirs of the Month - Siva Sivalingam
  • Photo Album of the Month - Lipton's Seat, Dambatenne Estate, Haputale
  • Contributor Photo Album of the Month - Chris Byrne
  • Planter Profiles of the Month - John de Silva and David Ebbels
  • Down Memory Lane - Remembering Marlene Tissera
  • This Year in History - 1913
  • Tea Radio by Dilmah

Beyond Borders

By Bernard Vancuylenburg
This is the story about a family – a personal story which I wish to share with you. This family consisted of four brothers who lived in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. They were the Eagars and one day, following catastrophic events in the land of their birth, they set their sights on far horizons and left their motherland for a little island still known today as the 'pearl of the Indian ocean'. One of them was my great grandfather, Halley Eagar.

But the genesis of this story actually is the humble potato! To set the scene, potatoes were introduced to Ireland from South America in 1585 and eventually became the staple in every home. But the year 1845 ended the reign of the potato in the emerald isle. Just as the disease 'Coffee Rust' (Hemileia Vastarix) decimated the coffee plantations in Ceylon in 1875, a mould was discovered on some potato plants and spread island wide, ultimately ravaging the potato harvest.

The consequences resulting from the spread of this mould were apocalyptic, and what followed is described to this day as "The Great Famine". It is estimated that three million people died or were forced to emigrate from Ireland. Potatoes being the staple food of a rapidly growing desperately poor population, the blight caused prices to soar. The repressive penal laws ensured that farmers crippled with high rents, could not afford the subsistence potatoes provided, and most tenants fell into arrears with no concessions given by indifferent landlords. Click HERE to read the full article.



By Beryl Mitchell

An Australian Woman's Memories of Tea Planting in Ceylon

0ur family has its roots in the era of British colonialism. This personal story attempts to tell how a Tytler four generations ago and a Tribe three generations ago, who came from Scotland and England to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) lured by the prospects of coffee and tea planting, stayed to call that lovely island 'home'.

My story shows how times have changed and our family, having made its distinctive contribution to Sri Lanka's history and economic development, moved on. In our case, the move was made to Australia. There are descendants of Robert Boyd Tytler, John Campbell Tribe and their like, scattered around the world today who share our Sri Lankan background. They might wish to know where their ancestors came from, and what life had been like in the years before their own parents and grandparents decided to emigrate to other lands and other ways of life.

I have written this record with my own family chiefly in mind. But for many others beside ourselves, Sri Lanka is a country that holds unfailing appeal and interest, for its scenic beauty as well as for its fascinating past and (more recently) its volatile present. I was born in a period of the island's history when an old political and social order was changing to a new, and the outcome could have worked out in a dozen different ways. Whatever the result has been, I believe that the preceding years are worth remembering and documenting. Although ours is now a metric society in Australia, I have used the imperial measures which we worked with at the time of the story. They seem to fit in better.

Click HERE to read the full article.


My Memoirs

By Siva Sivalingam

During my time on Laxapana, I climbed Adam's Peak 14 times. During the season my house was full of guests, mainly tourists whom I had picked up at Dalhousie. No, not the hippies and they did not smoke joints! They were young and attractive. There were some local starlets too. They were wined and dined and treated with respect. I remember one lot arranged my clothes and the cupboard, mended the tears and sewed on the buttons too! Of course, all these happened before I married! I married when I was still at St. Andrews and my eldest daughter had her early years at Laxapana. She enjoyed watching the pilgrims' buses and would refer to them in her baby language as "DUNDA BUS", because of the beating of the drums. Click HERE to read more.


Lipton's Seat, Dambatenne Estate, Haputale

‘Lipton's Seat’, situated on the edge of the famous tea baron's plantation in Ceylon, Dambatenne Estate, Haputale. This is the spot that Sir Thomas reportedly took in the breath-taking vista that afforded views of seven of the island's provinces, down to the Indian Ocean in the south. It is today one of the most popular tourist destinations.Click HERE to view the album.


Chris Byrne

Click HERE to view the album


 (L-R) John de Silva & David Ebbels

Click on respective photo to view profile


Remembering Marlene Tissera

Seen here (extreme right) c. 1950s. Marlene sadly passed away earlier this month, and our condolences and deepest sympathies go out to her husband, Vernon, sons Andre and Jan, and daughter, Sharon.
(Photo courtesy of David Williamson)


Death of John Ferguson (pictured), founder of the Ferguson's Directories and Tropical Agriculturist publications.

Here are some other local and international events of significance in 1913.
  • The Planters' Gazette started, the official  journal of the Planters' Association.
  • Talawakelle-Lindula and Agrapatna telephone exchanges linked up.
  • Rabindranath Tagore Becomes the first Asian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
  • Gandhi Begins "Great March" to Gain Indian Rights in South Africa.
  • 1st sedan-type car (Hudson) goes on display at 13th Auto Show (New York City)
  • Panama Canal Opens.
  • Mona Lisa stolen in Aug 1911 returned to Louvre.
  • James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens is born.
  • Charlie Chaplin began his film career at Keystone for $150 a week.


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