A Castle long in the making....
It was intended to be the hub of
social life for the area's
wealthy colonial planters and
administrators. A grand
mansion with a six-storey tower,
wine cellar, stately columns.
Moorish arches and walls
embellished with Greco-Roman
designs. There was to be a
rooftop courtyard for parties
and even an elevator, the first
of its kind in the country.
But the building was never to be
completed. Work halted in
December 1926 with the sudden
demise of its owner, William
Kellie-Smith. The estate
on which it was situated was
sold and the unfinished mansion
soon surrendered itself once to
Today, the rediscovered mansion,
popularly known as Kellie's
Castle, still stands, having
survived the ravages of time.
It reflects the pioneering
spirit of the early colonialists
and the romanticism of a bygone
era. Who was Smith and
what prompted him to construct
this palatial building?
Born in Dallas, North-Eastern
Scotland to a farmer and his
wife on March 1, 1870, William
Kellie-Smith travelled to
Malaysia, then Malaya, at the
tender age of 20 to seek his
fortune. Kellie was his mother's
maiden name. Smith was
engaged by an estate owner named
Alma Baker to help in the
construction of public roads in
South Perak. With this
share of the profits from the
venture, he bought 1,000 acres
of jungle land in the Kinta
District, and cleared it to
He later named the estate Kinta Kellas, after his home farm, Easter
In 1909, Smith built his first mansion, Kellas
House - a symbol of his
prospering rubber estate
venture. Five years later,
with a birth of a son and heir,
Smith laid the foundation stone
to the second mansion that
proved to be his ultimate folly.
Kellie's Castle was to
surpass his estate bungalow.
Seventy tough workers,
mostly from Madras, were
employed and bricks and
marble were imported from
India. But during the
struck. A mysterious
illness broke out, killing
many of Smith's workers.
The superstitious Smith was
told that a temple must be
built to appease the gods.
He immediately transferred
his workers to build a Hindu
Work resumed after the temple was completed but the castle was never
to be realised. Tragedy struck again. On a visit to
Lisbon, at the age of 56, Smith died of pneumonia.
Agnes, sold the estate and with the passing of time, and the end of
colonial rule, the castle soon faded into memory.
Located on a ridge beside a meandering river near the town of Batu
Gajah, Kellie's Castle is easily spotted from the Batu Gajah - Jalan
Gopeng. Etched against the blue sky, much of the structure is still
Over the years, the sturdy castle appears to have
waged battle against the undergrowth. Although once creepers
sprout from its exterior and gnarled tree roots fill the compound,
the interior is undamaged. Only the spiders and insects make
home of the empty rooms.
Despite signs of decay, the castle exudes a certain air of dignity
and grandeur. Moving from room to room, one can imagine the
rich furnishings that would have filled the stately structure, had
it been completed. As we wander around the castle, there is a
eerie feeling of being watched. Sunlight streams through a
series of arches on the two main floors, casting ghostly shadows on
the verandah running the length of the building.
Perhaps, there is some truth to the local legend that the spirit of
Old Man Kellie still wanders along the corridors...
A 30 minute
drive from Ipoh takes you to the ruins of Kellie's Castle.
This unfinished castle was the brainchild of William Kellie
Smith, a Scottish rubber tycoon during the late 19th Century.
Located in Batu Gajah, the castle though commonly referred to
as Kellie's Castle, is often spoken of as Kellie's
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