Mumbai: Father of CST will receive a visit from great-great-grandchild
Fourth-generation descendant of Frederick William Stevens will pay her respects at the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), as well as his grave in Mumbai
Diana Robertson holds up the youngest generation of the family — her 6-month-old granddaughter Lottie
Nearly 130 years after Frederick William Stevens built the iconic Victoria Terminus — which has since come to be known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) — his brainchild will for the first time be visited by his great-great-grandchild. Fourth-generation descendant Diana Robertson (59) will make her very first visit to the city on April 20, to catch a glimpse of her forefather's creation and pay respects at his final resting place, also in Mumbai.
In an email interview with mid-day, Diana speaks of her plans to visit Frederick's grave at Sewree cemetery, and discusses the family's pride in the achievements of both FW Stevens and his son, Charles Stevens, who built the Bombay Gymkhana, Royal Bombay Yacht Club and other landmarks. Excerpts.
She intends to visit FW Stevens' grave in Sewree during her visit to Mumbai, as well as his iconic creation — Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
When did you learn about the role of your great-great-grandfather in building CST?
I have known about Frederick and Charles all my life from my father. There are many photographs of my forefathers' achievements as well. However, it was later that I learnt that he contributed not just to the structure of Bombay but also changed the lives of many people in his lifetime. Hand-written notes of my grandmother's early life in India still exist, making reference to her grandfather's works, which I will bring with me.
Do you plan to visit all the structures built by your forefathers?
Unfortunately, we are only in Mumbai for two days. Hopefully this won't be our only trip to Mumbai.
FW Stevens. Graphic/Uday Mohite
Your great-grandfather Charles also played a key role in taking forward his father's legacy in the city.
Unfortunately, the work and images of Frederick Stevens overshadowed Charles' work. After revisiting the documents and comments that Helen made regarding her father, I now have an understanding that my great-grandfather had contributed many important works during his lifetime, the Bombay gymkhana being just one.
The Indian Railways spent many years trying to find out more about the descendants of FW Stevens.
I have been able to identify the line of descent from Frederick's parents to his great, great, great, great-granddaughter Lottie, who is six months old. I will bring the family tree with me.
Is the Stevens family keen on fostering this connection with Bombay?
I am sure future generations will want to embrace both Frederick's and Charles achievements. My children are all aware of the great heritage they have come from; my daughter Jenny already visited Mumbai a few years ago.
- CST was completed in 1888
- It was the first railway terminus in the subcontinent
- It was inspired by St Pancras station in London, which opened 20 years earlier
- An example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India
- In 1994, it earned the tag of UNESCO World Heritage site