|1. 2001 Photo|
|2. William Kellie Smith|
|3. The Kellas House|
|4. William has a collection of the latest motorcars|
|5. William is seated on the far right|
|6. The ruins of Kellie's Castle - Tower Block|
Work on the castle started soon after Helen was born. However, William was faced with a number of difficulties in finance and luck ran out. Its construction was stalled a few times. William had to sell off two thirds of his plantations when funding and projects were not forthcoming. World War I (1914-1918) interrupted the delivery of raw materials and blocked the inflow of funds. Then the Spanish Flu pandemic struck in 1918 killing many of his Indian estate workers, skilled masons, plasterers and tillers.
Soon it was time to enroll Anthony in boarding school and Agnes accompanied him and stayed on in England to look after him.
In the winter of 1928, William traveled to England to collect a lift he had commission for the castle. This lift would have been the first in Malaya. He brought along Helen to visit Agnes and Anthony. On the way back, while he was in Lisbon, Portugal to finalise the terms of his planting concession with the Portuguese government, he died of pneumonia on 11th December.
Agnes and her children never returned to Malaya. Agnes was too heartbroken to continue living in this foreign land without her beloved William. She sold her interest in the Kellas Estate and the castle to Harissons & Crossfield. The castle was left abandoned and untouched. Anthony was killed during World War II (1939-1945) at the age of 27. He left behind a son to continue the Kellie Smith lineage.
|7. The back portion of Kellie's Castle|
The is the familiar sight of William Kellie Smith's dream home as seen from the main road. It is actually the back portion. The front entrance is on the other side. Well, it certainly looked more like a castle than an English manor house.
To build his dream home, William brought in 70 skilled workers from Madras, India and imported raw materials like marble and tiles. The new block was to be linked to the existing one by a covered passageway. Two tunnels were constructed to run under the river. The architectural design incorporated Roman Moorish and Indo-Saracenic influences with dome shaped windows and stately columns. In the plans were a total of 14 rooms and an underground wine cellar. The 6 storey tower was to have the first elevator ever in Malaya. There would be an indoor tennis court and a rooftop courtyard for parties. News of the planned castle even made it to The London Financial Newspaper on 15 September 1911.
At present, Kellie’s Castle is probably the only Scottish Castle ever built that is still existing intact in the Far East.
|8. Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple, Ladang Kinta Batu Gajah|
During the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, William Kellie Smith built the Sri Mahamariamman Temple for his Hindu workers. After the temple was consecrated the sickness subsided. As a sign of gratitude for his kindness and genourisity, they crafted a statue of William and place it alongside other deities on the roof of the temple.
|9. The statue of William Kellie Smith (in uniform)|
Until today, you can still see his statue standing proudly atop the temple, guarding over his estate, 500 yards away from the castle. Normally only the statues of Hindu gods and deities are found in a Hindu temple. It is quite unusual that this temple also has the statue of an ordinary man.
|10. Kellas House was partially destroyed during World War II|
It is believed that this castle is haunted for some various reasons. Many of William's workers died during the Spanish Flu pandemic. There were rumours that during the Japanese occupation in Malaya (1942-1945) during World War II (1939-1945) many people were executed here. Some claimed to have seen ghostly apparitions of William Kellie Smith pacing the corridors and also of his daughter Helen in her bedroom. William died in Portugal and was buried in the British Cemetery. Perhaps his spirit was reckless because of the unfulfilled dream to build a castle for his wife Agnes. Meanwhile the saga of William Kellie Smith and his castle continues and remains an enigma till today.
In my next post, I will take you through the tropical colonial gardens of Kellie's Castle after the government funded makeover by our award winning botanist.
The above details and black and white photos were obtained from the notice board displays at various locations of Kellie's Castle. The book by Ho Tak Ming (2005) - Generations The Story of Batu Gajah, Ipoh Malaysia : Perak Academy was quoted in the texts of the notices. The old photographs were provided to the management of Kellie's Castle by William Kellie Smith's granddaughter, Frances Boston Smith who visited the castle.