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Taste for good cars




VINTAGE DENNIS AND ROBEY VEHICLES IN SRI LANKA by Ali Azeez; 60 pages, A5 size, numerous black-and-white and colour illustrations; published privately in 2014.

Copies in PDF format may be obtained free of charge by emailing the author at .

Reviewed by Roger Thiedeman

The pioneers of Sri Lanka’s vintage car movement in 1953 were Capt. E.B. ‘Tabby’ Murrell, Mr. Edward ‘Bugs’ Mason, Mr. H.C. (Chitru) Peiris, and Mr. W.R. Daniel. In following decades the old car ‘baton’ was passed on to other stalwarts, of which Mr. Vere de Mel was one. Another was the author of this book, Mr. Ali Azeez.

Ali’s enthusiasm for motor cars, especially what are today considered vintage and classic automobiles, began at an early age. Born into a family noted for its good taste in cars, it was inevitable that Ali would develop an interest in all things automotive: driving, maintaining, owning, and collecting a variety of vintage vehicles, while reading extensively on the subject. Today he is the proud owner of a 1936 Riley Lynx ‘Special Series’ tourer that once belonged to a close relative, and a 1937 Citroën Traction Avant 11CV Familiale (11B) long-wheelbase saloon. Land Rover is another marque beloved of Ali Azeez.

In time Ali became an active committee member of a succession of veteran/vintage car clubs in Sri Lanka, culminating in him holding senior positions in the Vintage Car Owners’ Club of Sri Lanka (VCOC). That was a period when, in addition to his knack for organising and promoting numerous vintage car rallies, road races and exhibitions, as the VCOC’s Newsletter Editor Mr. Azeez began to research and write ‘dossiers’ tracing the histories of interesting old cars for publication in the Newsletter. The subjects he chose were mostly vehicles owned by club members, but others from Sri Lanka’s motoring past were featured too.

One of Azeez’s in-depth profiles is the only detailed history of one of the rarest and finest cars to grace the roads of old Ceylon: a 1924 Napier 40/50 hp Cunard limousine which was imported by a distinguished member of his family.

In view of the passion, time and energy Ali Azeez selflessly invested in serving the VCOC, his involuntary exit from the club more than a decade ago in circumstances of which he was an innocent victim, can only be described as unjust and senseless.

Despite that blow, Ali Azeez never lost either his love of vintage cars or avid interest in motoring history. If anything, it gave him more time, opportunity and motivation to begin learning about types of vehicles that most other vintage enthusiasts might regard as ‘unglamorous’ and unworthy of their attention. This book is partially the result of that work.

Inspired by photos this reviewer took in 2011 of the Kandy Municipal Council’s preserved 1929 Dennis G-type fire engine, and two Robey steam wagons at the Sri Lanka-German Railway Technical Training Centre (SLGTTC), Ratmalana, Ali began his quest to discover as much as possible about the individual histories and mechanical characteristics of those vehicles. With encouragement from Mr. Brian Elias, a personal friend of Ali’s and Editor of a local newspaper’s motoring supplement, Mr. Azeez contacted several organisations in the UK dedicated to the preservation and history of old fire engines and steam-powered wagons (lorries) and traction engines.

Key members of those societies, with whom Ali forged close relationships, generously provided him with vast amounts of information, including rare photos and excerpts from specialist journals pertaining to that trio of vehicles before and after they arrived in Ceylon. Much of that material has been used in this book, which is all the better and more attractive for their inclusion.

Supporting the author’s text and pictures in both black-and-white and colour of Kandy’s Dennis fire engine, registered G-1010, official Dennis factory records provide more fascinating details. Extracts from Customer Order Books, Works Production Orders, and Chassis Lists and Despatch Records – each occupying a full page of the book for easy reading – comprise a potted ‘biography’ of this historic fire appliance, beginning in 1929 at its birthplace in Surrey, England.

As a bonus, the book contains information and photographs of other Dennis fire engines that served in Ceylon. Most notably a 1955 F8 model used by Britain’s Royal Navy at the dockyard in China Bay, Trincomalee. It later returned to the UK where it is now the prized, pristine possession of a fire engine enthusiast who also proved helpful to Ali in his research project.

Another comprehensive chapter is titled ‘Robey Steam Wagons in Sri Lanka’. Commencing with a brief explanation of the technical aspects of steam propulsion in roadgoing vehicles, the narrative shifts to a short history of Robey & Company, the Lincoln, UK-based makers of the two steam wagons of 1925 and 1928 vintage that are this chapter’s principal subjects.

Official records, correspondence relating to the two Robeys, plus a table of their ‘vital statistics’ aside, photographic coverage of both wagons is particularly impressive. Sure to please any lover of transport nostalgia and memorabilia, not just motor or steam vehicle aficionados, are photos of both vehicles working hard for their then employers, the British Ceylon Corporation (BCC), at various locations around Colombo. Two such ‘period’ pictures in colour are stand-outs, although others in black-and-white from the pages of UK-published Steaming magazine, are equally appealing. More colour pictures depict one of the vehicles (registered C-6037) at VCOC rallies and exhibitions before and after restoration by the SLGTTC.

But Ali Azeez’s interest in vintage motoring goes beyond classic motor cars and the utilitarian commercial types that are this book’s main subjects. As a fervent advocate for the preservation and fostering of Sri Lanka’s motoring heritage, for many years he has been campaigning and lobbying relevant authorities – and anyone else willing to listen – for the establishment of a national motoring museum, with State backing and continuing upkeep.

In a chapter titled ‘Transport Museum: An Immediate Need’ Azeez describes some of the museums in Sri Lanka, extant and defunct, small and large, dedicated to other types of transport. For example, the Old Town Hall Museum in the Pettah (which houses another steam wagon, built by Sentinel), the Sri Lanka Navy’s Museum at the Dockyard, China Bay, and the excellent Sri Lanka Air Force Museum at Ratmalana Airport. In fairness to the author, given that this book was published in 2014, no mention is made of the National Railway Museum at Kadugannawa, which was opened in late December that year.

Not entering into the author’s ‘calculations’ either are the motoring museums established in Sri Lanka over the past few years by a small handful of private and discerning car-collecting connoisseurs. Their extensive, varied and dazzling collections of motor vehicles are displayed in purpose-built ‘showrooms’, one in particular rivalling the facilities of better-known motoring museums overseas. But they are not open to the public, with visitors admitted in small numbers and only by special arrangement with the owners.

Rather, what Ali Azeez would like to see is a unified transport museum, accessible to the general public, that would accommodate, all on the same premises if not under one roof, the many road transport relics currently scattered around various government institutions. To demonstrate his point, he has depicted several of those vehicles within this chapter’s pages. Such a facility might induce private owners of historic vehicles to place some of their precious automotive possessions on public display in a secure environment, perhaps on a rotation basis as determined by the museum’s curators.

Almost as if responding to his own pleas, Ali Azeez cites numerous instances of how and when similar proposals were mooted, attracting tentative interest from the authorities, only for those grand plans to be shelved or disappear altogether. From this reviewer’s pragmatic point of view, the current economic climate in Sri Lanka – COVID-19 notwithstanding – will never be conducive to any such ambitious albeit laudable project getting off the ground, let alone reaching fruition.

Yet that should not detract from Ali Azeez’s well-meant intentions and dreams. Nor from his passion and foresightedness as a lover of all things motoring, not only when he wrote this book but over the years before and since. This slim but pleasing volume, packed with information, historical records, and attractive illustrations, is recommended to anyone interested in all aspects of road transport history, especially in the context of Sri Lanka.



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Showcasing the epitome of elegance and craftsmanship



Pure Gold by Tiesh has a well renowned Sri Lankan actress Yehali Tashiya Kalidasa as its brand ambassador. She is a multi-faceted young personality who has made her international debut in Pakistani cinema, and perfectly embodies the essence of the Pure Gold by Tiesh brand.

Tiesh, recognized for its exceptional craftsmanship and timeless designs, launched thier latest filigree collection under its subsidiary, Pure Gold by Tiesh. Imported from the best jewellery houses in Europe, Italy, Turkey, and Dubai, this collection features a stunning array of Italian 18-karat jewellery and 22-carat gold pieces adorned with pearls.

The newly unveiled filigree collection showcases a range of breathtaking earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings that exude elegance, dynamism, and vitality. With pieces available in tri-colours, rose gold, white gold, and yellow gold, Pure Gold by Tiesh has curated this collection with careful attention to detail, catering specifically to the wedding season.

Director Thiyasha expressed the brand’s dedication to excellence, stating, “Our jewellery stands out compared to other bridal jewellers. We are deeply invested in every aspect, from design to quality and craftsmanship. Our customers have repeatedly expressed their satisfaction, stating that our collections surpass those of many leading jewellery houses.”

What sets the filigree collection by Pure Gold by Tiesh apart is its versatility, allowing each piece to be worn in multiple ways. With a commitment to inclusivity, Tiesh caters to diverse cultures and ethnicities, offering something for everyone, from beautiful Hindu brides to Muslim brides and traditional Kandian brides.

Director Ayesh De Fonseka elaborated on the collection’s uniqueness, saying, “Each piece is distinct and one-of-a-kind. What’s truly captivating about this collection is its transformative aspect. We are reintroducing our special ring that transforms into a bangle, a design we first introduced in Sri Lanka in 2015.”

The dazzling filigree collection showcases the sheer intricacy and timeless allure of filigree work through an exquisite range. The inclusion of transformative jewellery adds an innovative touch to the collection, setting it apart from Tiesh’s other offerings. Every piece of jewellery from Tiesh is a fusion of traditional and trendsetting elements, allowing customers to express their individual preferences. This exclusivity distinguishes the brand from its competitors, while the meticulous attention to detail adds a touch of modern luxury to each creation.

“We wanted a collection that could complement any look: beautifully paired with your favourite watch, worn as a classic stack of bangles, or simply worn alone for a more subtle appearance,” Thiyasha further added.

The campaign surrounding the filigree collection not only celebrates the grandeur and glamour of modern Sri Lankan women but also pays tribute to the rich culture and bridal market. Tiesh continues to be at the forefront of the jewellery industry, offering exquisite designs that capture the hearts and desires of jewellery enthusiasts worldwide.

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Life style

Fellowship and networking



At the press conference held at the Movenpick hotel, at the head table are Dr. Harsha Jayasinghe, Dimantha Seneviratne CEO/Director of NDB Bank, Shirantha Peiris and other members of the Institute of Hospitality Sri Lanka

Institute of Hospitality Sri Lanka

The Institute of Hospitality, Sri Lanka International branch had their 31st Annual General Meeting recently meeting at Movenpic Hotel Colombo followed by cocktails and fellowship.

This is an annual event, organised by the President Dr. Harsha Jayasinghe and Executive Committee of the Institute.This event is organised for members of the Institute of Hospitality who have shown their dedication and commitment to the tourist industry.

The evening started with a speech from the President of the Institute Dr. Harsha. He spoke about the challenges ahead for the hospitality industry. Sri Lanka is making progress and economy is slowing signs of settling down. There are many tourists to Sri Lanka and this is definitely positive signs for the country said Director/CEO of National Development Bank Dimantha Seneviratne.

It was an entertaining evening with many members of the hospitality industry in attendance. The General Manager of the Movenpick hotel Roshan Perera gave his unstinted support to make a successful event The Chief Guest Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management Shirantha Peiris also spoke

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Denara Eid Durbar



The Denara Vocational Training Institute a subsidiary of the All Ceylon Muslim Women’s Association is for the first time conducting a full day’s programme comprising a mini Eid Bazaar, Sale of items produced by the students of Denara and Cuty Rose and an evening of entertainment. It will be open to the public on Saturday,17th June from 9 am to 5 pm and entrance tickets to the exhibition are priced at Rs. 100/- .

Denara was established in October 2021 where courses in dressmaking, needlework, computer classes, cookery classes and Mehendi Art have been carried out. Despite the economic crisis, and all the challenges endured during these past few years, Denara has been able to still conduct the above classes giving many opportunities to the youth. The Vocational and Training Institute is supported by the All Ceylon Muslin Women’s Association, a reputed charity organization of 70 years history to date!

More than 200 items will be exhibited and available for sale, in addition to bed linen, table linen, cushion covers, cloth bags, and others lovingly crafted with beautiful hand embroidery.

Different to regular exhibitions and sales, a second part is being introduced to the day’s activities where a complete Moghul feel will take over! Ambassador for Turkey Demet Sekercioglu, Ambassador for Turkey in Colombo will grace the exhibition at 4 pm.

A spokesperson from the organising committee said that it will be a festive occasion in keeping with Eid, where an evening of music and games, a fashion show by the students of Denara and Cuty Rose showcasing their creations will be held not only to encourage the talented students who have worked hard to showcase their talents, but also to create an entertaining afternoon. The widely acclaimed Muslim Chorale Choir will make a guest appearance complementing the occasion. The day’s proceedings will conclude with a light dinner where tickets for this are priced at Rs. 3,000/- and already available for sale at the Denara Vocational Training Institute Office located at 191/50, Mangala Gardens, Colombo 5. . Please call on 077 853 9890 for further details.

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