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Mangalore Tiles Crown Victoria Terminus
By John B Monteiro

June 21, 2005

This is an outstanding case of excellent quality and high royalty blending harmoniously to form a world-class heritage monument.But, first the background.

The railways connected Mangalore with Mumbai and disgorged the weary passengers at Victoria Terminus ( VT), the cavernous Central Railway station which originally had four platforms and now has fifteen, also catering to local suburban trains.

VT has now been declared a world heritage building. Apart from being the gateway for Mangaloreans to this metro city for employment, trade, education and sight-seeing, there is a special reason for focusing on VT --because this grand, magnificent monument is crowned with Mangalore tiles. I have it on the authority of the late L X Rego, owner of Rego tile factory in Mangalore, that Mangalore tiles were originally used for roofing the structure. (It was back in 1970 when I was researching for a cover article on Mangalorean Catholic community in The Illustrated Weekly of India that the knowledgeable, genial and ageing Rego provided me with much background on the community, specially in Bombay.)

Mangalore tiles, because of their high quality and strength, have become a generic term for clay roofing tiles - just as Xeroxes for photocopies. As the Bombay Gazetteer notes: "Mangalore tiles are much superior to the ordinary Bombay tiles, as they last for years without requiring removal, while Bombay tiles have to be turned every year." Incidentally, Rego and other tile manufactures of Mangalore had - and some still have - their sales offices on Mazgoan Road, Bombay.

The railway terminus of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR) in Bombay was named after Queen Empress Victoria on her Jubilee Day in 1887.

Her statue was installed in a niche on the front façade of the building below the giant clock. The terminal complex is now named after Chhatrapati Shivaji (CST). The statue of Victoria has been removed to keep company with other Raj statues which adorned Bombay's downtown once and carted away to the Victoria Garden at Byculla. It is now Jijamata Udyan - renamed after Shivaji's mother.  There was another statue of Victoria, majestically seated on the throne under a canopy, where the VSNL tower building now stands. Thus, V T was the last stand of Queen Victoria in Bombay - which came to the British as dowry in one of Europe's royal alliances.

VT is an architectural marvel. This magnificent monument was originally planned as the office of GIP Railway. It was designed by Frederick William Stevens, a consulting architect. The construction started in 1878 and completed in 1888 at a cost of Rs 16,13,863. .

Yet another interesting detail about Mangalore-Bombay connection is that one of the cross roads linking Frere Road to Nicol Road in Ballard Estate was called Mangalore Street(the other streets parallel to it being named after Cochin, Kumta, Karwar and Goa). Mangalore Street has now been renamed after a local worthy, while Nicol Road is now Kamani Marg. Part of the Frere Road is now renamed as P D'Mello Road, after a Mangalorean, who had organized dock workers into a powerful trade union, and who initiated and mentored George Fernades as a front-ranking trade union leader in Bombay. D'Mello Road, running along the docks, is one of the three north-south road arteries of Bombay.

John Monteiro Column - Archives

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