Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXII No. 5, June 16-30, 2022
At long last, it would seem that there are better days ahead for Victoria Public Hall. Constructed in 1887 as the town hall for the city and to commemorate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign, the building undoubtedly was at its best before the 1940s. Thereafter it was a story of steady decline and appalling neglect. Now it would seem that there are better days ahead with a detailed project report in place for its restoration and which awaits the nod of the Chief Minister. For heritage enthusiasts, this is good news. But a lot will depend on how the building is run and maintained in the long run. More important will be the plans that are in place to make the structure generate revenue.
Once the home of public entertainment, meetings, indoor sports events and discourses, VP Hall began to visibly decline from the 1950s. The lease for the hall ending in the 1980s saw prolonged litigation and the Corporation of Chennai had to fight tooth and nail to reclaim the space. Even more difficult was the emptying of the open area that belonged to the hall of its squatters – a row of shops and even a high-rise tower that housed a hotel. The occupants had to be evicted and the tower, which was an illegal construction, had to be demolished. Much of this was accomplished during the mayoral tenure of the present Chief Minister, who it is said has for long had warm sentiments towards the hall and the role it had played in the city’s history. Even prior to this, the first attempts at restoring the hall had been taken up by industrialist Suresh Krishna when he was Sheriff of Madras in 1992/1993. Thereafter, a sum of Rs 2 crores
Commuters are navigating myriad traffic diversions in view of CMRL’s metro rail work as part of the 118.9km phase 2 project that involves the construction of underground and elevated lines. Roads in many localities including Marina Beach, Panagal Park and the Boat Club-Chamiers Road have been barricaded. New traffic rules have also obliged heavy vehicles including MTC buses on the route from Vadapalani to Porur to turn left at the Arcot Road-Lakshmi Nagar 40 ft. junction and proceed via 40 ft. Road, 3rd Cross Street, 1st Main Road and Mount Poonamallee Avadi road
VP Hall, which is in the news these days for positive reasons, was meant to be the town hall of the city. Constructed in 1887 to commemorate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign it was the epicentre of several developments in the city. Left to rack and ruin for decades, it now seems set for a new lease of life, which is to be welcomed. Designed by Robert Fellowes Chisholm,
A chance search for some material on the Elambore river landed me on this account of Madras in 1759. Published in the Grand Gazetter (sic) of Exeter that year, it gives a fascinating account of White Town and Black Town. The first part reproduced here
I have lost a great friend, a co-traveller of a few decades – D. Hemachandra Rao, all of 82 years. Rao loved the city of Madras and gave it all he had to contribute. He was also one of India’s foremost philatelists and perhaps the expert on India’s lighthouses.