The ''Old Government House'' at Barrackpore (Kolkata) - in 2021 commemorated the world heritage week

Old Government House Barrackpore

It was in 1775, the oldest British India cantonment was set up in Barrackpore, a  strategical location on the banks of Hooghly. 14 km upstream from Kolkatd, undivided Bengal, India The moment the English company came out victorious in the battle at Plassey in a dubious wat  and against the conventional norms of war  they had begun to strengthen the foundation laid here. The added advantages were they had direct sea access through the river and the French settlement Chandenagar was near by. This helped them keep an eye on the enemy movements at close quarters. 

Former Govt. House and park, Barrackpore,

It was lord  Richard Wellesley who took over as the administration in 1801 made a decision to improve  the Cantonment and had been using the house there as the week-end retreat. and planned to convert into  a self-contained GG house for  future Governor Generals  of India to run the administration and trade activities.  The architect was Captain Thomas Anbury who  in 1813 designed Governor General's House  as classical mansion with one upper floor along with landscaped gardens that included a large banyan tree and English-styled bridge across the stream there.  He added aviary and a theater for entertainment. To enhance the beauty of the site he also included a park which was later known as Barrackpore park. The central hall of the building was once a venue for week-end balls and entertainments. for the biggies who ran the growing British Empire

Government House at Barrackpore

Above image:  Once the summer residence of Governors-General in the early period, Government House at Barrackpore was one of the seats of power during the company rule.  Prior to 2015 this grand mansion  was derelict, abandoned and uncared for  after its last use as police hospital, .Barrackpore House was occupied by as many as twenty-four Governors-General of India until it ceased to be the residence of the Viceroy in 1912. Till such a time the small town  with a placid river was believed to be an enchanting green gem in in the Raj, but it was meant for only white settlers..................

Wellesley's dream project was put in old storage by the EIC officials and considered  it a waste of company's  money to have two residences for the Governor General and frequently shunting between them.  Subsequently, his relationship with the company directors became soured. It was  Lord Warren Hastings, predecessor of lord Minto  understood the  strategic importance of the location near the river Hooghly and the Cantonment. The work on the GG House that began at the initiative of Wellesley was successfully completed  by Hastings 1823.  Since then, it had started gaining popularity as a week end getaway and successive Governor Generals  never failed to take respite  on week ends in the palatial house in a serene ambiance in Barrackpore. 

The history of this place where the British cantonment stood, is much older and  was earlier called Chanak before the British  settlement.  Inhabited mainly by the Bengali  zamindars, this  and other adjacent places like Nona Chandan Pukur grew up as townships impacted the English company's growth.  

Located in Lat Bagan, the historical  house was in in a dilapidated state owing to lack of periodic repairs and official negligence. There was public outcry and the historians and heritage lovers vented their anger and asked the government to  save one of the oldest colonial buildings in West Bengal. Since the colonial capital was shifted to Delhi in 1912, this mansion in the prime part of the cantonment had lost its utility in its entirety. After 1947, no serious attention was paid to this grand house except that it was converted into a police hospital when a State Police Training Academy was functioning in the complex.. 

 The West Bengal Commission on Heritage  inspected this site and finally made a decision and  in 2012  the building and adjacent areas were renovated at a cost of Rs.5.5 crore. The  conservation work was done under the guidance of  Souman Mitra ADG who  established a museum in the GG House in the ground floor. The museum covers the history of this complex, including the large garden, gate hoses, fountain and  other related structures.  On display in the gallery here are British era arms and  ammunitions, etc. The alveary is also restored with a body of water. The work on the heritage site began in 2017 with funds from the state government and completed in 2021. 

In  November 2021 the West Bengal Heritage Commission   (WBHC)  commemorated the World Heritage Week coinciding with 160th death anniversary of Lady Canning, wife of Gov. Gen. Charles Canning. Her marble memorial was here and later shifted to St. John's church, Kolkata. instead, a replica of her memorial is here.  Incidentally in was in 2013 this Governor General's House was declared as a heritage site by the state government and in November 2021 a heritage plague was fixed at the site as part of  world heritage week by the WBHC.