Colombo Old Town Hall Building and Museum (කොලඹ පැරණි නගර සභා ගොඩනැගිල්ල හා කෞතුකාගාරය)

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Hidden in the busy Pettah Market lies the old town hall building of then Ceylon hidden by the hawker stalls. Built in 1873, the mastermind behind this wonderful creation was British architect J. G. Smither who himself designed the furniture to match the woodwork of the building.  The unique feature of this painstakingly designed furniture is the backrest of the chairs which resembled the design of wooden arches in each window.

The Town Hall was the first civic building at the time to be opened in Colombo. Its architecture has the overall features of a Neo-Gothic building with its predominance of pointed arches and cast iron columns. The building was used as the municipal headquarters from 1873-1924 until in 1925 it was moved to new premises.

Along with the Town Hall Building, the Edinburgh Hall was built alongside it and was opened at the same time.  The Edinburgh Market too was designed as an extension to the main building and the same architectural features with its open plan and identical cast iron details could be seen. This hall was used for stage plays and dramas.

After a long period of disuse, the building was renovated in 1980 and then President Ranasinhe Premadasa and in 1984, the adjoining building was converted to a museum of the Town Hall. The renovated Edinburgh Hall is now converted into a marketplace and rented out to street hawkers by the Municipal Council.

At the upstairs of the building, a council meeting has been recreated using the original wooden furniture and life-size clay mannequins. The dummies are placed so as to recreate a council meeting from 1906. A few antique typewriters and a map dating to 1785 lie against the wall.

The museum consists of several interesting artefacts of the Council. an old post with old street name boards mounted on it, sewage transportation carts, an old van which has functioned as a mobile library, antique boilers and timers, light holders, taps, fans and machinery of every description and in one of the display cases there’s even a giant bulb. Gas-lit, it used to stand at the centre of the junction outside. This single bulb was enough to light the entire area and is probably the only one of its kind left.

The building had not seen many repairs done for the last few decades and is said to be again falling into despair.  Though this interesting little place lies in the heart of the city it’s little known by locals and rarely visited.

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Map of  Colombo Old Town Hall Building and Museum

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Travel Directions to Colombo Old Town Hall Building and Museum

Distance from Galle Face Roundabout  to the  Colombo Old Town Hall Building and Museum
Distance :  3.5 m
Travel time : 15 min
Driving directions : see on Google map

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