A Labour of Love, Kellie’s Castle

Kellie’s Castle. Also known as Kellie’s Folly. A labour of love of one William Kellie Smith. (@ all rights reserved)

Kellie’s Castle, which is sometimes known as Kellie’s Folly, is located in Batu Gajah, Perak.

Easily visible from the main road, it is essentially a mansion and was, more likely than not, a labour of love of one William Kellie Smith (1870-1926), a Scot by descent and a planter by occupation.

The mansion was never finished, owing more, it is said, to the sudden death of William Kellie Smith, in 1926, of pneumonia when on a business trip to Portugal.

William Kellie Smith (1870-1926) @ all rights reserved

And upon his death, his wife, who was then in Malaya, decided to pack up and return to Britain with both their son and daughter, never to return.

The man whose name it is given to the castle, William Kellie Smith, was born in Kellas, Moray Firth, Scotland.

At a young age of 20, he made his way to the then colonial Malaya in 1890, to work as a civil engineer.

He, however, made his money from a business venture with another Briton, clearing about 9000 hectares of forest in Batu Gajah.

Kellie’s Castle, as seen from across the stream separating it from the main road. (@ all rights reserved)

With his share of the profits, he bought for himself 1000 acres of jungle, cleared it and started planting rubber trees.

In addition, his business venture also included tin mining, from which he then went on to own the Kinta Kellas Tin Dredging Company.

With his fortune made, he returned to Scotland and married his sweetheart, Agnes. After their marriage, he then brought his young bride, Agnes, with him to Malaya in 1903, and in the following year, their daughter, Helen, was born.

The corridors of the unfinished Kellie’s Castle. Sighting of the ole’man himself have been reported, pacing the corridors of his beloved castle. (@ all rights reserved)

By all accounts, he was a successful businessman. In 1915, a further addition to his family, his son, Anthony, was born.

It was then that he decided to embark on building Kellie’s Castle.

It was a grandiose plan, Kellie’s Castle. The design had Scottish, Moorish and Tamilvanan Indian influences and for the purpose of building his castle, he brought in 70 craftsmen as well as building materials from India.

So grand was the design that it included what would have been the first elevator in the then Malaya, a watch tower, indoor tennis court as well as a rooftop courtyard for entertaining guests.

The stairways of the castle. Sightings too have been reported. (@ all rights reserved)

Apparently, it seemed that construction of the castle was not smooth sailing.

It was reported to be disrupted several times, with issues with finance and also when a virulent strain of Spanish flu struck his workmen.

The latter was so disruptive that when his Indian craftsmen approached him to have a temple built as a means to seek the good graces and intervention of the gods to help ward off the disease, he readily agreed and funded the construction of the temple himself.

The rooftop courtyard, included in the design, to entertain guests. (@ all rights reserved)

In recognition of his deed, his workmen included his statue amongst the pantheon of deities placed on the wall of the temple, of which the statue can be seen still, to this day.

With the passing of William Kellie Smith in 1926 and the return of his wife, Agnes, with their daughter Helen and son Anthony to Scotland, work on the castle came to a halt.

A pity really, cos looking at what’s left of Kellie’s Castle today, it would have been a grand sight should it have been completed. Really a pity.

The designated living room. (@ all rights reserved)

When touring the ruins of Kellie’s Castle and reading the informative plaques placed strategically amongst the ruins that is Kellie’s Castle, one cannot shake off the spooky and uneasy feeling of being watched even in the heat of day.

And no wonder. Over the years, Kellie’s Castle has gained a reputation of being haunted with sightings of the man himself been reported, walking the corridors of the castle as well as at strategic locations of the ruins.

The alcove at the designated prayer room. (@ all rights reserved)

The grounds of the castle itself is quite expansive and complements the castle.

And as earlier mentioned, had the construction of the castle be completed, it would have made for a grand sight.

A really grand sight. But as fate would have it, it was not meant to be.

The Tower of Kellie’s Castle (@ all rights reserved)

Today, Kellie’s Castle is maintained as a tourist attraction, primarily for what it could have been ie a fine stately home, built sometime in the colonial era.

Not only is it maintained as a tourist attraction, it has also been used as a setting for movies like Anna & The King (1999) and Skyline Cruisers (2000).

But it also has an added attraction and it is one that not many people will talk about BUT privately acknowledge. It has been claimed, as earlier mentioned, that the castle is haunted, with the man himself seen to be walking down the corridors of the castle.

Informative plaques placed strategically around the castle. (@ all rights reserved)

It may be true and it may not be true, but if you can feel the hairs down your spine standing up, even in broad daylight, then there may be some truth in it.

But as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Visit Kellie’s Castle yourself, tour the ruins and walk down the corridors of the castle and you decide.

As for us, it will probably be quite a while before we made another visit to Kellie’s Castle. If ever.

 

Date : 6 July 2017

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