Photo Memories – Sam


This is a great antique Colombo Street scene photo from 1945.  I am told that the Bullock Cart belongs to a Merchant named K. Podi Singho.
I have no information on the exact location. Interesting to see the posh cars and the rick shaw. I welcome your observations.  Any guesses on the location?



11 thoughts on “Photo Memories – Sam

  1. I think this picture was taken near Old Taprobane Hotel on York Street, Colombo. I guess it was known as Grand Hotel at the time


  2. The rickshaw– I remember the rickshaws lined up all along Retreat Road- by the Holy Family Convent wall, waiting to pick the kids to take them home for lunch and back, , and again home after school in the evening .

    This was the most popular and most reliable ‘taxi’ back then , for most school kids living within a ‘running distance ‘ so to speak .
    This was the way it was even up to the early 60’s ( 1963 ) when I left school.

    I have never used a rickshaw in my life , as we lived so far away in Hendala- quite a distance back then from Bambalapitiya, and my Thatha would drive us and the neighbours kids to school, in our little Volkswagon Beetle ( no seat belts either – just keep the little sister on my lap !! ) every day in the morning .
    Traffic was not maddening at all back then .
    I wonder if rickshaws were used in other cities back then- like Kandy/ Galle/ Matara .

    In Galle and Matara- where I spent a lot of time with extended family and grandparents ( matara ) my grandparents had their own ‘taxi- a Bakki karatte- with gleaming brass fittings, leather covered 4 seater, , nice roof . pulled along by a single bull and the karatta karaya, who kept up a lively chatter ( gossip ! ) with my grandmother .
    This was their only mode of transport .
    I just LOVED to ride in this Bakki karrate !

    The cart that is shown in the photo above was in use in Galle/ Matara area, well into the 70’s ( and I think, I have color photos of these ) have for transport of goods like coconut, firewood, rice bags vegt bags etc .
    I remember seeing it even along Negombo rd on the way back and forth from school .

    When I left SL- I brought along with me, a nice small batik wall hanging with this Bullock cart image , that I still have in the home with me, to this day !

    As for the ‘ posh cars ‘- we had a Model T Ford- in the 40’s, then a Hillman, then a VW Beetle ( 1954 ) that was used till I left the country in 1972 !
    NO road salt- so, no rust- and a good strong vehicle, ALL Made in Germany .

    Anyway- this is a very nice photo- again, waking up some dormant memory neurons in my head .
    Sam — Thanks for the photo memories !
    Deepthie .


  3. That Grand Hotel sign seems to be near the smaller building next door -may be its the other end of the hotel.
    Rickshaw, bullock cart & expensive cars parked in front of the hotel. This may be : Main St, Pettah.
    (Deepthie, to me the cars look like the old Austin 10).


  4. All your answers are plausible. As I indicated I don’t have any information except for the year the photo was taken.
    Thanks for playing


  5. Sam this is a lovely picture of ancient Sri Lanka. Three modes of transportation are included in the picture. Would have been fantastic if we could have seen a bicycle.

    I looked at some of the old pictures of the GOH hotel and the pillars look different. The sign says Grand Hotel though. I saw some of the old pictures when the Grand hotel was constructed and the architecture of the pillars were quite different to what is in your picture. Even the back of the hotel had pillars similar to the rest of the building then.

    I have to do more research and hopefully come up with an answer. May be we should look into K. Podi Singho’s delivery pattern and research Podi Singho.



  6. Thanks for the research. I also went back to my source site, and one responder seems to think the Grand Hotel in the picture has no relationship to current GOH. He remembers the place as a restaurant. I tend to agree with him, as It is not uncommon to name eating establishments as “hotels” even today.


  7. Sam the Grand Oriental Hotel was built in the late 1800 s. The sign says Grand Hotel and not GOH. Therefore these are two different establishments as your friend has implied. The vehicles are from the 1940’s. Shall do more research to identify the building.

    Liked by 1 person

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