Thursday, March 30

220-year-old Tolly club house ready to greet guests after restoration

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The 220-year-old club house at the Tollygunge Club, one of the oldest buildings in the city, has finally been restored. It took restorers a decade to bring back to life the heavily damaged Grade I heritage structure. The process and the expenses will be officially announced on August 9.
Though the club is 125 years old, the premises and the club house are much older. The sprawling campus and the building that later became the club house was where Tipu Sultan’s son, prince Ghulam Mohammed, and his family and retainers were kept after the battle of Seringapatam. In 1895, the British took the club on a permanent lease to promote sports and to socialise.

The club house gradually fell into disrepair and though piecemeal repairs were done to keep it going for social events, this added to its failing health. Deep cracks had developed on the terrace, ceiling and walls, and damp and fungal attacks affected the paint and plaster. Over the years, portions of the ground floor were blocked off to start drinking and dining facilities, which robbed the building of its original look and added to the clutter, inviting a lot of criticism.

“We were united in our decision that the club house needed restoration, but since it was a heritage building, we needed the relevant permission from the heritage committee of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. There were restrictions about deviating from the original design and raw materials. Finally, veteran architect Dulal Mukherjee teamed up with interior designer Ami Bedi, actor Kabir Bedi’s niece, from Bangalore to make the restoration possible,” explained club president Renji Thomas.

The sprawling verandah, which had been partly blocked off to house the Cruickshanks Bar and the Tipu Sultan restaurant, has returned to its original state. The bar, named after the first president of the club, has been re-designed and tucked inside. The lobby has been re-done to bring back the colonial opulence with period décor and furniture. “We plan to call it the Tipu Sultan Lounge, in memory of the family whose legacy we continue to carry,” explained Ronen Roy, vice-president of the club.

The first floor, famous as The Belvedere, and its two adjacent terraces have also been done up. “We have finally opened the area. It wasn’t easy because of floors of both terraces were damaged,” explained CEO and managing member of the club Anil Mukherji.

The only new addition are the two elevators, for which shafts have been created to match the building’s old design.

Source: Times of India

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