Posted by: lrrp | July 8, 2020

Colombo Fort demolished on orders of Lord Rosmead

Due to the Great War, waged for over seven months to capture Colombo, the Fort area was in ruins.

To replace the collapsed rampart, the Dutch built an even smaller rampart. The Dutch abandoned the rampart that was located at Fourth Cross Street in Colombo.

They extended the Beira Lake beyond it up to Kaymans Gate. The Dutch who strengthened the newly built rampart also constructed nine bastions on it.Those bastions were Leiden, Delft, Hoorn, Rotterdam, Kloppenburg, Dan Briel, Amsterdam, Enkhuizen and Middleburg.

A building in the present Navy Headquarters premises is also a construction of the Dutch.This building which was built around 1796 also is found near the Kloppenburg bastion that was one of the bastions in the Old Dutch Fort.

The old rampart gate of the Dutch Fort was located between President’s House premises and Flagstaff Street.Old Dutch bastions such as Dan Briel and Amsterdam had been built in the middle of that rampart. The gate was open at that time to the port’s warehouses. It was constructed around 1676 with stones and plaster of lime.

The largest building that was constructed inside the Dutch Fort was the Dutch Hospital. That was a main hospital built by them to treat their injured soldiers, after they seized the Fort from the Portuguese.There is another bastion between the President’s House premises and Navy Headquarters premises in addition to the Amsterdam bastion.

Its old rampart is in ruins. Its collapse has been prevented by using stones.
The Enkhuizen bastion which is close to the sea on the west is somewhat large. It was located between Flagstaff Street and the Galle Buck Road.

There were a few Dutch ruins close to the Battenberg battery near the breakwater to the north of the harbour. The battery there is not to be seen today.After demolishing a Portuguese building a private residence for the last Dutch Governor Johan Gerard van Angelbeek was built there in 1785.

After the British came to own it in 1804 it was named as Queen’s House, later as King’s House and is being used as the President’s House since 1972.The area covered by the Dutch Fort was about 40 acres.The Fort and the Pettah were separated by a bare stretch of land.In place of the roads built by the Portuguese, the Dutch constructed straight, wide roads. Governors, officials, soldiers and businessmen lived inside the Fort.

The building which belonged to the seminary seen in the map drawn by them for Colombo in 1723 is currently being used as the ‘Dutch Museum’.The Dutch continued to have their sway over Colombo for a period of around 150 years, constructing the Colombo Fort, buildings and roads.

However, the Prince of Orange had issued an order from the city of Kew to the Dutch colonies to prevent the Dutch colonies from falling into the hands of the French Republicans.Through that order it was said that the Dutch should allow the British warships and the British Army to enter areas controlled by the Dutch.

Accordingly, sending a communiqué to Dutch Governor Angelbeek, it was informed to hand over all Dutch possessions to the British.But, the Dutch did not do so. Therefore, the British attacked Trincomalee on 28 and 31 August 1795.Batticaloa on 18 September and Jaffna 10 days later capitulated to the British.
On 11 February 1796 the British forces headed towards Negombo and crossed the Kelani River.

As it was ordered on the 15th that Colombo Fort should surrender, Colombo Fort was handed over to the English after a discussion between the two parties.By that time the Colombo Fort had been under 31 Dutch Governors. On 12 October 1798 Frederick North took over as the first ever British Governor of Ceylon.Colombo Fort expanded as a commercial city during the period of the British. The area which formed the old Pettah, from the YMBA building up to the Gas Works Street Junction, also underwent changes.

The canals that were built by the Portuguese had been closed by putting earth over them during the time of the Dutch.After the lapse of half a century since Ceylon came under the British, Hercules Robinson (Lord Rosmead) who came as the Governor of Ceylon in 1865 decided to demolish the fortifications built by the Dutch for needs of space within the Colombo Fort. Hence, there is no fortifications to be seen today within the Colombo Fort and only a few ruins are there concealed at a few places.


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