Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kellie's Castle

my footsteps ...
click on image to enlarge

It was intended to be the hub of social life for the area's wealthy colonial planters and administrators. A grand mansion with a six-storey tower, wine cellar, stately columns. Moorish arches and walls embellished with Greco-Roman designs. There was to be a rooftop courtyard for parties and an elevator, the first of its kind in the country. But the building was never to be completed. Work halted in December 1926 with the sudden demise of its owner, William Kellie-Smith. The estate on which it was situated was sold and the unfinished mansion soon surrendered itself once to the jungle.Born in Dallas, North-Eastern Scotland to a farmer and his wife on March 1,1870, William Kellie-Smith travelled to Malaysia, then Malaya, at the tender age of 20 to seek his fortune. Kellie was his mother's maiden name. Smith was engaged by an estate owner named Alma Baker to help in the construction of public roads in South Perak. With this share of the profits from the venture, he bought 1,000 acres of jungle land in the Kinta District, and cleared it to plant rubber.
click on image to enlargeHe later named the estate Kinta Kellas, after his home farm, Easter Kellas.

In 1909, Smith built his first mansion, Kellas House - a symbol of his prospering rubber estate venture. Five years later, with a birth of a son and heir, Smith laid the foundation stone to the second mansion that proved to be his ultimate folly.
Work resumed after the temple was completed but the castle was never to be realised. Tragedy struck again. On a visit to Lisbon, at the age of 56, Smith died of pneumonia.

His wife, Agnes, sold the estate and with the passing of time, and the end of colonial rule, the castle soon faded into memory.
Located on a ridge beside a meandering river near the town of Batu Gajah, Kellie's Castle is easily spotted from the Batu Gajah - Jalan Gopeng. Etched against the blue sky, much of the structure is still intact.
click on image to enlargeDespite signs of decay, the castle exudes a certain air of dignity and grandeur. Moving from room to room, one can imagine the rich furnishings that would have filled the stately structure, had it been completed. As we wander around the castle, there is a eerie feeling of being watched. Sunlight streams through a series of arches on the two main floors, casting ghostly shadows on the verandah running the length of the building.
Kellie's Castle was to surpass his estate bungalow. Seventy tough workers, mostly from Madras, were employed and bricks and marble were imported from India. But during the construction, tragedy struck. A mysterious illness broke out, killing many of Smith's workers. The superstitious Smith was told that a temple must be built to appease the gods. He immediately transferred his workers to build a Hindu temple nearby.

Allistar Boston Smith, great grandson of William Kellie Smith,
currently resided in UK,
visited the castle in 2007.

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