Castle Lane, Bambalapitiya

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Castle Lane is 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. Spillers 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 ladies who worked for Ms Spillers were managed by a male supervisor and master cutter named Siriwardene. Siriwardene eventually married one of the girls called Hema and lived at the rear end of the house where they were provided with living quarters.

Siriwardena was killed in a tragic train-taxicab crash one night, with three others which included the driver, leaving one young survivor, at an unprotected railway crossing on his way back home from an excursion. It was a black Morris Minor taxicab which model used to be the typical taxi in those days.  They have a daughter who inherited part of the Spillers home by way of a will that was left behind by the lady.

The house was a large one with lots of garden space at the rear abutting a large section 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 the Caterpillar Company and migrated to Pocatello, Idaho in the USA. Roger followed in 1962, completed his national service in the USAF, and 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 latter years. Haseeb, his son followed in his fathers footsteps and continued the building contracting business that his late father established successfully.

Stanley Lumanauw lived at #12 Castle Lane right next to Ms Spillers residence. His backyard fence bordered the back garden of No 300 Galle Road. The house was owned by Mrs. Mignonne Jansen nee Ebert (her husband was Harbour Pilot then) who is also the sister of Mrs. Spillers nee Ebert. Stanley’s mother's was a Ms Walles connected to the race horse people who lived at Thimbirigasaya 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. Dr Nalliah’s nephew Ananda Chittampalam, who was a onetime vice president of the Capri Club in Colpetty, Colombo-3, lived in the same house.

The neighbors towards the seaside viz # 14 and #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 were, Noor Suhuda (married Faiz), Noor Muwaffika (married Khalid and moved to Canada), Fauzul Haniya (married Mackeen Sherriffdeen [brother of Faleel at No. 298] of Mary’s Road, Bambalapitiya), Riyaaya (married Rizwi Hafeel), and Mumtaz (married Mubarak). Fazli Shaideen married Himaya Mohideen and has since moved to Toronto in Canada.

On the opposite side lived the Shums family. Further down on the left in the one before the last house lived elected Senator S. Nadesan, QC, (brother in law of the Maharajas) and the last house was occupied by a bachelor, Mr Rankine, a writer.

At the last house on the right lived the Muthubalasuriyam (Tamil family), of whom Rajan and Nirmalendran (now an ascetic in the Himalayas) were brothers.

An interesting house on 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 family lived here.

At #22 lived the Amunugamas and at #24 the Somasunderams whose sons Sivakumar, Sakthikumar, Srikumar and Skandakumar, retired Chairman of George Steuarts Co Ltd, were all Royalists. Sathi was a very famous pace bowler for the Royal College Colombo Cricket XI. Sivakumar passed away early in life having met with a hit-and-run road accident one night on Galle Road opposite Castle Lane. Srikumar was a very senior tea planter who also served in Sabah, Malaysia, and was appointed by Ranjan Wijeratne, when he was the Plantations Minister in the mid 80's, as a consultant on Oil Palms to Sri Lanka. He is currently (2015) Consultant to the Employers Federation and to two major plantation companies cultivating Oil Palm.</span>Skanda also played cricket for Royal and moved to his own home at Frankfort Place in Bambalapitiya and now resides in retirement with his mom in the cool climes of the hill station at Haputale. There were also three daughters of the Somasunderams, the oldest being Sarojini Balratnarajah, whp passed away in 2015 (March).

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 origin. Jiffry Careem and his family also lived down on the left side of this street in a mansion that he built since he moved to Colombo from Galle. One of his daughters is married to Faiz Mustapha, PC, and onetime Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in London; one of his sons married Farahana Mohideen from Pendennis Avenue, now Abdul Caffoor Mawatha in Colombo-3. Jiffry Careem died on his eldest daughters wedding night soon after the Nikah ceremony. His son, Hussain Jiffry, is a very famous bass guitarist, having played with Sergio Mendez band in the USA. Hussain lives in LA.

A summary list of the families who lived down the Right Side of the street walking down towards the beachfront:

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 (Sivakumar, Sakthikumar, Srikumar and Skandakumar)

28 Mr. Thambyrajah

30 Mr. Mervyn Casiechetty

32 Mrs. Perera

34 Mr. Muthubalasuriyar

36 Mr. Bandaranayake

Left Side of the street:

3 Perinpanayagam

5 & 7 Hamid

9 Nallainathan

17 Wickremanayake / Nair

25 Thiagarajah

27 Nadarajah 29 Shanmugarajah

31 Ms. Perumal

33 Menon

35 Nadesan

37 Rodriguez

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. The son popular known as Bata was killed by his own worker late one night over some financial dispute I believe. 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.

Thereafter, lived the Wikramanayake family who were lawyers. Appointed Senator in 1953, EB Wickramanayake, QC, he was appointed minister of Justice on the resignation of Sir Lalitha Rajapakse on 07.11.1953 in the Sir John Kotelawala government).

Sons, Elanga (ED) Devapriya, (solicitor-general in 1977), and Rakhitha were ex-St Thomas College students, good at cricket. Elanga  excelled in rifle-shooting winning the Governor-General’s Cup at the age of nineteen. Rakita was Chairman of Air Ceylon,and recently one of the 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 and Sundays.The other family was the Caders. Mr Cader was a strict disciplinarian. He had two extremely beautiful daughters, who had many admirers who were kept in check by son Latiff and another well known toughie.

Another family was the Caders. Mr Cader was a strict disciplinarian. He had two extremely beautiful daughters, who had many admirers who were kept in check by son Latiff and another well known toughie in the locality. Herman Armstrong, married to one of the Rasanayagam girls, lived with the Rasanayagam family; a brother and two other sisters, Indira and Ansela, with their parents, resided in Castle Lane.

The ILM Zahir family lived at No. 21. Their son Faizer, who passed away in the 90's, married Jasminah Ibrahim and they have a daughter, Firasa who is married to Arshard Ibrahim. The rest of the Zahir family are, the late Fenuza, married to Siddiq Ghouse, Faiq, and Farzana. They run a shoe store in the Pettah called New Centrals.

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, started by Ms Shiraz Mubarak Thaha. Shiraz was married to a Sellamuttu lad and later divorced. The establishment was successfully managed by her ex-husband, Sellamuttu; Chariot has now shifted to the ground floor of a building – the former Europa house – which is located between Castle Lane and Sagara road on the seaside. Currently, the Chariot establishment is successfully managed by Shiraz's ex husband, Sellamuttu.

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