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13 February 2019The Architecture of the British Raj: Lets Celebrate It
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The Architecture of the British Raj: Lets Celebrate It Anthony Peers Wednesday 13 February 2019

This lecture’s narrative revolves around my experience of having masterminded a British Government backed project to restore the magnificent George Gilbert Scott designed university buildings in Mumbai (Bombay), India. The chapters of this building’s story- its design (in England), construction, history and, of course, its restoration – provide useful startpoints from which to consider the broader historical, cultural and architectural context. For instance the lecture looks into Bombay’s economic boom of the 1860s. This coincided with the high point of the Gothic Revival: Nowhere else in the world can claim to have as magnificent an assemblage of Gothic Revival buildings. Whilst examining the city’s colonial architecture study is made of the carvings of Bombay’s Jeejeebhoy School of Art (see above), whose Architectural Sculpture Department (during this mid-Victorian heyday) was headed up by John Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard Kipling. The story of the award winning project to restore the University of Mumbai’s Gothic Revival buildings provides an opportunity to touch upon philosophical approaches to conservation as well as traditional repair techniques. Account is also given of the work undertaken by those who took time away from their respective Cathedral workshops in the UK to transfer knowledge and skills to their Indian counterparts. Venturing beyond Mumbai to consider key colonial buildings in Delhi, Kolkata (Calcutta) and Yangon (Rangoon), the scope of the lecture broadens to examine evolving attitudes in India and beyond (as well as in the UK) towards the British empire and also towards the buildings which survive as testament to its achievements.