Fr. Berrewaerts was the Principal of St Berrewaerts College from 1905 to 1955.
Forty-eight years ago on September 17, 1963 Reverend Father Berrewaerts SJ passed away after a long and distinguished service to the church as well as poor people. Born on August 21 1872 in Belgium of a Wealthy and aristocratic family, he was ordained a priest on September 24 1890. Rev. Fr. Berrewaerts was one of those young priests who preferred to work in Ceylon. He arrived in Ceylon in 1905 and was posted to the Papal Seminary, Ampitiya.
The Papal Seminary Ampitiya and the Ampitiya English school founded by Fr. Berrewaerts. He made Ampitiya a well known educational centre. For nearly 50 years he was the principal of Ampitiya English school and this was a period of great selfless service to the less affluent students. The fees were low and the privileged had free education. He provided a sick room to students who fell sick during school hours and those who suffer injuries whilst playing. At the sick room he functioned as the doctor, nurse, attendant and the labourer.
His spiritual care, sympathy and compassion for the students was incomparable. He selected teachers very carefully.
He would often observe them teaching in the classrooms. He was disciplinarian of the highest order no students was permitted to waste his time during school hours. He was keen to see that students who came first in the class in terminal tests pose for a photograph with him to encourage them to reach high standard. He encouraged boys to participate in sports.
He equipped the school with its own dental clinic. The school had its own western band and every years on the king’s birthday there was a drill display and a march past. He gave every encouragement for cadeting and the school came off with flying colours in several competitions held island- wide.
Generations of students who have enriched by his paternal and compassionate care owe him a great debt of gratitude in the formative years of their lives. In recognition of great service, the old boys of the school participate in a religious service at the place of his demise at the church, Lewella, Kandy yearly.
Lloyd V. Ponnambalam
D J Wimalasurendra
Great son of the soil
development of Hydro Electricity in Sri Lanka History is made of Men of Vision and D J Wimalasurendra was a shining example. There is every reason to establish in the public mind the name of this great leader for his outstanding contribution to the feasibility studies carried out and in the development of Hydro Electricity.
Young Wimalasurendra had other ideas harnessing natural resources to the benefit of mankind. He realized that electricity is the basic need of the society to have a modern comfortable life.
There are two events in record of this great pioneer, a) Hydro power project at Laxapana b) the issue of the commemoration stamp in his honour in 1975. He lived to see the early stages of his dream come true. He was said to have got up from his sick bed, gone to Norton and got into the rail truck that went through the tunnel of nearly 8000ft and when he got out from the other end, the people cheered him for glory.
Wimalasurendra was a brilliant Civil and Electrical Engineer. The great son-of-the-soil born in this country was one of the first who came out with the idea of the possibility of harnessing waters of the two rivers Kehelgamu Oya and Maskeli Oya to develop Hydro Electric Power.
He was in the State Council in the pre independence era in 1935 where he delivered his famous speech, pleading for the resumption of the Hydro Electric scheme which was held up due to an economic depression in Sri Lanka. The great hydro power project, which was started with enthusiasm in 1924, faced a great threat and the work was stopped. Sir John Kothalawala who was in the State Council studied the essential details of the hydro electric scheme and felt the need to open a new era of development and commenced the project as he felt the only source of power in Sri Lanka is the waters in rivers. The rest are all foreign sources of power such as coal and oil.
There was a close link between engineering and craftsmanship. D J Wimalasurendra’s father had a workshop in Maradana and the son showed his skill in craftsmanship in this workshop. The Governor of Ceylon (1866) Sir Arthur Gordon visited this workshop and was fascinated by the craftsmanship exhibited by the Wimalasurendra family. The Governor placed an order to execute the seal of the government. Sir Arthur is said to have shown t his diamond seal to Her Majesty the Queen Victoria.
This incident led to an official invitation being extended to Wimalasurendra (Snr) to visit Britain. Wimalasurendra (Snr) turned out a Gold pendant with a centrepiece diamond on which was engraved the ‘ British Insignia’. The queen was graciously pleased an requested Wimalasurendra (Snr) to teach the art of engraving to British Jewellers.
D J Wimalasurendra received his early education at Ananda College and was the first student to pass the Matriculation. It was during this time that the Engineering branch was established at the Maradana Technical College. As an engineering apprentice in the Government Factory, he and other talented apprentices studied engineering at the Maradana Technical College for the first time. He was the first to graduate in Civil Engineering from the Maradana Technical College and later obtained the professional qualification AMICE in the final examination held in India.
Hydro power project proposed by Wimalasurendra was later executed by Consulting Engineers. The project consisted of a dam at Norton Bridge across the Kehelgamuoya creating a storage reservoir. The storage water was conveyed by a Tunnel to a Surge Chamber and from there through two pipelines to the three power sets at the power house to generate 25 MW of power. This power is to be taken to a receiving station by a double circuit 66kv Transmission Line and then distributed in Colombo. This great project fulfills and important component of a far sighted concept developed by Eng. Wimalasurendra. The first Hydro Power Station called Norton Power station was later named Wimalasurendra Power Station.