Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Vctoria Hall, Coimbatore (1892) - restored for posterity

Victoria Town Hall Coimbatore.

The Victoria Town Hall in Coimbatore city, listed by INTACH as a heritage structure, is an important colonial building in this industrial city of Tamil Nadu. Steeped in history, this famous town hall in the bygone period served as a venue for public meetings, council meetings, civic receptions and banquets in honour of celebrities visiting the city. Once Mahatma Gandhiji and  Rajaji attended the meetings held in this hall.  Constructed in 1892 in honour of Queen Victoria, this old structure was about to be pulled down in 1990s based on a state government order  for its demolition.

 According to Ms. Ghulati, in order to facilitate the construction of a Town Hall, the Coimbatore municipality granted the land and Rs.3,000 in 1892. To meet additional costs, etc., the members of the   Town Hall Committee (comprising prominent citizens of the city) gave donations. The building  has walls made of stone and lime and mortar, panelled shutters for windows, and timber trusses with Mangalore tiles for roofing. The entrance porch has Gothic arches and a balcony. The foyer takes the visitor into  the assembly hall. The mezzanine floor is now used as a visitors' gallery for council meetings.

Victoria Hall, Coimbatore. The Hindu

Until 1953, the Town Hall was  under the control of the committee' and in the same year ownership and management changed hands and  the  Coimbatore Municipality took up the responsibility.

Victoria Town hall happened to be a heritage structure with historical value and its presence was a necessity for the posterity.  The 6,000 sq.ft structure with the 3,000 sq.ft. council hall, and a 48-cent plot in the heart of the city had to be saved at any cost.
Thanks to INTACH (the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage)  and Ms. Gulathi, they  took up the matter with the Corporation Commissioner. A campaign  had been launched to save the structure from demolition  with the support of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Coimbatore. At last, the building was saved and restored back to glory at the cost of rupees 15 lakhs in 1992.

Earlier, the building was used to conduct council meetings  till 1953. From 1952 to 1986, a library and reading room  functioned on the mezzanine floor of the hall. The hall  also served  as a godown to store electrical goods. The Victoria Town Hall was listed by INTACH in 1995, Ms. Gulathi  says.