Closenberg was very dear to us when we played on the beach as kids. It was destroyed and oil storage tanks placed on th the loveliest and safest beach in the south and such an act of eco vandalism was committed when it was closed. Closenberg was originally a Dutch fortification. It was bought by an English merchant Marine who was with the East India Company and his Arms lie over the door or so it is thought. They show the suns rays.However,they maybe that of the EIC itself. I wonder whether the merchant knew my ancestor who took the first Anglican missionaries in his ship to Baddegama nearby where the first Anglican church was built. He was the Sugar pioneer, George Winter, a merchant marine also with the EIC who was part owner of the ship 'Vittoria'. He founded and edited the first independant newspaper in Ceylon, now alas taken over by the State as were his former plantations which belonged to us. I often played on the ramparts of the Fort and sipped lime juice at the NOH. Nearby is the Dutch church where George's memorial is. I attended the Galle Convent. My ancestor first reached Ceylon in the 1800's and my Dutch and German ancestors before that. I wanted to establish an environmental charity at our former home near Hikkaduwa but the local M.P is in charge and hands out land like a Rajah for votes. Due to my ancestor, many local families made good and prospered as did the area. He provided the local ships which called at Galle with sugar and distilled Citronella oil from lemon grass, a variety is named after my own grandfather who sent it to Kew where it is preserved.
Our lovely, peaceful island has been ruined. Hikkaduwa, completely spoilt. I am afraid that Tourism destroys much as well as corrupt politicians. There is no justice in Lanka anymore and it saddens me when I return to our once lovely Closenberg as I did in 1994/5 and I am sorry you will never know just how wonderful the area was. Koggala was also lovely and one could swim safely and observe the coral as we did at Hikkaduwa. I wonder if you have visited any of these places? If I find the brochure I got from the Hotel I will send you a copy.
Anne Winter Williams (website:www.pillagoda.freewire.co.uk)
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