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The Galle Face Hotel & Hugh Blacklaw
Posted by: Mrs Anne Winter Williams (ID *****0230) Date: October 25, 2004 at 08:13:33
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Hugh Blacklaw was a longtime planter who came out with his brothers, James & Francis from Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire and left the island in 1907. He married Maria Tate of Dolosbage in 1864. He writes in the Times of Ceylon in 1907: 'I arrived in Ceylon on 23rd August,1858 in the good ship Briton, a sailer which came round the Cape, and did the voyage in 3 months - just 120 days. She was a little ship of but 350 tons..Colombo was just a one horse show sort of place. There were none of these big buildings, hotels and shops. There were no rickshaws and trams. You could not get a bandy for hire in the streets unless you made special arrangements with one of the hotels in the Fort. The Fort was up then,with all its walls and fortifications and gates and you could not get thru' without being challenged. There was very little of the town outside the Fort. There were 2 hotels, frightfully dirty and undesirable places to stay in. The Royal Hotel stood where the Post Office is now and there was a shanty called the Galle Face Hotel,where the modern one of that name stands today. They were paragons of dirt. The GFH was the sort of place you get away from as soon as possible - it was so bad. No privacy, no cleanliness, canvas partitions and dirt - worse than the fifth rate places you see in some town now'.
A far cry from the chandeliered ballroom of the fifties They were building a sumptous new wing when I left in February this year. How I enjoyed taking tea whilst watching the ships pass and listening to the surf crash against the sea wall at one of my favourite Hotels in all the world.
Anne W Williams

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