The Last Of The Kerosene Carts


Once upon a time, before motor vehicles, electricity and LP gas were commonplace, kerosene was an important part of daily household life and bullock carts like these brought it to your doorstep. This is the story of one of the last remaining kerosene carts.











I was fortunate to catch this man in 2015 in Colombo somewhere on Bullers road. I quickly got out of my car and took these pictures. My driver Thusitha then got a quick lesson in driving the Bullock cart! 


 Shared by,  Sam S

27 thoughts on “The Last Of The Kerosene Carts”

  1. Wonder why they didn’t think of delivering Toddy like this? Then there wouldn’t have been any congestion at the Toddy booths as in Kotahena & I wouldnt have gone to Fort from Bloem to buy Ambassador toddy !!


    1. AW– come on Seelan– the trip to the Ra Kade was part of the fun of getting the toddy- and to see all those drunken folks blabbering and swinging down the street – not to mention that sickening smell I just hated .


  2. Thanks Sam.Beautiful pics of the kerosene cart.The bull too is a magnificent specimen.I,am surprised that kerosene is still used by the Colombo populace. I remember a very common kerosene cart with the name Anthonis written on it.Any relation of P.R our famous surgeon.?
    Remember the horrific burns from kerosene lamps in the villages?I wonder what has happened in the villages now.? LPG gas is almost LKR 3 K now for a cylinder.!!


    1. HI Eddie- I have a feeling that ‘ Anthonis ‘ was THE Kerosene man- perhaps a relative of the P. R. Anthonis.
      I do recall a story like this .
      I am sure, Narme can enlighten us on this – as he usually knows all this fun trivia stuff !


    2. Your guess is absolutely correct. Dr Anthonis’s family ran a kerosine oil business from their residence on Galle rd (on land side), Bambalaptiya very close to the Vajira rd /Galle rd intersection. One of my uncles ran a hotel+ grocery store right opposite in the 50’& 60’s. Dr Anthonisz once mentioned that he used to cycle to St Peter’s from that location and he used to go to Sunday school at Vajirarama Temple and listen to sermons by famous monks like Ven Narada. In one of interviews he was quoted ” my name is not Anthonisz but Anthonis”


      1. Thank you Abey- for that little gem of history, and I also feel good that my old brain is still working and can recall a few gems !

        Great Story- from Bumi Thel to Dostara ( from Kersene to Surgeon ) !

        Glad we all lived long enough to tell these wonderful tales .

        Sam– Many thanks for this post – that took us along a Kersene Cart all the way to the P. R. Anthonis Days at Med School Ward Classes !
        Some of you guys- had it better than just Ward Classes !!!!

        eaglemd .
        Oh by the way– Sam- I like your punt on the Law Medical !


  3. HI Sam,
    Very nice video of good old days- that I seem to remember like yesterday-

    Infact, I had a small two burner. table top kerosene stove , when I first set up house down Thelengapatha Rd , Wattala, ( the road that used to connect Keleniya from Wattala ) , and I used to buy kerosene from a similar cart – that had a very distinctive bell !
    If I am not home, then the cook woman would do the purchasing- using a gallon can for measurement .
    Later on, I bought a one burner ‘hot plate ‘ – when electricity was available , in addition to using the kerosene stove for most cooking .

    In my early years, – 1952, as I recall, living at Sinharamulla , Keleniya, we did not have electricity , or running water for that matter , and so, the wood fireplace was supplemented with the kerosene stove , which was kind of a luxory .

    I like the video- where the man says , he falls asleep at the Thungmulle Handiya, and the bull rings the bell, ? with its tail, and the man wakes up- has his tea in the near by boutique , and the day continues .

    I believe the last the photos are of your driver Thusitha in the blue shirt, sitting on the cart- “Young Drivers ” at its best .
    You sure lucked out seeing this cart, as late as 2015- along Bullers Rd- I believe- this is where Thungmulla Handiya starts ? with the Laksala Store at the corner .

    I wonder how many folks in Colombo and other major cities . still remember this old kerosene cart with its distinctive bell- announcing its presence !

    Iam sure, one can still see this cart in rural areas – but, to see it down Bullers Rd- Colombo ??- I cant believe it !

    Like your modern day’ ” Google Alexa’ !!– that rings the bell , turns your tv on and off, and talks and tell jokes too !!

    Perhaps if we drive down to Matara, we may see it – like the way it was back then down along Elliot Rd, Kotuwagoda, Matara, where my grand parents lived for over 50 yrs ., and I spent a lot of school holidays with my grandmother Cecilia, that most of you now know !!!!

    Thanks for this trip down ‘memory lane ‘ !


    1. The kerosine cart

      Kerosine has burnt and maimed many people

      Only the poorest flock to buy it from my vehicle

      Alas, the world is unfair to the under priviledged

      Through kerosine oil the poor becomes maimed



  4. Thanks Sam for reminding us of the good old days in Sri Lanka. I think kerosene is till used in SL. I have a friend of mine ( Deepthie you know her.. Premini ) and she still uses Kerosine oil for the cooker.
    Those good old days did we ever envisage using microwaves, air fryers halogen hobs etc. Well the world has changed and so have we. Cheers. Praxy


  5. Thanks for the kerosene cart story Sam. Sandy Perinpanayagam and I were made to push a Sanitary Cart at our rag , way back in 1964. These carts have disappeared too!


  6. Thanks Narme, I can remember the sanitary carts too! Luckily I didn’t get to push one during the rag. I happen to be with Saman Ali who who got busted by Fonseka when he asked for his help to climb over a wall !


    1. HI Narme and Sam !

      Oh those Rag Days !!- we girls got it good too- as Praxy said in a previous post ” Funny Things ‘ !

      I do recall this ‘sanitary cart’ from my days at our home in Sinharamulla , Keleniya, back in 1952– where we had no running water, or electricity .

      So, I would go down to the deep water well at the bottom of the hill, and fill up buckets and haul it up -that was real fun for me .

      Sanitary Cart- even as a young child, I felt really sorry for the man who would come to clean the outdoor toilet , and Amma always gave him lots of food- cooked or fresh vegt that we grew in the garden , at the bottom of the hill, by the well , and special treats for Christmas and April New Year .

      We always treated this man with much respect, that he well deserved — honoring Division of Labor ..



  7. Message from Rani
    I agree with all, those were the days when we waited for the Koil bullock cart, to refill our quota for the week The sound of the bullock cart, laden with the heavy Koil filled tin red Tank was a cue for us torun up to the gate to get it.
    Koil was a cheap form of fuel and was very popular among the people.
    We used it to light the Koil lamps and as a fuel for the Koil cooker. The images of lamps will help you to visualise the by gone days of lighting our houses. The lantern type was used for many parts of the house while the Wick Koil lamp which was a sophisticated version was used in the lounge

    You will be amazed to know that although we relate Koil to the bygone era, even now it is used on stage for entertainment ,” breathing fire” and also as fuel for Rockets and jets


  8. Another comment by Rani (per request)Dear All,

    I thought the time is ripe for me to express my appreciation, and gratitude to SAM,the Web Master, for the hard ,untiring, time consuming, work , done in creating “The Blog”
    I know creating a blog is not easy,, Initial stages it involves ,hard work, determination ,patience, and sometimes frustration. You have over come all the hurdles.
    Thank you for being the web master for the last few years. It has brought, us “The 64 Batch mates, together, closer in many ways

    I am certain all of you will agree that viewing The News and Views”. Post has become part of our daily routine,,

    Your daily or weekly quest to put up News and Views contents help the batch mates to share their information, and at times get immediate response.

    The blog has brought an opportunity , a free platform through blogging / word press, to voice our views, comments, and at timesHealthy criticism ,which is invaluable by posting our video clips, while the hard work of compiling it, is done by Sam the web master.
    Thanks Sam once again, you have brought a change among the 64 Batch mates , bringing them closer, in many communication ways , trusting and respecting each other via the blog,


    1. HI Rani and to the Class of 64 .
      Rani- all that you have said, I AGREE 100 % . and what a lovely tribute it is to The Web Master .

      I have just returned after spending four wonderful days with Sam/ Kathy . in Sarasota, Florida .

      I know first hand, the work the Web involves and how dedicated Sam is to keeping all of us ‘trapped in the web’ .
      Better be trapped in the Web than be trapped in the clutches of Demon Dementia.. any day .

      Sam is sooo dedicated to it, and for him, the Web is a pure Labor of Love .
      Sam is involved in many other activities – Photography club, Golf Club, Care of Home and Family. and many other activities .

      He did not need this – as I told him ‘ Ali madiwata harak ‘ !!

      But, he is soooo devoted to the Web, and to the Class of 64- to hold all of us together , in a good way , that I must say, for my self ‘ Mal Pudala Wadinda Oney ” ( Offer Flowers at the Feet ) .

      For me, it is an Addiction ( and for many others too , !!! ) .
      Morning Coffee- never tastes good, unless I am viewing News and Views !!– no matter where I am in the world, and , right now- in Sedona, Arizona, looking at the clouds rolling in over the majestic Red Rocks , from my room .

      Reading through the News and Views — is even better today, when I see the response to this simple little tale of Kerosene Cart- and the discussion that followed !

      Thanks a lot Sam – I really dont know how to say Thank you to you !

      By the way- I cooked y’day and this am, using your Karapincha leaves and I was thinking of you / Kathy a lot , and I saw my friend the Bald Eagle y’day and I prayed for both of you, and for the Class of 64.. told the Sacred Bird, to hold all of us near and dear to His Sacred Spirit …

      LONG LIVE THE WEB .!!!

      eagle D


  9. Yes, Rani et al.Sam is doing a great job to keep this alive.What we all must do is contribute an yearly donation to the cost of maintaining this website.If I remember correctly it is about 250 USD.With at least 50 followers now, I think it will not be too onerous for each one of us to contribute to this cost.As is, perhaps, an yearly subscription of USD5 every year.A reminder, Just in case we have forgotten to contribute for 2018. We must keep this an active site for socialising and keeping the great demon( Dementia) away.Shall we get more of our colleagues to join and double the number of followers.This is an unsolicitedmessage from me. Eddie.


    1. Agree with Eddie on all of the above .
      Surely- we are all MD’s and can afford 5 bucks /person —
      Idea- when we meet in Beruwala- keep a ‘ 2019 Web Collection Box ‘ –?
      2018 is paid for already, thanks to some of you, who were extremely generous .


  10. The good old Kerosene cart , I remember it very well . When we were in Galle the kerosene cart went from one house to another selling Kerosene. I also remember the Aladdin Kerosene lamp that gave a bright white light , over 100 watts in todays terminology. This was early 50’s.

    The story about Dr PR Anthonis is true as Abey pointed out. Apparently Dr PR’s father initially sold Kerosene in a Bullock cart as seen in the video . Eventually when he became more prosperous he had a stand alone establishment selling kerosene.

    Thanks Sam this brings back pleasant memories of an era with simple things in life.



    1. HI Nisantha– I remember sooo very well that bright good old Alladin Lamp at our Sinharamulla , Keleniya home, back in 1952 !


  11. I agree with Eddie’s idea. I have done my part for 2017 when Sam initially mentioned the cost involved in running our web site.



  12. Thanks Sam for showing old Kesena cart used in the past. This vidio took my mind back to old memories of our village during our childhood.


  13. I appreciate the kind words from all of you regarding the Blog. Yes it gives me great satisfaction to see this group come together after 50+ years and exchange ideas and indulge in sharing sweet memories. At this time we have 52 serious followers ( even though there are many others who seem to read the posts on the side lines.) My goal this year is to increase this number to 70, ( half of the original batch)
    So, spread the word around and have others you are in contact with to sign up as Email followers.


  14. Nice to see many more mates are warming up to the web

    Sam single handedly provides this service without a blip

    The depth and width of knowledge in our batch is immense

    Those still cagey must join the party now as the party is good



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