The Majestic Town Hall

The Town Hall is the place where Kolkata introduces panorama of its heritage and stands majestically since the year 1814, after its completion. Besides, the great architect and engineer Major John Garstin designed it in a Roman Doric style with a fund of RS 700000 raised from a lottery to provide the Europeans with a place to gather and meet.

Access to the Building

Initially local public could not enter the Hall, or they only could for different purposes like if they followed the policies of the Government. Besides, the public could visit the ground floor halls where they could amuse themselves by watching the fine art pieces- the astounding statues and sculptures in the garden but could not have indiscriminate access to the upper story.

The Events of The Past

Justices of Peace – the municipal authority took over the control of the Town Hall in the year 1867 for its improvement. Later in the 1870s, when the High Court came into existence, the Town Hall was used for various judicial purposes, under the guidance of the then Chief Justice Richard Couch. Town Hall also witnessed the assassination of one of the Puisne Judges, Sir John Paxton by a Wahabi Sect’s fanatic Muslim.

The work of the renovation of the Town Hall finally came to an end in the year 1897, which cost a large amount of Rupees 1.126 million. In the year 1898, Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose created another history at the place by showing his experiment of wireless communications to the public at the Town Hall.

By the year 1914, the place richly laden with statues became empty, due to the shifting of the statues to the Victoria Memorial. In the year 1919 Dyarchy came to the forefront. Introduction of Dyarchy gave way for the Town Hall to use it as the Council chamber of the Bengal Legislative Council. Hence, the interiors of the building were remodeled to suit the Legislative Council and also changed the ambiance. Even the chamber of the President of the Council was present in the Town Hall itself. The Government also opened a rationing office there, during the time of second world war.

Post-Independence Era

After the Independence, the standing structure was neglected and was converted to Municipal Magistrate’s office. Later West Bengal Service Commission also made its way to the building, and by 1975, they shifted the whole of marble busts along with portraits and paintings to the Victoria Memorial. During this period, one can observe so much interference with the building.

From Shabbiness to Glory

The mission to restore the building to its former glory started in the 1990s when some eminent people started demanding its renovation. In the year 1998, the Archaeological Survey of India and Calcutta High Courts intervention saved the building from deteriorating more, and the building was saved.
By 2004, the ground floor turned into a library, and currently, it has more than 12000 books and many scholars from all around the world.

Moreover, the building stands tall in Esplanade and has become a significant landmark of Kolkata, and now many important functions take place mostly Government’s function.

Trivia

• Initially, the building consumed an amount of RS 700000 to build.
• Renovation of the building required an amount of RS 1.126 million.
• Besides, the building is of Roman Doric style.
• Moreover, the Town Hall was even featured on the 6th Leg of The Amazing Race 18.
• The Hall also hosted some memorable events like the 50th and 70th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in his presence.
• Also, many important personalities, like Amartya Sen and Gordimer, delivered lectures here.
• Moreover, the standing structure reflects the true heritage of the city.