Recently, I went to a heritage walk in the Queen Mary’s College campus, Chennai. Established in 1914, this is the first Women’s College established by the Government. On the request of Mr. Sivaswamy Iyer, Mr. Pentland approved it and appointed Ms. Dorothy de la Hey as its first principal (who also identified the site near Marina beach for this college).
This photo shows the main block, also called as Kalaignar Maligai. Initially, the Capper House was situated here and the Government started a women’s college in this block with 37 students, on an experimental basis. But soon, this college became very popular in the Madras Presidency (at it was then) and expanded quickly.
The above photo shows the Beach House, initially owned by Justice Subramania Iyer, and bought by the Government for this college in 1922. This building housed the Principal’s residence and the English Department. But since the ceiling of the ground floor came down in 2008, it has been abandoned. As this is a heritage structure more than 100 years old, College authorities and alumni members hope that it will be restored and maintained by the Government.
The two photos above show two sides of Sankara Iyer building, also purchased by the Government in 1922. The French and Telugu Departments were once housed here but now this heritage building has also been abandoned and awaiting restoration.
This photo shows The Pentland Block, constructed in 1915. Notice the European style of construction (arches, etc.). The Geography department is functioning in this building now.
This is The Jeypore Block, constructed in 1921, and named after Maharaja of Jeypore, who gave a donation of 1 Lakh to the college (back then). The statue of Queen Mary (first photo) is located in this block. The first floor is occupied by Maths Department. There is a Stone Block, that once housed the hostel and now houses the Music Department, next to this building.
This photo shows the old library located in the ground floor of the Jeypore block. This library houses some rare books and has been constructed in the old European style (notice the teak wood structures and the roof).
This photo shows the beautiful pathway that connects the Physics and Chemistry blocks/laboratories. There was an open air theater around this area which used to host cultural programs, but is now defunct. It seems, the assembly used to be held in this area many years back (as recollected by the alumni members).
This building is The Aeroplane block. I have no idea why it’s called that! I think this block once housed the canteen.
This building is the Tennis Court hall, built in 1929. Notice the pitched roof constructed in the European style (then). Actually, this hall is adjacent to the Tennis court – hence the name.
QMC has a proud history and illustrious students/alumni. Among the ones I gathered: Two QMC students were arrested for participating in the Quit India Movement (1942); Captain Lakshmi Seghal, member of Subhas Chandra Bose’s INA was an alumni of this college; Many first Indian women – First Neuro Surgeon, Veterinary Doctor, Chartered Accountant, etc. are all alumni of QMC.
I thank all members of the QMC Alumni Association & College, in particular Ms. Nithya Balaji & Ms. V Vasantha, who organized this walk. I also thank the former Principals, staff members and alumni who gave us a lot of information about the college. They hope Queen Mary’s College will be restored to its former Golden era, and so do we.
This heritage walk was a part of the Centenary celebrations of the college. You can get more info from their dedicated website for this event.
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