Richmond Town, Bangalore
"More houses have fallen, than those that are standing, and the few that are left are those awaiting in silence for the dust to settle, to be knocked to their knees when they are sighted." - Ron, the Bangalore Walla!
The shattered gates above, used to open to a graceful bungalow on Richmond Road just opposite Baldwin Girls' High School, of many rooms and a large spacious compound (The book 'City Beautiful' has a photo of the original bunglow). Nobody seems to know much about it as it was occupied by the Military, and last used as an Officer's Mess before it was unceremoniously pulled down. The pillars were really tall and there was a terracota plaque that bore the name "Redcliff". A lorry trying to go through the wide gates removed one of the pillars and also the name was shattered. A hive of flats are being built on the grounds. .
The Mirza House (now a Junior College located next to Baldwin Girls' High School), and hidden deep inside it's own protective compound, really not noticable by the passer-by, but focused by the board 'Ali-N-Arts', a well known florist.
The Richmond Institute, located on Wellington Street (below), built between 1880 and 1900, was originally a grant from the military for the use of pensioners as a Reading Room. The building was also used as an Armoury for the Bangalore Rifle Volunteers who vacated on the completion of their building on Cubbon Road (B.R.V.). It was also used as the All Saint's Church Institute during the time of Canon Foley and the Resident Mr. Robertson. Finally, it became a club for the pensioners of Richmond Town, where there were evenings of cards, sing songs, bonfires, tennis, dances and all that one would like to have as entertainment right till the late 1960's. Today this service building is taken over by the Frank Antony's Junior School, and run by the All India Anglo-Indian Association, and the 'Club' activities cease to function for the public. The Association do have their annual Children's Christmas Tree Party and Meetings in the premises.
Down Wellington Street back to Richmond Road ....
One of the few bungalows left on Richmond Road, with a large garden. The water pond is designed in the shape of a cross.. I did meet Shiv Shanker of the Mysore Tobacco Company who kindly gave me the permission to take photographs.
There is one photograph still to be taken inside the building, that of a painting on a wall done by a small Parsee girl many years ago which is still being preserved.
Going around the corner on Convent Road, right now there is only one house of vintage that stands alone (above). The name of the house was 'Hepburn Hall'. A short while ago, the builders put up a sign-board that the bungalow was to be pulled down, it's a miracle how it is standing, located right next to St.Antony's Boys' Primary School. The hall has a beautiful flooring and a pond can be found in the compound. Two of my friends stayed in the house when it was under military care, Robin Chukravathi and much later the late Brig. Donald and Jennifer White and Family. The above first four photographs are courtersy Jean & Ian Sibbald of Canada, my Internet friends. While the last two are mine, helped by Clarence Barboza. The facing house belonging to Barbara and Tony Thomas has already been pulled down. I think the house was called 'Kimberly'. I can remember beautiful large bungalows with cottages on the either corner of the Richmond Road - Convent Road junction, both are long forgotten with Spartan Heights and Le Parc Plaza and Coventry Appartments coming up. Many buildings were hastely brought down for the simple reason that the owners re-possed the houses from the Government Offices or Military after a long legal battle, and to avoid the same going back to another tenant through the Rent-Control Act of the Corporation. Even today, if you have to mention that you would like to take a photograph and ask any of the owners, you are sure to get a 'no'! Some are very skeptical and will say they will get back to you fearing that you may put the photograph in the papers and get one of the Government Agencies to prevent the building from being demolished under 'Heritage Buildings'. What Heritage? Roads are being re-named everyday after one Politician or the other or Freedom Fighter, so there is no such thing like history or heritage!
Still to be added are the remaining houses (what houses?) on Richmond Road towards Trinity Church.
Adjoining Kingston Street on Richmond Road one finds the Pushpauk Travels office, earlier known as Loriana Hair Dressers. I seem to vaugely remember that it was also a Guest House. Anyone can help me on this?
The remains of Richmond House, once occupied by the Survey of India,
the remains of Richmond House, once occupied by the Survey of India, is more than partially raised to the ground. This was a splended building, one cannot call it a mansion or bunglow, perhaps a Government sort of office, a similar one can be found on Palace Road. I only hope that someone has a photograph of this building when it was in it's splendour. It occupied four roads as it's boundries, Richmond Road - Myrtle Lane - Wellington Street - Leonnard Lane. Being the Survey of India Regional Office it was highly restricted and so it is doubtful if there is a photograph taken!
Roads like Norris Road, Serpentine Street, Alfred Street, Walker Lane, Leonard Lane, besides Alexender Street have a few goodies amoung the old buildings, but nothing compared to Frazer and Richard Towns.
Dr. Alphonse Lopes has a beautiful house (above, old No.25 new 67) and garden, and it can also been seen on the special Flower and Garden page of mine. Wellington Street has about three to four old houses standing (Mrs.Aquino's and Mrs. Gladys Mascarenhas - below, over the roof view, partially seen is the roof top of the Aquino residence, also below the roof-top of the Sequira-Kamath residence, are still in excellent condition)
and a few in a knocked down state. Serpentine Street does have one house standing, and one going down.
A further up Richmond Road one finds just opposite the Mosque the beautiful bungalow of Mrs. and Air Vice Marshal P. Albuquerque, called 'Tiverton' ( 'Wesley Dale' as there are two boards on the gate, the Tiverton House originally belonged to a R.A. Butterfield), who also maintain a nice garden (above). The gate post collapsed the other day, and the name stone "Tiverton" revealed a further inscription below it : "Renovated in 1896!" History has once again been covered up never to be seen till the gate post collapses again.
Below some traces of old houses on Richmond Road. Art or Historic sense does not prevail to maintain the same as they are on prime land, and become a builder's delight.
These pieces are awaiting the blows of the hammers. They will not have to wait long. They will soon be forgotten, but their spirits will never leave the soil of their foundations.
When you come from Richmond Road along Myrtle Lane (now it is one-way), there is a narrow lane on your right called Laurel Lane which joins Kingston Road. I did see one house on it called the 'Kent House'. Thanks to the owners for permission.
Myrtle Lane had a neat cottage and house at the begining, adjoining the Horse Carriage Stables ( now horses and carriages are long gone). This house has become the 'Xavier House', which is the minor Seminary of the Jesuits from Patna.
At the corner of Myrtle Lane and Alexander Street used to be a collection on some large bungalows, and we played as kids in the compounds of many. In one such house adjoining the Methodist Church, was the residence of another Gonsalves family, that of Iris. Some of you who were at St. Joseph's B.H. School may remember the late Roy Gonsalves a good athelete. His brothers were Dave and Dilip and sister Delna. Below is the last of the house, once a large and bustling house, still standing in muted silence.
Norris Road, which is actually the continuation of Myrtle Lane across Alexander Street ends up on Langford Road, but it is quite a meandering road as it has a parallel road called Walker Lane inbetween attached to it. Ms.Claudette and Rex Shadrack kindly gave me a photograph of an old house on Norris Road (the Gonsalves, now in Australia lived there once) to bring back the memories.
Facing this, are a few houses waiting for the call of the jackhammer.
The corner house belonging to VBS, a Christian Organization, will be also shortly down and out.It was known as the 'Fritzpatrick House' as per the memory of Rex. Very hard to tell the age of this building, but it sure has strange features, and looks more or less like a large converted hall. The maker of the tiles as noticed under the front portico is 'Arbuthnot & Co, Bangalore'. There is also a newer building in the same compound, or a modified one. Thanks to Lloyd Thomas for the permission to photograph the buildings.
Curley Street, Alexander Street, Norris Road, Walker Lane, Prime Street, all have a few 'Jewels' in the Crown, and it must be really a struggle for the owners to maintain with so much of pressure to bring them down. But we should think positively, that if the buildings cannot be maintained or kept in a good condition, it is better that they are brought down gracefully and with a record like this page of photographs for memory. I had put an appeal in the Newspapers (Deccan Herald 2nd July 1998, Asian Age, Times of India) requesting people who had old houses or builders to allow me to photograph the buildings before they are raised. Maya Sharma, Special Correspondent of New Delhi Television Ltd., (NDTV), interviewed me for 'Star TV News' broadcasted to the Nation on 16th July, 1998, specially with regards to my interest to preserve the 'memories' of all the houses in Bangalore that are to come under the hammer blows, and even those that survive. There is a strange feeling that I have developed with the old houses, I can pass a road and I can 'feel' an old house on it. It is as if the house is calling out to me to 'please remember me'. It may sound a bit far-fetched, but it is true, hence you will see some of the collection of buildings on my pages that will never figure on anyother Home Page or book from India. Some of the buildings may be only partially seen because of the other new constructions compressing it. I don't know if there is a similar interest in other Cities of India to capture memories, and if there is, then I would like to wish them all the success and even encourage those persons who are doing so to put their collections on the Internet for the world to enjoy. The same letter is also carried in Bangalore Monthly (page 7) August 1998 issue.
An area in Richmond Town that stands out like a monument of the past is Arab Lines. This was one of the early sections of the Civil and Military Station. It is situated between Leonard Lane, Hosur Road, Richmond Road and Wellington Street. Adjoining it on Leonard Lane is Johnson Market.
A section of horse traders, stables (used to be at the rear of Johnson Market). Asghar Ali built a large strong house, A walk round the courtyard reveals 'time'. The roof is flat and quite strong, however, the floor vibrates when the lorries pass by which is quite an experience as Hosur is part of the Highway. A greatful thanks to Mrs and Major Mizra who kindly accompanied me to these buildings. He is one of the great-grand sons of Asghar Ali.
and along with it a Travellers Bungalow (below).
The actual history of the whole place needs to be treated separately. Some of the houses are old and very close together. There is also a school in the middle of the area.
You will also find the Saadut Dispensary on Hosur Road, a gift to the people in memory of Asghar's wife, Beebee Saaduttuniss in 1911. The other plaque is of white marble and had a lot of stickers disfiguring it hence it was nto possible to photograph. Note the name Shoolay, used instead of Richmond Town. Shoolay was like the suburb in which Richmond Town was built.
Going down Alexander Street or Serpentine Street, you come to a neat Park known as the Richmond Park. Once upon a time this park had a bandstand in the middle that the Army Band used to play at. It must have been a pleasure for the local residents as most of them were pensioners and this would have been quite entertaining. The bandstand mysteriously disappeared, and instead a monsterous non-functioning fountain has been built, making it dangerous for the children who visit the park. The flowers in the park come up every season, and that makes the park beautiful and takes away the eyesore of the fountain.
Just opposite the Park on Kingston Road next to the Methodist Church was an old house that people said was haunted. We as kids did not venture into the compound even to retrieve the ball, as we sometimes played in the Gonsalves residence on Alexander Street which today is in ruins. Facing the Park on the South was a very large mansion type bungalow called 'Alexander House'. The house was built similar to the Richmond House. I doubt if anyone got photographs before it was pulled down years ago. Which also reminds me to photograph the Methodist Church which is a new one put up on the same spot of the old one.
Curley Street (below) which is located at the back of Baldwin Boys' High School and Home for the Aged, has a few ruins and a few still standing!
One of the greatest buildings of Richmond Town was the Elgin Electric Flour Mills, located on the junction of Langford Road - Hosur Road. Today there are only a group of flats called 'Elgin Apartments'. This red coloured building was unique and was a landmark if anyone wanted a location to refer to for directions. The Mills was earlier referred as 'The Elgin Steam Flour Mills'. Will try and get hold of a photo of the Mills in it's complete majesty. Demolished photo courtesy Suresh Moona.
|"The ELGIN STEAM FLOUR MILLS,
Brigade Road, Bangalore,
Superior Machine-made Rolong, Flour, Thom, and Bran, sold Wholesale, and Retail.
Depots: DODDAPETTA, CITY; OLD POOR HOUSE, Cantonment.
V. Soondarlinga Chettiar, Proprietor"
The Elgin Today .... will the spirit return? Will it bring memories to those who saw it?
Hosur Road section of Richmond Town runs from Richmond Road till Langford Road Junction. Coming from Richmond Road which is towards the North, on the left is the county styled All Saints Church ,
adjoined by Fatima Bakery, then a minor road that links Campbell Road, then you come to the Bangalore Military School, once known as King George's School and was part of the MEG. Further you will come to the Corps of Military Police. On the right when you come from Richmond Road, you will notice the above mentioned Asghar Ali's house and Saadut Dispensary, then perhaps St. Gregores Mathoma Church which is relative new, the famous Johnson Market, then a Mosque. Next comes Baldwin Boys' High School, a colonial school which dates back to 1880.
The Home for the Aged run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, follows having like Baldwin's a rear gate on Curley Street also.
then an old Muslim Cemetery, which is adjoined by the Elgin flats.
I seem to have forgotten one road that is important to me, that is King's Street where I live. How I do such a thing. There is only one set of twin houses that dates back to 1932, otherwise all houses are post '60's. I will add a note later when I incorporate the photo of that house. Looking through my garden, I came across a tile from my out house that possibly dates after the First World War (WWI) as it mentions the maker of the clay tile as the Commonwealth Trust Limited, late Basel Mission Industries, Patent 1865.
For a recap, there was a Muslim cemetery on Richmond Road between Myrtle Lane and Kingston Street, behind the Warf/ Haj board.
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Thought for the Day:" Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, Fon in the manner their fathers did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did they fathers to the false prophets." Holy Bible: Luke 6:20-26