When ships carrying passengers and goods circled Sri Lanka
The Daily News in its issue of July 13 carried the news item - Inland
passenger boat service from December and that this project had received
the green light from the Government and the BOI.
Many may not be aware that in the nineties, there was a regular
shipping service where several ships named after the names of past
Governor's wives did a regular run touching at Hambantota, Galle,
Batticaloa-Kalkudah, Trinco, Point Pedro, Jaffna, and what is more these
ships even called on the Indian ports of Negappattinam and Karaikal.
This shipping service was run by the Ceylon Steam-ship Company Ltd.
with the managing agents being Walker and Sons Ltd.
The ships carried the names: - Lady Blake, Lady Gordon, Lady
Havelock, Lady Maccalum, and as a grim reminder, on the beach at
Kalkudah stood the boiler of this ship Lady Havelock for the past 89
years, when in the 1907 cyclone as the ship started on its journey from
the Kalkudah Port, the ship got caught to this cyclone and the Captain
of the ship Capt Whitely took a snap decision and beached the ship where
its wrecked boiler stood in the estate of the late Grand Old Man of
Batticaloa S. V. O. Soanader the veteran Principal and Wild Life
enthusiast, till the recent Tsunami gave the coup d'etat to this
It's a matter of interest to know the cost of passage at that time;
The cargo rates charged were quite modest;
Between any two ports for cows or bullocks - Rs. 7.20, Dogs - Rs.
4.32. For copra per cwt 72 cents.
Cotton goods of English and native manufacture there was a
difference, where for English cargo rate per bale was Rs. 4.32 while for
native cotton it was Rs. 2.16.
The then Ceylon Government paid the shipping service a sum of 5,750
pounds sterling by way of subsidy annually and a sum of Rs. 5750 by way
of compensation for the port and harbour dues payable by the Company.
One of the earliest ships the Lady Blake had registered and gross
tonnage of 531.46 and 1,097.08 tons respectively.
Accommodation in the 1st class for 15 passengers, 2nd class 12 and as
much as 200 deck passengers.
In one of the oldest newspapers to be published in Batticaloa the
'Lamp' by the Methodist Missionaries here, I came across an issue of
this newspaper dated January 12, 1910. and it carried the following
Ceylon Steamship Company Ltd
The steamers Lady Blake and Lady Macculum are appointed to sail round
the island from Colombo on the undernoted dates taking cargo and
passengers for Galle, Hambantota, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Point Pedro,
Jaffna and Paumben.
Lady Macculum - Southabout 8th January.
Lady Blake 12th January Northabout, 17th January Lady Macculum, 19th
January Southabout, 22nd January - Lady Blake 26th Jan, Northabout 31st
Shippers are kindly requested to have cargoes alongside early, on the
day before sailing date, to prevent cargo being shut out. Port of
destination to be clearly marked on every package and old port marks
Messrs Arambamoorthy & Sons Agents
Before the advent of the railway to Batticaloa, people from here
travelled in these ships. Depending on the monsoon, for six months of
the year, people embarked from the Kalkudah Port where the remains of
the old jetty is still there, where on a side is engraved that the
engineer was H. F. Tomalin.
For the next six months the port of embarkation was the Sand Bar,
where still stands the Bar Light House 99 feet high.
Copra was the main export product from all the large coconut estates,
copra was taken chiefly to South India, and in return Calicut tiles were
the main products brought back.
In fact after the Black July it was in boats that from Colombo that
those affected were taken to the North and East.
Port Miles Cabin Deck
Galle 69 miles Rs. 25.20 Rs. 4.32
Hambantota 129 miles Rs. 50.40 Rs. 5.76
Batticaloa 261 miles Rs. 72.00 Rs. 10.08
Trinco 323 miles Rs. 86.40 Rs. 14.40
Pt Pedro 433 miles Rs. 144.00 Rs. 14.40
Jaffna 491 miles Rs. 158.40 Rs. 18.00
Negappattinam 597 miles Rs. 172.80 Rs. 21.60
Karikal 607 miles Rs. 172.80 Rs. 21.60
Children under five were given free passage