Sri Lanka’s oldest private member club re-threads 150 years of journey mileposts
There are a few institutions that can claim to have had Governors of our Country such as Rt. Hon. Sir William Henry Gregory, Sir James Robert Longden and Hon. Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon as original members. The Colombo Club, in its 150 year journey, has been attracting prominent persons of the day, such as J. A Bell, President of Planters’ Association, T. Berwick, District Judge of Colombo, Sir Richard Cayley, Municipal Councillor, later Chief Justice of Ceylon, from its British roots, later attracting corporate luminaries such as Mallory Wijesinghe, who had the distinction of being the club’s first Sri Lankan chair. He was followed by others who have helmed many of the nation’s leading business houses and professional firms.
The roll call of Chairmen of the Colombo Club reads like a veritable who’s who of Sri Lanka. R. Singleton-Salmon, Mallory Wijesinghe, Ranjan Canekeratne, Trevor Moy, Basil Jesudason, Deshabandu Reggie Candappa, Deshamanya Deva Rodrigo, Tissa K. Bandaranayake, Hemaka Amarasuriya, Richard (Dickie) Juriansz, Sega Nagendra, Manik Pereira, Nigel Austin to the current Kumar Jayasuriya, all captains of their industries, contributed immensely of their time and effort in maintaining the aura and prestige of the club.
First as a gentlemen’s club and now an exclusive, private member institution, Colombo Club remains a luxurious and discreet oasis in the heart of Colombo.
To mark its 150th anniversary, a coffee table edition that re-threads the club’s journey mileposts, reflecting how it fitted into the larger fabric of British Ceylon, as the Country transited from a crown colony to a democratic republic, will be inaugurated.
The book captures the essence of a bygone era and brings to life the culture and current offering of the club, vividly capturing the fact that the Club is not just a relic of Sri Lanka’s colonial past but a strong reminder of our heritage and a reassurance of the future.
It takes us on a blissful journey on how the club started in colonial times and traces the economic situation of the era, to what it is today. The story of the Colombo Club’s journey over 150 years records the ups and downs, its place in colonial times and the emergence of a club for all seasons – one which is the exclusive domain of the nation’s crème de la crème in social, professional and business circles.
“Today, the club’s esteemed membership comprises the upper echelons of Sri Lanka’s corporate and state sectors: the club is their second home – an exclusive venue to relax, conduct meetings, and wine and dine in amiable company. It follows that the club can proudly proclaim that many business deals, which have transformed the nation’s business landscape, have taken shape in a private meeting room within its premises,” said Kumar Jayasuriya, Chairman of Colombo Club.
With exclusive excerpts from life members – Deshamanya Sohli Captain and Deshamanya Deva Rodrigo from joining the club as youngsters to seeing it grow to the establishment it is today, the coffee table book is an illustrious and insightful outlook on the indefatigable spirit that sustains the club.
Originally set up as The Assembly Rooms Company in 1869, with Governor Sir Hercules Robinson as its President, the original building, now part of the Taj Samudra hotel is a heritage site. The Colombo Club itself was inaugurated in 1871 and is one of Asia’s oldest social clubs with a membership of 500 of both men and women.