THE CELEBRATION OF 150 YEARS OF ‘CEYLON TEA’ IN 2017
The Sri Lanka Tea Board, in collaboration with the Colombo Tea Traders’ Association, is organizing a number of celebratory events to coincide with this Sesquicentennial Anniversary, throughout the year 2017.
THE UNVEILING OF THE JAMES TAYLOR MONUMENT ON JANUARY 19, 2017
The commemorative programme commenced with the unveiling, of a sculptured monument of James Taylor at the Head Office of the Sri Lanka Tea Board on 19th January 2017, by the Hon. Navin Dissanayake, Minister of Plantation Industries, in the presence of Mr Mihindu Kulasooriya, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Plantation Industries, Mr Rohan Pethiyagoda - Chairman, Sri Lanka Tea Board, Mr Anselm Perera - Chairman, Colombo Tea Traders' Association.
This monument of James Taylor - acknowledged as the "Father of Ceylon Tea" will be an enduring memorial to him and is a fitting tribute for his inestimable contribution to the Tea Industry and the country.
Multi religious ceremony was held to invoke blessings by religious clergies. Representatives from UK High Commission, officials of the Ministry of plantation Industries, Industry stake holders and several dignitaries, including the Tea Board officials graced the occasion.
Hon. Minister also launched the Microsite (website) related to the Celebrations of 150 years of Ceylon Tea.
The commercial cultivation of tea in Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was then known, is acknowledged to have commenced in 1867 at Loolecondera Estate, Hewaheta, in the Kandy District, by an enterprising young agriculturalist, James Taylor, a redoubtable Scotsman, of which extraction were most of the pioneers of the Industry.
Taylor, the son of Michael Taylor and Margaret Moir, was born on March 29, 1835, in a cottage called “Moss Park” on the Monbodde Estate, near Laurencekirk in Kincardineshire, Scotland. On being recruited as a Coffee Planter on Narenghena Estate, he arrived in Ceylon on February 20, 1852. Following a brief posting there, he was transferred to Loolecondera Estate, where he spent the rest of his life and eventually expired on May 2, 1892, at the age of 57 years, of dysentery, while still in service.
With the decline in Coffee in the late 1860s, in 1867, Taylor pioneered the commercial cultivation of Tea on Loolecondera estate. Tea soon replaced Coffee, which was the main cash crop of the island, hitherto, on account of the “plant blight” that devastated the coffee plantations. It was Taylor's fortitude, vision and indefatigability that created this significantly successful agricultural enterprise - The Tea Industry of Ceylon, and it is to him that Ceylon Tea owes its worldwide fame.
As D.M. Forrest in his book ‘A Hundred Years Of Ceylon Tea’ observed, “He was a natural technician. He sometimes spent more money than his proprietors liked, but his roads were the best in the district and, when finished, cost nothing for two years except 5s for a cross-drain. His thatching, too, was good for five years against the normal three.” It was he who first extolled the benefits of ‘finer plucking’, which enhanced the selling price of the made tea and raised the value of the land under tea cultivation, per acre.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle paid tribute to the indomitable spirit and the profound sacrifices made by the pioneers of the Industry when he wrote, " Not often is it that men have the heart, when their one great industry is withered, to rear up in a few years another as rich to take its place; and the tea fields of Ceylon are as true a monument to courage as is the lion of Waterloo"