The History of Millwright

The millwright of the 17th and 18th Centuries was quite different from the millwright of today.

A millwright originally was a specialized carpenter who had working knowledge of drive-shafts, bearings, gearing and mechanical belts . The "mill" in millwright refers to the genesis of the trade in building flour mills, sawmills, paper mills and filling mills powered by water or wind.

Water was the only natural power source of the day, and James Watt had just perfected the steam engine by the mid-18the century. Water was directed over hand constructed wooden mill wheels to generate power. Millwrights executed every type of engineering operation in the construction of these mills. They designed the patterns of the water wheel systems, carved their gear mechanisms, and finally erected the mill machines.

Sir William Fairbairn, a millwright of the late 19th century, wrote in his Treatise on Mills and Millwork, "...the millwright of the late centuries was an itinerant engineer and mechanic of high reputation. He could handle the axe, the hammer and the plane with equal skill and precision..he could set out and cut in the furrows of a millstone with accuracy equal or superior to that of the miller himself."

The millwright of the past years was generally trained in arithmetic and geometry and his occupation demanded application of such principles. According to Sir William Fairbairn, his knowledge and abilities seemed unlimited. "He could calculate the velocities, strength and power of machines, could draw in plan and section and could construct buildings, conduits or watercourses in all the forms and under all the conditions required in his professional practice.." Briefly, the millwright of past centuries performed the work of a civil engineer, designing and carrying out most of the mechanical operations in the world.

Introduction & History of the Ceylon-German Technical Training Institute

The Ceylon-German Technical Training Institute, at Moratuwa, a suburb 12 miles south of the metropolis, Colombo, established with generous aid received from government of the Federal Republic of Germany, provides modern vocational training in basic skills covering a wide field, followed by specialized training after the earlier skills have been mastered.

On the job training, work motivation and productive work done by the trainees after basic knowledge of skills has been learnt helps keep training expenses to a minimum.

The institute has a productive output in every section with encouragement to the staff by way of a productive bonus. A trainee’s skills and knowledge is constantly improved as rotation plans ensure that every trainee has to do every job.

This type of productive training is possible only when it is combined in close cooperation with a large organization, and this success over the past 25 years, since its inception in 1959, is no doubt due its affiliation to the Sri Lanka.

The Ceylon-German Technical Training Institute was originally established in 1979 at the premises of the Central Workshops of the Sri Lanka Transport Board at Werahera. This was the result of an agreement made in 1958 between the governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and Sri Lanka to supply technical assistance in the maintenance of bus fleets which belonged to the SLTB.

The Institute was shifted to its new building at Moratuwa in 1976. It was originally organized and managed by a German Director and his German staff till February 29, 1976, when its management was handed over to a Sri Lanka, Director/Principal and his local staff. The German Advisor continued to work at the 1976 to August 1983, to advise the Management on technical matters.

This Vocational Training Centre which provides the highest standards is affiliated to the Sri Lanka Transport Board and is directly controlled by a Board of Governors who are responsible to the SLTB for all its functions.

The Director/Principal of the Institute, who is a full-time member of the Board is responsible for its management, administration, training and production.

(Taken from the book of Ceylon-German Technical Training Institute, published by the Embassy of the Fedetal Republic of Germany in Sri Lanka)

Historical Review of the CGTTI


Agreement between the Governments of Ceylon and the Federal Republic of Germany regarding the establishment of a Training School

July 1959

60 Trainees started training at the Ceylon German Training School at Werehera


Formal Opening of “Ceylon German Training School” at Werahera by Governor-General Sir Oliver Goonatilleke and Dr. Von Twardowski, Ambassador on Special Mission and Dr. T. Auer, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany


Visit of Dr. H.J. Von Merkatz, German Minister and Mr. Flex R. Dias Bandaranaike, Minister of Finance


10th Anniversary Celebrations

Chief Guests: Mrs. Brigitte Frey, Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Co-operation of the Federal Republic of Germany and Mr. V.A. Sugathadasa, Minister of Nationalized Services.


New Agreement between the Governments of Sri Lanka and the Federal Republic of Germany on the promotion and expansion of the Ceylon German Training School, Werahera


Foundation stone laying ceremony for the new Institute at Moratuwa

May 1974

Annual intake increased from 100 to 150


Formal Opening of the renamed Ceylon-German Technical Training Institute at Moratuwa by Mr. Leslie Goonewardena, Minister of Transport and Dr. (Miss) H. Feilner, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany

July 1975

10 instructors attended a Pedagogical Seminar at the Institute of Education in Singapore (These Scholarships were sponsored by the Federal Republic of Germany).

January 1976

Two Seminars on “Heat Treatment of Steel” conducted by German experts from the Industrial Occupations Promotion Centre (ZGB) Mannheim in the CGTTI-Workshops Moratuwa


The CGTTI is ceremonially handed over to Sri Lanka. Chief Guests: Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranayeke, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, and Mr. Egon Bahr, Minister of Economic Cooperation of the Federal Republic of Germany.


Annual Intake increased from 150-200 trainees


Establishment of auto-electrical laboratory

November 1979

Inauguration of pert-time training scheme for outsiders by Hon. M.H. Mohamed, Minister of Transport, Transport Boards and Private Omnibus Transport. These classes are held after normal working hours


Establishment of a modern laboratory in elementary electronics

Payment of a teaching allowance to staff members – introduced

The CGTTI Construction revised


Staff recreation room – completed with the financial and material aid from the Government of Federal Republic of Germany


Air-conditioning of auditorium - completed with the financial and material aid from the Government of Federal Republic of Germany

Welfare association for staff formed

The institution won the SLCTB Volleyball Championships


Modern Laboratory in pneumatics and hydraulics opened by Dr. Jurgen Warnke, Minister for Economic Co-operation of the Federal Republic of Germany

April 1984

The Millwright and power electrical workshops – completed with the financial and material aid from the Government of Federal Republic of Germany


Reconstruction of sports grounds – work in progress. Plans to complete in 1984

August 1984

The official opening of the Millwrights and the power-electrical workshops  at the Ceylon German Technical Training Institute, Moratuwa


Introduction of mobile units – work in progress due to be completed with the financial and material aid from the Government of Federal Republic of Germany

History of Millwright
Ceylon German Technical Training Institue, Sri Lanka