John Weatherstone

January 2009

This page is dedicated to John Weatherstone

John has written two books 

The Pioneers

A Journey in Time"
Early British Coffee and Tea Planters 
and Their Way of Life. 1825-1900

Author: John Weatherstone
Published by Quiller Press Ltd.   46. Lillie Road   London SW6 1TN 
  First published 1986 reprint 1991  Recco Retail Price 28 pounds sterling

Pioneering and Trials in the Jungle
by John Weatherstone  ISBN - 978-1899163854.

Published by  JJG Publishing, Sparrow hall, Fakenham, Norfolk NR21 0DP     Price £28.00

` All Royalties are being donated to the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia (BACSA) 

These are  magnificent coffee table books, with wonderful illustrations and photographs which, unlike so many books of this genre, is very readable.   The journey takes the reader from tea camellia in China of the  17th Century through to the 21st Century and the tea bag.  
The focus of the story is India & Sri Lanka and sets down brilliantly the pioneers of the industry and the hardships endured in establishing the plantations we see today. 
A very good read -Editor

John received a lot of encouragement and support from the Williamson Magor Group and below are some facts about Hunwal T.E. followed by other Estates mentioned in his second book--
all photos by courtesy of  Williamson Magor 

Sanjay Batra Manager Hunwal T.E.

Ransomes Single Tine Sub-Soiler with seed drill attachment 
See below on plinth

Ransomes 'Crawler Tractor' 
This model built from 1952 onwards. Both this and the Sub-Soiler 
were in use on Hunwal until 1959

Inside these five bays are the withering troughs, the factory is just out of the picture to the left 

A 75 year old Rain Tree. Pithecolobium saman, stands at the entrance to the Manager's Bungalow built in 1928 and with vivid red flowering Ixora singaporensis, right, provides an attractive setting


a 2007 picture of Hunwal management with Manager Sanjay Batra  (in hat)

Managerial staff L to R : Field Operations: Vivek Seth (Deputy Manager), Amal C. Bora (Senior Assistant), Sanjay Batra (Manager), Hitesh Maadan (Welfare and in the factory)  The tea is 36 years old and the shade trees are Acacia lenticularis of the same age
Some of Williamson Magor's other Estates
60 years is the life of a tea bush

Vegetative Propagation. Clonal single leaf cuttings in Polysleeves are kept under high Agro Mesh netting which allows 60 to 70 % sunlight through

Cuttings once they grow up to 5-6 leaves are removed from the Agro Mesh area and kept outside for sun hardening to establish into ready plants. Once the plants are 30-40cms tall, they are taken into the field for extension planting, replanting, or infilling of vacancies in the mature tea

Mature tea fields generally contain between 12,000 and 13,000 bushes per hectare

Once tea areas cross 60 years in age and gradually begin to lose  commercial viability, the bushes are uprooted by a tractor-mounted winch. In the past elephants were used to uproot old tea bushes, which are distributed to workers families free of cost as statutory issue firewood.


Bogapani Estate. The labour force rise well before dawn to take their "Chota hazri" early morning tea and biscuits
Line Chowkidars (watchmen) who are given
the following days 'kamjari' (work allocation)
the previous evening, visit the worker's
lines/dwelling area at dawn the next day and
announce loudly where the labour is to be


Estate Schooland hospital --medical staff 8 , 2 Doctors

Giri Sodhi, Visiting Agent for WM Estates 

Celebrating the Tribal 'Jhomur' dance on Margherita Estate in Upper Assam

Mijicajan Estate. Pluckers with their leaf at the divisional weighment shed. 

A young English Assistant in Assam during the early 1900's said this about his over bearing Manager and leaf weighing;
He drives out in his turn-turn round the work and at each section grumbles and nags. Then the leaf weighing, which he regularly attends, becomes the nastiest bit of the day's work when it should be the most pleasantest , for is it not the end of the 'bela'? Not a woman brings in leaf fit to be seen , poor devils, it is not for want of 'hazri' cutting and 'gallikaroing' Then a round of the tea house and the man there --God help him

Estate School and hospital --medical staff 6 and one Doctor

              All above photos by courtesy of Williamson Magor




A part of Colombo Harbour. A sketch depicting the old landing jetty pre 1950's,
with booking office above, beyond that, across the road, is the Grand Oriental Hotel (GOH):
to the right of the jetty are the the customs sheds: the 


Available from JJG Publishing, Sparrow Hall,
Hindringham, Fakenham, Norfolk UK   NR21 0DP
Sponsored by Williamson Magor & Co Ltd  Calcutta