Monday 28 July 2014

Recce ride to Perambur for Madras Week Celebrations 2014

                                             Even if you would have spent most your lifetime in this city sometimes you get a feeling that you are still a stranger, this is what precisely happened when we set out on a recce ride to explore the northern locality of Chennai named Perambur for the upcoming Madras Day Heritage Ride in August, but luckily this time around we had the support of the staff from a renowned local school to help us. A ride down this locality in the early hours of Saturday morning on 12th July 2014 and later cohering the data with information about this place brought forward few interesting observations. The growth and development of Perambur owes its allegiance to the Railways and the nearby industrial areas. Being the railway hub of Chennai this place has the luxury of having three railway stations all carrying the names Perambur, Perambur Carriage Works and Perambur Loco Works. Everything or the other one sees here is connected with railways not to mention the black steel fences which the railways put around their properties.    

Plaque unveiled by Mahatma Gandhi (1927) 
ur first stop during the recce ride was at the landmark Our Lady of Lourdes Church built in 1879 by Fr. H. Hennessey a Parish priest in St. Andrews Church, Vepery, in the year 1903 the Church became an independent Parish, perhaps this place would have certainly witnessed huge gathering by the members of the Anglo Indian community for which Perambur was once popular. Just to the side of the Church on the Siruvallvar Road is located "Unity House" the plaque outside its gate reminiscences the days when Mahatma Gandhi had visited this place to unveil it. Moving on further and riding along the railway tracks which also has history since it was in 1883 the Bombay - Madras line was laid we now come to Sir Baden Powell Scout Training Center and its picturesque surroundings, a pit stop here would certainly set up the mind to travel back in history. On to the road and passing by the Loco Works Bridge a landmark to many born after 1950, we now enter the area of green foliage and roads bearing English names.
The sylvan road takes us to the
Carriage & Wagon Works (1856)
entrance of the Wagon and Carriage Works one of the oldest railway establishment set up by the British in India, the recently added memorial arch depicting its 150 glorious years welcoming us, the workshop was built by Madras Railways in 1856-57 and later became a part of Madras & Southern Maratta Railway Company, initially it handled BG, Wagons and Steam Locomotives for periodical repair and overhaul. The locomotive maintenance work was transferred to the Perambur Loco Works which was set up in 1932. The amalgamation of three railway companies namely Madras, Southern Maratta and Mysore Railways in 1951 saw them came under Southern Railways. Riding towards the Loco Works situated in the Constable Road our next halt was at the Railway Hospital, it was started in 1928
Perambur Railway Hospital (1928)
as a 40-bedded 
hospital for the Railway staff under the insistence of Chief Medical Officer of the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway Maj. G.J. Cruikshank. Later it become a pioneering hospital when the Department of Cardiac Surgery at the hospital was recognized as one of the best cardiac surgery units in the country. Pedaling forward we now reach the entrance of Loco Works where stands a trademark Steam Locomotive engine and posing for a group picture, we come to the end the recce ride at ICF Railway Museum (ICF was established in 1953 with the Swiss collaboration) debating about the finish point for the upcoming Heritage Ride.
 Setting aside the other nearby historic landmarks like the Jamalia School or the famous Buckingham and Carnatic Mills we ride back home taking the memories of this unique place which over the period of time played a vital role in the development of Chennai, the city which is now getting ready to celebrate its 375th Birthday. Till next time ... 
(Picture Courtesy: Venkataraman Rajagopal)

At Perambur Loco Works (1932)