Thursday, 18 February 2010

Hyderabad revisited

Those members of the Company who joined the study trip to South India in 2008 wll remember being shown around what had been the British Residency. This splendid Palladian composition had been built for - and substantially to the designs of - the colourful James Achilles Kirkpatrick, who was the Resident for a few years either side of 1800.

Post 1947, the buildings had suffered a number of different occupancies, each seemingly determined to do less to safeguard the architectural quality. Many of the components of the complex had simply collapsed and the principal building itself was in an advanced state of decay. At the time of our visit the building was functioning as the Osmania Women’s College. The main reception room was littered with desks, all strategically placed so as to avoid the possibility of their occupants being eliminated by falling pressed metal ceiling tiles. Their support system, having lasted from the early days of the eighteen hundreds, was no longer up to the task. The adjoining room that had, if my memory serves me right, originally been a ballroom, was equally dispiriting in that a selection of trestle tables were groaning under the weight of a vast collection of nineteenth century books - many first editions - that had once been the Residency's library collection.

Things did not get better from there. Access for visitors to the upper floor was not a possibility; the stairs were unsafe; only students were permitted access. Never let it be said that women’s education is not valued!

The good news - and, indeed, the cue of this post - is that rescue is at hand. The Spring 2010 edition of Monumentum, the quarterly journal of the World Monuments Fund, reports that a Conservation Management Plan has been adopted and, when funding is available, the Residency building will be restored to its former glory. Many of the unsatisfactory constructions which have sprung up in the extensive gardens will be removed when the renewed space is finally available again.

1 comment:

  1. Dear author,
    I hope you don't mind the minor sub-edit! Or the picture and links.