I have passed this eerie majestic unfinished castle many times way back in 1986 when I was serving as Harbour Master of Perak. Finally in April 2008 on my way to Universiti Teknologi Petronas at Sri Iskadar, I made up my mind to stop over, look at it closely and feel the mystic of the place. As I made my way up to the castle the caretaker was busy telling mysterious story of the castle to a group of tourist. He was talking about voices in the middle of night and foot steps following lone visitor. It was midnight and I could not down load the last three photos due to system errors. I felt the chill in my spine and decided to abandoned the fourth attempt until daylight. Let me shared with you on some of the shots I have taken, while Lorraine Brecht write up below enlighten you on the unfinished Kellie’s Castle
About 40 kms south of Ipoh along the road that leads to Batu Gajah, a 'castle' suddenly appears on a ridge which slopes down to a river that borders the road. If you're just a passerby & not specifically looking for it, you may not believe your eyes. But yes, it IS a castle (sort of), and yes, you ARE in rural Malaysia. The impressive and unique structure of apricot brick & white stucco, with its variety of arches, a square tower, bay, & semi-circular bastion, actually gives one a sense of displacement.
The unfinished Italianate style 'castle' which stands against a background of densely planted rubber trees, was commissioned in 1915 by Wm Kellie Smith, an English rubber baron who was born in Scotland.
Some time after arriving In Malaysia, he purchased 900 acres of land just south of Ipoh and cleared the jungle for his rubber plantation and homely estate which he named Kinta Kellas. The 'castle' was to be their family wing, an addition to their first house on the property. Just behind the unfinished wing are the crumbling ruins of their first Manor home which was built of brick & wood more than 120 years ago. Because the new wing was rather grandiose, by local mansion standards of the time, it was nicknamed "Kellie's Castle" as well as "Kellie's Folly".
Two different design windows
In the middle of its construction, which to this point had already taken 10 years, Smith returned to England. It is speculated that he went to England with his daughter to reunite with his wife & son, and then went to Portugal to buy a lift for his new wing where he got sick and died of pneumonia in Lisbon Portugal in 1926. He is buried there in the British cemetery. His family sold the estate & never returned. Shrouded in romance, mystery, & historical inaccuracies, the 'castle' was never completed.
View behind the fan
Today, a company has taken over the management of the castle and has converted it into a tourist attraction. Admission is only RM4 for adults & RM2 for children. They have an excellent brochure for sale at RM3. They also offer a package tour of Batu Gajah town.