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James Taylor's Loolkandura Estate

James Taylor's Loolkandura Estate
The Loolkandura Estate (British pronounce: Loolecondera; Sinhala: ජේම්ස් ටේලර්ගේ ලූල්කඳුර වතුයාය) is the first tea plantation estate in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) established in 1867 by Scotsman James Taylor.

James Taylor, Loolkandura & Ceylon Tea
James Taylor is credited as the one who introduced tea to Sri Lanka [(then Ceylon) Ranasingha, 2020]. Born on 29 March 1835 in a cottage called Mosspark on Monboddo Estate in Kincardineshire, Scotland, Taylor was the eldest of his family (Forrest, 1967). He came to Sri Lanka on 20 February 1852, at the age of 17 and settled down in the Loolkandura estate in Kandy District (Forrest, 1967). He was billeted on Mr Pride's Naranghena Estate (at the time it was a coffee estate) and Taylor stayed there for about six weeks before he was sent to Wal-oya, the adjoining estate [(now a division of Loolkandura) Forrest, 1967].

With the onset of the coffee rust disease, Taylor visited Assam, India in 1866 to learn about growing tea. In 1867, upon his return, he started the plantation of tea within 19 acres of land in Loolkandura (the land presently known as Field No. 07) and it grew rapidly (Forrest, 1967; Lewis, 1913). By 1872, Taylor had a fully equipped tea house to his own design and a rolling machine used in tea production  (Forrest, 1967). In a letter dated 18 March 1872, Taylor mentioned some remarks about the significance of his rolling machine;
"I have a machine of my own invention being made in Kandy for rolling the tea which I think will be successful. If so, we cannot help making a profit on tea if it grows of fair quality in this country. The picking or gathering the leaves and the rolling are the greatest expenses in the production; the rolling costs nearly as much as the gathering."
This rolling machine is considered to be the first machine ever made in the history of the Sri Lankan Tea Industry (Ranasingha, 2020).

Taylor Died on 2 May 1892, soon after his dismissal from the Loolkandura estate (Forrest, 1967). His body was buried in Mahaiyawa cemetery in Kandy and his tombstone reads (Lewis, 1913);
"James Taylor of Loolecondera Estate, Ceylon, the pioneer of the Tea and Cinchona enterprises in this island......aged 57 year. This stone was erected by his sister and many friends in Ceylon."
Field No. 07
This is referred to as the first original tea field in Sri Lanka. Presently, a land of 5 acres out of 19 acres planted by Taylor in 1867 is remaining.

James Taylor Seat, well & Kiln
The granite seat where Taylor sat while planning the future of Loolkandura is found preserved at the present site. A vast panorama of nature including the mountains such as Hunnasgiriya, Knuckles, Brandygala (Wiltshire), Hampshire, and Thoppigala (Friors Hood) can be obtained across the valley from the seat. Ruins of Taylor's kiln/log cabin built in 1865 are still at the place where his bungalow existed. It is said that he did experiments by making tea in the verandah of his log cabin. Also, the bathing well used by Taylor is still at the site.

The Ceylon Tea Authority built a museum at Loolkandura in 1992 to commemorate Taylor (Ranasingha, 2020). However, it was later attached to the Hanthana Tea Museum (Ranasingha, 2020).

A protected site
The ancient well, stone seat, and the tea kiln used by James Taylor and belonging to the Loolkandura Tea Estate situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Loolkandura in Deltota Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.

1) Forrest, D.M., 1967. hundred years of Ceylon tea, 1867-1967. Chatto & Windus. London. pp.-57-79.
2) Lewis, J. P., 1913. List of inscriptions on tombstones and monuments in Ceylon, of historical or local interest with an obituary of persons uncommemorated: Colombo. p. 333.
3) Ranasingha, R.A.K.S., 2020. Loolkandura The Karmantha shalawa asrithaye karmika puravidya urumaya pilibanda adyanayak (In Sinhala). Puravidu Welipila. Vol: I Issue: III. ISSN: 2719-2210. pp.23-27.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.526.

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This page was last updated on 26 June 2023

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