Queen Mary's school (heritage building), Visakhapatnam started for young widows by the British!!

One Town also  known as  "old town", is  in Visakhapatnam City, Andhra state  and only very few people from other states  know that it is a historical locality of this big city. Way back in the colonial period, it was a thriving  business center. Its history is 300 years old and it was here the administrative office of   Visakhapatnam  District (Madras Presidency) was located.  The Old Town area runs from Turner choultry to end of Visakhapatnam Port. Obviously, a large British community and people who were dependent on them and their workers  lived here. 

The presence of many  colonial  monuments - establishments lends support to this view. This area  used to be home to British soldiers and for this reason it was also called “Soldierpeta”.
The famous  St Aloysius Anglo Indian High School (SAS) established in 1847  is still functioning here and lots of students study there. St John's Church (1844) took care of the spiritual needs of the Europeans.

Queen Mary's High School, Vizagapatnam. TimesContent.com

Among  many colonial monuments in Vizag, Queen Mary’s School in Old Town at the south end  is of special interest to us and the structure is a historical one, considering its hoary past.  It is a simple building with ground floor and tiled upper floor. and is made of brick, lime mortar and wood. No ornamentation, no embellishment, but it is a sturdy building and had withstood the vagaries of weather fairly this far.

This building has  been around here for more than 266 years. In 1873, the Collector’s Office  functioned in this building before the office moved to its present location. Before 1873 during the East India company rule, the school building served as an arsenal  to store guns and ammunition, etc.  It also served as  the Harbor  Office  and temporarily as a Medical School. It was  in 1913  the building was converted into a school.

At Queen Mary's school, Vizag four cannons found. Umagz.in

Above image:  Four old cannons were found on the school premises  while digging foundation trench for the  proposed new building. Archaeological experts explained that  the canons were smaller than the regular canons used by the Britishers. They observed that it could have  been made by the East India Company when they established an arms dump  in 1682. "  Visakhapatnam was the Northern Division headquarters of the Madras Army headed by a Major General rank officer here.  Later many of the cannons were  shifted to Madras and Singapore. "Some of the arms, which were not worthy enough to be shifted were left here.”...............

Queen Mary's school, 4 old cannons found.YouTube

An interesting fact about the school is  it  was started by the British exclusively for young widows because the evil practice  of Sati system (self immolation of woman after her husband's death) had just been abolished. So, young widows needed skills and education to take care of themselves.  Because of stigma attached to the young widows in the conservative Hindu society in those days,  at school normal girls  were quite uncomfortable to sit next to them. Many girls dropped out of school.  In order to get over this social taboo,  the British  government opened the Queen Mary' 'School for girl widows and paid them a monthly stipend of Rs.15.00.   Since 1952, under the government's direction   the Queen Mary’s School has been functioning and has a strength of more than  1,100 girl students.

Queen Marys High School, Vizagapatnam .Indian Express

The Queen Mary's  school was established here in 1800 and in 2014 the government had a proposal to declare it a heritage building after doing certain repair work. it is a two story structure and the ground floor has Madras terrace - brick-lime ceiling is supported by closely spaced wooden rafters, The upper floor  has  tiled  roof supported by trusts, rafters and purlins.  Though the wood has withstood the passage of time. The wooden trusses and the cross beams are not in good shape. According to the Architecture Committee of INTACH, Bengaluru, the repair work would cost Rs. 52 lakhs and Visakhapatnam  Port trust would make Rs.10 lakhs available for restoration work.  In the wake of cyclone Hudhud, the already leaking ceiling developed cracks.  There is a need to revamp the ceiling and flooring and bring back the lost glory  of the premises,

There are many old monuments built here like Town hall (1904), Kurapam Market (1914), European Cemetery (1699), Queen Victoria's Pavilion (1904), St John's Church (1844), Ishaq Madina dargah (1706),  and the Lighthouse (1903).

 Present status of the school: It is deplorable that he government is not yet taking serious steps to restore and preserve this heritage site; part of the reason is there has been poor response to the tenders called for.