Mumbai: CSMT will soon return to its 1888 avatar!

Oct 26, 2018, 07:40 IST | Rajendra B. Aklekar

Work begins on biggest restoration job to restore World Heritage Site to its original glory

Mumbai: CSMT will soon return to its 1888 avatar!
Sculptures adorning the heritage building, too, will be restored

Rail workers and artisans at Mumbai CSMT this week completed crafting and framing of doors of the UNESCO-listed station to the original 19th century specifications of legendary architect Frederick William Stevens. The World Heritage Site is in the middle of one of its biggest restoration projects and is getting back its bells and whistles. The idea is to restore the building to its original glory, as completed by Stevens in 1888.

Artisans are working hard to replicate the original work of architect Frederick William Stevens
Artisans are working hard to replicate the original work of architect Frederick William Stevens

"Stevens was very meticulous about every single aspect of the building. The carvings, the pillars, the choice of marble, and even the furniture and doors. It is difficult to believe that he had designed even the woodwork and furniture in his original pencil drawings," Central Railway's Chief Engineer Shyam Sunder Kalra, who is overseeing the technical aspects, said.

"We are now trying to recreate the building as it was then and have been replicating work from Stevens' original drawings." The architectural consultancy has been given by Intach, and the railways is following the guidelines of restoration processes given in the Intach report.

Workers are taking care to match the design with that in architect Frederick William Stevens' original pencil drawings
Workers are taking care to match the design with that in architect Frederick William Stevens' original pencil drawings

For a perfect match
Over the past few weeks, CR workers had been toiling hard, studying the drawings to create teak wood door frames and windows to match the 19th century design to replace the iron grilles that had come up at booking windows and offices near the Star Chamber.

The design looks simple, but when one goes to recreate it, it's hard work. For example, the simple flower petal design has been done in a lot of variations in the original work with five circles merged together at some places and set in a square design in others. "We have procured a lot of teak wood and carved door frames to match the design as closely as possible," said Kalra.

Workers are taking care to match the design with that in architect Frederick William Stevens' original pencil drawings

Putting the pieces together
The ongoing multi-crore restoration work will replace and restore doors, beams and rafters that are made of teak and timber. Work also involves replacement of rotten and distressed Burma teak wood and restoration of heritage flooring of front and rear side verandah of the first floor.

In addition to this, the stone statues and carvings, too, are being restored. Weather extremities and other reasons had damaged the faces of the sculptures over the building. Now, all are being studied and restored.

CSMT heritage building story

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