Central Railway to revive CST’S Victorian past

Railways revives CST’S victorian past
The stained-yellow paper pencil drawings made by Frederick William Stevens, the 19th century architect, have been restored and copies are available for public display; Above: Six Victorian teakwood cupboards are being reconditioned

मुंबई Mumbai CST: Century-old furniture, old maps and other documents to be restored with aid of UNESCO grant.

In a project to revive the Victorian glory of CST by restoring its original furniture, the Central Railways is utilizing a part of the Rs 12-crore grant it received when the CST was titled a ‘UNESCO Heritage Site’. Six Victorian teakwood cupboards, wooden letter-oxes, chairs and tables designed by CST’s architect Frederick William Stevens between 1887 and 1888 are set to be revived.

Some of the major attractions include an eight-foot-high cupboard on the second floor which has intricate floral carvings and framed glass doors used to store old architecture books and a 12-foot tall cabinet which is the largest piece of furniture being restored. “The novelty is that the cabinet was made inside the building, while CST was being constructed,” Narendra A Patil, Central Railway’s chief public relations officer said. The cupboard has slots that store rolls of the engineering drawings which are now being inspected by Patil. Among other furnishings being restored is an elegant letter box which is still in active use even a century later. “We have carpenters and workmen who have been with us for a very long time and they know best about the upkeep,” he added.

“Few people know that when Steven designed the building, he also designed how its furniture should look,” mentions late Sharada Dwivedi in her book on Mumbai CST called A City Icon. The architect meticulously matched the panes, stairways and furnishings with the exterior architecture for aesthetic convergence. The arched doorways of the cabins which match the cupboards’ floral design are also being revived.

The plan is also to restore old maps and documents for display. The stained-yellow paper pencil drawings made by Stevens the 19th century architect of Mumbai CST building, lying in the engineering department of Central Railway have been scanned and restored and their copies have now been put on public display at the heritage gallery of Mumbai CST station. “The set of 76 drawings have gone through several cycles of restoration and copying and its laminated copies will be put up at the heritage gallery for all to see. The drawings had been to the national conservation lab at Lucknow from where they were restored and can now live for more generations to see,” an official said.

“It’s nice that there is sensitivity within the departments of government that are proud owners of such heritage properties. Railway heritage is not only about the building, but also its immovable,” said Vikas Dilawari the conservation architect involved in the restoration of CST. “It is so heartening to know that the heritage is being looked after and is cared for”, he added.