Chennai Metblog is cited in Muthiah’s column
This morning, I had a (cliched but true phrase) pleasant surprise. In what’s now part of my religion, I opened the papers to read S. Muthiah’s weekly column in the Hindu Metroplus. And there I find that I was obliquely referred to.
MetBlog reader Sethuraman had sent Muthiah links to my post about the lost bridge of Saidapet.
Muthiah, being Muthiah, had dug/recalled from memory a little more information and turned it into the lead piece for his column Madras Miscellany. I am going to take the liberty of quoting that entire story in this post. And while you read that (below the fold), I shall gloat and float. And other things that rhyme.
I was delighted to recently find that some bloggers have become interested in Madras’s heritage and that one even suggested to another that he pass on a bit of information to “S. Muthiah at The Hindu’s Madras Miscellany” for further inputs. The subject of this correspondence was what I might call Fourbeck’s Bridge – which today must be incorporated into the channel-crossing that exists on Mount Road between Nandanam and Saidapet.
The interest in the bridge appears to have started with one blogger answering a question about how many bridges there are between T. Nagar-Teynampet and Little Mount. Two’s the answer, the Maraimalai Adigal Bridge, with its genesis in the bridge Petrus Uscan funded in the mid-18th Century, and the Fourbeck Bridge which no one can even notice today. The Fourbeck Bridge is on Mount Road, by the hostel opposite the Veterinary Hospital.
As early as 1772, citizens led by free merchant Andrew Ross offered to build “a Bridge over the Brook at Mamelon”. This, in fact, was the Surplus Channel of the Long Tank which once existed all along the western edge of Mount Road, starting at Saidapet and curving along Nungambakkam High Road.
The Bridge was eventually built in 1786 according to the instructions left in Adrian Fourbeck’s will. Fourbeck, who was born “in the East” in 1712, became a member of the Gunroom Crew in Fort St George as soon as he was old enough. He was discharged on a disability pension of Pagodas 1-14-0 in 1740. He then teamed with Samuel Troutback and became a success in business.
He died in 1783 and his Executors Thomas Pelling, John de Fries and Peter Bodin ensured that the terms of his will were honoured. The bridge was built under the direction of Lt. Col. Patrick Ross, the Chief (Government) Engineer of Madras at the time.
Across from the hostel mentioned above and the road leading to Lushington Gardens, one of the last surviving classical garden houses in the city, is a walled-in garden in whose tree-shaded gloom little can been seen.
But look hard enough and you will find a four-sided pedestal with the remains of an obelisk atop it. The panels on the four sides bear the same message, English, Latin, Persian and Tamil versions each occupying a side and stating, among much else, “This bridge, erected as a public benefit from a legacy bestowed by Adrian Fourbeck, a merchant of Madras, is a monument … (to) the good citizen’s munificent liberality.” The memorial, visible to almost no one today, is one of the few dating to the British period that is on the list of protected monuments of the Tamil Nadu Government’s Department of Archaeology.