''Hamilton Police Club'', Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu - a recently restored colonial bungalow

Restored Hamilton Police Club. Coimbatore city. thenewsminute.com

 before restoration Colonial Bungalow, Coimbatore city,TN thehindu.com

Though we are fortunate to have tens of thousands of monuments, historical, colonial buildings etc across our land, it is a sad story  that a large number of them   are being either poorly maintained or just ignored by the authorities. The surprising information we get in the media is that  countless heritage bungalows, buildings, etc., remain unclassified and unnoticed,  and consequently, they are  slowly crumbling and falling apart  One such a colonial bungalow with a well on a land measuring  3,488 sq ft). was  facing the danger of  falling apart beyond redemption in the prime area of Coimbatore city, Tamil Nadu. It is an important hub of many manufacturing industries and is the second largest city in the state next to Chennai (then Madras).  At last a couple of years ago, the colonial Bungalow was restored  to old grandeur after a long struggle  for more than a decade or so.by the  heritage  and history lovers . For a pretty long period  the Hamilton Club had remained  one of the many old buildings in ruins  and the residents would go past them  as if  their past history was  of no concern to them. At this juncture, the residents of Coimbatore owe a debt of gratitude to  the former Commissioner of Police (CoP), Coimbatore City,  Sri A Amalraj who understood the value of such a heritage site and its link with the colonial history of the city. He, with great interest, took the initiative. 

 name board Hamilton police club,Coimbatore.simplicity.in

According to J Barnabas, General Secretary of the  Salem Historical Society, the colonial structure that became a Police Club  called Hamilton club  was a  major landmark in  this city  those days; the present  railway station one close to this site. did not exist.   Located  on the busy State Bank Road or Railway Station Road, the colonial style bungalow  was once owned by  an  Englishman  by the name of F.A. Hamilton, who served in the Indian Police department in the colonial period. The building being in a sad state, was  an eye-sore to the passers-by. The old building was  hardly visible from a distance because it  was  hidden behind densely grown  trees and  commercial shops.

Coimbatore city,Tamil Nadu.  location map. weather-forecast.com

Records mention  that the  Police officer Hamilton  bought it for Rs 20,000 in 1918 and  he paid the amount by  banker's  cheque dated 26 January 1918 drawn on  Madras Bank; it is indeed a big sum in those days.  It was later converted in to an Officer's  Club  where  police officers  up to the rank of Sub-Inspectors  used to stay. Part of the building, for sometime  was being used by the police personnel  belonging to the Tamil Nadu State service. The unique feature of the bungalow is its high ceiling more than 12 feet to avoid  heat radiation. with good ventilation, madras terrace and  one meter  thick  walls. This type of structure would always keep the interior cool in the hot summer period. There are  six spacious rooms  plus additional  space for a  badminton court,, a  good library and kitchen. Recently discovered were  many documents and British law books.  In 1898, the Tothenham block with its tiled roof and six rooms were renovated. It was on August 14, 1951, the Harvey block was created with eight rooms each on the ground and first floor. The source of income for the Club is presently from the shops in the deluxe block (made of concrete).   It is said   the  Deputy Commissioner of Police (Headquarters) became the President of the club.

Damaged ceiling Hamilton club. Coimbatore. simplicity.in

Hamilton police club bldg, Coimbatore. simplicity.in

Hamilton club, Coimbatore, simplicity..in

Above images: Hamilton Police Club, Coimbatore city, Tamil Nadu state. pictures show the colonial-style bungalow before restoration. Damaged walls and ceiling; wooden rafters in many parts were highly damaged. ......... 

The total   restoration cost  was more than Rs 2.5 crores, much of it was borne by the society. Initially 
a sum of Rs.25 was provided  from the Club's funds by the police dept.  under PC Amalraj toward restoration work  on the 153 year old colonial building and  the work  was carried out by   a team from Chennai including  senior archaeologists and  conservationists who used the same construction materials as were used in the by-gone age. In May 2018 in a part of the building a police museum was opened and on display are the old police uniforms, firearm weapons, historical photos, medals, cups, etc., won by the police.  riot control equipment, nightsticks, restraints, investigative devices, vintage communication equipment,  a communications center, and a variety of other cultural and technological displays dating back to the late 1800’s.  The other interesting items were   big hallow kakhi half pants, the high mount topis, thick leather boots and stockings used by the police before the 1950s.  Also included are military tanks, rifles, two Cannons (kept in the front lawn) , one of which was used and partly damaged in the Carnatic war with the British Crown emblem. Indian Army’s T55 battle tank used in the Kargil  war, two SAM missiles and a torpedo used by the Indian Navy, 

.Hamilton police club, Coimbatore, TN simplicity.in

Among the items in the museum  was an important  display of confiscated materials,  two fake currency printing machines seized during sensational investigation and arrest of ( Kovai) Krishnan and associates in Coimbatore in 1959. The CBCID's  crackdown on the criminals went down in the history of Tamil  Nadu Police  and took the state by surprise. Even in the present times, old timers like me vividly remember those days; then  Coimbatore town became synonymous with fake bills. This  case of Kovai Krishnan counterfeit bank bills rattled the country and discussed in the Delhi parliament. Krishnan  carefully produced  Rs.100 bank notes that were in  the circulation.  

The municipal records mention that  the  present railway station road was one known as the Imperial Bank Road in the past. It was in the year 1928 the Hamilton Club (previously known as the Police Club) was given a  co-operative society status and also an  identification number K547.  The records further mentioned the names of many governing  members of the Club and prominent among them were R.K. Shanmugam Chettiar KCIE (17 October 1892 – 5 May 1953), an Indian lawyer, economist and politician.. Formerly  Diwan of Cochin kingdom from 1935 to 1941, he served as  the  Union Finance Minister from 1947 to 1949,  Khan Bahadur alias M. Aminuddin Sahib Bahadur,  Uthukuli Zamin, Uthukuli Chinna Zamin, Samathur Zamin and a host of other prominent people. 

Regardless  of cost constraints, the private trusts, philanthropists and corporates  come out on their own and cooperate with the government  to  bring back to  old grandeur countless  colonial buildings, farm houses, etc., that are slowly disappearing for various reasons.   This will positively help the next generation of people   know our past history and the style of living.