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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Singaravelar statue at Venkatrangam Street, Triplicane

Last month [Feb 2014] I had posted about Lady Willingdon School and the plea for naming it after Singara Velar. …… that was on TOI article on Madras High Court giving time for the State Govt to decide on naming the Lady Willingdon College campus after freedom fighter M V Singaravelar. 

The court had expressed sadness at the neglect of memorials and samadhis of Singaravelar’s forefathers on the college campus and passing orders on a batch of five PILs on Friday, the first bench of Chief Justice R K Agrawal and Justice M Sathyanarayanan asked the state to take steps to renovate the memorials and samadhis within six months.   

A school at that placed had been started by  Lord Willingdon who divested the owner of the property the educational institution as we know it today was named as Lady Willingdon.


The State  Govt submitted that as per a Nov 2011 decision, a memorial-cum-library was being built in honour of Singaravelar at Tondiarpet. Renaming the college campus after Singaravelar is a policy matter, and as of now there is no such proposal, the government advocate informed the court.  The history as per ‘http://www.ladywillingdoniase.com’ puts it that during the later part of 19th century, there was a Hindu School for Girls at Ice House,the first of its kind in Chennai, which was managed by the Vijayarangam Trust. It was then taken over by the Government of Madras Presidency. This Hindu School was upgraded into a Training Institution, was renamed as 'Lady Willingdon Training School' after the name of the wife of the then Governor of Madras Presidency in 1922.

Web search would reveal that  : Major Freeman Freeman-Thomas, 1st Marquess of Willingdon PC GCSI GCMG GCIE GBE, was a British Liberal politician and administrator served as Governor General of Canada, as Viceroy and Governor-General of India.  From 1913 on, Willingdon held gubernatorial and viceregal offices throughout the British Empire, starting with the governorship of Bombay and then the governorship of Madras, before he was in 1926 appointed as Canadian governor general by the King. In 1931,  Willingdon was appointed as Governor General and Viceroy of India by the King, on the advice of British prime minister Ramsay MacDonald, to replace  Lord Irwin, and he served in the post until succeeded by the Marquess of Linlithgow in 1936.

Malayapuram Singaravelu Chettiar (1860-1946) was a pioneer trade unionist credited with celebrating May Day in 1923.    The  British Government arrested him along with other leaders on charges of conspiring to wage war against the Crown,  but he was reportedly set free, soon after, on account of his failing health.

The old Collectorate Building in the present campus at Rajaji Salai, Chennai-1 was constructed in the year 1793. It was named after Lord Bentinck, the Governor of Madras Presidency. In this building, Supreme Court as well as High Court of Madras Presidency functioned up to the end of 19th century.   After that, Collectorate was housed in the building. Lord William Bentinck was Governor of Madras Presidency up to 1807 and took over the reign of administration at their head quarters in Calcutta as Governor General. When this old premises was demolished and new one was constructed, it was named after M.Singaravelar who worked for the upliftment of poor and downtrodden.

Recently a  6 foot bronze statue of Singaravelar was unveiled by Mr GK Vasan at the administrative office complex of the Fisheries Harbour Management Committee at Kasimedu … another one stands at Venkatrangam Pillai Street, Triplicane, Chennai 600005 in front of the Corporation School near Triplicane OT Terminus on Bharathi Salai [Pycrofts Road].  Here is a photo of this statue..


With regards – S. Sampathkumar

15th Mar 2014.

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