British architect William Emerson who left his indelible mark in his buildings in India

British architect Sir William Emerson

Sir William Emerson  (3 December 1843 – 26 December 1924), an innovative architect  landed in India in 1864 initially to supervise the building of the J.J. School of Art  (Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, Bombay (Mumbai) and to assist  British architect  William Burges,  Influenced by his work and approach to  construction design, Emerson used his model as a guide and stayed in Bombay and practised architecture till 1869. Being productive and receptive to new ideas, he successfully completed many projects in India and won the laurels of the builders as well as other architects. Like other British architects like Henry Irwin, Robert Chisholm  and others to much the culture and ethos of the natives of respective regions, he never failed to incorporate typical Indian  design elements like domes, Chhatries (umbrella like roof in the facade), Chhajja (overhanging eaves), Jharokha etc., in the appropriate place.

 The Crawford Market complex (1865–71) that he first designed is still a landmark place in Mumbai. He carefully blended  Indian architectural features with the European architecture  and was considered one of his best works like the Victoria memorial complex  in Kolkata.  About the former, it is said, one could see the basic impact of  Burges' influence and his work on  stable buildings at Cardiff Castle, England.  With its clock-tower and gabled frontages, the Crawford market  complex may be mistaken for a traditional English country market building.

Emerson  moved over to Allahabad to commision two projects under him He designed both   All Saints Cathedral, Allahabad (1869–93) and Muir College (1872-78) close to Cannington or Civil lines (used to be White Town). In 1858 Allahabad became a temporary capital of the british India government when the administration was taken over by the British government from the English company.

All Saints Cathedral, Allahabad

All Saints Cathedral, Allahabad

All Saints Cathedral, Allahabad  the earliest cathedral in this city i is among the Gothic Revival buildings built by the British during their rule in India. Emerson who designed it in order to maintain the elements of Anglican church elements  modelled it  after 13th-century Gothic style churches.  Located at the centre of a large open space at the crossing of two of the principal roads of Allahabad, MG Marg and SN marg, its consecration took place in  1887 but the building work was designed in 1871 and the work completed  four years later.  The foundation stone for the church was laid by wife of William Muir, Lady Muir Elizabeth Huntly Wemyss in 1871. Designed to accommodate 300 to 400 people at a time, the cathedral's nave is spacious -  40 feet wide and 130 feet long, the total length of the church is about 240 feet, and the internal width is about 56 feet,  hence the aisles are narrow. Emerson carefully provided the cathedral  with porches for carriages, low windows that could be easily covered with mats to protect interiors from hot winds and dust, and vaulted hallways for better aeration and view. The exterior is made of creamish white stone with fine red sandstone dressings, and the roof is covered with red tiles.  A unwire addition is the lantern tower, Victoria Tower, a memorial to Queen Victoria.

The cathedral has high ceilings and gothic-styled windows and entrances  to keep indoors cool during hot days. Initially it was used by the Europeans and presently it is under the CNI -Church of North India (since 1970). The church is still in good condition as the architect never made a compromise on quality.,_Allahabad


Gothic window,Muir Central college, Allahabad 

Muir Central college, Allahabad 

Muir Central college, Allahabad

Muir Central College in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh is one of the finest colleges of  higher education founded by William Muir in 1872.  William Muir, a Scottish administrator who was also the Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Provinces was instrumental in starting this college.   Now affiliated with the Allahabad University until tt had a  1921 in functioned independently Emerson  copiously included lots of Indian elements in particular Ismatic design style making the tall tower  look like  minaret.   In order to make the inmates cool and comfortable indoors he designed large rooms and a large  arched verandah to cut down sunlight and to have easy passage from one room to another.  More eclectic in style than the cathedral in Allahabad  the majestic building in Indo-Saracenic style has a minaret about 61 meters high, made from cream coloured stone and sandstone brought from Mirzapur, with marble and mosaic floors inside and  domes with blue-and-white glazed tiles. Emerson said, “I was determined not to follow too closely the Indian art Walk around the building to see the Gothic arches and tracerie


Takhatsinhji Hospital (1879–83),Bhavnagar, GJ India
His work was so good and impressive the Maharajah of Bhavnagar was pleased with his design technique that was congruous with native  design features. He gave him two projects in the city of Bhavnagar of the princely state -   Nilambag Palace (1894–95) and the Takhatsinhji Hospital (1879–83), both still bear Emerson's name. The former is now converted into a popular heritage hotel stll carrying the imprint of Emerson.

Victoria Memorial (1905–21) in 

Emerson's most prestigious project being that of  Victoria Memorial (1905–21) in Calcutta.  Dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria, Empress of India from 1876 to 1901 it was a mammoth project - massive marble building with statues of  Queen Victoria Edward VII and others. It was grand memorial to Queen Victoria who died in 1901 and her reign as a woman monarch was the longest one in history then.  Conceived by Lord  Curzon  (Earl Curzon of Kedleston; 1 January 1859 – 20 March 1925) former  Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905, it is one of a few  best Victoria memorials now  Curzon said,  ''Let us, therefore, have a building, stately, spacious, monumental and grand, to which every newcomer in Calcutta will turn, to which all the resident population, European and Native, will flock, where all classes will learn the lessons of history and see revived before their eyes the marvels of the past''.

Victoria memorial, Kolkata, India

Emerson designed the building in  the Indo-Saracenic revivalist style blending freely  British  Venetian, Egyptian, and Indian elements.  Choosing white Makrana marbles Emerson  designed the top of the central dome of the Memorial  with a 16 ft (4.9 m) figure of the Angel of Victory. Surrounding the dome are allegorical sculptures including Art, Architecture, Justice, and Charity and above the North Porch are Motherhood, Prudence and Learning. His  design included a large  dome, four subsidiaries, octagonal-domed chattris, high portals, terrace, and domed corner towers.

St. Mary's church, Kemp Town, brighton, Britain

Above: Designed by William Emerson 1870s - style: French and English Gothic revival. Heritage church to undergo repairs........

Emerson was President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) from 1899 to 1902, and he  was the original architect chosen to build Liverpool Cathedral.,_Kolkata