Rare Pictures of Colonial Ceylon -City of Colombo

Colombo, Capital of Ceylon - 1880's
Picture taken from Janadhipathi Mawatha (formally Queens Street) in Colombo Fort. Galle Face Green and the Beira Lake could be seen in the background. Colombo was made the capital of Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in 1815 under British rule. Prior to the British rule, Colombo had been occupied by the Portuguese until 1656, and by the Dutch from 1656 until 1796. All three of these nations wanted control of Ceylon in large part to safeguard their trade in ivory, cinnamon, elephants and sapphires.

Beira Lake Colombo, Early 1900s
Beira Lake is in the heart of the city of Colombo, Sri Lanka and surrounded by many important businesses. Lake occupied approximately 165 hectares of land in early 1900s and it has been reduced to mere 65 hectares today. 
Galle Face Hotel, 1880

Galle Face Green Colombo, Ceylon, Late 1800's

House Boat in Wellawatta Canal, Ceylon, Late 1800's

Banyan Tree - Colpetty, Ceylon

Colombo Harbour and Shipping
The name Colombo is derived from the Sinhalese word Kola-amba-thota, meaning "Harbor with leafy mango trees". Since Colombo was a convenient resting place for ships from Arabia to Southeast and Far East Asia, as well as a gateway to the cinnamon resources of the former island of Ceylon, it has been an important port for centuries. During World War II, it became a major re-supply station for Allied forces in Asia as well.
Colpetty Bazaar, Colombo, Ceylon
Colpetty, or Kollupitiya, Bazaar is a thin strip of land which lies alongside the Galle Road Colpetty Bazaar, along with the Fort area, was the hub of the early British colonial presence in Colombo. The famous Galle Face Hotel is situated at the northern end of Colpetty Bazaar.
The Bambalapitiya Road, Leading to Mount Lavinia, Ceylon, Late 1800's

Street Scene in Pettah Colombo, Late 1800's

Colombo Town Hall, Ceylon, Late 1800's

Union Place Colombo, Ceylon, Late 1800's

Early Days of Chatham Street in Fort, Colombo,

Upper Chatham Street, Fort, Colombo
Subsequent Development of Upper Chatham Street, Fort, Colombo, leading to the Indian Ocean on the Western Coast. Bullock carts lined up along the stretch of shops was used as the mode of transport of goods and people.

Prince Street & York Street Intersection, Fort Colombo

Later view towards the Pettah from the intersection of Prince Street and York Street, Fort, Colombo. Grindlays Bank building and Gaffoor Building, with two additional floors, is visible on the left facing the Bristol Building and YMBA building on the right. Cargills building is visible on the near right besides the tree and the parked vintage cars.
Breakwater, Colombo. Ceylon

Main Street showing Khan Clock Tower, Colombo, Ceylon
The Khan Clock Tower was built around the turn of the nineteenth century Khan Clock Tower, a prominent Colombo landmark, stands at the entrance to the Pettah markets. The Tower was built by a wealthy Parsi family of Bombay, which also owned the famous Colombo Oil Mills. In this old photo of Sri Lanka the clock tower can be seen in the center background.

Gordon Gardens (Later Queen’s House) Colombo, Ceylon, 1924
On February 1, 1804, the British Government took over the private house of the last Dutch Governor in Ceylon, Johan Gerard van Angelbeek in the heart of Colombo Fort. This is the house that became the official residence of the British Governor and was referred to as Queen’s House – so named because the British monarch at the time was Queen Victoria. Queen’s House Set in about 4 acres of land, the residence gained further attraction when Governor Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon (1883-90) laid out the Gordon Gardens at his own expense in honour of Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee celebrations in 1887. The Gardens boast of an amazing variety of trees and a marble statue of Queen Victoria which was removed from the gardens in 2006. Gordon Gardens was a public park opened to the public until 1980 when it was made part of the President’s House and today off limits to the public

The Entrance, Mount Lavinia Hotel, Ceylon
The Mount Lavinia Hotel was originally built in 1806. After falling into disrepair, Mount Lavinia House was rebuilt in 1830 by the British Governor Edward Barnes at a cost of 30,000 pounds. It was designed along the lines of "Banqueting Palace" in Whitehall, London designed by the architect Inigo Jones. Like an Italian villa, the house had a coach house, and military barracks and quarters. Mount Lavinia was home to five British Governors. When the British government had finished using the Governor's residence it was converted into the world famous Mount Lavinia Hotel. Scenes from the movie "Bridge on the River Kwai" were filmed here. Mount Lavinia was home to five British Governors. When the British government had finished using the Governor's residence it was converted into the world famous Mount Lavinia Hotel. Scenes from the movie "Bridge on the River Kwai" were filmed here

Grand Oriental Hotel, Colombo
The Grand Orient Hotel is located on the waterfront in Fort, Colombo The Grand Orient Hotel, or GOH as it is commonly known, was built in 1837 for the British soldiers. In 1875 it was converted into a hotel. The hotel was also known as the "Taprobane" and was extremely popular among ship passengers and local residents for its ballroom dancing and luxury. Furniture and crockery from the hotel became style and fashion items. Today the hotel continues to flourish after renovations in the 1990s. The many fine hotels in Colombo reflect the city's popularity as a transit port during the 19th and early 20th century among passengers going to Far East Asia from Europe
Colombo Race Course Governor's Cup Day - 3rd August 1929

The Museum, Colombo.
The National Museum of Colombo was established in 1877. The Colombo Museum is the largest and oldest museum in Sri Lanka. It was established under the reign of the British Colonial Governor, Sir William Henry Gregory. The museum was designed in an imposing Italian style by James G. Smither..

Galle Face Green Colombo
Panoramic view of Galle Face Colombo, Sri Lanka around 1880s-1900, looking south from Galle Road (later this path became the Galle Road), Club House & Galle Face Hotel (far right) showing in the background.