Continuing from where I left off in my previous post, one of the main reasons for my going all the way to Choolai was to photograph the gate of the Buckingham and Carnatic Mills. I needed this for my forthcoming book on the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry. But try as I might, I could not locate it.
What made it even worse was that between 1993 and 1998, I drove past these gates almost everyday, for our family was then running a factory in Vyasarpadi and I had to go there each morning. I could have just stopped and taken a photo. It can only be a case of belated wisdom.
The gates, though they had clearly seen better times, were imposing. The logos and emblems of Binny Limited on either sides added to their grandeur and if you could imagine that in the 1920s these gates were admitting 20,000 people each day (yes, that was Binnys’ employee strength then) the mind boggled. By the 1990s of course, these gates were invariably locked, except on the odd days when a film-shooting took place in the premises.
Now, with the entire area coming up for development, the gates have presumably been demolished. Which if it has happened is indeed a pity for they must have almost certainly been designed by Robert Fellowes Chisholm, who was Chief Consulting Architect to the Government of Madras in the 1860s. The gatepost, if indeed Chisholm designed it, was from his classical period, that is around 1862, immediately after his arrival in Madras and when he had had not yet become a firm votary of the Indo-Saracenic.
I however found this picture of the gatepost on the internet. It is of too small a resolution for me to use in a book and I wonder who has the copyright to this pic. But in the meanwhile, I have filled the space with a sketch of the A&F Harvey Mills of Madurai, done by Manohar Devadoss. But who will fill the gap in Chennai’s heritage by the vanishing of these gates?