Chapter 31- After 1960

While half the descendants of Arthur Percival Rowlands left for the greener pastures of Australia, the other half remained in Sri Lanka.

A.P.Rowlands continued to manufacture the Watchmans Clock and with the change in Government Policy in the 1960’s and the banning of imported foreign Watchmans Clocks, found he had a ready made group of clients in the Plantation Industry and other companies that needed a “fool proof” system of recording the patrols of their security personnel. The factory at Maharagama had difficulty keeping up with the demand for the unique “Excelsior” Watchmans Clock that could not be tampered with.

A search of the Internet revealed the following in relation to the patent.

Document Number
GB Patent 717756
Publication Date
Abstract of GB717756 717,756.

Time-checking apparatus: ROWLANDS, A. P. July 12, 1951, No. 16562/51. Class 106 (4) A time recording clock comprises: a clock provided with a disc marked to correspond to the 12 hours reading on the dial and rotatable by the clockwork secured within a cabinet fixed to a wall of a building at the location to be visited by the watchman with the disc adjacent to the front closure  of the cabinet provided with one or more apertures having shutters  fixed to the inside surface of the front closure. The shutters are flat and cam-shaped with their narrow ends riveted or secured at alternate sides of the apertures and they are spring loaded to prevent unintentional movement, but are movable to open or close appropriate apertures for the insertion of a pencil to mark a record. The hour hand spindle carries a gear wheel fitted with a long bush externally threaded held on the spindle by riveting the end of the spindle and on the bush is screwed a flanged sleeve attached to a disc of metal or the disc may be a modified clock dial. The disc may be used alone or a stiff paper disc may be slipped over a small threaded extension of the sleeve and held by a milled nut against the disc.  Thus the recording disc may be of paper, metal or slate and has radial divisions for the hours and sub-divisions for quarter hours. Circular divisions correspond to the apertures and provide spaces for the records of one or more watchmen over a period of 12 hours. To set the clock ready for use a record disc is inserted and adjusted according to the time of day, the clock is wound and placed in the cabinet, the shutters are adjusted to open the apertures required for use and close the others and the cabinet is locked. Subsequently the watchman inserts a pencil through an aperture at specified times. One aperture may be used for more than one person if distinctive coloured pencils are used.

"Fieldview" Maharagama Factory

APR with his Factory Manager Mr.Pinto

He continued his philosophy of good staff relations and made regular presentations for good work.

APR with his Vauxhall Velox

APR with his staff at the Factory Gates

He encouraged efficiency in the production process and gave business excellence awards for staff that reached personal goals.

Staff Presentation

He was well respected by all his workers and when he died, Christobel Carolis recalls that the factory was closed for the funeral and and he was mourned by the workers and their families.

Daphne Drieberg (nee Rowlands), A.P.Rowlands, John Rodie

Toni Rodie, Anton de Costa, Heather de Costa and the other

Bieling family members with the children

John Rodie who was the Assistant Superintendant at Yuilefield Tea Estate between 1967 and 1969 says that as far as he remembers most estates in his group used the “Excelsior” Watchmans Clock. On a couple of occasions during his tenure at Yuilefield Estate A.P.R visited the property to evaluate the operation of the product.

At Yuilefield Tea Estate

On one of those occasions, in 1967, Daphne Drieberg (nee Rowlands) who had returned to Sri Lanka from Australia for a holiday and A.P.R together with Anton de Costa who was a Tea Taster at Heath & Company and his wife Heather (John’s wife -Toni’s sister) and their family also stayed at the Estate Bungalow.

John says that A.P.R in 1967, even at the age of 82 was still a good golfer and he relates a conversation he had with Weerasinghe the Bar Steward at the Darrawella Club, Dickoya, when he arranged for him to play nine holes of golf with A.P.R. At that time there was a nine hole golf course at the club. Bar Steward Weerasinghe told him that A.P.R hit the ball further and straighter than himself, a man who was playing off a single digit handicap.

John and Toni say that A.P.R enjoyed his stays with them and when John got sick and had to transfer to Colombo, A.P.R offered them one of his houses at Gothatuwa, but unfortunately George Rowlands had removed the tiles off the roof and so they declined the offer.

Weerasinghe at his Retirement

The company that now operates as Rowlands Limited is involved in the distribution of aluminium products and still in existence in Sri Lanka.

In 1969, Cecil Rowlands and his youngest son Percy who was born in Colombo on 16th April 1952 and left Ceylon at the age of 9 years, returned to Sri Lanka to see A.P.Rowlands. The pictures they took during this trip are below.

At the Army Farm
A swim in the river

Nellie De Silva (May Rowlands' adopted sister)


Dianna Peiris, A.P.Rowlands, Percy Rowlands, Mr Peiris and Mrs Peiris at their house at 22 Palmyrah Avenue, Colpetty

Percy Rowlands in his College Blazer

Percy Rowlands in the original Datsun Blue Bird

Dr Allie Ebert at his house (May Rowlands' brother)

Arthur Percival Rowlands died in his sleep of heart failure at the age of 87 on 21st June 1972 and is buried at the Kanate Cemetery in Colombo.

Kanatte Cemetery Colombo
Grave of A.P.Rowlands

Once again tragedy struck the Rowlands’, when on 13th December 1978, George Rowlands and his young daughter Koomarine were murdered in their house at Gothatuwa that was built below the main house. The bodies were found several days later and the true circumstances of the murder were never discovered. The Colombo Police charged the servant boy with murder but he was eventually set free due to lack of evidence.

Late Koomarine Rowlands

The local news papers had a number of theories, but none proved correct. Christobel Carolis had the task of identifying the bodies and arranging the funeral for her half brother and niece.

Gothatuwa House taken from a newspaper

The descendants of A.P.R who left Sri Lanka in the 1960’s returned home after their death.
Daphne Drieberg (nee Rowlands) died on 7th August 2000 in Queensland and her children returned her ashes to Sri Lanka and are buried with her father.

Cecil Wilford Rowlands died in Melbourne on 31 October 2002.

Ed and his son Christopher returned to Sri Lanka in 2003 with his ashes and in an Anglican Church Ceremony, buried his ashes in his mother’s grave at the Kanatte Cemetery in Colombo.

 Muriel Sybil May Rowlands (nee Ebert) died in Melbourne on 22nd November 2011.

Ed and Jacqueline returned to Sri Lanka in April 2012 and brought the ashes of Muriel Sybil May Rowlands for burial next to her husband at the Kanatta Cemetery.

In the presence of Ed, Percy, Pia, Jacqueline, Nicole, Joe, Alecia, David and Michelle together with Christopher Don Carolis and Nalini and her brother Shirley, a simple Ceremony conducted by an Anglican Priest was held at the grave side.

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