Elephant House owes its origins to 'The Colombo Ice Company' which was formed in 1866.
During the times when Ceylon was still under the rule of the British Empire, mini ice burgs were imported and auctioned at the dock and buyers used to fold them into thick blankets and speed home as fast as their horse carriages would take them. These white glittering chunks of ice created tremendous interest amongst the social elite of the day and was available only at functions and houses of the socially privileged.
With an initial capital of £1,600, 2 steam engines of 8 & 9 horse power and a total of 22 employees, the Colombo Ice Company started producing ice on a commercial scale for a growing market under the guidance of the manager of the firm (a German Engineer) Arthur Von Possner. In those times, The Colombo Ice Company whose premise was in Glenie Street was popularly called ‘Ice Kompaniya’. Thereafter the entire district officially became known as ‘Kompaniveediya’. The Colombo Ice Company was also in the business of producing ‘aerated waters’, technically known as ‘carbonated beverages’ and was participating in trade fairs at Melbourne and Calcutta with its products of international standards.
In 1880 The Colombo Ice Company acquired the business and goodwill of Mr. J. Maitland who owned a medical hall which sold a variety of medicated wines. In 1882 Mr. Von Possner left the Colombo Ice Company and formed his own company in 1883 to produce his own brand of aerated waters. Thus Mr. Von Possner introduced the elephant trade mark to Sri Lanka which remained a popular household name to this date.
Mr. Tom Walker, an owner of a competing company in the aerated water industry at the time purchased The Colombo Ice Company and was merged and renamed as the New Colombo Ice Company Limited on 8th of May, 1894. Mr. Tom Walker was the first managing director of the New Colombo Ice Company Limited.
In 1934 the New Colombo Ice Company Limited bought the Ceylon Ice and Cold Storage Company which pioneered the import of frozen foods to Ceylon. Later on the New Colombo Ice Company Limited changed its name to the Ceylon Cold Stores in 1941.