Historic Tiruchi District Court centenary building should be given a heritage tag!

Many of us in  Tamil Nadu, particularly in the districts close to Tiruchirappalli  may not be aware that the District Court building in an important locality of the city next to  the Uyyakondan channel is one of the  oldest  colonial  landmarks in this place.  In  August 2019 this building turned 100 years. It is built in Indo- European architecture.

Tiruchi  District Court building  thehindu.com

Tiruchi  District Court building thehindu.com

Above image:  Tiruchi District Court building (1919): A landmark building in this  city it was modelled after  the London District and Sessions Court. it is close to Tiruchi Main Bus stand..................

Tiruchi  District Court building thehindu.com

It was on  April 28, 1917, the foundation for the  Court building was laid  by the then District and Sessions Judge J.G. Burn and  he himself  declared open the  court  for  legal deliberations on August 16, 1919. Mr. Burn was the first judge of this  District Court.  The iconic old court building saw its centenary - 100 years in August 2019, an important milestone in the legal history of  Tamil  Nadu courts south of Chennai.  The distinctive aspect of this court building is it  was constructed using  the London District and Sessions Court as a model.   Pieces of wooden furniture in the court were  made from imported wood   shipped from  London.  The wooden stairways are quite impressive and still intact. Visitors can not escape from the fact that the court building  is  well  built  with meticulous care. The masonry walls are thick and  the building appears to be in good  condition  because the builders used quality wood and construction  materials. The total area of the court complex is 13,51,600 square feet,

The centenary event was an occasion to rejoice for the legal fraternity of Tiruchirappalli district. During the early colonial period under the East India Company  in 1804  Tiruchi had   Judicial Magistrate Courts that  were functioning in the  place where the Bishop Heber college is functioning  now.

ornate newel on the square stairway,.Tiruchi court. thehindu.com

The most impressive part of this pinkish red colored   two story colonial building is the small clock tower  with a clock. The turret clock  was made by William Potts  & Sons of Leeds in the UK.  The top of the tower is  sort of globose, normally an European design element.  The clock has three  big dials  with visible numbers that cn be seen from a distance. The first floor veranda in the fa├žade has huge rounded columns while the first floor above it has big and wide arched window.  The entrance in the front with a pair of  rounded pillars on either side  highlights European design  - close to Victorian style. So is the gentle slanting roof on the front part of the first floor.  The well-planned building was constructed by a local contractor one A Thatha Pillai  who did a wonderful job guided  by an  English judge H O D Harding.  According to  Sri M S Vinodh, an advocate who knows the history of this court building. tragically on 15 February 1916  Judge  Harding  was stabbed to death in the portico below.  Reason: The culprit was convicted by the judge,  so he became a vigilante. There is a stone plaque here in memory of the slain judge. Yet another historical fact is the place where the old court  stands was once the residence of Bishop Reginald Heber, Bishop of Calcutta   who was on a visit to Tiruchi and died in a freak  drowning  accident in 1826.   yet another interesting information we gather is in the colonial period the justices of this court used to come to the court riding a bike and got back to their residence in the evening with their  days;' judgement well safely secured on the carrier. They lived near by on the  present-day campus of the Campion Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School in the Cantonment area. 

Tiruch  District Court building /timesofindia.indiatimes.com

The Tiruchi Bar Association with  principal judge and judicial officials organized a function  to mark the completion of 100  years of this  court building.  The advocates, using the occasion diligently, put forth a demand to the state government to declare this building as a heritage monument  that needs to be protected   for the posterity.   It is mentioned that  political leaders like  former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi  and former CM  sri  Karunanidhi visited  the District Court building to attend the meeting.  According to the President of the Tiruchi   Bar Association  the size of court hall of PDJ in Trichy  was on a par with the court of chief justice of Madras High Court, Chennai.  

A few years ago new buildings came on the court campus and the centenary building is presently being used to house  court records and  some offices.  The government officials should  give priority to heritage  aspect  and aesthetics of this old court building and should not leave it uncared for.. Under the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958, this structure can be protected..

Tiruchi District court centenary building clock. /twitter.com


Clock on the court building, Tiruchi.

01. The quarter-chiming Tiruchi clock on the court building was completed in 1921, and supplied with three solid cast iron dials of 5 ft diameter, painted black and gilded.  It had special parts to maintain accuracy of time. It was made by the English clock makers  William Potts and Sons.  The Tiruchi turret clock stopped working for a long time. 

02.  the unique specialty about this chiming clock on the court's tower  is  the bell would ring every 15 minutes, 30 minutes and 45 minutes and every one hour. So the precision  parts in the clock had to be maintained periodically to get the clock going.  

03. Acceding to request by Dist Magistrate (of Tiruchi), 10 staff from Golden Rock workshop deployed to reclaim century-old giant Clock atop Trichy Court Bldg.  lying defunct for 10years. Using lockdown clock was restored by GOC team. .Incidentally,  GOC workshop  also has a clock tower atop the Armoury Gate. 

4. The historic clock chimes now and the dedicated and hardworking team from the GOC took 40 long days in 2020 to repair it;  work started in February and the delay was  due to lock down. The GOC had to make some part to make the  turret clock functional. The clock works on gravity escape mechanism.  ..............................