United Service Club of Kolkata - European club once a center of social injustice

United Service Club building Kolkata  puronokolkata.com

One of the oldest clubs in this region - the United Services Club. was  formerly  called  the Bengal Military Club. Housed in a well-designed  classical building, the membership was initially  very much restricted and those  who were qualified ICS or in the military service of the English company were eligible members.  In many places the clubs were the centers of class distinction social injustice, This was applicable to Europeans too based on their professional credentials and was limited to higher officials with the government or military. Social clubs were the recreational hangout for the status conscious British officials. obviously none of them admitted Indian natives, be they rich or well educated. Racial disparity was vey much there in almost in all clubs run by the Europeans. 

United Service Club building Kolkata dolphin.blogspot.com/

United Service Club building Kolkata dolphin.blogspot.com/

With change of time and change of leadership in the government, exclusivity with respect to membership was relegated to the back seat. Now the scenario in the club changed and  their portals were wide open for  members of other government services. Initially ICS officials and senior military officers were ruling the roost. In the colonial days the clubs over India were a symbol of colonial power, but they served as a fun place for the officials to relieve the tedium of official work,

Earlier the club was called  the Bengal Military Club with no fewer than 600 subscribers.; opened on August 7, 1845. On 15th March 1853, the club was renamed  he Bengal United Service Club.

The club house, a simple one with brick-lime masonry work was on the  Chowringhee  road (now Jawaharlal Road). the club is no more and here the Geological survey office is functioning and it is one the largest GSI offices in India. 

United Service Club building Kolkata

The United Service Club building shaped like a Maltese cross as former member Jim Pearson  used to describe it. The contractor of the building was the famous Calcutta (Kolkata) firm Mackintosh Burn & Co. in 1905. The the cruciform shape, and the angled layout made the building airy and comfortable. The notable features are Corinthian columns with triangular pediments,  rusticated ground floor, Venetian arches on the first floor window.

When the new Bengal Club building was coming up in 1908, the United Service Club allowed Bengal Club members to use their facilities. For the first time in history USC  members were magnanimous and allowed boxwallah - those Europeans who were rich traders. Consistently USC allowed govt. officials  and there was no room for  European traders or other categories.   

After independence the USC had difficulty in running it and, at last, the building was sold to GSI - Geological survey of india.