Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Justice! Science! Commerce! Agriculture!

Initially constructed by Thomas Lyon (of Lyon’s Range fame) to provide cheap accommodation to the clerks of the East India Company (writers), the Writers’ Building of Calcutta continued to evolve, through the late 1700’s and well into the 1800’s, slowly becoming the landmark structure that it is today. It acquired it’s present Greco-Roman look between 1879 and 1906, during which time, two new blocks were added, as were a large number of statues to the newly built parapet lining the terrace.
The statues had been carved by William Fredric Woodington in 1883, and chief among them, are four groups of statues, each containing three figures. Each group is seated on a pedestal, on which is etched a single word. The four words are Justice, Science, Commerce and Agriculture. Together, these words do not make as impressive a statement as say, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”, but that hardly seems to be the point of having them there. The central statue of each group seems to be the Greek God or Goddess of the subject whose name is etched on the pedestal below.

Atop the central set of columns of the Writers Building may be found the statue of Minerva.

Even though the Chief Minister’s office has shifted to the new building “Nabanna” security at Writers’ Continues to be tight, and there are policemen present there day and night, who are the extremely overzealous sort. They come rushing out to prevent you from taking photographs of anyone and anything, including the memorial to Colesworthy Grant, the founder of Calcutta’s Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

If you’re going to visit Writers’, come very early on a Sunday morning, when the roads are empty and the cops are dozing, if you’re lucky. And if you’re going to take photographs, for heaven’s sake, be quick and be discrete. 

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