Agrakande estate is situated in the Lindula Valley of the western slopes of the central hills and lies between 1340 mtrs.to 1369 Meters above mean sea level. Its Factory is classified into the high grown elevation. It is surrounded by the estates of Hatton, Horana and Agrapatana Plantations- namely Waltrim Estate, Henfold Estate, Tillicoultry Estate and Huateville Estate. Agrakande Estate as it stands today has a total extent of 228.75 hectares and out of which 161.5 hectares is in tea – 58% VP and 42% old seedling tea. The estate now consists of two divisions namely Agrakande and Fassifern.
According to the Photographic evidence available, it was the pioneering British proprietor planter Mr. Ingles who planted the tea in 1885 and built the factory at the same site it presently stands. In 1995 during the Superintendence of Mr. Rohan Kumarasamy, a descendant of the great Mr. Ingles visited Sri Lanka and having paid a visit to Agrakande Estate, handed over these Photographs (taken in 1885) that had been preserved for more than a century. His handing them to the Superintendent of Agrakande goes to show the love and dedication these Englishmen had for our plantations.
The estate now comprises of the two divisions after the amalgamation of Agrakande and East Fassifern Estates. These Estates in the past had their own Factories – both in wooden structures. The East Fassifern factory was destroyed by fire in 1949. The tea maker’s quarter’s is still there. Presently it is occupied by the Field Officer of that division. Still ‘East Fassifern’ continues to be one of the selling marks of Agrakande Estate.
The total extent of Agrakande was 426 acres (170 Ha’s) and out of that 400 acres (160Ha’s) had been planted with tea according to available authoritative documented evidence (Ferguson Directory 1951). Later on, like many other individual plantations Agrakande too was formed into a planation company and became the property of North Western Estates Company Ltd (UK) until it was nationalized in 1975. The Managing agents in Ceylon were Messrs. Bosanquet & Skrine. After a while the business interests of Bosanquet & Skrine were acquired by Whittals Ltd and remained so till nationalization. In 1951 Mr. J.W.M. Stewart was the Superintendent residing on Talankande Estate, Lindula and the resident Assistant Superintendent was Mr. Philips. He occupied the present Agrakande Bungalow. The Agrakande Bungalow had a wooden roof (wooden shingles) known as a step roof which needed an annual application of a certain kind of petroleum product.
This bungalow was built in 1885 and subsequently it was renovated in 1927. The pioneer planters traveled about the property on horseback and Agrakande was no exception. The evidence of this is found in the name of a line room known as “kuthurai patty” (which means horse stables in English). The English planters usually built the factories on the lowest part of the property in order to utilize the upper stream water to generate power. There are still indications of a lake in F/No. 5 B in Agrakande that supplied hydro power to the Factory. The factory was driven by shaft belts and pulleys.
There was also a small tea property known as West Fassifern which was sandwiched between Agrakande and Fassifern, and owned by the late Mr. Francis Amarasooriya comprising of 138.5 acres ( 55.50 Ha’s ) in which tea was cultivated in 136 acres ( 54.40Ha’s)
In 1951 Mr. J.M. Fernando was the Superintendent of West Fassifern and the property was managed by Barleet & Company. The West Fassifern factory too had a wooden structure and was situated below the present Agrapatana main road on the banks of the Kotmale oya. This was also run by a water turbine and the water was supplied from two small reservoirs built on F/Nos. 4 & 5 of West Fassifern In 1955 the estate was purchased by Agrakande and thus Agrakande Group was born. Thereafter the West Fassifern Factory was dismantled. Some of the concrete structures and tea Makers Bungalow are still there and occupied presently by the worker Associates. As for the West Fassifern Bungalow it was converted into a housing complex for staff and it remained so until 1973. A part of that bungalow was demolished and now it’s the Assistant Manager’s Bungalow of Agrakande.
The large orchard which the West Fassifern Bungalow had, was converted to a vegetable garden. During the period of Mr. Ralph Mervyn Gauder in 1958, the reservoirs were abandoned due to the nonexistence of the Factory.
After the Nationalization of the estates, Frankton (now division of Huateville Estate) was also amalgamated with Agrakande and remained so till 1979. During the Superintendence of Mr. M. Sivalingam, East Fassifern and West Fassifern was made one and called Fassifern. The Estate was under the Management of The Janatha Estates Development Board during Nationalization and till the re-privatization when Regional Plantation Companies were formed.