Changes in Fort – Galle Heritage

Changes in Fort

Horse Coach Postal

By 1858Ad, British governance started the Horse Coach Postal service straight up to Colombo. At the commencement of Horse Coach postal service, the stables and officers of the service were established in the Galle fort. Horse coach officer serving Matara and Kalutara were operated through two old Dutch building on Peddler street near present National Junction. Development of those building as two story structures and addition of each shaped door frames and window frames coloring the walls with beautiful beads stand out as architectural textures added during British period.

Following the establishment of municipal council in 1867AD, main municipal market was constructed on a land which had been used for a cemetery towards the end of Dutch period. The boundary wall with the year 1710AD of the Dutch cemetery can be seen ever today. British had built two buildings at that place for the market. These buildings with four sided roofs were surrounded with open verandahs.

An additional market building was constructed in the fort near Kalu Kotuwa (adjoining present court complex) in the same year, 1869AD. Calicut tiles marked 1867AD can be identified in those bounding even today. These building constructed sing burnt block bricks and have a front verandah with wooden pillars. Later the municipal council made arrangements to develop those buildings in fort as house for merchants and their families.

Towards the middle period under British governance telegraph service stated bringing in major changes to postal service. Telegraph service developed from Galle to Colombo in January 1858AD and up to Kandy by June 1858AD. Telegraph service developed so fast that the first telegraph message from New York to Galle was transmitted in 1866AD. First telegraph exchange was started in a building on the middle street in Galle fort. It is said that the telegraph service connected Galle and Kandy police stations by 1858AD.

With establishment of post offices, telegraph office became a unit in the post office itself. First post office in Galle was opened by mid-19th century in the former Dutch governor’s official residence which was later developed and converted to the residence of the queen of Britain. In old photographs, an arched verandah is seen at the front of this building. Administrative reports contain information to the that British government spent 30 starting pounds to repair the rain gutters and install tubing for the post office and queen official residence. On 1st May 1885 AD a savings bank was established in thepost office.

After using that building for some time, Galle post office was housed in an old Dutch building at the junction where middle street meets the Lighthouse street in Galle fort. It is clearly seen that the front section of this building underwent changes during British period. Part of this building had been demolished and removed for development of Lighthouse Street when the new gate to fort was opened.  What we see now is only half of the old building. Slant walls have been added to strengthen the remaining half of the building. Part of the court at the middle of the old building with carpentry pillars can be noticed inside this building. Front section appears to have been charged during British period.

With the development of Galle, harbor, business activities started within Galle fort and as a result banks h and various financial instructions came in. Chettiars or Hetties who came from India with the arrived of Europeans found accommodation inside Galle fort and at Kittangai area outside fort and carried on unofficial banking activities for lending money.

A bank by the name “Orient Bank’’ was opened in Galle fort during British period. This Bank carried on business in the big two storied building belonged to Dutch period at the junction where Leyn Baan cross street with church street. There are arches in the ground floor verandah of this building the third floor verandah  had dual carpentry pillars A middle court presumably built during British period laid with soling behind this building is a special feature of this building. This building was constructed in mid-17th century as a building connected with the official residence of the Dutch commander.

Oriental Bank, at the beginning was owned by an Indian company. Another Bank named Chartered mercantile bank was started by British Mercantile banking company in a new building constructed in front of the old bank. At present the building is used for commercial bank. Impressions of British governance in early days can be seen all over the building Beads with Corinthian pillars at the front section of the building provide architectural impressions specific to British.

During British era, a clam of proprietary planters came up. Galle fort was the dwelling of many businessmen owned estates. Therefore fealties required by those planters were added as special features in Galle town. Among those were clubs and sports facilities. First tea plant was introduced in 1867AD to Ceylon by British. As a result of expansive inflection of plant diseases to coffee cultivation and decline of demand for coffee in the international market, planters paid more attention on tea planting. In 1876AD, the first Rubber plant was introduced to Ceylon by British. Planting Rubber spread through Kalutara district to other areas of the country as rubber was a quite suitable crop for low country. However Ceylon tea was considered best tea in the world by 1880AD which resulted in further betterment of planting economy and also development of harbor and conjugate infrastructural facilities. Spread of plantation crops in the country resulted in establishment of engineering firms for maintenance of machinery and import of tools and equipment required for planting industry.

Among those, Walkers Company was prominent. Walkers Company bought queen’s house in fort through an auction and maintained their off in that building. In 1885AD, Galle gym Cana club was started for the benefit of local and foreign planters who lived in Galle fort. Billiard, Force races, Tennis gained popularly in the planting community through this club.

During this period, Horse races too became popular among Estate owners and businessmen. The open land space facing fort where the old moot had been was developed as a Race course by British. Anniversary of Galle gym Cana club was celebrated at a grand scale in 1921AD. Administrative reports that a land of 100 acre in Gintota area was acquired by government to perform Force Races in the following year. Constructions mad for that Race course are seen in Boosa area.

With the Tennis sport gaining popularity hand in hand with gym Cana club, two plots of land where the official residence of Dutch governor during Dutch period and tater maintained as open spaces by Dutch were converted to Tennis courts by British. Those two Tennis courts are on either side of the new gate of the fort and known as Amarasooriya stadium. Particularly because Tennis had a culture related with gym kana club, some buildings in fort were used for that sport. Main brilliant center was housed in a building on the middle street in Galle fort now this building belongs to southlands college. It is said that building was developed and, used by Volanka Company a popular manufacturing entity supplying raw materials for harbor activities.

Galle Library was opened in 1871AD for the use of planters living in Galle fort. The library was housed in a part of the old post office building. It appears that the front section of the building had been developed and re fashioned during the first part of 20th century. The alterations to the roof of the old building making an extension of the roof from the ridge towards the front are evident.

During that time there were two other libraries in Galle fort. One of those, named united Library was in a section of the mansion hotel situated on Middle Street in the fort while the other named Garrison was situated in the building occupied by police station at present, in front of the present Kachcheri building. The fact that the building of Garrison library had been built during Dutch times can be ascertained from architectural aspects and also according to the map prepared by J.C. Toozy in 1698AD. Those days, part of the building was used as the library while the other part was the canteen for sailors.

Concurrent with the development of Galle fort as a town, infrastructural facilities outside fort also were developed. The fast train arrived in Galle in the year 1894AD. This occasion had been a considerable backing for the efficiency of trading activities associated with Galle harbour and also in the expedited development of Galle as an important town.

In 1905AD, motor vehicles which also were introduced to Galle town. Initial owners of motor vehicals in Galle were Charles P. Heyley, Madam North Veil, Doctor Luda vice, Fred Abeysundara and the businessmen named Kadiravail Mudalali. With the popularity of motor vehicle as the medium of transport among business population in Galle town, the stables meant for horses in fort got converted to garages. The passage way made to have aces across stables to the middle court of the house was changed with the conversion of garage to a stable.

Changes in Buildings, Constructions and Nature of Use

When new building was constructed by British, sometimes they effected alterations to old Dutch buildings to reflect their architectural individuality. In those buildings so altered, varied architectural fractural pertaining to different time periods are reflected.

Common Buildings and Religious Places

Missionary education was more and more spread with the arrival of missionaries on invitation by British government in 1805 AD.  From the inspectional periods of British governance, father De Voss acted as the minister of Education for Galle. According to the report presented in 1810AD, 23 missionary schools had been opened in Galle, and that was the largest number of missionary schools than elsewhere in the District of Galle. A team of priests from the Methodist Church of England arrived at Galle in 1814 Ad to start Methodist system of education Father Cloe was in charge of missionary activities in Galle area.

A spacious empty house on the middle street in Galle fort was bought over by the Methodist mission to commence missionary education. This missionary school started in 1817ad AD and the first pupil there was the son of the chief principal for Galle District School. One room of the building was kept as a place of worship and the other two rooms were use for educational purposes.

This building can be seen at present within southland college precincts. In this building consisting of a verandah with wooden pillars, a beautifully carried and decorated door frame with a ventilator opening can be observed.  Due to very specific architectural aspects seen in this building it is year that it was originally owned by some dignitary of Dutch times. Many changers had been made in the building for it to be used as a school building. Foundation store for construction of the present Methodist church was laid on 8th July 1819AD because there was no enough space in the prayer room. This church was opened in January 1821AD and father Don Cornelices De Silva of Hikkaduwa conducted the first service in Sinhala language. Construction of this church can be considered a special event in adding Gothic art of architecture to Galle fort by British. Window frames are made by felting multi colored prices of stain glass and windows are set with very thin pointed arches. A short verandah is seen at the front of the church. The church has a gabled roof and the verandah is strengthened with pointed arches. Archers are mounted on short stone pillars showing Corinthian features. It is evident that British had used the roman architectural style with arches which was mostly used in construction of churches during 1150-1250Ad in Europe. Entire building is constructed using stones and only the inside of the walls are covered with lime plastering. Front of the church consists of a beautiful gable and it appears that the building had been altered on several occasions.

The construction of the building had cost 250 Francs, of which 190 francs were from contributions and Governor Robert Brownrig had spent 37.10 francs. It is also said that the church was changed many times. It was the arrived of Methodist chapter that originated the commencement of schools in Galle fort. According to maps of survey Gerald’s department, the technical collage of Wesleyan church and Wesleyan boy’s school also were carried on in those buildings.

Later the Wesleyan English School was assigned to central school commission and thereafter to Anglican Church. Anglican Church continued it under the name “All saint college”. Later the Ladies college was established as Galle Girls High school, and still later as southlands college within the same Methodist church premises. Boy’s school was named All saints college or Galle central college. All those buildings belonging to Galle central college were the houses coming down from Dutch period which were bought over in the course of development of the college later.

Both main buildings thus purchased appear to have been changed in accordance to their own architectural styles. The main building of Galle central college has  a dual roof with  a main rafter. Its front section shows, at the ground floor, the pointed archers as in the face of the Methodist church and columned arches have been used in the first floor. British rulers have taken such steps to attribute the building the appear are of an old Dutch religious place.

Opening of Sunday schools under Missionary education system is a special event. Galle Sunday school was started in August 1847AD by Father James King clerk. There were 42 students in the college in 1850 AD and more than 100 students in 1852AD.

Eglinton Houses in Galle fort is one of the buildings where a Sunday school was conducted. This is an Old Dutch building on the Hospital Street. This building can be identified as a salient example for the attempts of British to after a construction to suit present use. This building is used as the regional office of bank of Ceylon. It is said that a grand fiesta was held to mark the 50th anniversary of the Eglinton House Sunday school in 1897AD.

Anglican Church in Galle fort was opened in February 1871AD. This church was planned by James A. Smother; foundation store for this building was laid by Father Peers Cavalry Clayton on Friday the 30th of 1868Ad. This church displays Gothic architectural features of English churches in 13th century. Pointed arches used for Roman Gothic churches during medieval period in Europe have been used in all windows. Ground plan of the church takes the form of a cross. Metal plates have been used for peak roofs at the middle Calicut tiles were used for the other sections of the roof. Use of columned arches for the front verandah section with a flat is a special feature. Roof has been made to cover a vast area in the middle of the building. Sections of the roof are strengthened on pointed arches. Gothic architectural feature such a pointed archers, beefless walls, Corinton columns, stained glass windows and peak roofs frequent in this building. This piece of land was the queen’s garden before construction of the church.

Adjoining a small lane connecting Leyn Baan street and church street, a small mosque had been built for Moorish populations of Galle fort.

“… Most of the building in fort is owned by individuals. Among them are moors as well. This was the background for building mosques at later period. No body gains any income from these properties. Therefore I propose recovery of a certain sum of money per square yard from every individual to government. That would not harm them…’’

This is quoted from a report presented by Lieutenant Engineer Gueltius Skinder in October 1808 AD.

By 1902 Ad arrangements were under way to construct the biggest mosque seen today. A close look at this with reveal many architectural marks adopted in construction of Christian churches of Europe.

Although many Christian churches are seeing in Galle fort, there is only one Buddhist temple situated on Rampart Street. In a proposal of maps it can be seen that this location had been an undeveloped Wallow land during early stages of British era. Use of pointed arches in most sections of the building is a particular feature. Front section consists of a verandah strengthened with foliated column arches. Pillars made of stones are tiled with beadings. This can be identified as the only building constructed by British in Galle fort using foliated column arches. Architectural out look of this building provide evidence to the effect that the building had been structured to suit requirements of a Christian church. During the time of British government it was in a buildings inside Galle fort the Galle police station was first housed.

In the buildings of Galle fort the Galle police station was opened During British era. With the harbor becoming busy the necessity to maintain peace in the town, a need for a police station was felt. Therefore in June 1844Ad a police station consisting of a police inspector, two sergeants and 15 constables was set up inside Galle fort. The building in Kalu Kotuwa which was used at that time by artillery was used to house the police station. A front verandah with carpentry pillars can be seen in that building. It may be during the same period the police was stationed that the building of blacksmiths were developed adding carpentry pillars to some parts of those buildings. The governor was frequently getting complains from regarding illegal incidents the fort and in the adjacent areas. Arrangement was made to establish the police magistrate court in 1848AD to remedy that situation. Left end in the first floor of Dutch warehouse building was used to house police court. During that time magistrate court and request court of Galle fort were also commenced in the same building. Those alternative practices are observed to be significant causative influences for the changes in Dutch warehouse building.

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