Jump to content
  • Welcome to AutoLanka

    :action-smiley-028: We found you speeding on AutoLanka Forums without any registration! If you want the best experience, please sign in. Safe driving! 

Supra_Natural

Reflections On Sri Lanka's Automotive History By Mr. Sylvi Wijesinghe

Recommended Posts

Thank you for condolence posts to me Scooter,Kawz,Sampath Gunasekera,mazdaspeed.

That funeral was my brother-in-law who lived full life of 84 years, was in the health department did a noble practice, when he left the health department last as a MS he had only his medical instruments and his pension. He did not posses a vehicle of his own.

At the cemetery last sunday one of his college gave a funeral oration to say that he never accepted a cent for his practice and consultations some times poor patients come he used give them cash assistance to buy the medications too.

Thank you three once again.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for condolence posts to me Scooter,Kawz,Sampath Gunasekera,mazdaspeed.

That funeral was my brother-in-law who lived full life of 84 years, was in the health department did a noble practice, when he left the health department last as a MS he had only his medical instruments and his pension. He did not posses a vehicle of his own.

At the cemetery last sunday one of his college gave a funeral oration to say that he never accepted a cent for his practice and consultations some times poor patients come he used give them cash assistance to buy the medications too.

Thank you three once again.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

Deepest Sympathies, people of that caliber are quite rare now a days.

Interesting bit of information on this thread, please keep it going minus the unwarranted banter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr.Silvy,

Would like to hear from you on following topics.

  • Famous vehicle brands and names of Sri Lankan agents (1950s – 1980s)

Example: Morris Minor , Hillman, Austin, Ford , Fiat, …..

  • Introduction of Mitsubishi Jeeps to Sri Lanka (Specially petrol versions)

  • Introduction of Automatic Transmission to Sri Lanka

Thanks in advance.

'Sampath Gunasekera'

Morris Minor and Hillman, Agents was M/s. Rowlends at Darmapala Mawattha formaly Turret Road. they had few more British high end cars.

Austin was wit M/s. Walker sons.

Ford originally was with M/s. Ford company later changed hands to M/s. Richard Peris.

Fiat was with M/s. Colonial motors.

Mitsubishi Jeeps to Sri Lanka (Specially petrol versions) Was by M/s. Unit#d Mot#rs.

Introduction of Automatic Transmission to Sri Lanka. I can remember few USA cars and mostly was with preselected gear boxes. Fluid torque converters came to S L on heavy earth moving machinery from the time I can remember 1950.

There were few more major importers of populer automobiles. I don't think There were any personal imports to S L.

I hope this information is all most correct if there are any mistakes please do correct me.

Sylvi Wijesinghe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Deepest Sympathies, people of that caliber are quite rare now a days.

Interesting bit of information on this thread, please keep it going minus the unwarranted banter.

'DevakaC',

Thank you for your condolence post.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very informative, Sylvi, tx. There's a guy with an interest in the Rowland family and the garage at:

http://rowlands-in-ceylon.blogspot.com.au/2009/07/chapter-32.html

That Turret Road area must have been quite a car locality. There are mentions around on the web of Kollupitiya Motors, Marlan Motors, Wijaya Motor Store and Auto Alley near by. I can't put a date to these other than they were a few years ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

'Sampath Gunasekera'

Morris Minor and Hillman, Agents was M/s. Rowlends at Darmapala Mawattha formaly Turret Road. they had few more British high end cars.

Austin was wit M/s. Walker sons.

Ford originally was with M/s. Ford company later changed hands to M/s. Richard Peris.

Fiat was with M/s. Colonial motors.

Mitsubishi Jeeps to Sri Lanka (Specially petrol versions) Was by M/s. Unit#d Mot#rs.

Introduction of Automatic Transmission to Sri Lanka. I can remember few USA cars and mostly was with preselected gear boxes. Fluid torque converters came to S L on heavy earth moving machinery from the time I can remember 1950.

There were few more major importers of populer automobiles. I don't think There were any personal imports to S L.

I hope this information is all most correct if there are any mistakes please do correct me.

Sylvi Wijesinghe

Many thanks for valuable information. Do you have any price idea of them?

Regarding automatic transmission, I think it became popular here in end of 80s.

There is a nice story.

I remember there were some Isuzu buses with Automatic transmission in CTB in late 80s. But very limited drivers knew how to drive A/T vehicles (Now a days even children know it). In 1989 riot period, when JVP guys burn CTB buses , no CTB driver (capable to drive A/T) was there at the depot (as I remember Ratmalana CTB Depot, correct me if I am wrong) to rescue the buses due to curfew . However one volunteer passenger took the responsibility to deliver all buses (A/T) to a safe place. He had never driven A/T earlier, but he was much interested in automobile subject and he had been always traveled standing near to driver and understood how to drive A/T. This person could save more than 10 buses and it reported on newspapers too. Later CTB converted those A/T buses to Manual transmission after A/T systems expired.

Very informative, Sylvi, tx. There's a guy with an interest in the Rowland family and the garage at:

http://rowlands-in-c...chapter-32.html

That Turret Road area must have been quite a car locality. There are mentions around on the web of Kollupitiya Motors, Marlan Motors, Wijaya Motor Store and Auto Alley near by. I can't put a date to these other than they were a few years ago.

Thanks for the information Bro.

Edited by Sampath Gunasekera

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you enjoyed the CTB and remember the old buses, Sam, here's a post from a guy called Kevin on Royston Ellis' site:

http://roystonellis.com/blog/?p=353

"Here’s more from a old friend of mine...........

“Prior to the year 1958 the bus service was run by private bus companies. Two of the companies had imported used Double Decker Buses from England. These buses were mainly operated at Sea Level or low lands in the capital of Sri Lanka, known as the City of Colombo. There were two bus companies by the name of South Western Bus Company and Colombo Omni Bus Co. Ltd. Of these two Companies the first Company had British built “Daimler” buses, which were powered by a 6 Cylinder in line diesel engine with a Pre-selector ger box. The second bus company had British built “Guy” buses, which were powered by diesel 6 cylindr engines with manual change sliding mesh gear boxes. The other bus companies used Single Decker Buses both in low lands or at sea level and uplands or hilly areas. The majority of Companies had a mixed fleet of buses with various makes and models. After the 2nd World War (which ended in 1945), the Royal British Army, Navy and Air Force had various makes and models of lorries, (trucks) such as Chevrolets, Dodge, GMC and Ford which were of American make and the Bedford and Austin from Britain. These trucks (lorries) had varying wheel bases, this is the length from the front wheel hub to the rear wheel hub.

The trucks (lorries) were sold for a song and most of the private bus companies grabbed the offer and built Single Deck Wooden or Composite bus body structures of various sizes. All the engines on these trucks (lorries) were petrol powered with sliding mesh gear box transmission.

In the year 1957 the Government of Sri Lanka then known as (Ceylon) decided to nationalize the road transport bus services. The take over of buses from the private companies commenced from thereon and the nationalization procedure was put in operation with the required documentation and the inspection of the mechanical and body condition to pay compensation, to the private company owners. Thereafter in the year 1958 the entire passenger bus service in the island were taken over by the government of the day. Thereafter, a bill was presented in Parliament and passed by a majority vote and “Ceylon Transport Board” was enacted by an act of Parliament as a statutory body empowering the Ceylon Transport Board to operate a passenger bus transport service.

As nationalized bus operation was a new concept to Sri Lanka (Ceylon) the Government requested assistance from the London Transport Board to send experts from its staff of engineers, operational personnel and supplies management, including accounting staff to visit Sri Lanka and assist to form the infrastructure to operate a passenger bus service in keeping with London Transport Board standards. This request of the Government of Sri Lanka was acceded by the London Transport Board by sending the expert staff who helped to construct the buildings such as the Central Work Shop, Regional Work Shops, then training the local Sri Lankan Staff to acquire the knowledge and skills imparted by them in the field of Engineering, Operation and Supplies Management, Accountancy and Documentation on the lines which were adopted by the London Transport Board.

The take over of buses from the companies did not auger much for the Ceylon Transport Board as the fleet of buses were in a derelict state. This was the result when the private bus company owners were informed that the passenger bus transport in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) is to be nationalized. The bus magnates did not repair and maintain their buses, perhaps due to the pain of mind and the fear of not getting the expected compensation. The nationalized bus service could not meet the Time table requirements due to frequent break-downs and lack of spare parts for speedy repair, due to having various makes and models, which had been almost run to death. In order to overcome this situation the London Transport experts advised the Government of the day to import London Double Decker Buses, which were taken off the road due to a policy decision that vehicles, which had been used for 10 years, be replaced by new buses. This advice was accepted by the Government and the Ceylon Transport Board sought the assistance from London Transport Board. There was an agreement signed to supply Double Decker Buses, which were taken off the road in London to Sri Lanka (Ceylon). These buses were exported to Sri Lanka on the top deck of cargo ships and unloaded onto our Harbour piers with the aid of derricks from ships.

The make and models that were sent by London Transport Board were as follows:

Code Named

1. A.E.C. RT

2. Leyland RL

3. Leyland RTW 8 Feet Wide Bodies

4. Route Master RM

In 1985 the then British High Commissioner assisted the Ceylon Transport Board to obtain 55 Route Master Double Decker buses from the London Transport Board. These buses were very popular with the Sri Lankan commuters as they were very comfortable and offered them a panoramic view of the road and the country side. Of this fleet of Double Decker Buses only six buses are presently operating — the rest of the Double Deckers are now off the road due to want of spare parts.

The writer of the post was an employee of Ceylon Transport Board in the capacity of Deputy Chief Engineer Production and Maintenance for 20 years.

He had overseas training under a Government scholarship of three years in the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.

In the United Kingdom, I was trained at the London Transport Board at Chiswick Works where Engines, Gear Boxes, Steering System, Brake System, Rear Axles, Front Axles, Suspension System and Electrical System undergo complete overhaul.

Thereafter, at A.E.C. Commercial Vehicles at Acton Green and Leyland Motors Ltd. in Lancanshire, Midland Red Bus Co. in Middlesex, Scottish Motor Traction Bus Co. in Scotland, in Germany at the Mercedes Benz Factory and in Italy at the Fiat Factory."

Sylvi, can you recognise who the writer is from your experience?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sampath Gunasekera',Scooter,

Very valuable posts with references to old motoring history of Ceylon.

Re M/s, Rowlends

Mr, A.P. Rowland's only daughter if I am not mistaken. Married my fathers cousin one Mr Carolis living in Cambridge place Colombo 07 he must be in his 90s.

Their only son was the MD of Harris Brush factory in Meegoda Black Pearl estate till recently. Now that factory is headed by Mr. Michel Dias son-in law of old Mr.Carolis at last when I say him he was feeble. His wife Mrs. Carolis is typical picture of late Mr. A.P. Rowlends. Whow was the founder of Rowlends garage. I remember late Mr. Rowlends because he used to visit my late fathers "Wijesinghe's Armature Winding house" Work shop for Electrical repairs for his equipment on his Excel time keeping watchman's clocks, work shop in 1960s. Thereafter electronic watchman's clocks arrived to S L.

Any members who read this can contribute some of Ceylon motoring history.

I am trying to get some information about great hunters and motorists like Eric Swan photographer motorist who was killed by a Elephant attack, Mr. Hamid hunter motorist he had houses in down south east and Nuwaraeliya, who was the owner of Jezema drapery stores main street Colombo Pettah. Dentist Dr. Swan who was living opposite temple trees, Mr. Selvin Samarasinghe, great motorist who lived in Havolock town on high level road, who wrote few articles about good old days driving in Ceylon. And Europin planters who wrote articales of Motoring history.

If any maember can give about information about said gentlemen and what ever which is known to them.

Are Welcome.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for condolence posts to me Scooter,Kawz,Sampath Gunasekera,mazdaspeed.

That funeral was my brother-in-law who lived full life of 84 years, was in the health department did a noble practice, when he left the health department last as a MS he had only his medical instruments and his pension. He did not posses a vehicle of his own.

At the cemetery last sunday one of his college gave a funeral oration to say that he never accepted a cent for his practice and consultations some times poor patients come he used give them cash assistance to buy the medications too.

Thank you three once again.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

My deepest sympathies and sad to hear about your loss Silvy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Double Decker Buses - Really interesting topic.....

49236132.jpg

Original Link: http://www.leylandso...entre_large.jpg

  1. I guess, one reason for limiting Double Decker Buses mostly in to Colombo was due to some bridges with top arches had at that time. Gall Road was limited due to Kalutara old bridge, I think.
  2. As I remember, in 1988/1989, Sri Lanka received 40 Double Decker buses from UK as a gift and it telecast on Rupavahini News.
  3. Some links found on net.

4. Seems there were number of double decker trolly buses too.

trollyf.jpg

(Near to YMBA Building, Fort)

Some interesting links.

A Single-Decker Trolleybus

singlew.jpg

25817001.jpg

Edited by Sampath Gunasekera
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very interesting post, Sam, and great links. What's the source of the 63 text document? (The service vehicle referred to is likely to have been a lorry with a wooden box mounted on a sort of big metal/wood frame that lifted a couple of guys up into the air to service the overhead power lines and to unjam stuck trolley pantographs.) I well remember trolley buses from a London childhood. Some called the trolley buses "Whispering Death", cos you never heard them coming, they were so quiet on the road.

Hundreds of ex-London Transport busses seem to have been exported to countries as diverse as Ceylon, Kenya, HK, and Yougoslavia in the 50s and 60s. The AEC busses that came out to Colombo at the end of the 50s must have been really tired after their mammoth service in the Austerity Years. The Brits don't miss a trick!

Here at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/steveumpire/4309170060/

is a picture of one of those units being slung onto a ship in the UK prior to wending it's way to Ceylon.

Apparently, and I really don't know anything about this, some of the bus chassis ended up being converted to lorries after their Colombo public transport days came to an end.

Significant that you have introduced commercial vehicles to the thread as they have had a vital role to play in Ceylon/Lanka's vehicle history.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very interesting post, Sam, and great links. What's the source of the 63 text document? (The service vehicle referred to is likely to have been a lorry with a wooden box mounted on a sort of big metal/wood frame that lifted a couple of guys up into the air to service the overhead power lines and to unjam stuck trolley pantographs.)

http://www.bokhans.com/trollybus.html

Please scroll down till end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My sympathies to your family.

And a +1 to you on this thread. Your experiences and memories are really showing and being beneficial/entertaining to member on this thread! :)

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My sympathies to you and your family on your loss Sylvi.

Its good to know that he lived a full life and did a great service to many people, he is surely in a better place now..

Also, I'm glad to see this thread is being used finally... The Automotive history of SL is a fascinating subject when it's in the right place. Please keep it up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Sampath-

Just a small fact I picked up off the net sometime back. Did you know that the famous 1 Sri 1 Cadillac used by Sri John Kotelawala has Auto Transmission? I wonder if that was the first auto tranny car in Sri Lanka.

http://www.sundaytim...409/plus12.html

Edited by Crosswind
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, I'm glad to see this thread is being used finally... The Automotive history of SL is a fascinating subject when it's in the right place. Please keep it up!

Thank you for your comment, there are lot of members who like to know the automobile history in Ceylon and Sri lanka.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Sampath-

Just a small fact I picked up off the net sometime back. Did you know that the famous 1 Sri 1 Cadillac used by Sri John Kotelawala has Auto Transmission? I wonder if that was the first auto tranny car in Sri Lanka.

http://www.sundaytim...409/plus12.html

Crosswind: Thanks for the information. I never knew that 1 Sri 1 came with A/T.

Mr.Silvy & Scooter, many thanks for the valuable information provided.

Edited by Sampath Gunasekera

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you ever come across a pre-Sri number (before 1 Sri 1) auto transmission car?

Also I am aware of a number of Mercs (4-Sri, 6-Sri etc.) that came with auto tranny.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Sampath-

Just a small fact I picked up off the net sometime back. Did you know that the famous 1 Sri 1 Cadillac used by Sri John Kotelawala has Auto Transmission? I wonder if that was the first auto tranny car in Sri Lanka.

http://www.sundaytim...409/plus12.html

1 Sri 1

cadilac2.jpg

cadilac1.jpg

Found more details on following link.

http://archives.dailymirror.lk/sections/supp/Rear/031213/5.asp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

my deepest sympathies Sylvi

Thank you for condolence posts to me Scooter,Kawz,Sampath Gunasekera,mazdaspeed.

That funeral was my brother-in-law who lived full life of 84 years, was in the health department did a noble practice, when he left the health department last as a MS he had only his medical instruments and his pension. He did not posses a vehicle of his own.

At the cemetery last sunday one of his college gave a funeral oration to say that he never accepted a cent for his practice and consultations some times poor patients come he used give them cash assistance to buy the medications too.

Thank you three once again.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Member,

THIS IS NOT TO THE TOPIC. I want for members to study on this http://www.hamsphere.com

Like SKYPE no facility to see the other person on the screen.

This is web site where you can exchange with other hamsphere members around the world once you download the software and register your details.

www.hamsphere.com/support will send a login name and pass word for you to start the conversation to your email address.

This like HAM RADIO WHAT we have from 1950s existing in Sri lanka.

http://www.rssl.lk/w...s-amateur-radio Sri lanka web page. Which we need to license from TRC to operate and cost of equipment will be thousands of rupees.

Any one who has a computer with a Mike can log into this facility.

Like to have other member comments.

Virtual Ham Radio

Easy to use Ham Radio Software Transceiver.

No extra hardware needed. Use your PC, speakers, microphone and communicate with Ham Radio operators from all over the world.

Download HamSphere

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

Edited by Sylvi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Register for a new account in our community. It's easy and FREE!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×