Sunday, May 4, 2014

Fourbeck Bridge at Anna Salai Nandanam: Bridges of Colonial Madras

'Mambalam Odaipalam' ("Bridge over the Brook at Mamelon”. )
Enamel Sign Board of the Arcaeological Survey of India (1)
Enamel Sign Board of the Arcaeological Survey of India (2)
Four-sided commemorative pedestal memorialize the history behind the Fourbeck bridge (English)
Four-sided commemorative pedestal memorialize the history behind the Fourbeck bridge (English / Persian)
Four-sided commemorative pedestal memorialize the history behind the Fourbeck bridge (Larin)
Four-sided commemorative pedestal memorialize the history behind the Fourbeck bridge (Tamil)
Madras City Map 1893 Showing the Tank
I am sure many of you might have crossed Jones Road - Anna Salai (erstwhile Mount Road) intersection lying between  Nandanam and Saidapet. But how many of you have ever noticed the  four-sided commemorative pedestal and enamel sign board.

Well the pedestal, in a fenced enclosure measuring about 26 sq.metre, is  located at the State Highways Department’s workshop premises in West CIT Nagar i.e,  just opposite the Nandanam Veterinary polyclinic and adjacent to MC Raja Hostel for men. This monument comes under the care of the Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology since 2003.

The four-sided commemorative pedestal memorialize the history behind the Fourbeck bridge in English, Latin, Persian and Tamil, on its four sides. Strange! Find out more about the history of Fourbeck Bridge.

In English, it reads: “This bridge, erected as a public benefit from a legacy bestowed by Mr Adrian Fourbeck, a merchant of Madras, is a monument useful as lasting of the good citizen’s munificent liberality. It was erected by his executors T Pelling, De Freies, P Bodkin from the plan and under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel Pat Ross, Chief Engineer, in the year of our Lord 1786. Major General Sir Arch D Campbell, the Governor of Fort St George.”

'Long Tank' was a huge curved water body lying parallel to the western edge of the Mount Road commencing from Nungambakkam High Road and extending up to Saidapet. Now no traces of this lake could be found. The surplus water from this lake was channelized through the brook (canal) via Mount Road. 'Mambalam Odaipalam' was the small temporary bridge standing on this canal. In 1772 there was  an offer from Andrew Ross, the free merchant to raise the permanent "Bridge over the Brook at Mamelon”.

In 1786, the 'Brook Bridge,' a permanent structure, was constructed by Thomas Pelling, De Fries and P Bodkin. These three Europeans executed the will of Adrian Fourbeck, an affluent business man from Madras. Lt.Col. Patrick Ross, the chief engineer of Madras gave direction to the construction.
Who was Adrian Fourbeck? Adrian Fourbeck was serving as a member of the  Gunroom Crew in Fort St George and in 1740 this kind hearted European was discharged on a disability pension of Pagodas 1-14-0. Later he became an affluent merchant through partnership with Samuel Troutback. Fourbeck expired in 1783 and left a will comprising 'terms' for the construction of the bridge. The bridge was named after Fourbeck bridge to commemorate philanthropic contribution of Adrian Fourbeck.

Reference

  1. The Fourbeck Bridge by S.Muthiah The Hindu Chennai Jan 07, 2008
  2. The sole reminder of long-lost bridge from yore by  V Gangadharan The New Indian Express   May 19, 2011 

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