The Old Lighthouse within the Fort of Galle … and More

Michael Roberts

My recent presentation of amateur photographs of the renovations that were being carried out on the Galle ramparts in July-August 2020 encouraged some comments from Bunchy Rahuman and Ashley de Vos amongst others, with the latter objecting strongly to what he terms “the gentrification” of the Galle Fort.[1] That important issue will be taken up soon in Thuppahi; but the exchange has generated a striking photograph of the “old light house” sited on the the south-west corner of the Fort — courtesy of Bunchy.

I am in a position to present two other ‘shots’ of that lighthouse. The second of these is as unusual as striking: the foreground is occupied by local Sinhala fishermen on a rock in the sea while the lighthouse is in the distant background. It was snapped by Lincoln Pereira,[2] my maternal uncle at some point in the 1930s. Lincoln also left a picture of the “Old Pavilion on the Galle Esplanade which a rare picture and, thus a historical treasure. 

The bastion today


My vague memory suggests that EFC Ludowyk’s little monograph entitled Those Long Afternnons. Childhood in Colonial Ceylon published in 1989 refers to the burning down of the old lighthouse.[3]  

As a different sort of Postscript, let me mark the present-day situation with two images of the southern walls of the Fort today. Much as I appreciate the motives driving Bunchy’s suggestion that the powers-that-be should rebuild a replica of the old lighthouse, the present setting is quite fetching …. and will benefit from having blown-up photographs of the Old Lighthouse to mark the passing of time, or, better still, a mock-up model ondisplay at the Maritime Museum.

the present lighthouse with shot taken from the bastion on the south-west corner

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Shehan Daniel: “Amplifying Antiquity within the Galle Fort with Imaginative Restoration,” 17 July 2020,

EC Ludowyk: Those Long Afternoons, Colombo, Lake House Bookshop, 989

Norah Roberts: Galle As Quiet As Asleep, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications. 2000.

Tiffany Tang: “The Mahadevan Sisters and the Conviviality of Galle Fort,” 18 August 2020,

Michael Roberts: “Dutch Bungalow Porch Frontals,” 25 July 2020,

Michael Roberts: “Porch Frontals at Middle Street Western End,” 25 July 2020,

Michael Roberts: “Rampart Activities …. July 2020,” 24 July 2020, |

Michael Roberts:Fishermen off the Fort Ramparts at Galle … Today …. Yesterday,” 24 July 2020, July 24, 2020

Michael Roberts:” 25 July 2020,


[1] I have invited Ashley to elaborate briefly on this issue.

[2] Lincoln was a batchelor and a postmaster. Though his family spelt their name with an “I” in the 1950s-and-thereafter my mother Miriam’s name is “Perera” in my 1938 birth certificate.

[3] So, this is an invitation to some good soul to type up the whole booklet for presentation in Thuppahi.


ADDENDUM: EMAIL NOTE from Bunchy Rahuman, 13 February 2021

“Hi Michael and all,  ……Here is another ‘treasure’ It must be a painting of the Old Lighthouse [as we referred to it] or more correctly, The Original Lighthouse  [Crow Island can be seen in the background but it is shown larger than it actually is]. The painting must have been made while construction works of the Fort were ongoing and well before before the turfing of the ramparts. A few workers [negro slaves or whoever] are also shown.

To Michael – The attachment is actually a photograph of a [framed photograph of a painting] which was in the study of Naufel……

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One response to “The Old Lighthouse within the Fort of Galle … and More

  1. Sanjay Gunawardena

    Thank you for this great article Dr Roberts.. Has anyone got a picture or a painting of Old windmill which has been in galle fort. This has been mentioned E.F.C Ludwykes book of “long afternoons in colonial ceylon”. If you please share. much appreciated. Thank you.

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