Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXIX No. 23, March 16-31 2020

Heritage Watch

by The Binny Headquarters

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There will always be a Binny in Madras was once a boast but that has since been proven false. The company, founded in the closing years of the 18th century struggled along till the 1980s and now even its beautiful headquarters on Armenian Street has gone.

The Binny building, witness to over 200 years of the corporate history of Madras, was also where the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry, India’s second-oldest industry body, took birth in 1836.

The building, which post the closure of the company was taken over by one of the creditors, remained in use till a few years ago. One of those mysterious fires that come to most heritage buildings of the city swept through it and it became largely derelict though structurally sound. INTACH’s official guide to Madras architecture even features the edifice on its cover.

Given a heritage rating of 2 by the Justice E Padmanabhan Committee report (where the façade has to be maintained even while changes in the interior are permissible), the structure was demolished in 2017 leaving just the lower levels of the shell standing. Our old is a photograph of Binny’s taken early in the 20th century. Our not so new was taken in 2008 and the new in 2017.

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