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Monday, December 22, 2014


23rd December 2014

Bring on the batter   Bridget Kumar,Dec 23, 2014, DHNS:

I have always associated Christmas with the smells, sounds and sights of the season. It brings back the memories of my hometown — Kolar Gold Fields. 

The smell of the decorated pine Christmas tree in the sitting room, the enticing aroma of Christmas cakes being baked and the ‘kalkals’ and rose cookies being fried, the sight of all the Christmas decorations, buntings and the soothing sounds of Christmas carols — I have great memories of everything and all these are a part of the wonder of Christmas.

My mother would start the preparation of the traditional sweets and treats that are a part and parcel of Christmas a fortnight in advance. Kalkals, rose cookies, fruit cakes, coconut sweets, the Christmas pudding, bole cake, dodol, bebinca, marzipan, peanut fudge, cashewnut fudge and rice crispies were some of the goodies that were prepared in abundance by her. The delicious aroma of these goodies would drift through the house and neighbourhood.

I am sharing the recipes of two of my favourite Christmas delights — kalkals and Christmas cake.

 As kids, we would wait for the Christmas holidays to begin so that we could all help my mother in the preparation of sweets. We would all sit around the dining table and each of us would take a lump of dough and spread it on a fork to make as many kalkals as possible with it. These kalkals were like small shells and we would also cut out various other shapes like hearts, clubs and diamonds with the help of cutters.

 It was fun competing with each other to see who made the most. As soon as we completed a good number my mother would start frying them till all were fried and a huge heap was kept in basins and trays on the table. Once cold, she would make the frosting by pouring hot sugar syrup on the kalkals. We had a lot of fun helping her and sometimes even our non-Christian friends would join the fun. Of course, a good portion of the fried kalkals would go into our mouths in the process!

The Christmas spirit would set in early thanks to the Christmas cake. The earlier it is prepared with your choice of liquor, the more delicious it turns out to be. Most Anglo-Indian families have their own recipe for Christmas cake, which is usually handed down through generations. Candied fruit, plums, currants, raisins and orange peels are dexterously cut and soaked in rum or brandy a few weeks in advance. Nuts are peeled and chopped and the whole family comes together to make the Christmas cakes.

In our family, different tasks would be allotted to each person — while one whipped up the eggs, another creamed the butter and sugar. A person with strong arms would do the final mixing and stirring. After the cake batter was poured into the tins, the real fun would begin with everyone fighting to lick the leftover batter in the mixing bowl and on the spoons and spatulas! 

Recipe for Kalkals
  (Serves six)

n Refined flour - 1 kg
n Eggs (beaten well) - 6
n Milk or thick coconut milk - 2 cups
n Salt - 1 teaspoon
n Sugar - 300 grams
n Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
n Oil for frying

Mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder together. Add the coconut milk and eggs and knead to a soft dough. Keep aside for an hour. Form kalkals by taking small lumps of the dough and roll on the back of a fork or a wooden kalkal mould, to form a scroll. Alternately, roll out the dough and cut into fancy shapes with kalkal or cookie cutters. Heat oil in a deep pan and fry as many kalkals as possible at a time. Keep aside.

To frost the kalkals, melt one cup of sugar with half cup of water and when the sugar syrup crystallises, pour over the kalkals and mix well. Store in air-tight boxes when cold.

Christmas cake 
Refined flour or plain flour - 500 grams
Dark brown sugar - 300 grams
Unsalted butter - 500 grams
Mixed dried fruits (black currants, raisins and sultanas chopped finely and soaked in rum or brandy before hand) - 500 grams
Chopped orange / lemon peel - 100 grams
Lemon or orange zest - 1 tablespoon
Salt - ¼ teaspoon
Nutmeg powder
- ½  teaspoon
Cinnamon powder - ½ teaspoon
Eggs (beaten) - 4
Milk (optional) - 4 tablespoons
Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
Vanilla essence/extract - 1 teaspoon
Black currant jam or orange marmalade - 2 tablespoons
Black treacle syrup or date syrup  (optional) - 2 tablespoons

Heat the oven to 150°C. Remove the chopped fruit from the rum, drain and keep aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder and salt together.

Dust the orange/lemon peel and the chopped soaked fruit with a little flour. Cream the butter and sugar well. Add the beaten eggs, treacle/date syrup, vanilla essence, orange/lemon zest and mix well.

Now add the black currant Jam/marmalade, orange/lemon peel and chopped fruit. Slowly, add the flour and mix gently till all the ingredients are combined well. If the mixture is too thick, add a little milk.

Pour into a greased and papered baking tin and bake in a slow oven for about one hour or more. Check if cooked by inserting a tooth pick. If the tooth pick comes out clean, your cake is ready.

Remove from the oven when done and set aside to cool. When the cake is completely cool, poke all over with tooth pick and drizzle brandy or rum.  Repeat once in every week or ten days if you are preparing in advance. Wrap in foil paper. This cake will last for months if stored in an air-tight container. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014


A nostalgic visit down Memory Lane by Patrick and Heather Taylor on 8th November 2011 after 55 years along with Bridget White-Kumar - 

A member of the Family who owned the British Mining Firm John Taylor and Sons makes a nostalgic trip to KGF after 55 years” ! It all began when Patrick Taylor’s elder sister Anthea “gave me this book on KGF as a Birthday gift. I read it and my itch to come to India intensified,” says Patrick Taylor, referring to the book written by Bridget White-Kumar entitled Kolar Gold Fields—Down Memory Lane.
 London based Patrick Taylor is the great grandson of Mr. John Taylor, the founder of ‘The John Taylor and Sons Company’, the British Mining firm which started the systematic mining of gold in the KGF area and ran the gold mines in KGF for 72 years from 1884. He is the son of Arthur Taylor, a Partner and the last General Manager of the KGF Mines when the Mines were handed over to the government of India in 1956. The Mining Firm of John Taylor and Sons has since been disbanded and is not in existence any more. Treading away from the family trade of mining, Patrick studied to be a Chartered Accountant and worked as one for several years before moving to Radio and Publishing. He now owns an adventure travel and tourism company as well. 

 I was pleasantly surprised to receive this email from Mr. Patrick Taylor from the UK, in October 2011.
“Dear Bridget
My name is Patrick Taylor. I am in the process of reading your fascinating book on the KGF. My father, Arthur, a partner in the firm of John Taylor & Sons, was in charge of the mines during my early childhood, when I lived on the KGF for 7 years before returning to England for my education. Now 63 years old, I have never returned to India but my wife and I are coming to the KGF in November. I would be most interested to meet you if that would be possible. I have many happy many memories of my early life in India and for me this trip will definitely be a trip down memory lane. It will be greatly enhanced if I can have the benefit of learning from your knowledge of the place that was the foundation of my life.
I look forward to hearing from you.
With best wishes
Yours sincerely
Patrick Taylor

I was only too happy to oblige and made arrangements for a day Trip to KGF with them on the 9th November 2011. Patrick and his wife Heather were in Bangalore on the 8th November and the next day I accompanied them on a trip ‘Down Memory Lane to KGF’.We started our trip with a visit to the new exploration site of the Australian Mining Company ‘Kolar Gold Company’ at Chickregunta (which is just outside KGF) near Kuppam in Andhra Pradesh. We were accompanied by Mr. Richard Johnson the Chief Operating Officer, Phillip Dingle (an old KGF boy   presently working as a mining consultant with the firm) and Mrs. Nickie Johnson.  Phillip and Mr. Richards made our trip to the new exploration site truly memorable. It was a fascinating opportunity of looking into the future and seeing a new Gold Mining area taking shape, while it was also a glimpse into the past, as to how the pioneers of our present day Kolar Gold Fields once explored and prospected for gold in a rocky barren area to what it finally evolved into!
After our visit to the new Site we then proceeded to KGF and visited various places around Champion Reefs, such as Our Lady of Victories Church, the Champion Reefs Post Office, the Champion Reefs Water Works and Reservoir, the Champion Reefs Work Shops, the Imperial Bakery and the KGF Mining Hospital now known as the BGML Hospital. Patrick was very sad to see the deplorable state of the Mining Hospital where he recalled being treated for various childhood illnesses and also to have his hand sutured when he cut it while banging on a glass door when he was around 6 years old. This hospital was once the Referral Centre for all Chest related diseases in the District and had eminent Doctors and Nurses on its rolls.
 Patrick was quite nostalgic when we visited the St Joseph’s Convent. The Nuns were so thrilled to have him visit them. They said the ‘son of the house has returned to visit them’. Incidentally, the Convent was earlier the residence of Mr. Arthur Taylor, the General of the John Taylor and Company and Patrick’s father. His old home as Patrick fondly remembers it, is still in the same beautiful condition today and lovingly maintained by the Sisters of St Joseph of Tarbes. The Nuns were kind enough to give him a tour of the entire house and Patrick told them a lot of stories connected with this house.
 Many will recall that  St Joseph’s Convent School was earlier functioning in the premises of St Mary’s Church compound (now Our Lady of Victories Church) in Champion Reefs. However, due to the massive Rock Burst of Earth Quake proportions in 1952, the St Mary’s Church, the Presbytery, the St. Joseph’s   Convent and the School Buildings all collapsed to the ground. All the buildings were completely destroyed. Mr. Morgan, The Chief Medical Officer of the Company Hospital, rushed to help the Sisters 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 at the time. The nuns were given half of the main house as their temporary abode. 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.
When Mr. Arthur Taylor, returned to KGF from the UK he and his family shifted to another Bungalow near the Golf Course which now houses the Mining Offices. We then proceeded to visit the other Bungalow near the Golf Course where Patrick’s family shifted after their return from their holiday in the UK in 1952. He was however quite sad to see it in its present run down state even though the Mining Offices are housed in it. Never the less this house also evoked a lot of Nostalgia and he recalled many happy incidents of his short stay there before he left for the UK in a couple of years. “I have several photographs of the house that is now the Convent, but none from this house,” said Patrick after a brief walk-through.
St Michael’s and All Angel’s Church was also on his list of places to visit and he was very happy to visit the Church which he remembered attending Sunday Service. He spent sometime in the Church speaking to the Church Representatives Mr. Nathan and Mr. Moses who presented him with a copy of the Centenary Souvenir. The Old Pipe Organ that he remembered
The KGF Club was the highlight of his visit. Mr. Kotnise, the President and Mr. Nathan, Secretary of the KGF Club welcomed Mr. and Mrs. Taylor and interacted with them. Patrick was immensely pleased to see the photographs of his Great grandfather John Taylor and all his other Taylor Ancestors displayed on the walls of the Conference Room of the Club. “That’s my uncle,” or “that’s my cousin” he would mumble over his shoulder to his wife Heather. “You’ve kept these for all these years?” he asked the secretary of the KGF Club as he walked by a wall of framed photographs of all the partners and officers of the erstwhile John Taylor and Company. He and his wife stood under the photograph of his Great grandfather John Taylor in the Main Bar and clicked many   photographs. He was immensely pleased to meet Susai Raj, the old Bartender and Caretaker of the KGF Club. Susai Raj is now 88 years old but his memory was quite fresh when narrating various incidents connected with the Taylor Family.  Susai as his British bosses called him, is at home in the club. “I used to make the best cocktails, I still can,” he says his eyes gleaming as he remembered Cocktails and Dances evenings in this once prestigious club. “I went over to his house when his parents hosted evening parties, and he once fell   sick from eating too many cherries,” Susai tells Patrick’s wife Heather. Dressed for the occasion in formal pants and a shirt with a tie and tiepin, Susai was still adhering to the dress code that was in force when the “Dorais” spent evenings at the Club. “Children were strictly not allowed,” Susai further clarifies. 
 Patrick was pained to see the visible signs of deterioration in this once prestigious Club like the rest of KGF. The mounted Antlers and Horns still adorn the foyer of the club, but the beautiful garden surrounding the Club has disappeared. The grand Piano in the erstwhile ‘Ladies Bar’ now lies unused and in need of repairs. The brass door knobs and handles no longer shine and the beautiful crockery and cutlery with the Club’s monogram specially brought from Sheffield in the UK all those years ago have all disappeared and now replaced with ordinary ones. The Bar is also not so well stocked now and soft drinks are served in a bottle with a drinking straw and paper napkins. The snacks and short eats that the club was so famous for in the old days have been replaced with small packets of store bought nuts and fries.
 “My father was proud of what the family had done here in India. KGF was the first Town in India to get electricity almost 110 years ago and was also said to have been one of the first towns to get cemented roads. While I firmly believe that every country should run itself, on coming back here, I do feel a certain amount of sadness on seeing this town fading away,” said Patrick while we drove past the Old Colonial Bungalows that are almost in ruins and the Mineshafts that are now locked and closed to the public. That era is a beautiful blur in his mind.
 Soon it was time to leave KGF as the Taylor’s had to catch the early morning flight back to the United Kingdom. With heavy hearts they bid goodbye to KGF and promised to visit again sometime. “There is so much more to see, which means I have to come back soon,” Patrick said before leaving.
 I was immensely pleased that their visit to KGF went off well and all the arrangements made by me for their visit were appreciated by them. 

Friday, November 21, 2014



The earliest authentic record of Kolar Gold Fields is found in a report in the Asiatic Journal of 1804 of Lieutenant John Warren of His Majesty’s 33rd regiment.

In 1850, an Irish Soldier, named Michael F. Lavelle, from Bangalore Cantonment, who had served in the regiment that fought against Tippu Sultan in Srirangapatnam, near Mysore heard about some native mines in a place named Kolar some distance from Bangalore.  Being retired from active military duty, he decided to explore the Kolar region and see for himself if the information was true. On reaching the place, he was convinced about the presence of gold and decided therefore to hunt for gold and other precious metals himself.  Accordingly, he applied to the Mysore British Government for prospecting Rights.

In 1873, M F Lavelle obtained exclusive prospecting rights  for mining coal and other metals  for a period of 20 years. He began mining operations by sinking his first shaft near Urigaum   / Worigaum (Oorgaum).  The mining permission was the right to mine in Kolar extending over twenty years, at a royalty of ten per cent on all metals and metallic ores, and of twenty per cent on all precious stones.

 In 1877, Lavelle realised that the amount he was earning from mining was far less than he had anticipated, he contemplated to sell the mine. A small syndicate known as the Kolar Concessionaires Soft Corporation and Arbuthnot Company of Madras, heard of Lavelle’s activities and approached him to sell his mining license to them. Lavelle took this opportunity and negotiated with them, for quite a good amount. After obtaining the approval of the Mysore British Government, he transferred all his rights and concessions to this syndicate known as the Kolar Concessionaries formed by Major General G. de la Poer Beresford and some of his friends

The Kolar Concessionaires Soft Corporation, continued mining for gold on a small scale, where Mr. Lavelle left off and its members became quite affluent with the gold that they mined. This Corporation later merged into a company called The Gold Fields of Mysore Company. This new Company, namely The Gold Fields of Mysore Company then took up prospecting for gold in earnest, and in course of time, they acquired a large area

In 1880, The Gold Fields of Mysore Company, contacted a British Engineering firm known as John Taylor and Sons to mine for gold in KGF on their behalf. The John Taylor and Sons Company which were instrumental in striking gold in Africa, arrived in Kolar Gold Fields and began to prospect for gold in the Marikuppam and Oorigaum region.

In 1885, the KGF Gymkhana Club was established by the British with a 12 Hole Golf Course and a Beautiful Victorian Club House. The Club House was equipped with a traditional bar, a library, a ballroom with a sprung floor, snooker and billiard rooms and tennis courts, which were all built and completed in a period of just six months. This Club was the first club to be established in KGF and is ranked as the 4th oldest Golf Club in India.

1894: T he Mysore Government under the British, financed the construction of a branch railway line, 10 miles long connecting all the five mines between Mysore Mine (Marikuppam) and Bowringpet Junction (Bangarpet) to connect KGF to the Bangalore Madras Railway line.

In late 1890’s, the John Taylor and Sons Company with the assistance of Dr T J O’Donnell and J D O’Donnell, established a well equipped 80 Bed hospital to cater to the medical needs and emergencies of the miners and their families. It was centrally located in Champion Reefs. Dr T J O’Donnell was the first Chief Medical Officer of the Hospital and served as the CMO for more than 25 years.

September 1899 The Kolar Gold Fields Sanitary Board was constituted in September 1899 with three ex-officio members and four non-official members nominated by the Mining Board.

April 1900: The KGF Police, a special body with 50 officers and 279 men, under a separate European Superintendent, largely composed of Sikhs, was formed in April 1900, with jurisdiction over Bowringpet, Malur and Mulbagal taluks. Mr. Mainwalling was appointed as Superintendent of Police, Kolar Gold Fields. In 1901, Mr. Simon Reuben was appointed as Police Inspector of Kolar Gold Fields

In 1902, the Mysore government established the first major hydro-electric generating station for commercial operations at Shivanasamudram. The longest transmission line, at the highest voltage in the world, was constructed to meet the power needs of mining operations at KGF. The erstwhile Mysore State became the first state in India to establish such a huge hydro-electric plant and KGF was the first town to get hydro-electric power.

Also in 1902, the township of Robertsonpet was established to house the Kolar Gold Mines related tertiary sector populace. It was named as ‘Robertsonpet’ by the then Maharaja of Mysore, in commemoration of the memory of Sir Donald Robertson, who was the British Resident of Mysore and who was also responsible for launching the first Hydro-electric plant in Shivanasamudram which supplied electric power to the KGF mines. Several trades people such as manufacturers, bakers, printers, confectioners, contractors, printers, outfitters, timber merchants, jewelers, haberdashers, pawn brokers, etc set up their business in the town of Robertsonpet.

In 1903, the Mysore British Government constructed a huge man-made lake in Bethamangala (a small town about 5 miles away from KGF and the underground water source of the Pala River)  to supply filtered drinking water to KGF and the surrounding townships through huge pipelines from the Government Water Works at Bethamangala, Soon Bethamangala became a popular sailing and picnic spot for the British population in KGF.

In the 1920s, when the mining industry was at its peak, KGF occupied 30 square miles and had a population of 90,000. The mines had an impressive 24,000 employees working in various capacities. Out of this number, around 400 were Europeans who held most of the high positions, around 650 were Anglo- Indians who held middle management posts such as supervisors, team heads, etc. The rest of the 23, 000 work force, comprised Tamil and Telugu speaking labourers and workmen, supervisors and Maistries.  The Champion Reefs Mine was more than 12000 feet deep and was / is the second deepest gold mine in the world.  It was the first town in India, which had electricity supplied to it from a captive power plant, good water supply, well-equipped hospitals, schools, etc.

In the mid 1940’s, Trade and Labour Unions came into existence almost overnight under the leadership of leaders like V.M. Govindan, K.S. Vasan, M.C. Narasimhan and others. This marked the beginning of one of the most vibrant Trade Union Movements in India.  

On 28th November 1956, the KGF Mines were ultimately nationalized by the Government of India. The social and economic structure of the Kolar Gold Mines changed after this.  Mining went on as usual in KGF after the exit of the John Taylor and Sons Company. The Mining Industry was now solely in the hands of the Government of India. Even though most of the gold reserves were now depleted after being mined for almost a century, the mines still yielded some gold. However, the pathetic conditions of the workers remained the same with little or no improvement in their working or living conditions.

In 1972 , the KGF mines, were renamed as the Kolar Gold Mines Undertaking Limited. It was made into a Public Sector Undertaking under the Department of Mines, and the name was later changed to the Bharat Gold Mines Limited.

By 1990’s due to the heavy costs involved in mining and with the gold reserves depleting rapidly, the Bharat Gold Mines Ltd Company incurred heavy losses. By 1992, the Company’s accumulated losses were over Rs.502 Crores and went before the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction.

In 1980, the Kolar Gold Mines which produced more than 1000 tonnes of gold during its glorious days, celebrated its centenary. After just 40 years of Government ownership and management, the once vibrant Mining Industry was facing a severe financial crisis.

On 28th February 2001, The Government of India officially closed the KGF Mines and Mining operations came to an end after more than 125 years. With it one of the most famous Gold Mines in the history of the world came to an end. It was the end of an era in gold mining operations. The Company was not in a position to settle the dues of the miners as the case was pending before the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction and it took a number of years before their dues were finally paid a couple of years ago.

On 9th July 2013, the Supreme Court, approved the Central Government of India's Decision to invite Global Tenders for restarting the Bharat Gold Mines Ltd at Kolar Gold Fields which was shut down more than a decade ago

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Appended below is the letter dated 28th November 1956, that the John Taylor and Sons (India ) Private Ltd Company wrote to the Superintendents of all the 4 Mines. 28th November 1956 was the last day they were owners of the Mines. The Government of India took over the Mines on the 29th November 1956. This letter was addressed to the Superintendent of the Nandydroog Mine and a copy of the same was endorsed to my dad Sydney White and to all the other Officers and Covanented Hands of the Mines. It was signed by Mr W.T. Hocking the then Managing Director. Even after 58 years since the Mines were in the hands of the Indian Government, nothing new was done for the Miners in KGF. Really sad!!

Sunday, October 19, 2014


This is an old map of KGF which is displayed in the KGF Club. This will give you an idea of the place in the earlier days

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


The John Taylor and Sons Company with the co-operation of the O’Donnell brothers, Dr Maj. T J O’Donnell and  Dr.J D O’Donnell, established a small hospital to accommodate 48 patients initially in 1887.  It became a well equipped hospital in 1900, to cater to the medical needs and emergencies of the miners and their families. It was centrally located in Champion Reefs. Dr Maj.T J O’Donnell was the first Chief Medical Officer of the Hospital and served as the CMO for more than 25 years. Dr. Maj T J O’Donnell was also a honorary Surgeon Major in the KGF Volunteers.

The hospital was staffed with eminent British and Indian doctors and British and Anglo-Indian nurses. The hospital wards were named after the erstwhile British bosses such as Gideon Ward, Henry’s Ward, Morgan ward, etc.. Medical Treatment was provided free of cost for the miners and their families. A well maintained Maternity Unit was also later established in a separate wing of the Hospital.The Mining Hospital slowly gained the distinction of being the best hospital in the whole of the Kolar district. This Mining Company Hospital was later recognized by the Indian Medical Council as a reputed center for the treatment of Occupational Diseases, such as Tuberculosis, Silicosis, etc.

Today this Hospital with its once expensive equipment and more than 200 beds has been shut. Most of the medical equipment has been stolen. The hospital wards named after the erstwhile British bosses such as Gideon Ward, Henry’s Ward, Morgan ward, etc., are completely denuded of the beds and furniture and the hospital now resembles a haunted building, and is slowly falling down in parts. Its so sad to think that “This Hospital” which was once the best hospital in the whole Kolar District which saved the lives of so many people has now ceased to exist. 


Thursday, October 9, 2014


The Kolar Gold Fields Volunteers which was earlier part of the Bangalore Rifle Volunteers was formed as the Kolar Gold Fields Rifle Volunteers on 23rd January 1903. (In 1905 it came under the Commander-in-Chief in India: formed by G.G.O. 639 of 1903). On 1st April 1917, the Kolar Gold Fields Rifle Volunteers became the 43rd Kolar Gold Fields Battalion. It was  redesignated on 1st October 1920 as the Kolar Gold Fields Battalion.
Here is a small History about The Auxiliary Force (India) (AFI) from where the Kolar Gold Fields Volunteers came into existence.
The Auxiliary Force (India) (AFI) was a part-time, paid volunteer organisation within the Indian Army in British India. Its units were entirely made up of European and Anglo-Indian personnel. The AFI was created by the Auxiliary Force Act 1920[1] to replace the unpopular British section of the Indian Defence Force, which had recruited by conscription. By contrast, the AFI was an all-volunteer force modelled after the British Territorial Army. The Indian parallel to the AFI was the Indian Territorial Force.
 Bangalore Rifle Volunteers unit was an army regiment of the Auxiliary Forces under the British Indian Army. It was a volunteer corps unit that was raised on 31st November 1868 by the British administration in India. The regiment served under the administrative control of the Madras Army of Madras Presidency. On 21st November 1884, a number of detached companies of the unit were used to raise the Coorg and Mysore Rifle Corps.
The headquarters of the Bangalore Rifle Volunteers was established in Bangalore (now Bengaluru) in 1901. The troops wore khaki drill formal dress and the detachments were stationed in Kolar Gold Fields, Mysore and Whitefield. The minor unit of the Bangalore Rifle Volunteers stationed in Kolar Gold Fields was later separated in order to form the Kolar Gold Fields Rifle Volunteers on 23rd January 1903.
The Bangalore Rifle Volunteers battalion was eventually merged with the Coorg and Mysore Rifles on 1st April 1917 and was designated as the 6th Bangalore, Coorg and Mysore Battalion. It was again renamed as the Bangalore Battalion on 1st October 1920.
The Kolar Gold Fields Volunteers which was earlier part of the Bangalore Rifle Volunteers was formed as the Kolar Gold Fields Rifle Volunteers on 23rd January 1903. (In 1905 it came under the Commander-in-Chief in India: formed by G.G.O. 639 of 1903). On 1st April 1917, the Kolar Gold Fields Rifle Volunteers became the 43rd Kolar Gold Fields Battalion. It was  redesignated on 1st October 1920 as the Kolar Gold Fields Battalion.
Motto of the Unit: "Defence not Defiance".
Uniform: Full Khaki. (The uniform of the troops was modified in 1940 to include rifle green formal dress with scarlet facings).
Badge: Crossed pickaxe and hammer in circle superscribed "The Kolar Gold Fields Battn" all surmounted by crown.
The following were the Non-commissioned Officers of the Unit.
1. Honorary Colonel - Richard Hancock ,
2. Lieutenant-Colonel - Thomas Edward Piercey,
3. Commandant Majors - G.A. Paterson , C.H. Richards Captains - E. Jeffery , R.H.P. Bullen , F.J. Tregay , Percy Key , H.M. Leslie , H.T. Hincks , D. Gill Jenkins , J. Johns 4. Lieutenants - G.W. Walker W.R.C. Beudon, T.A. Clarke, N.F.K. Richards, W. Ward, H.M.A. Cooke, G.E. Payne, A.W. Jolly, C.H. Stonor
5. 2nd Lieutenants - J.J. Clarke, R.F. Vaughan, H.H. Osborn, J.S. Anderson, W.C. Vine, R.T.J. Weeks
6. Staff - Adjutant - Capt. F.G. Pierce , 69th Punjabies;
7. Medical Officer - Surgeon,-Maj. T.J. O'Donnell;
8. Hon. Chaplains - Rev. L.G. Pollard, Rev. J.H. Fraysse
9.  Hon. Major - Edgar Taylor
10. Quarter Master - Hon. Lt. G.W. Bickley
11. Surgeon - Lt. J.D. O'Donnell Sergeant-Major -- H.W. Goble
12. Sergt.-Instructors - A. Goldfinch,  L. Taylor, R. Motley
13. 1st Essex, Officiating, Gold Fields Quarter Master Sergeant - D.A. Spence


Friday, August 29, 2014


 In the olden days there were no Poultry farms, like there are now a days, where Broiler Chickens are fed with hormones and specially bred to grow very big in a short span of  time. In just 6 to 8 weeks they grow from cute fluffy chicks to hens that are ready for the table. In those days most  families reared and  bred their own Country and Fancy Fowls in their own homes, lovingly cared for and nurtured and fed with natural grains. The hens and chickens were allowed to roam and graze freely clucking and clacking away while pecking at the food on the ground.  

Our Mining Bunmgalow in KGF had a large garden around it and we had sufficient space for Fowl Runs and Hen Houses in our back garden. My mum was very fond of rearing hens, chickens, ducks and even turkeys. We had quite a number of White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, Black leghorns as well as many Country Fowls. We also had a few Roosters to keep the hens company!! The eggs laid by these hens were used for our breakfast every morning. My mum was very particular about the health of her poultry.  She would always check and ensure that their eyes were bright, their nostrils dry, their feathers shiny and they were active and alert. Any deviation from this would mean that they were sick or under the weather. She would immediately separate the affected bird from the others and give it some ‘Omum water’ or some other medicine. The hens were fed with grains such as wheat, millets, and also some left over household food and vegetable scraps. With all this special attention our poultry were real tasty and well nourished birds when they finally landed up on our dining table.

 When my mum  noticed that a particular hen was nearing the ‘Broody’ season she would save all the eggs and mark them date wise. She would then arrange the eggs on a bed of soft sand, in a deep basket or ‘Makri’ and the hen would sit over the eggs for 21 days. We would eagerly wait for the eggs to hatch. My mum would leave grains and water near the hen so she wouldn’t get hungry. I still remember the delight and happiness we felt when the eggs hatched and the tiny chickens came out. The hen would then get very protective of her chicks and keep them under her for at least 10 more days. If any of us went close she’d try to peck us as she presumed that we wanted to take away her chicks!!

After about 10 days my mum would shift the mother hen and the chicks to a separate Fowl Run. These little chicks would slowly grow and they would either be used for the table or again to hatch more chicks. The circle thus went on.

My mum also reared Turkeys and ducks for Christmas and for our First Holy Communions. The turkeys and ducks reared in our house were always big and well fed. They were fattened up with a special diet of oil cakes, ragi and grain. The oil cakes were known as ‘PUNAK’ in Tamil and we loved saying this word ‘PUNAK’.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Pencil Sketches of the KGF Boy's School and the Tin Roof Water Storge Tank near the KGF School, Oorgaum , KGF by Mr R Sri Murugan an ex resident of KGF in 1966.

Mr. 'R Sri Murugan' who was born and studied in KGF is an engineer by profession. He worked as a civil engineer for nearly 20 years. He also freelanced as an artist for various architects, design centres and builders and promoters. He coined the term 'Peeli' meaning peacock, in tamil literature, that he studied in school. His drawings and paintings bear this name for over 50 years. He specializes in line sketches, and paintings in various mediums. In addition he has also created murals and metal etchings for various clients. He now lives in Hyderabad.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


In order to commemorate the Centenary of the Kolar Gold Mines, the Indian Posts and Telegraphs Department issued a special commemorative Postage Stamp and First Day Cover on 20th December 1980
Philatelic Stamp Description : The stamp depicts a miner drilling for ore along with representation of molten gold being poured into a mould and a few gold bricks.
The first day cover shows old and new techniques of drilling for ore against a mine head structure.

Stamp Issue Date : 20/12/1980
Postage Stamp Denomination: 1.00
Postal Stamp Serial Number: 0990
Postal Stamp Name: GOLD MINING
Stamp Currency: Rupee
Stamp Language: English
Stamp Overall Size: 3.91 X 2.90 cms
Postal Stamp Print Size: 3.55 X 2.5 cms.
Number of Stamps Per Sheet: 35
Stamp Perforations: 13 x 13
Postal Stamp Shape: Vertical
Postage Stamp Paper: Un-watermarked adhesive stamp paper
Indian Stamp Process: Photogravure
Number of stamps printed: 15,00,000
Stamp Printed At: India Security Press

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

KGF - Namakara Hawker and China Man John

Namakara Hawker was a Walking fancy Store. He had everything that could be found in a regular Fancy Store among his wares. He had all his wares packed between layers of brown paper and tied with white sheets in two huge bundles (An excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE)
Namakara Hawker and China Man John were the other hawkers who visited our house on a regular basis. As little children, we didn’t know that Namakara Hawker’s actual name was Mr. Venugopal. He was known as the ‘Namakara’ Hawker only because (being a Brahmin), he had three ‘Namus’ or 3 vertical Red lines drawn on his forehead which was the sign of his Hindu caste. The word ‘Namakara’ meant ‘Man with Namus’.
Namakara Hawker was a Walking fancy Store. He had everything that could be found in a regular Fancy Store among his wares. He had all his wares packed between layers of brown paper and tied with white sheets in two huge bundles. Namakara engaged two men to carry the bundles for him on their heads while he walked at their side carrying his umbrella.  Namakara Hawker had everything from safety pins, elastic in running length, Cotton Bras, Dress Materials, Nail polish, Hair Pins, Hair clips, Clothes Clips, Cotton Vests and Banyans, Men’s Briefs, locks and keys, screw drivers, nail clippers, nail files, scissors, handkerchiefs, scarves, Naphthalene Balls, etc to Reels of white and Coloured thread for the Sewing machine, Skeins of embroidery thread, machine oil, balms, hair oil, bundles of knitting wool, knitting needles, machine needles, plastic brushes, combs, pens, shirt material, pant material, etc, etc in his bundles. Each variety was packed separately between layers of brown paper.
Whenever Namakara Hawker visited out house, we’d eagerly wait for him to open his wares. It was so exciting watching him open each layer of brown paper and reveal the items concealed in them. There would be ‘Oohs’ and ‘Ahs’ of delight when we saw something we liked and much smirking and sly smiles when he came to the Bras and Panties. We’d worry my mum to buy us stuff from Namakara even if we didn’t need it.
Namakara Hawker was a permanent fixture in our lives during the first and third week of every month. He extended credit and installment facilities to all his customers and each family had a separate page in his account book. He would collect his dues in the first week of the month after the salary day, and bring his wares for sale again in the third week. He was always sure of making a sale in whichever house he went to.
I remember Namakara Hawker coming around to the houses in the mines right up to the 1970’s. He must have been about 80 years old then and he was still healthy and active. However, his walk had slowed down and he was quite bent up. We were all very sad when we heard that he passed away in 1976. It seemed like the end of an era.
Chinaman John was another Hawker who regularly visited all the Anglo-Indian homes in KGF. Chinaman John was a Chinese National settled in KGF. He was married to a local Tamil lady and had 4 children. His son studied in the KGF Boy’s School and his daughters Violet, Charlotte and Lilly studied in St Joseph’s Convent. We didn’t find it at all strange that while they had Chinese features, they had an Indian dark complexion. Chinaman John would get consignments of soft, beautiful Silk dress materials, Silk Cushion Covers, silk table cloths etc from China and bring them around to the Anglo-Indian houses. Sometimes, he would get beautiful Silk Kimonos with elaborate embroidery of dragons and lanterns in gold and red silk threads. Chinaman John never left an Anglo-Indian home without making a sale!!!

Monday, June 2, 2014


The Jamun / Jamlum Season  is on in Bangalore and the sight of these dark, luscious Black Plums brings back many nostalgic memories of the Jamun / Jamlum and other fruit Trees in our garden in KGF.
Our Mining  house in KGF was an independent bungalow surrounded by a huge garden with lots of plants and trees. Our garden was always a profusion of colors, with huge beds of lovely flowering plants and shrubs in the front and back gardens. Asters, Daisies, Lilies, Roses, Cannas, Tiger Lilies, Spider Lilies, St Joseph’s lilies, Phlox, hollyhocks, Cockscombs, Hydrangeas and Pansies were some of the flowering plants in our garden, besides the jasmines, and frangipanis. We didn’t have to go to a florist to buy a bouquet of flowers for anyone’s birthday. We had ample flowers in our own garden to make beautiful bouquets!!!
Our garden also had a number of fruit trees such as mangoes, guavas, jamun / jamlums, custard apples, goose berries, papaya, Jack Fruit etc. All these trees had been lovingly planted by my grandmother Nana Maud and later nurtured by my mum. The garden with its abundance of plants and trees were home to numerous birds, squirrels and insects as well. We woke up every morning to the sounds of the birds chirping in the trees and hedges. The cawing of crows, the chirping of the sparrows, the sounds of the mynahs and the cry of the Koel and the Cuckoo bird was music to our ears in the morning.  Wild parrots, bulbuls, mynahs, crows, sparrows, wild pigeons, blue Jays, and squirrels built their nests and fed off the Jamlums, guavas, mangoes and papayas in our garden. It was so enjoyable to watch these birds sunning themselves and trying to attract their mates by fluffing out their feathers and strutting around. 
The Jackfruit trees bore delicious Jackfruits that were huge and as sweet as honey. Since the trees bore so many Jackfruits, my mum would distribute them to the workers who worked under my dad and to all our neighbours, friends, domestic helpers, etc. 

During the Mango season, the 4 Mango trees in our garden would be loaded with fruit. My mum would use some of the green mangoes to make delicious Mango pickle and lots would be left to ripen in straw for us. Since the trees bore so many mangoes we would distribute the rest among lots of people. My mum  would also make delicious Jams, Juices and Squashes besides a variety of puddings, custards, fruit salads etc with this golden fruit.

How could I forget the Jamlum Trees in our garden. During the summer months the 2 Jamlum / Jamun trees would be loaded with fruit. The dark, luscious black plums would gleam in the sun. The birds and squirrels would have a feast  everyday and by evening they would get drowsy from being intoxicated with this fruit. We would feast on these delicious black plums with salt and sometimes a little chillie powder. My mum was an expert in making a delicious Wine with the Jamlums from our garden.

The guava trees, Custard apple trees, Gooseberry trees and papaya trees too were always laden with fruit. We had quite a variety of fruit to choose from every day. The lime trees always bore a profusion of juicy limes on them and there was no dearth of lime juice or lime pickle in our home as mummy always made use of our own homegrown limes. I still remember the sweet smell of the lime blossoms from our lime trees when they were in season.
We also had a few Curry leaf Trees and Drumstick trees in the back garden The curry leaves were used for seasoning the curries and Pepper Water. The Drumstick tree bore long and tender drumsticks. Mummy would cook the Drumsticks along with meat or in a Dhal Curry and the drumstick leaves were turned into a delicious ‘Foogath’ which is a vegetarian side dish. Our gardener also grew green chillies, Coriander greens, Fenugreek greens, Mint and Coriander in a small kitchen garden on the left side of the garden.
With so many trees in our garden we were quite adept at climbing the guava and mango trees when we were children. These trees also made excellent hiding places for us during our games of Hide and Seek and Police and Robbers. The mango tree in front had a broad branch from which my dad hung a swing with a wooden seat for us. We spent many happy hours swinging from this mango tree shaded by its copious branches.

The memories keep rushing back and a smile lights up my face remembering those happy days in Kolar Gold Fields.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Farewell Address to Mr J K Walker Superindent, Champion Reef Mine


2. Address presented to Mr J K Walker on the Occasion of School day 26th January 1953 by the President, Madurai Numperumal Middle School, Andersonpet, KGF

Address presented to Mr J K Walker on the Occasion of School day 26th January 1953 by the President, Madurai Numperumal Middle School, Andersonpet, KGF

Friday, April 4, 2014


St Sebastian’s Church in Coromandel Kolar Gold Fields  was established in the year 1899. It is one of the oldest Churches in KGF. This Parish of St Sebastian catered to the Catholics living in the mining areas of Coromandel, Balaghat, Gold Field Hill and the whole of Nandydroog Mine.
Inititally, Nandydroog Mine did not have its own Parish church and all the Catholics from Nandydroog were therefore Parishioners of St Sebastian’s Church in Coromandel.
Since the Church was almost 3 miles way, people  either had to walk or go by train or Jatka to the Parish Church. In view of the distance and the difficulties involved in reaching St. Sebastian’s Church, arrangements were made by the Parish Priest to conduct Mass for the parishioners in the KGF School Hall. All the Catholics from Nandydroog Mine would attend this Mass at 6 O’clock on Sunday mornings. Even though the Service would be conducted in Latin, everyone would take active part in the prayers and sing all the hymns. The Choir was conducted by Mrs. Monisse and Mr. Oliver. However for all important feasts and other occasions such as the Annual Mission, Funeral Masses, Christenings, First Communions etc, we went to our Parish Church. Later on, a new Shrine dedicated to Infant Jesus was established in the old swimming bath premises for the Catholics of Nandydroog mine.Since we belonged to St Sebastian’s Parish Church initially, all of us were  Baptized and also made our First Holy Communion in St Sebastian’s Church.

St Sebastian’s Feast in the month of January  was celebrated as the Parish Feast with great fervour and religious zeal by all the parishioners. Every year a novena of 9 days was held just before the feast.  On the Feast Day, Masses were held in English and Tamil followed by a grand Car Procession with the statues of St Sebastian, St Anthony and Our Blessed Mother decorated grandly and taken out on all the roads around the Church. While the procession was in progress, people would throw flowers and Gram or “Kudla” mixed with pepper and salt on the statue of St Sebastian as a token of their gratitude for favours received from him. Silver offerings of various figures were also offered either as a request for some favour or in thanksgiving for his blessings. A mini fair would come up around the Church for the whole nine days and stalls selling cheap toys, bangles, Food stuffs, Sweets, etc made roaring business. The giant Wheel, Merry-ground, slippery side etc were major attractions of the children.
A Shrine in honour of St Anthony was also built in the premises of St Sebastian’s Church. This Shrine and the Statue of St Anthony draws many devotees who throng the Shrine on Tuesdays and on other days to pray to him for help in their daily lives.                                                                      

There is a statue of St Roch in the Church which attracts many devotees who pray to St Roche to cure them of various illness most especially skin rashes. St. Roch is known as  the patron Saint against plague, cholera, and skin rashes. St Roch is also known as the patron of Dogs as he loved dogs and it is believed that he got cured of his skin rashes only because his dog would lick the wound .


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Old Photographs of KGF 2


Old Photographs of KGF

A collage of old photographs of KGF showing the Oorgaum Hall, St Michael and All Angels Church, the KGF Mining Company Hospital and the bungalow that was allotted to the Doctors of the Mining Hospital in at Champion Reef, KGF.

Collection of photographs of KGF School Oorgaum later renamed as Parkinson Memorial School

St Joseph's Convent Champion Reef KGF


Friday, January 17, 2014

Telephone Exchange in Oorgaum


Just the Landscape of KGF, The Cycnaide Dumps, Mill Tailings, the Meter House in Chanpion Reefs, the 5 Lights Junction etc