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History of Ceylon Tea is an industry-service project by Dilmah. Click HERE to read more.
31st July 2022


  • The Story of the Northways - Pioneering Planters by Hugh Karunanayake
  • Tea and Opium - Liquid Jade and the Fruit of the Poppy by Anura Gunasekera
  • Memoirs of the Month -  Kellys of Killarney by Moira Colin-Thomé
  • Photo Album of the Month - Devon Estate, Talawakelle
  • Contributor Photo Album of the Month - Simon Prior-Palmer
  • Planter Profiles of the Month - Supun Seneviratne & Kaushal Mathavan
  • Down Memory Lane - Tennis Championships at DMCC in 1981
  • Historical Events in 1924
  • Tea Radio by Dilmah


By Hugh Karunanayake
The four generational links that the Northways had with the plantation enterprise in Ceylon ended with the death of the last of the Northways in Sri Lanka, that of Michael Northway in 1995. The progenitor of the family in Ceylon was Samuel Northway who together with the Winters, Bowmans, Hawkes, and Gotteliers, and others were induced to come over to Ceylon to establish the sugar industry in which these families were successfully associated with, in the Mauritius where they lived previously. All, or most of these families were of French extraction including the Northways.

Governor Edward Barnes was the fifth Governor of Ceylon to be appointed by the British. He served as Governor in two terms which added up to him being the Governor with the longest period of administration in the country. Governor Barnes was a distinguished soldier having served as adjutant to the Duke of Wellington in the battle of Waterloo, where he was severely injured. Although a military man Barnes had within a year of his appointment gathered sufficient knowledge of the island for him to plan the development of the country. He had two major areas of focus, viz building a network of roads, and establishing a sound base for economic enterprise.

He embarked on a road building programme creating a network of roads connecting the principal towns in the country including the main road from Colombo to Kandy. When he took office, the coffee industry was in a nascent stage, and he soon set up a plan for encouraging British investment in opening up a large extent of forest land in the central province, for the cultivation of coffee. Barnes himself invested in a large tract of land in Gannoruwa to be tried out first in sugar cane. He also encouraged successful sugar cane farmers in Mauritius to settle down in Ceylon and give the sugarcane industry a kick start. Samuel Northway was appointed by Barnes to manage his property in Gannoruwa.

Click HERE to read the full article.



By Anura Gunasekera
It is a singular irony that Tea, unarguably the most healthy beverage in the world next to water, should share a common history with Opium, the curse of many societies across the world for several centuries, particularly China; equally ironical is that China, the original fount of tea, should have paid for Opium with Tea, reluctantly exchanging a significant and obvious benefit for an absolute evil.

Papivera Somniferum, the beautiful red flower, gave the world Opium-and subsequently Morphine and Heroin- whilst Camellia Sinensis, an equally attractive flower but pristine white, gave the world Tea and everything else that flows from it. The origins of both are equally ancient; the discovery of tea is attributed to Emperor Shen Nung of China, a herbalist, in about 4000 BC whilst archeological evidence suggests that the poppy seed has been in use in the Mediterranean region since the Neolithic Age, perhaps in or around 5000 BCE. Carbon- 14 dating of several findings of P. somniferum seeds in Neolithic settlements in Switzerland, Germany and Spain, have confirmed dates as far back as 4200 BCE, attributing a Southern European origin for the opium poppy.

The initial use of both Tea and Opium demonstrate striking parallel features, despite the separation of societies through both time and distance. The original role of opium was exclusive, ritualistic, medicinal and magical; tea was the beverage of the nobility and the leisured classes, part of a cherished ritual, whilst opium was used by ancient priests, magicians and warriors. As with the early use of Tea for its medicinal properties, opium was reportedly used as far back as 1500 BCE for its painkilling and healing characteristics. Though the original use of tea was rigidly confined to the Chinese mainland for several millennia, opium use was more widespread, with historical evidence of the cultivation and use of opium in ancient Mesopotamia ( 3400 BCE) by the Sumerians, in the ancient Middle East by the Assyrians and by Egyptians of Pharaonic times.

Click HERE to read the full article.



By Moira Colin-Thomé
The year was 1954 – in April to be precise; my husband Percy and I were on the first leg of our honeymoon and on our way to Killarney Estate in Bogawantalawa, where we were to stay with our dear friends Douglas and Margaret Kelly.

The drive to the bungalow was unique. The first section, while twisty and windy, was approachable by most motor vehicles of that period. There was even a garage to park your vehicle at the end of it. Nothing unusual on the face of it, except this was only the first section. A fair hike still remained to reach the bungalow. That is unless of course, you drove a Baby Austin!

Ever mindful of his privacy and a dislike for people just dropping in, Douglas had ensured that the second section of the drive to the bungalow could only be negotiated by a tiny car such as the Baby Austin that he owned. So, unless a visitor was expected for which Douglas would provide the Baby Austin shuttle service from the garage, an unscheduled or unannounced visit to Killarney was certainly not for the frail or the faint-hearted.
Fortunately, ours was scheduled and at the garage, we were met by a broadly smiling Deen, Kelly’s major domo. Piling in, three humans and a few pieces of luggage saw the car literally bursting at the seams, as we painfully tackled the arduous second stage of the home-stretch, which in all likelihood was no more than a mile long.

This road was probably the only one of its kind in Sri Lanka. The narrow road twisted and turned and was lined on either side with the most magnificent trees and foliage, most of them rare; it resembled a well-tended botanical garden. As we approached the house we saw a gorgeous fish owl, which we were told used to reside in that particular tree, and was a pet of the household.

Well, finally, our journey within a journey gently rolled to a halt outside the patio at the main entrance to the bungalow. And there to greet us were our hosts, Douglas and Margaret, seemingly impatient to begin their ritual of giving us a right royal welcome. It was so wonderful to find ourselves in this Eden, whose beauty was complimented by the generosity of its owners.

Click HERE to read the full article.


 Devon Estate - Bungalow & Tea Shop - Talawakelle

Click HERE to view the album.


Simon Prior-Palmer

Featuring photos of his Grandfather, Prior Spunner Plamer

Click HERE to view the album


 (L-R) Supun Seneviratne & Kaushal Mathavan

Click on respective photo to view profile



In Ceylon:
  • Railway to Badulla formally opened.
  • First attempt at Broadcasting in Ceylon made at the Y.M.C.A.
Elsewhere in the world:
  • The first Winter Olympics is held in Chamonix, in the French Alps.
  • The United Kingdom recognizes the Soviet Union.
  • A radio time signal is broadcast for the first time, from the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
  • Calvin Coolidge becomes the first President of the United States to deliver a radio broadcast from the White House.
  • The 407-year-old Islamic caliphate is abolished when Caliph Abdülmecid II of the Ottoman Caliphate is deposed. The last remnant of the old regime gives way to the reformed Turkey of President Kemal Atatürk.
  • Adolf Hitler is sentenced to 5 years in jail in Germany for his participation in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch (he serves less than 9 months).
  • American media company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) is founded in Los Angeles.
  • Mercedes-Benz is formed by the merging of companies owned by Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz.
  • The Toastmasters Club is founded.


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