Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Evolution of Fort St.George 1939 (As Documented by Col.DM Reid) and Present Structure

Fort St.George Map 1939 Col.DM Reid
Post & Telegraphs: Special Cover 368th Madras Day Celebrations 22-08-2007
Wallajah Gate (Island Grounds) Fort St. George
Gate Used by Military Units at Fort St.George
North Gate Fort St. George
Bastions and Revelins of Fort St.George
At the Fort Museum, one can see maps and illustrations which documents the evolution of the fort and settlement over the centuries. Col. D.M.Reid (Douglas Muir Reid) prepared drawings of the fort with Madras volunteers. These drawings describe the evolution of this fort. He has also written a book title: 'The Story of Fort St. George.'

1687 -- Governor Elihu Yale erected the 45-m (148-ft) tall flagstaff to hoist the Union Jack for first time in India.  

1715 -- The Parade ground behind the Secretariat building was known as  Cornwallis Square.

1726 -- Marmalong Bridge, the first across the Adyar River. Built by the Armenian Coderjee Petrus Uscan.

1755 -- The Wallajah Bridge was constructed connecting the Wallajah Gate of the Fort to the Island. 

1825 -- Binny Bridge, named after John Binny, whose residence became the Imperial Hotel - now the Vivanta by Taj Connemara, also known as Commander-in-Chief’s Bridge, was constructed in Binny Road.

1829 -- Anderson Bridge, named after Dr. James Anderson, who had a botanic garden in the area once, was constructed across coovum and lies adjacent to Pantheon road signal. 

1840 -- Elphinstone Bridge constructed on River Adyar

1869 -- Napier Bridge,  which connects the entire stretch of the Marina with the Fort, was  constructed by Francis Napier, then Governor.  The Napier Bridge we know today, with its six bowstrings and ethereal lighting at night, was built in 1999.  

1910 -- A second floor over the wings and the magnificent Assembly Hall to the east with numerous black columns were added enhancing its facade.

1930 -- The low width North and South Sea Gates, which remain closed for a longer time, were estimated as too small and hence they were replaced with much wider structures.

1942 -- The small Centre Gate was not used for a longer duration and it was sealed with bricks. The closure also to protect the fort from threats posed by the Japanese.

When completed, Fort St. George was spread over 42 acres inside and over 60 acres outside the Fort Walls. The Fort had 3 principal gates, the “Sea Gate”, which has now been closed, the“Wallaja Gate” and “St. George Gate” apart from a few minor gates. The Gates were further strengthened by bastions, ravelins flanked by lunettes. A wet ditch was built all around the Fort as an added security measure.

Tamil Nadu State Government's Neo Classical Secretariat is visible to those who enter through Sea Gate

Fort St.George Borders:
  • Western side border: the Wall Tax Road and the Buckingham Canal
  • South side border: the North Fort Road on the eastern side and the General Hospital Road on the western side
  • Northern side border:  Basin Bridge Road and Old Jail Road
  • Eastern side border: the Rajaji Salai (First line beach road) and the Chennai Port
  • All the four sides are additionally bordered by railway lines of the Chennai Beach—Chengalpattu and Chennai Central—Chennai Beach sections.

The streets (some of streets and monuments are seen even till date) were named in the 17th Century when the Fort was a residential settlement, `White Town'. All the main streets were parallel to the coast and developed around the core, `The Castle' (The Fort).

Streets  within Fort St.George:

Sl.No. Name of the Street Thumbnail of the Street
1 Church Street
Location: Right side of the Fort House
2 North East Parade Street Location: Parade Grounds

3 Kings Barracks Location: CSD Canteen
4 Glouceter Street  Location: Fort Square
5 York Street
Location: Fort Square
6 Middle Street        Location: Fort Square
7 Charles and James Street
  Location: Clive House

8 St. Thomas Street
Location: Near Church Street
Oultry Street
Location: Near Parade Ground
10 Choultry Street

Location: Parade Ground
11 Inner street
Location: South West

12 Wallajah West Street  Location: South West
13 Saint George Curtain StreetLocation: St. Thomas Street
14 Inner George Gate Street
Location: West
15 Inner North Gate Road   Location: York Street

Monuments within Fort St.George, Esplanade and George (Black) Town:

Sl.No. Name of the Monument Thumbnail of the Monument
1 “Tamil Nadu State Government Secretariat (British East India Company Fort House)” . Location: Central Building
2 “Elihu Yale’s home” . Location: St.Thomas Street
3 St. Mary’s Church with tablets laid on the ground and enclosed by a compound and a buried wall  Location: Church Street
4 Clive’s house built in 1753  Location: Charles and James Street
5 “Arsenal” between Wellesley house and Clive’s House with shells and cannons piled together near the Gateway Block IV/1-12 and 14-18. (Wikimedia Commons)
It was designed by Colonel Patrick Ross and is presently being used by the military as their supply depot. 
Location: Charles and James Street
6 Wellesley house (Built in 1798), Block No. IV/13         Location: Charles and James Street
7 Big Warehouse, south of the Church Library (in Block No. II/7).
It is situated right opposite the Last House on Snob’s Alley and is in a complete state of disrepair with half of the roof structure having caved in. (Wikimedia Commons)
Location: St. Thomas Street
8 Chaplain’s house including portion which is the northern side of the old Wall II/1. (Wikimedia Commons)

Location: St. Thomas Street
9 Garrison Engineer’s Depot, Block No. IV

It is located opposite the Fort police station which is now in military use. 
Location: Charles and James Street
10 Guard room Block No. V Fort St. George, Chennai-9
11 King’s Barracks Block No. XXV  Location: Kings Barracks now Area CSD (Defence) canteen
12 Last house on the left of ‘Snobs Allay’ (Oldest house in the Fort with carved staircase) – Block No. I/1

It is now completely ruined with little trace left of its presence and is presently being restored by the ASI. (Courtesy: The sorry state of Fort St George Madras Heritage and Carnatic Music March 5, 2014 )
Location: St. Thomas Street
13 Nursing Sister’s House (Block No. I/3)

Located in a building to the north of the Last house and is in good condition. It is currently being used as residence by some of the church staff and nuns from St. Mary’s Church.

Location: St. Thomas Street
14 Old British Infantry Officer’s Mess (now housing the Fort Museum) Block XXXVI/2   Location: York Street
15 Ramparts, gates, bastions, Ravelins with vaulted chambers and water cisterns underneath; moat and defence walls all round with glacis to the extent of the existing barbed wire fence
16 Tomb of David Yale and Joseph Hymners in the compound of Law College, George Town

The proposed alignment and Chennai Metro Rail Station comes within 300 meters of the Tomb of David Yale and Joseph Hymners located inside Dr. Ambedkar Law College campus.
17 Old town Wall Tondiarpet, Chennai

  1.  Bridges of Madras - The concrete connect. Anusha Parthasarathy The Hindu Chennai April 16, 2013
  2. Exploring the Fort St. George: A neglected heritage complex by Anand Lakshmipathi Transparent Chennai April 1, 2013 
  3. List of Centrally Protected Monuments - State-wise, Tamil Nadu, Archaeological Survey of India Chennai Circle
  4. The sorry state of Fort St George Madras Heritage and Carnatic Music March 5, 2014 

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