Old Clock Tower Lighthouse in Colombo – කොලඹ පැරණි ප්‍රදීපාගාරය

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Old Lighthouse in Colombo
Creative Commons photo by Dennis S. Hurd

This Old Clock Tower Lighthouse is not operational any more, but functions as a clock tower and is designated as a monument. It is located at the junction of Chatham Street and Janadhipathi Mawatha (formally Queens road) in Colombo fort.

The location had been used as a lighthouse station since far back as 1829. The tower was first constructed as a clock tower in 1857, two years before the Big Ben of London. The ‘Big Ben’ in London celebrated its centenary on May 31, 1959 and the Chatham Street clock tower celebrated its century on February 25, 1957. This clock tower was designed by Lady Ward in association with the Governor Henry Ward. The arduous task of construction was entrusted to J. F. Churchill of the Public Works Department.(Paranavitana, 2022)

As the tablet inside the tower-arch confirms, construction was completed on February 25, 1857. It was handed over to the citizens of Colombo the following month. The clock which had been imported in 1814 ultimately got a permanent house in 1857. After another 50 years, in 1907, the clock gave trouble and was replaced with the present machine. .(Paranavitana, 2022)

The clock tower started in dual role of being a lighthouse equipped with oil lamps in 1867, 10 years after its construction . This was further improved with dioptic flash lights installed in 1885. In 1897, oil lamps were replaced with gas lamps. The brightest beam from the light house flashed across the Indian Ocean to an approximate distance of 16 miles. The fascinating pattern of tiled glasses magnified the stream of lights across the sea. The dioptic flash light was replaced in 1932 with a 1500 candle power electric bulb. Paranavitana, 2022)

The lighthouse was deactivated after its light became obscured by nearby buildings and was decommissioned in 1952 with a new lighthouse begin built in Galbokka Point, Colombo.


  1. Paranavitana, K., 2022. The Big Ben of Colombo – the Chatham Street clock tower. [online] Sundaytimes.lk. Available at: <https://www.sundaytimes.lk/060625/plus/plus13.0.html> [Accessed 31 May 2022].

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Map of  Old Clock Tower Lighthouse in Colombo

ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින් – Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map –

The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

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Travel Directions to Old Clock Tower Lighthouse in Colombo

Route from Colombo to Old Clock Tower Lighthouse in Colombo

distance : 1.8 km
Travel time : 5 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

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