BATU GAJAH: William Kellie Smith, who arrived in Malaya more than a century ago, had a dream to build a castle on his 400ha rubber plantation here.
Some said the mansion was to be built either for his wife Agnes or their son Anthony.
Smith, the then owner of the Kinta Kellas Estate and Kinta Kellas Tin Dredging Company, had wanted to call his castle Kellas House, named after his hometown in Scotland.
The construction of the castle started in 1915, but while searching for material in Lisbon, Portugal, for the castle in 1926, Smith died of pneumonia at the age 56.
Agnes left Malaya to return to Scotland upon her husband's death.
The castle was left incomplete and for decades, people visiting the mansion, known today as Kellie's Castle, could only imagine what the castle would have looked like if Smith had completed it.
Thanks to the Tourism and Culture Ministry, which allocated RM5 million to upgrade Kellie's Castle, an atmosphere similar to the time Smith was still alive had been recreated by refurbishing the living room and bar lounge.
Speaking to the New Straits Times after the launch of the completed upgrading works by minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz yesterday, Perak Works Department director Datuk Dr Safry Kamal Ahmad said RM900,000 was spent to restore the living room and bar lounge with furniture that carried the Scottish and English motifs.
"The living room and bar lounge are 60 to 70 per cent similar to what Smith would have imagined them to be," he said, adding that the contractor had also gathered ideas from Smith's relatives.
Safry said the remaining RM4.1 million was used to build a one-stop centre, comprising an exhibition area and mini theatre, upgrading of food and souvenir stalls, toilets, the main entrance, bridge, stone-paved walkways and lighting system in areas surrounding the castle.
The upgrading works started in September 2011 and were completed in April.