List of Statues, Monuments and Busts erected in Madras, in Honour of Distinguished Servants of the State is a slim volume of just ten pages, published in 1898 by the Superintendent of the Government Press. A copy survives at the Central Archaeological Library of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi and has been digitised. Karthik Bhatt, who were he not a Chartered Accountant would probably have been a search engine, sent me this link and on reading it I was struck by what still survives and what does not.
First the survivors – Queen Victoria is still outside Senate House, under her “hood of zinc sheeting supported by ornamental cast-iron brackets and columns,” not much changed since June 20, 1887 when Lord Connemara unveiled the statue. Munro, happily for us, is still on the base made by Ostheider watching over the Island. EB Powell’s marble statue is still safely inside Presidency College building.
No longer where they were but stored safely are Lord Cornwallis (about whose statue much has been written in this publication), and a bust of Lord Hobart, Governor of Madras in the 1870s. Both of these, of white marble, are now in the Fort Museum. Consigned to the vaults of the Government Museum is the statue of the hated James George Smith Neill, originally on Mount Road, and “west of the Madras Club” as per the book, placing it at Spencer’s Junction.
Then come the fountains. The one dedicated to Sir Charles Trevelyan, Bart is still in the Victoria Public Hall compound, though it has moved from the front of the building to its side, in order to make way for the Metrorail. Gone however are three others, all of them originally standing at prominent junctions in the city.
The intersection of Police Commissioner’s Office Road and Pantheon Road had a square pillar of dressed Pallavaram granite with a block of Aberdeen granite that was inserted just below the capital. Standing on a triangular base, this monument had taps on all four sides. This was in memory of Col. William Scott Drever, JP and for 16 years the Commissioner of Police, Madras. A close friend of RF Chisholm, the architect, he gave the latter the contract to build the Police Commissioner’s Office, a remarkably ugly building on the eponymous road. It now serves as the Police Studio and has a roundel above the door that commemorates the two of them. Drever died in 1883 and this fountain was erected by his “subordinates of the Madras City Police, as a mark of respect for one whom they loved as a father.”
South West approach of Government House Bridge would mean where the Periyar Statue is today on Mount Road. On this spot stood a fountain – “a square platform of dressed Sholinghur stone. On this platform are erected four pillars of Bellary granite polished, with ornamental base and granite capital, carrying a pent roof of School of Arts tiles, with a cast iron ornamental ridge enclosed by an iron railing on a granite plinth. On the platform and under the roof is fixed a pedestal of Shoinghur stone on which an arch is raised. It is surmounted by a cross of the same material. From the crown of the arch a jet of water is allowed to flow constantly into a basin cut into the pedestal.” This grotesque and entirely Victorian monument was in memory of John Cumming Anderson, RE, “a modest and gallant soldier, an able Engineer, and a true friend.” He died in 1870 and this was put up by his brother officers.
The above pic has been sourced from blndcanvastoday.blogspot.in
The book reserves its biggest surprise for its final entry. At the intersection of South Beach and Edward Elliots Roads, which means it was where the roundabout with a clock from Simpsons is now standing, was a fountain erected in memory of Col. Charles Arkoll Porteous, Inspector General of Police, Madras, who died in 1895. There is a Porteous Road in Perambur as well. The fountain, a gift to the city by the “Upper Subordinates of the Police Department” was a column of dressed Pallavaram granite bearing a basin. On this was a block of dressed granite “on which is fixed a figure of an Indian juggler, in bronze. The water is caused to flow up through the figure and is discharged through two cups held in the juggler’s hands. The column stands in a cistern built of granite.”
Who would have thought that we had come up with an Indian and albeit more dignified version of Belgium’s le Pissoir?
This article is part of a series that looks at Lost/Vanishing/Surviving Landmarks of the city. You can read the others here