CSMT architect FW Stevens' great-great-granddaughter doesn't want station to be turned into museum

Dec 07, 2017, 08:38 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar

Responding to Railways' plan to turn station into a museum, the great-great-granddaughter of FW Stevens, the architect of CSMT, says she would hate to see the iconic terminus lose its purpose

Nearly 130 years after the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) was built, what would the creator of the iconic building think of the plans to turn it into a museum? F W Stevens may no longer be around, but mid-day asked the next best person - his great-great-grandchild, Diana Robertson - and she was less than happy. "It would be a great shame," said Stevens' fourth-generation descendant.'

Diana Robertson and her husband visited her great-great-grandfather's creation for the first time in April. File pic
Diana Robertson and her husband visited her great-great-grandfather's creation for the first time in April. File pic

Like generations before her, Diana grew up hearing how her great-great-grandfather F W Stevens had built one of the most recognisable buildings in the country. However, just months after she laid eyes on the CSMT building for the first time, Diana now fears that its true legacy may be lost forever. Her forefather had built the terminus between 1878 and 1888 as the headquarters of India's first ever railway company, the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR), which is the predecessor to the modern-day Central Railway (CR). Just last week, mid-day broke the story about CR's plans to vacate the building and convert it into a transport museum. "I feel so privileged that my great-great-grandfather designed what is probably one of the most loved buildings in Mumbai. I would hate to see CSMT lose its identity and the purpose it was built for," Diana told mid-day in an exclusive chat.

Also Read: Mumbai: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus will now be converted into rail museum

Family legacy
Diana visited CSMT for the first time in April, when she came to Mumbai to learn more about the contributions that F W Stevens and his son Charles made to the city. Stevens had also built the Western Railway head office at Churchgate, as well as the BMC headquarters, while Charles built other landmarks such as the Bombay Gymkhana and the Royal Bombay Yacht Club. However, CSMT remains the highlight of their achievements."I felt such pride when we came to visit this beautiful building in April. We loved the hustle and bustle of walking through the main station. This iconic building was built to be a great railway station and I think this [conversion into a museum] would be the wrong thing to do to," she added.

Workers protest
Diana is not the only one to oppose Railway Minister Piyush Goyal's decision to convert the world heritage site into a world-class transport museum. On Tuesday, railway trade union members put up signboards calling Goyal's decision "dictatorial", stating that it was not only unfair to move 400 employees out of the building, but it would also affect train operations. Meanwhile, following Goyal's directives, CR has already floated an Expression of Interest (EOI) to rent a 8,000-sqm office building within a half-kilometre radius from the terminus. Responses to the railways' property enquiries are expected by December 15.

130
Age (in years) of the CSMT building

400
No. of employees who will have to be shifted

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