A gaze at FW Stevens' Gothic landmark in Colaba

Updated: 17 November, 2016 16:04 IST | The Guide Team |

This week, we gaze at FW Stevens’ Gothic landmark in Colaba that once served as an abode for sick seamen where they would recuperate while staring at stunning views of the harbour

Maharashtra State Police Headquarters in Colaba. Pics/Suresh KarkeraMaharashtra State Police Headquarters in Colaba. Pics/Suresh Karkera

We must roll back a few years, when we had stepped into Sewri Cemetery. A nondescript black marbled grave with the name ‘Frederick William Stevens’ engraved on top, caught our eye. It belied the greatness of a man who spent a larger part of his life shaping some of Mumbai’s grandest landmarks. The architect, whose 168th birth anniversary was observed yesterday, is best remembered for his designs of Victoria Terminus (now CST) and the BMC building. However, there were other creations that tend to go unnoticed like the Royal Alfred Sailors’ Home, now the home of the Maharashtra State Police Headquarters. It was his first important commission in the city.

The building was named to commemorate the visit of His Royal Highness Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh to the city in 1870. The Maharaja of Baroda jointly laid the foundation stone along with the Duke. This Grade I heritage building was completed in 1876 and served as an important landmark at the Colaba junction facing the Wellington Fountain. The Royal Alfred Sailors’ Home could house over 70 seamen in its heyday.

This building is made from Kurla stone and was created in neo-Gothic style, which emerged as Stevens’ stamp. The central gable bears a striking relief sculpture by Richard Lockwood Boulton. Look out for elements that depict Neptune, sea horses, nymphs and wave-like curves — a tribute to the building’s proximity to the Arabian Sea.

Stevens ensured that the arcades were designed to offer comfort, air circulation and protection to its occupants from heat and rain, and at the same time, offer views of the harbour. The spot then was a far cry from the crowded traffic junction it is today.

Where: Near Wellington Fountain, Colaba.

Holy name cathedral: The seat of the Archdiocese of Mumbai, it was built in 1902 and is home to some of the most striking artworks among the city’s churches. It was designed by WA Chambers and opened in January 1905. The cathedral has paintings by Antono Mocheini and Cubism-inspired works by Czech-born Karl Schara, who also had a role to play in Regal Cinema’s Art Deco design.
At: N Parekh Marg (Wodehouse Road), Colaba.
Call: 22020121

Dhanraj Mahal: One of Mumbai’s striking Art Deco buildings, it was built in the 1930s and was the former palace of the Raja Dhanrajgir. It was designed by the architectural firm of Gregson, Batley and King. It even housed the British Navy during World War II.
At: CST Marg, Colaba.

Carter’s Express: If kebabs, shawarmas and rolls are your calling, you might want to head to this popular eatery near the Gateway after a heady night in SoBo. Try their Lasooni Kebabs and a Tangdi Kulfi (yes!) Kebab for a bite of skewered heaven.
At: CST Marg, Colaba.

Did you know?
There was a time when the famous seafarer and writer Joseph Conrad resided at the Sailors’ Home. His experiences inspired the story of the sailing ship in the book, The Nigger Of The Narcussus

The year in which Frederick William Stevens (in pic) began his practice in Bombay

First Published: 12 November, 2016 11:06 IST

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