Cargills & Millars Buildings (Colombo)

Cargills & Millars Buildings
The old Cargills & Millars Buildings (Sinhala: කාර්ගිල්ස් හා මිලර්ස් ගොඩනැගිල්ල) are located No. 40 on the corner of the Sir Baron Jayatilaka Mawatha and the York Street in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka. They are considered to be some of the oldest department stores in the country (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

A Dutch building is said to be on the land where the present Cargills & Millars buildings are located and it had been occupied by Sir Frederick North (1766-1827), the first British Governor of Ceylon from 1798 to 1805 (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). In 1844, a British businessman William Miller started his company at this premises by replacing the old Dutch building and in 1896, it was acquired by David Sime Cargill, a Scottish businessman who headed the popular Cargills & Company (Manathunga, 2016; Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

During the period 1902-1906, the present two-storied Cargills building following the renaissance architecture was built by Walker Sons & Company in accordance with the design by Edward Skinner, a British architect (Manathunga, 2016; Rajapakshe et al., 2018; Wright, 1999). In 1907, another two-storied building designed by Skinner was attached to this Cargills building and it belonged to William Cramond Miller, the head of the Millers & Company (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

By 1946, the ownership of this building was in the hands of local businessmen (Manathunga, 2016). In 1981 its present owners Ceylon Theaters acquired controlling shares of the company Cargills Ltd. (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

A protected monument
The building belonging to the Cargills company at No. 40/1, York Street, Colombo 01, situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Fort in Colombo Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 9 September 2011.


1) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. pp.38-39. 
2) Rajapakshe, S.; Bandara, T. M. C.; Vanninayake, R. M. B. T. A. B. (Editors), 2018. Puravidya Sthana Namavaliya: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Vol. I. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-7457-19-2. pp.33-34.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1723. 9 September 2011.
4) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.43.
5) Wright, A. ed., 1999. Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon: Its History, People, Commerce, Industries, and Resources (first published in 1907). Asian Educational Services. pp.457.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 20 August 2022

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