Friday, 12 December 2014

Melancholic Mansion

I've always wanted to visit Kellie's Castle.. and I finally made the trip in the earlier part of the current school holidays with my family. Before we had the North-South highway (in the olden days.. hahaha), cars had to drive on the old road to Ipoh which passed by Batu Gajah and we could spot the ruins from quite a distance away. It was intriguing, mysterious and downright scary from certain angles.




Fast forward today, it is spruced up to become quite a nice tourist attraction.. But don't let all that make-up fool you. Once you step on the grounds, you can feel the melancholy (well..i thought I did) of the place and it is rather surreal.

















Here's a little history from wikipedia:

"William Kellie Smith (1870 - 1926) was born in 1870 in Kellas, Moray Firth, Scotland. In 1890, at the age of 20, he arrived in Malaya as a Civil Engineer. He joined Charles Alma Baker's survey firm, who had won concessions from the state government to clear 9000 hectares of forests in Batu Gajah, Perak. With the substantial profits made from his business venture with Baker, Smith bought 1000 acres of jungle land in the district of Kinta and started planting rubber trees and dabbled in the tin mining industry.


In time, he named his estate Kinta Kellas after his home farm "Easter Kellas" and went on to own the Kinta Kellas Tin Dredging Company as well.With his fortune made, he returned home to marry his Scottish sweetheart, Agnes, and brought her over to Malaya in 1903. They had a daughter named Helen the next year.

In 1909 Smith built his first mansion, "Kellas House" and in 1915 with the birth of his son and heir Anthony he started planning for a huge castle with Scottish, Moorish and Indian architecture. He brought in 70 craftsmen from Madras India. All the bricks and marble were imported from India, too. Included in the plan for the 6 storey tower was Malaya's first elevator, an indoor tennis court and a rooftop courtyard for entertaining.


During construction, a virulent strain of Spanish Flu struck his workmen. When his workmen approached him to build a temple nearby Smith readily agreed. In return for his generosity, they built a statue of him beside the other deities on the temple wall. It is believed that a tunnel was built to the temple from the castle.

Smith's mansion is accessible from the main road through a bridge running across a stream. His house was so unique that it was even mentioned in the London Financier newspaper on 15 September 1911.

Unfortunately William Kellie Smith died at the age of 56 due to pneumonia during a short trip to Lisbon, Portugal in 1926.


William's wife was devastated and decided to move back to Scotland. In the end, Kellas House, later known as Kellie's Folly or Kellie's Castle, was sold to a British company called Harrisons and Crosfield."

For me, definitely worth a visit. Find out more at: http://www.tourism.gov.my/en/my/places/states-of-malaysia/perak/Kellies-Castle




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