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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ST MICHAEL'S AND ALL ANGELS’ CHURCH, OORGAUM , KOLAR GOLD FIELDS.

The St Michael’s and All Angels’ Church, Oorgaum KGF was one of the first Anglican Churches in Kolar Gold Fields. It came into existence when the original church i.e. St Paul's Church shifted to Robertsonpet from Oorgaum.

As per early historical records, one of which are the papers presented by M L Griffith-Jones, a Diocesan Lay Reader at a meeting of the Church of England Men’s Society (CEMS) in 1916, a small Church was erected in the year 1894 at Oorgaum in Kolar Gold Fields (where the Compressor House of Bullen Shaft now stands) The Church had just basic infrastructure and was constructed with Funds collected by the rev W F Penny, who was the Secretary of the INDIAN CHURCH AID ASSOCIATION, LONDON.

The Church was dedicated to St Paul and placed under the control of the S.P.G. The first Chaplain was Rev James Sharp. In those early days, the Church could seat around 60 faithful and the evening services were conducted both in English and Tamil.

In December 1901, The John Taylor and Sons Company, London, sent out Rev. L.Giffard Pollard as the Chaplain of St Paul’s Anglican Church. It was during his tenure that he started the ball rolling for a new Church to be built as the existing church had developed cracks due to the sinking of a new vertical shaft (Bullen Shaft) just next to it. It was subsequently decided to build a new Church for the English speaking congregation, while the Tamil speaking Congregation would continue as members of St Paul’s.

Consequently, THE OORGAUM COMPANY took over the old Church building and land in Oorgaum and paid a handsome compensation for it to the S.P.G. The S.P.G then built a new Church in Robertsonpet or New Town (as it was called in those days) on a piece of land given by the Government out of the compensation amount. This Church continued the old name of St Paul’s Church and catered to the Tamil speaking Anglican Congregation of KGF.

The new Church for the English speaking Congregation was built on a piece of land given by the GOLD FIELD OF MYSORE COMPANY, quite close to the KGF Club and a short distance away from the old St. Paul’s Church.
The Foundation Stone was laid on 8th October 1903. The John Taylor and Sons Company extended much assistance to the building of the new Church. A beautiful brick and stone Church and Parsonage in Victorian Style was ultimately constructed and was named as the “St Michael’s and All Angels’ Church”. The new Church was completed and dedicated on 3rd march 1905. The Altar, Pulpit and Pews were brought from the old church while a new beautifully carved Teak lectern was installed. The Pipe organ which is still in use in this church was brought from Madras in June 1921. St Michael’s and All Angels Church was now strategically located and had a large English Speaking Congregation who worshipped here regularly.

St, Michael’s and All Angels Church was under the administration of the Church of England from 1905 and all the Chaplains of the church were appointed directly by the John Taylor and Sons Company. After India attained independence, the church was brought under the control of the   Church of South India - Diocese of Mysore in 1947.

St Michael’s and All Angels’ Church celebrated its centenary in the year 2005 and is still maintained in the same condition even today. Located in serene surroundings, it is a Haven of Peace and tranquility.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

THE OORGAUM HALL AND THE TELEPHONE EXCHANGE AT OORGAUM , KGF



This is a picture of the Telephone Exchange at Oorgaum taken almost 60 years ago. The clock at the side of the building always showed the correct time. This Telephone Exchange was always busy in the good old days with all the wires humming connecting the various departments and offices in the Mines as well as the Bungalows. It is now unused and locked up like the rest of the mining offices.

In the back ground is the OORGAUM HALL.

Towards the end of the 1890’s motion pictures came into existence and it was not long before the John Taylor and Sons Company began bringing in films for screening in KGF. A separate Picture Hall was built in Oorgaum quite close to the KGF Gymkhana Club and named as the Oorgaum Hall to screen only English Movies and Documentaries once or twice a week,

The Oorgaum Hall was just a basic Hall with a large white screen and a hand operated Projector and wooden benches for seating. It was the era of Black and White Silent Pictures initially and the Silent films were replaced by the ‘Talking Pictures’ only in the late 1920s.

Films of various genres were screened at the Oorgaum Hall. Westerns and Cowboy Films, Historical Extravaganzas, melodramas, Biblical Epics, Horror films, Crime and Gangster films, Romances, mysteries, Comedies, etc  were all avidly watched and enjoyed at the Oorgaum Hall.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

ST JOSEPH'S CONVENT, CHAMPION REEFS, K G F

St. Joseph’s Convent, Champion Reefs, K G F was established more than 105 years ago. The school celebrated its centenary year in 2004-.

Let me give you a short history of the origins of the St Joseph's Convent School. Fr. Fraysse, the first Parish Priest of St Mary’s Church, Champion Reefs, invited the Sisters of St Joseph of Tarbes who had established convents and schools in Bangalore and Conoor in the Nilgiris, to open an English school and a Tamil Vernacular School in KGF, to meet the urgent need for education of girls. The Regional Superior of The Order of St Joseph of Tarbes at Bangalore after obtaining the necessary permission and consent of the Superior General in the Mother House in France, deputed four European Nuns and one Indian Nun to take up this mission in Kolar Gold Fields. The Convent community was blessed and inaugurated on the 9th of January 1904.

On January 15th 1904, two separate schools were started by the Sisters of St Joseph of Tarbes. An English School with 22 children and a Tamil School with 7 children, in premises of St Mary’s Church compound in Champion Reefs. Sister Teresa of Jesus was the headmistress of both the schools. The school building was a simple structure with a tin roof. The Bishop of Mysore, sanctioned an amount of Rs. 50.00 each per month as salary to the five Nuns, so long as they were not subsidized by the Company or the Mysore Government!!!

These schools functioned in the premises of St Mary’s Church (which was later to ne renamed as Our Lady of Victories Church )right up to January 1952. However, early in the morning of the 23rd of January 1952, there was a massive Air Blast or Rock Burst which is quite common in the mines. It was such a severe Rock Burst, that St Mary’s Church, the Presbytery, the Convent and the School Buildings all collapsed to the ground. Luckily, no one was injured or no lives were lost. But the buildings were completely destroyed.

Mr. Morgan, The Chief Medical Officer of the Company Hospital, which was near St Mary’s Church, took the Sisters to the Hospital premises and vacated one of the wards to accommodate them for the day. That evening he arranged for their indefinite stay at the Bungalow of the General Manager of the Mines, Mr. Arthur Taylor in Champion Reefs, who was away in England on a holiday as half of his house was vacant.

Even though this bungalow was huge and quite spacious it was insufficient to accommodate the Convent and the school with so many students. So while half of the main house, the garage and servants quarters were made use of for the Convent, the classes were held under the trees and in temporary sheds.
                                                                                                                   
Mr. Arthur Taylor on his return to KGF from the UK shifted to another Bungalow, (near the First grade College and which is now the Mining Office) and later sold this Bungalow to the nuns. It thus became the nun’s living quarters. In course of time, two more floors were added to it, which is still in use today. The school slowly expanded and huge class rooms were built around the nun’s house on the land given to the school by the Company.



Today, the huge buildings and class rooms bear witness to the development of the school through the ages. St Joseph’s Convent also had a Tamil Section School as well as the English medium School. There was also a Private School for the more privileged students. The convent also had an orphanage for abandoned children as well as a home for destitute and abandoned women. These women were employed in various capacities in the school and convent and were looked after well by the nuns.

I was privileged to have studied in St Joseph’s Convent school at Champion Reefs. St.  Joseph’s Convent which established more than 105 years ago. The school celebrated its   centenary year in 2004-05. The Convent school had well equipped Science laboratories. There were separate physics labs, chemistry labs, Botany and Zoology labs. The libraries had a vast collection of reference books, Story books, Novels as well as rare and old manuscripts.

Our schooling years were great thanks to our wonderful teachers. The teachers were all highly qualified and were kind as well as strict. They instilled the basic human values in us that still hold good today. They taught us the importance of hard work, dignity, honesty, integrity and to strive for excellence in whatever we did. They motivated us to rise above the mediocre and strive for bigger things. Many of the old students of St Joseph’s Convent also hold high positions in various parts of the world. They are teachers, doctors, engineers, computer professionals, etc around the world.

Read more about St Joseph's Convent in my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE