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Old April 14th, 2011, 08:01 AM   #1
amyjoanna
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British Colonial Architecture - who's responsibility?

Hey guys,

Would really love your help - and your opinions!

I'm currently working on my PhD, which is examining British attitudes to British colonial architecture in the former Empire. This of course includes India.

I know that in recent years some work has been going on in Kolkata with the help of the Scottish Government, and that previously a few projects have been supported by other British organisations.

What I am trying to discover is:

1. What British colonial heritage restorations (completed, undergoing or planned) have been made recently in India?
2. Was there any public involvement in these projects (ie. protests, campaigning, fundraising)?
3. Have the British assisted in these projects in any way (campaigning, funds, specialists, etc)? And,
4. Who do the people of India (or perhaps of the individual cities, such as Kolkata) think should ultimately be responsible for this heritage (British, Indian, local council, mix, none)?


I'm really interested to hear your thoughts - and if you can think of any examples, please let me know!
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Old April 14th, 2011, 02:35 PM   #2
Yagya
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I don't think many people in India expect the British to restore them. Most of them probably expect the govt to do so. You can look at the CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) in Mumbai where I think some conservation work was done. According to this article restoration work has been carried out on the Pune University building,Mumbai Mayor's house etc.

The problem with colonial architecture is that the general public or the common man often feels why should we restore colonial buildings. So sometimes they may not get priority for restoration and in India monuments aren't really looked after well after so that's a major problem. For example after independence the statues of the King, British Viceroys in the government buildings of Delhi were shifted to the coronation park which then was left to neglect. Now according to its Wikipedia article restoration plans were made in 2005. I don't know the current state.


That's all I know! I hope it was helpful
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Old April 15th, 2011, 02:02 AM   #3
amyjoanna
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yagya View Post
The problem with colonial architecture is that the general public or the common man often feels why should we restore colonial buildings. So sometimes they may not get priority for restoration and in India monuments aren't really looked after well after so that's a major problem.
Thanks for your thoughts!

I think this is one of the trickier problems and I agree, the common man probably would question why they should be restoring colonial architecture, particularly as for some it reminds them of a time in India's history which wasn't fantastic.

The other side of that problem though is that many British people think THEY shouldn't have to restore the architecture either, as they never see it and it wasn't a part of their local heritage...

Such a sticky subject!
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Old April 15th, 2011, 02:16 AM   #4
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Yeah but then on the other hand you have equal if not more number of people who do want to see heritage (no matter from whichever era) being restored. It helps the local community as well as a lot of the sites can/do attract tourists.

BTW, I just noticed the last line of your original post. Are you okay now? have you found colonial buildings? If not then do ask I'm sure I and other people will help.
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Old April 15th, 2011, 05:14 PM   #5
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Few Colonial buildings in Chennai(Madras)

Chennai(Madras) being a city founded by East India Company there are several such buildings still around. Most of the buildings function as government buildings hence maintained by respective departments. Few examples are

Ripon Building houses Chennai Corporation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ripon_Building

Chennai Central Station maintained by Southern Railways.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chennai_Central

Victoria Public Hall in Chennai(Madras)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Public_Hall
The article says it is being restored by Chennai Corporation

Government Museum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_Museum

Fort St George
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_St...ge_%28India%29
Maintained by ASI.

There are several buildings in the George Town area that currently house banks to corporate HQs.

The buildings from colonial era do not enjoy special status among public. For most of them its just like an office complex and nothing special in it. Few buildings were demolished in the past. Notable example is Admiralty house in Government estate.

World War memorials are the ones that are currently maintained by British. The rest are maintained by those who use it or ASI.
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Old April 28th, 2011, 11:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yagya View Post
Yeah but then on the other hand you have equal if not more number of people who do want to see heritage (no matter from whichever era) being restored. It helps the local community as well as a lot of the sites can/do attract tourists.

BTW, I just noticed the last line of your original post. Are you okay now? have you found colonial buildings? If not then do ask I'm sure I and other people will help.

Exactly! It's a part of our history and needs to be restored. Wasn't the Taj Mahal built by the Mughals as well?
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 09:19 AM   #7
DeMorgan
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Hello Amy,

You asked several questions, that I have some small answers to.

1. What British colonial heritage restorations (completed, undergoing or planned) have been made recently in India?

There are an increasingly large number of restoration projects taking place in India of colonial buildings. It is of course a huge task for India when there are so many other more pressing needs for their government to face.

However, some local authorities are discovering that restoring heritage buildings plays an important part in re-vitalising local economies. This is especially true in tourist areas like Kerala. Although a lot of tourists have traditionally been foreigners, these tourists are but a fraction of the numbers of Indian's who are increasingly able to travel and visit sites.

Here is a good example of a local restoration project at Thalassery of a 19th Century Church.

http://malabardays.blogspot.com/2009...-restored.html

http://malabardays.blogspot.com/2009...ed-part-2.html

The nearby fort and that at Kannur have both been very well restored by local teams, and are in good condition. Several churchyards have been cleaned in Kannur recently, and there is a lot of interest from the local press and Indian history enthusiasts who have done the work.


2. Was there any public involvement in these projects (ie. protests, campaigning, fundraising)?

I think that there is a public involvement, but it appears to be mainly at a personal level, or in small numbers.

There is a very active group at Vasai run by Shridatta Raut that has been campaigning to restore and to clean up both the Portuguese Fort at Vasai, but also a lot of other smaller forts and ruins in the area. Shridatta runs school visits and tours virtually every week, and has done so for at least three years.

There is a bit about his work here

http://sepoysgriffins.blogspot.com/2...1_archive.html


3. Have the British assisted in these projects in any way (campaigning, funds, specialists, etc)?

I am unaware of any formal funding but there is quite a lot of interest in these monuments on an individual level, and this leads to people from Anglo-Indian backgrounds going out to visit sites. Often the arrival of these visitors sparks local interest through things like Press articles etc. This happens in places like Bangalore. It has led local people to realise that "somebody" cares about this bit of "waste ground" full of tombs, or derelict building.

There is a society called BACSA who research former graveyards. Their interest in these graveyards has resulted in local Indian's taking an interest in these places.

There is an interest in old buildings in India, but in most cases it is incredibly hard for Indian's to get at records of the history of these buildings. Most of the best surviving material is actually in Britain in the British Library, and is consequently in-accessible to all except a tiny minority of Indian's.

By making this information more readily accessible the internet and things like Google Books is opening up a whole new way to research towns, cities, forts etc. The success of Facebook sites like Rare Books of India which has over 8,000 Indian members in 18 months and which posts pictures and links to relevant books demonstrates the levels of interest that are being generated.

4. Who do the people of India (or perhaps of the individual cities, such as Kolkata) think should ultimately be responsible for this heritage (British, Indian, local council, mix, none)?

Ultimately it is going to be Indian's who are responsible for keeping this heritage. If they decide it has no relevance to them they will bulldoze the lot, and start again.

We have no right to tell Indian's that they must keep these buildings, or to preserve them, however much we might hope that they will do so.

There were so few Brits in India even at the height of our control in 1945 when about 400,000 were there, that although these buildings were built to British designs, they were built to service "Indian" needs, by Indian's and with Indian money and labour.

These buildings say more about Indian history than British history.

It is inevitable that in the coming century many more will disappear because a lot are beyond economic repair or are no longer fit for purpose. As the remaining buildings become rarer and rarer some will become cherished in the same way a Mogul mosque or a Jain temple is.

It is clear however that many Indian's are coming to see the value in preserving and restoring these buildings, if only to make their own living environment more pleasant than it is when one is surrounded by mouldy semi derelict ruins.

We should be very grateful to local authorities like those in Thalassery and Kannur who have taken the time to restore these fine monuments.

Regards

Nick Balmer
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 07:01 PM   #8
IndiaAndBharat
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Many of the colonial buildings are used as govt. offfices/departments in India. The others are also generally used as museums or by other organizations..
Most importantly nearly all of these are considered as heritage buildings and are maintained and restored by both govt and private agencies.
The situation has also improved in the last 5-8 years. The consciousness has increased in the general pubic and serious efforts are being made.
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Old October 27th, 2011, 07:30 AM   #9
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Whitefield, Bangalore...
Colonial diaries..
The IT boom and how it is a threat to architeture which is more than a century old


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