Collecting Ceylon
Ceylon ceased to exist in 1972 when the island’s name became Sri Lanka, 24 years after obtaining Independence from Britain in 1948. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the country officially becoming part of the British Empire in 1815, but there are no commemorations of that. However, there are many collectable items that reflect the character of Ceylon – a name that still exists even today. There is the Bank of Ceylon, and I pay my electricity bill each month to the Ceylon Electricity Board.


The very name of Ceylon conjures up the tropical mystique, salubrious climate, tea-clad hills, jungle wilderness, rivers and waterfalls, majestic elephants, broad sandy beaches lapped by the surf of the Indian Ocean, glorious colourful pageants, and the serenity of a tranquil lifestyle. As a name, Sri Lanka conveys a different image although the country is still the same.




As a boy in England I used to collect stamps and those of Ceylon always fascinated me because of the tropical emblems such as a train passing a temple or an irrigation tank incorporated into the design, as well as the British King’s head. Today stamps of Ceylon can only be bought from collectors as they are no longer used on envelopes posted in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s rare martial art.
An item in a local newspaper has set me on a discovery of a unique Sri Lankan martial art. The report reads: “A presentation and display on Angampora was conducted by the Sri Lankan Air Force Angampora team in Colombo last month, marking yet another significant milestone in history of the indigenous art of Angampora.


“The event was made colourful by a performance of both Angam and Illangam by members of th RSF/SABF, the Angampora Display Team and the instructors of the ‘Ange Medilla Ranapila’ including the main Guru, Deshamanaya Dr Ajantha Mahantharachchi himself.”


Angampora, I discovered, is Unarmed Combat with Angam refering to the body while pora refers to combat. Angampora means the martial use of the limbs without the use of weapons, and is divided in to three main categories: (1) offensive and defensive techniques; (2) grips and locks; (3) vital point attacks.

A demonstration of Angam

A demonstration of Angam

Tea Time
It’s a bit too early to put the kettle on but if you like tea then there are lots of events associated with tea being held in Sri Lanka in 2017. That’s to celebrate tea’s sesquicentennial based on it being 150 years since James Taylor, from Scotland, planted the first field of tea seedlings near Kandy. This led to the export to England of tea grown in the then Ceylon, thereby creating the great tea industry that made the colony self-sufficient and helped pay for much of its infrastructural development.


By coincidence, 1867 was a momentous year for Sri Lanka. As well as the first planting of tea, the first railway engine steamed into Kandy that year. (The locomotive was a 4-4-0 type two wheel, coupled engine with a tender, built by in England by R Stephenson & Co. It remained in service until 1926.) The railways and tea developed in tandem as trains provided the means to get tea to port for shipment overseas, and tea provided the freight that made the railways profitable.