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Saturday, December 10, 2011


In the year 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 at the time. Sir Donald Robertson was also responsible for launching the first Hydro-electric plant in Shivanasamudram which supplied electric power to the KGF Mines.  Robertsonpet was considered to be one of the first planned residential areas in modern-day India. The township was planned and built to accommodate the increasing population of the city of Kolar Gold Fields.

Over the years the need for recreational facilities and a Town Hall for holding functions and Meetings was greatly felt in Robertsonpet and so a Town Hall was commissioned to be built.

The foundation stone for this Town Hall was laid on 11/12/1911. Although no official records are available, the building was completed in around 3 years time. The Town Hall was built in the Victorian Style of Architecture in the centre of the Robertsonpet Town, on the lines of Town Halls in Britain. It was a Majestic Building having large canopies and arches with a huge garden and sprawling lawns around it. It was inaugurated and declared open by Mr. Arthur E Taylor on 16th January 1915.

This Town Hall was named as the King George Hall after King George of England and was the venue of many cultural, literary and social functions. The King George Hall Cosmopolitan Club was started on the same lines as the KGF Club in Oorigaum and offered facilities for tennis, badminton, Billiards, snookers, cards, caroms etc. besides a Library / Reading Room, lounge and Bar.
Over the years this Cosmopolitan Club has continued to thrive and many old timers living in Robertsonpet are still members of this Club. However, the once beautiful garden and the surrounding lawns was allowed to deteriorate and the Civic Authorities had many times tried to annex the land and building to set up a Commercial Complex in its place by Private Builders. The Members of the Club have successfully thwarted these efforts and the Club still continues to function in the prestigious King George Hall.
The King George Hall Cosmopolitan Club is now celebrating the Centenary of the Laying of the Foundation Stone of the King George Town Hall on 11th December 2011. A Public Park has now been developed in the serene surroundings and the Park will be thrown open to the Public on 11/12/2011 at 11 AM by Sri Jyothi Roy IPS, Superintendent KGF and presided over by Sri Manoj Kumar Meena IAS, Deputy Commissioner Kolar and President of the KGF Cosmopolitan Club.

The efforts of Mr. Sampath Kumar and the other members of the Club are to be commended in saving and beautifying this historic Town Hall.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Memories of Christmas Time in KGF

Christmas time was the most enjoyable time of the year in KGF. A number of dances and variety programs were arranged during Christmas time, starting from the 2nd week of December and going on till the New Year. Each Mine held their own Christmas celebrations. There were a variety programs such as sports competitions for the children, Fancy Dress Competitions, etc and a High Tea for the children with Santa Claus arriving in a special sleigh to distribute their gifts. Games of skill such as Hoopla, Ringing the Bottle, Ringing the Duck, Lucky Dip, Lucky Arrow, The Chocolate Wheel, Darts, etc were some of the sideshows of the event., followed by a grand Christmas Ball later.
The grand Christmas Balls were occasions to remember. The Dance Invitations would specify ‘Lounge’ or ‘Dress Suits Essential’ and woe betide anyone who turned up in their casual clothes!! So the men and boys would dress in their suits and Tuxedoes and the ladies and girls wore their prettiest dresses and gowns made of lace, silk and satin specially tailored for the occasion.
Local Anglo-Indian Bands or bands from Madras or Bangalore were engaged to play for the dances. The MC of the show would ensure that everyone had a good time and took part in the Square Dances and other group dances. The Jive, Fox Trot, Cha Cha, and Rock and Roll etc were popular dance steps.
The ever green Waltz was all the more popular as it gave couples a chance to hold each other closely and dance cheek to cheek!!! In between the dances the men would disappear to have a small ‘sly tot’ to recharge their batteries. The dances would go on throughout the night and sometimes end only at 5 O’clock the next morning, when they would head straight to Church for Mass.
Sadly, all these good times have now come to an end with the closing of the Mines. However, the New Year Eve Ball in KGF is still the talk of the town and people attend the same from Bangalore, Madras etc.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The May Pole Dance - Memories of KGF School

My first teacher in KGF School was Mrs Borthwick who was the Baby Class teacher as well as the music teacher. She would play the piano during the Singing Class, and also for us to dance the May Pole. Dancing the Maypole was such a delightful experience, watching the coloured streamers / ribbons intercrossing and interlacing each other and forming beautiful myriad designs. The dancers had to keep changing their positions in time to the music in order to weave the required design. It was truly a sight to behold. When she struck the first Chord on the Piano it was the signal for us to bow to our partners. On the second chord we would go to the May Pole and each one would pick up their streamer / ribbon. We would wind it around our waists, and stand still till she struck the next chord. We had to stand in a circle a distance away from the May Pole so that the streamers / ribbons would be quite taut She would then play a tune and we had to change our positions in time to the music to weave and create a most wonderful design. At the end of the tune all the dancers would be near the Pole with shortened ribbons / streamers but under a most beautiful canopy woven by them.
Actually I have'nt seen a Maypole again after I left the KGF School all those years ago. I managed to get a picture of the May Pole from Google Images which I'm sharing above so that those who haven't seen or heard of a May Pole would have an idea of it.

This was the Singing Room as well as the MayPole Room in KGF School when I studied there in the 1950s. There was a lovely Grand Piano in this Room which seems to have disappeared many years ago.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

THE TAYLORS KGF TRIP ON 9TH NOV 2011 - Email from Patrick

From: Patrick Taylor To: Bridget kumar Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2011 10:43 PM
Subject: KGF

Dear Bridget
Heather and I are now home again. We have had a great flight home; no hitches and we are well although a bit weary. We have absolutely loved our holiday in India, and in particular yesterday which really was the crescendo to a most wonderful 2 weeks.

I am so grateful to you for all that you have done to help so many people remember their time at the KGF. Your book is a wonderful statement of a lifestyle that sadly no longer exists but we can remember with great fondness. Over the past few weeks since we first made contact, you have been so kind to guide me and help us with our prospective visit; and yesterday, it all came to reality.

I very much appreciated meeting Richard, Nicky and Philip. It seems so wonderful that they are really the John Taylors of the current day. I shall definitely be buying some shares in their company, and thereby maintaining an active interest in their progress. I was so interested to learn what they are doing. It was great.

Then, our visit to KGF was a mixture of sadness and joy. I was sad to see the state of the old hospital and of so many of the old houses. Such a shame that it has all been allowed to go to ruin. As Heather said to me on the plane: would it not make a wonderful week-end retreat for the people of Bangalore. Some property developer should take up the challenge to revive that wonderful area with its gracious houses, golf course and with so much potential. I shall keep dreaming!

I loved going to the convent and seeing my old home. Although the house had seen better times, it was lovely to see the wonderful job the nuns are doing there with the children. There was so much love in that place that made me happy to see the house being used in that way. The children were so full of joy; lovely smiles. I am glad that I have captured some of them on film. I will send some to you for onward posting in due course.

Of course, it was sad to see the other house that I lived in. Seeing that man working in that grim room, and the decay of the rest of the house with those awful guards gave a feeling of almost evil in the air. That was the bad part of the day but one that was so worthwhile to see. If India is to progress as a world economic power and a great democracy, that sort of inefficiency and corruption must one day be eradicated.

Then of course the KGF Club! How sad to see it in such a sad state but the smiles on the faces of the men there will stay with me for the rest of my life. I was so touched that they came there to see me. I shall be hugely grateful if you would let me have the name of the old boy who knew my father. He was so loving and great. I would love to write to him to say a big thank you. Is there any chance that one d ay you could tell me how I could send him a letter?

Altogether yesterday will go down for me as one of the most important days of my life and I have you to thank for that, Bridget. Heather loved it all too. You were so kind to give us a copy of your cookery books and to make those sandwiches. You are a star, and I am so grateful.

I can’t see myself staying away for another 55 years! It may be 55 weeks, or slightly more but I shall definitely try to get back before too long. We must try to develop a UK based KGF community. One thought I have had is to see if we could set up a UK based charity to provide funding and support for St Joseph’s Convent School. It would be a lovely thing to do if we could help to make a difference.

Anyway, Bridget, I have rambled on enough for now. Heather and I loved meeting you and Ashok. I am sorry the hotel let us down somewhat but we loved meeting him, and I look forward to meeting again before too long.

Thank you also for spending your wedding anniversary with us. There are so many things to thank you for.
Oh what a memorable day. I will be back. I have only just started!

With love and God bless you

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nostalgic Visit of Patrick and Heather Taylor to KGF on 9th November 2011 along with Bridget White-Kumar

I was pleasantly surprised about a month ago to receive this email from Mr. Patrick Taylor from the UK.

“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 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. Warm regards
Patrick Taylor

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 Kolar Gold Company at Chickregunta near Kuppam.

We were accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Johnson and Phillip Dingle. Phillip and Mr. Richards made our trip to the new exploration site truly memorable. It was a fascinating opportunity for us of looking into the future and seeing a new Gold Mining area taking shape. 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. It was a pleasure meeting Raymond Cruze, Mr Gupta and all the Staff of  Kolar Gold Company. Sincere thanks to  Mr.and Mrs. Richard Johnson, Phillip Dingle and all the other staff of Kolar Gold Company for making our visit to the new exploration site a memorable one.

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 come to visit them. The nuns house at the Convent was earlier the residence of Mr Arthur Taylor, the General of the John Taylor and Company.

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. The school building was a simple structure with a tin roof. However, due to the massive Rock Burst of Earth Quake proportions in 1952, the St Mary’s Church, the presbytery, the Convent and the School Buildings all collapsed to the ground. Luckily, no one was injured and no lives were lost. But the buildings were completely destroyed.

Mr. Morgan, The Chief Medical Officer of the Company Hospital, rushed to help the Sisters and took them to the Hospital premises. He 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 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. The   Bungalow and the adjacent land was thus sold to the St Joseph’s Convent Nuns. It became the nun’s living quarters and in course of time an extension was added to it to accommodate the Community. 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.  The old house as Patrick remembered it still in the same beautiful condition today and lovingly maintained by the Sisters of St Joseph of Tarbes

We then went back to KGF and visited various places around Champion Reefs, such as Our Lady of Victories Church, the Champion Reefs Post Office, the Reservoir, the Champion Reefs Work Shops, the Imperial Bakery and the Hospital. Patrick was very sad to see the deplorable state of the 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.
He was also very dejected to see the state of Mr J K Lindsay's once beautiful bungalow. He remembered the beautiful spiral starcase in the house and playing on the lovely green lawns. This bungalow was later the J K Lindsay Memorial School. It was after the school was shifted back to the Parkinson Memorial premises in Oorgaum and the place was lying vacant, that vandals has destroyed the place and stollen everything of value including he doors and windows. The building is now the SC/ ST Association Office.

Patrick also visited the other Bungalow near the Golf Course where his family shifted after their return from their holiday in the UK in 1952. He was however quite sad to see it as it looked quite run down 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 as he left for the UK in a couple of years. 

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 going to. He spent sometime in the Church speaking to the Church Representatives Mr. Nathan and Mr. Moses who presented him and me with a copy of the Centenary Souvenir.

 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.
He and his wife stood under the photograph of his Great grandfather John Taylor in the Main Bar and clicked many   photographs. 

He was pleased to meet Susai Raj, the old Bar man 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. 

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.  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.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Felicitation Function at the TAMIL SANGHAM office in KGF on 28th October 2011

I was invited by Mr Kalaiarasan, President of the Tamil Sangham in KGF to visit their Office at the Tamil Sangham Office in Robertsonpet KGF on the 28th of October 2011. During the a small Get Together, the members of the Sangham felicitated me on my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE. It was indeed an honour and I felt very humbled and grateful for the affection and warm appreciation showered on me by all those present.Thank you Mr Kalaiarasan, Mr. Anbuarasam, Mr Prabhu and all the others who were present on the occasion. God bless you all.

This is a photograph of Mr Kalaiarasan felicitating me and my husband Ashok Kumar at the Sangam

Below is a group photograph of some of the members of the Tamil Sangam along with my husband and myself before the statue of Thiruvallavar outside the Tamil Sangam

The Newspaper Articles featuring me in THE DINASUDAR Tamil Newspaper is appended below.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


This is an excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE

Bethamangalam is a small town located on the banks of the Palar River in Kolar District and was earlier known as ‘Vedamangalam’ or ‘Vedapuri’. It is located about 5 miles south east of KGF and is the underground water source of the Palar River. In 1903, a huge man-made lake in Bethamangalam was constructed to supply filtered water to the Kolar Gold Mines. Two huge reservoirs were constructed to store and suppy a million imperial gallons a day to the mines in Kolar Gold Fields. The Jewell Export Filter Company of New York was given the contract to supply and install the necessary fittings and equipment at the plant, for the complete purification system.

The purification system was fitted with 4 circular filters each having a bed of 3.5 feet in depth and 17 feet in diameter and filtered water was pumped from the reservoir in Bethamangalam through steel pipes to huge tanks in Champion Reefs near the Company Mining Hospital where it was then distributed to all the mines. The actual quantity of water consumed by each mine was registered and recorded by a Venturi Meter on the main pipe line. (This water supply from Bethamangalam continued right up to the time the mines were officially closed in 2001).

Soon Bethamangalam became a popular sailing and picnic spot for the British population in KGF. A Sailing Club was established here around 1905, and it had a good number of Britishers and Europeans as members. A beautiful Club House was constructed, which had a well stocked Bar, a reading room, a Billiards and Snooker Room as well as a Swimming Pool. The Sailing Club had a fleet of canoes and Row boats, and served as a berth for private boats and canoes also.

The Bethamangalam Sailing Club House was also famous for another reason. It seems that a British lady named Molly Manley was the first person to introduce the word game of 'Scrabble', to the British and Anglo-Indian populace of Kolar Gold Field in the early 1900s. Scrabble had only recently come into existence and it caught on fast with the British.  They usually played this game sitting around a table, under a large tree, outside the Bethamangalam Sailing Club House, sipping their drinks and enjoying their snacks while they spelled and formed words and had a lot of fun.

The Sailing Club closed up when the British Left India and the Club House was later converted into the Government Guest House after India’s Independence and is still in use today.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN ME ORY LANE - Book Reading Session held at the Select Book Shop, Brigade Road, Bangalore on 8th October 2011.

The Book Reading Session on my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE organized at the Select Book Store Bangalore was a very pleasant and nostalgic occasion. I would like to first of all extend my sincere thanks to Mr. Murthy and his son Mr. Sanjay for organizing and hosting this wonderful session. The ambience and d├ęcor of the Select Book Shop really added to the nostalgia of the session. Thanks also to Suma whose, introductory speech set the trend for the session. My Special thanks to Navin Thomas who arranged this meeting with Mr. Murthy in the first place.
I was happy to see my old friends Tony Lobo and Bernard Manuel who shared a lot of their memories of KGF with the other guests present on the occasion . Bernard spoke of his grand dad who owned the Lazarus Bakery in KGF in the olden days and was very famous with the British and Anglo-Indian population of KGF and of his dear dad Jossy Manuel who was also famous for his delicious cakes and pastries. Mr Jossy Manuel would even oblige people by coming to their homes and baking their Christmas cakes and puddings for them!!!.

Mr. Niranjan Murthy and Mr. K R Krishna Murthy, two very senior Engineers of the mines who were contemporaries of my dad Sydney White shared a lot of valuable information and their experiences of working in KGF with us. It was great having them at the Session.
Mr. Elangovan, a practicing lawyer in Bangalore and an ex-student of KGF School reminisced about KGF School and especially of the teachers and head masters who were responsible for instilling sterling values in him. He made special mention of my aunts Miss White and Mrs. Morris and also of Mrs. Godfrey and Mr. Dudley Pinto and recalled fond memories of his school days.
Wing Commander ‘Kojak’ Bhat who incidentally never lived in KGF but has visited KGF many times also shared a lot of information with the crowd.
Rohit Fernandes who never ever went to KGF but was fascinated by my book attended the session with his parents who listened spell bound to the discussions and interactions. Thanks Rohit.

All in all it was a lovely homely, interactive and nostalgic session and I would like to thank everyone who attended it for their love and affection shown to me. Their strong emotional attachment to KGF was evident in their memories.

Friday, September 30, 2011



SELECT BOOK SHOP on Brigade Road, has organized a Book Reading Session by Bridget White on her book “Kolar Gold Fields – Down Memory Lane – Paeans to lost glory”, on Saturday 8th October 2011 at 5 PM

Bridget White-Kumar was born and brought up in Kolar Gold Fields, a small mining town in the erstwhile Mysore State which was famous for its Colonial ambiance. This book is a small attempt on her part to record for posterity, the history and way of life of the old Kolar Gold Fields.

“Kolar Gold Fields – Down Memory Lane - Paeans to lost glory”,  undertakes a nostalgic journey of almost 150 years, right from the days of the origins of the Kolar Gold Mines, its historical and mythological connections, the growth of the mines under the British Company of John Taylor and Sons till the ultimate closure of the once prosperous Kolar Gold Mining Company in 2003. Thus ending a golden chapter in History, which now lies buried in the annals of time. It then moves on to give the reader a brief insight into the lives of the Anglo-Indian Community in the early days of KGF and finally focuses on the author’s own childhood memories of growing up as a young Anglo-Indian child in KGF in the 1950s and 60s.

The book succeeds in capturing and preserving for posterity the nuances and ethos of a bygone era in that once glorious vibrant place called Kolar Gold Fields, and at the same time keeps it alive in the hearts of its erstwhile inhabitants, which still beats for it.

The book is priced at Rs. 260.00 per copy

Venue:   The Select Book Store
               71, Brigade Road Cross
               Bangalore 56001
               (Landmarks: Near Prabhu Digitals and Victory Dry Cleaners)
Time:     5.00 PM

Contact:  25580770 / 30521906

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

‘New Imperial Bakery and Victory Confectionery Stores’ in Champion Reefs.

This is a picture of the ‘New Imperial Bakery and Victory Confectionery Stores’ in Champion Reefs which is situated just opposite the Company Hospital. This Store in the good old days, was any child’s delight with huge glass bottles filled with different kinds of sweets, biscuits, toffees, stick jaws, buns etc. The Egg Sweets, ‘Wording sweets’, lollipops, Jujips, Almond Sweets, etc were all so delicious and enticing. Since it was just opposite the hospital, no hospital visit was complete without visiting this delightful place. Parents often had to bribe their kids to take their medicines with promises of goodies from the New Imperial Bakery. Besides these exciting  sweets in bottles, the trays of Mutton and Vegetable Puffs, Buns, biscuits, cookies and other savouries was a gourmet's delight.

Our daily bread was also ‘home delivered’ every day at 4 o’clock in the evening. The ‘Bread Man’ brought the freshly baked loaves in a large Wooden Box tied on the carrier of his bicycle. This bread was delivered from this ‘New Imperial Bakery and Victory Confectionery Stores’ for more than 35 years!! The loaves of bread were always still hot from the oven when he brought them. These loaves were sold whole not sliced and just before dinner every night my mum would slice the loaf and leave it on the table for us. Like the mincing machine, each Anglo-Indian family had their own bread board and bread knife to slice the bread.

The payment for the bread that was delivered every day was done on a monthly basis. Every house had their own page in the ‘Bread Man’s’ long  account book, and entries would be made as to the number of loaves of bread and buns bought by them against the date. During the first week of the succeeding month, the representative of the ‘New Imperial Bakery and Stores’ would make the rounds for receiving payment of the bread delivered during the month.

The bakery also made special Hot Cross Buns filled with plums for Good Friday and our Baker would deliver them along with the bread on Maundy Thursday. We’d have to place an order as to the number of buns required about 10 days in advance. Since Good Friday was the day of fasting and abstinence we normally ate these Hot Cross buns for breakfast and dinner with a little butter.

Monday, September 5, 2011

ELECTRIFICATION OF THE KGF MINES - KGF was the first Mining Industry in Asia to get Electricity in 1902


From the inception of the mines in 1880 until the year 1902 all the machinery in the Kolar Gold Mines were worked by steam power. Feeling the need for captive electric power, The John Taylor and Sons Company prevailed upon the British Government in Mysore to provide Electric power to the Company to meet its huge need for electricity, for running the machines and various other needs. The Cauvery Power Scheme was thus initiated in 1900 by the Mysore Government, under K Seshadri Iyer, the then Diwan of Mysore. The credit however, for the Cauvery Falls Power Works was attributed to Captain Lotbiniere R.E., the then Deputy Chief Engineer of the Mysore Government.

The initiating of the Cauvery Power Scheme has also been recorded in The Karnataka State Gazette, Mandya District as follows:  ‘The Mysore Government decided to investigate the practicality of generating power at Shivanasamudram Falls Site and enlisted the services of Colonel Campbell, the Chief Engineer at Madras for the same with the cooperation of the Madras Government. The Chief Engineer took a very favourable view of the potential of the project. In June 1899, the Deputy Chief Engineer of Mysore, after studying the details of the power installation at the Niagara Falls (in North America), was convinced of the idea of working the machinery at the Kolar Gold Fields with the electricity generated by the Cauvery falls.
The scheme received the hearty support of Seshadri Iyer and Colonel Campbell.  M/S John Taylor & Sons of London, who had the general control on KGF also supported the scheme. The government decided to utilise the head of the falls for hydro-electric power and its transmission for the service of industrial undertaking in the state of Mysore, inclusive of KGF, in 1899 “.
The first major Hydro Electric Generating Station for commercial operations was thus commissioned in 1889 at Shivasamudram, near Mysore, The longest transmission line, at the highest voltage in the world, was constructed exclusively to meet the power needs of mining operations at Kolar Gold Fields.

The work on the Cauvery Power Works Station at Shivasamudram was completed by the middle of 1902. The 30th of June 1902, was a Red Letter Day in the history of Mysore State and the Kolar Gold Mines. It was on this day, 4000 H.P. of Electric Energy was transmitted from the Cauvery Falls Power Station at Shivasumudram through the longest transmission line to Kolar Gold Fields for the first time. Thus the erstwhile Mysore State, became the first State in India, to establish such a huge Hydro-Electric Plant.

It has been further recorded in the Karnataka Gazetteer that:  quote “The first Hydro-electric power station in Asia was set up when the British Resident General Donald Robertson in Mysore launched the 700 KW Hydroelectric Station which transmitted power to KGF on 30th June 1902”.  Unquote.

KGF was thus supplied with electric power from Shivasamudram in 1902. It was the first time in Asia that electricity was generated and supplied, through a transmission line that was more than 80 miles long. It was the longest transmission line in the world at that time - the second longest was at the Niagara Falls which was only 13 miles long!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


The John Taylor and Sons Company with the co-operation of the O’Donnell brothers, Dr T J O’Donnell and J D O’Donnell, established a well equipped hospital in 1880, 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.  

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. This photograph of the Hospital was taken in 1930.

As with all other aspects of KGF, there was a small legend attached to the Mining   Hospital as well. The legend states that the British built a small temple dedicated to the Goddess Mariamma at the side of the Hospital. She was considered to be the Goddess of Small Pox and Chicken Pox as well as other summer heat related diseases such as measles and mumps.

The workers prevailed upon the British owners of the Company to build this small temple near the hospital to appease the Goddess and seek her blessings, so that she wouldn’t get angry at being deprived of curing people without medicines!!! People visiting the hospital would visit the temple and pray to her to look after their family members who were ill in hospital.

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 died.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Champion Reefs Workshops KGF established in 1900

The Champion Reefs Workshops were established in 1900 to carry out all the major engineering work of the Champion Reef Mine. This picture shows it in all its glory in its hey days

This photograph taken in the year 2001 shows signs of its neglect when the mines were shut down

The final requeim. The Champion Reefs Workshops in its present neglected and sad state

Thursday, July 28, 2011


The KGF Golf / Gymkhana Club was established by the British Mining Company John Taylor and Sons in 1885 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. It had its own Polo, Golf and Hockey teams, In those days, the club was totally out of bounds for the Indians, and only the British and Europeans could become members. The Club house and the 12 Hole Golf Course was built in just 6 months by the vast labour force in KGF at that time.

Because of the hilly terrain of KGF, the 12 Hole Golf course was located in a winding treeless landscape. Unlike other Golf courses which have Putting Greens the KGF Golf Club had no Putting Greens. Instead it had ‘Browns’ constructed of river sand in place of greens.

The KGF Club House has a regal Colonial ambience. The old Club house that is more than a century old, was built of stone quarried from the area itself. It had strong dark teak wood doors and windows with solid brass handles, hinges and knobs. These handles and knobs were constantly polished by the club servants in those days and shone like gold. These fittings as well as the sterling silver cutlery and the beautiful crockery with the Club’s emblem were all brought specially from England, when the club was constructed by the British.

The KGF Club also had the distinction of having an exclusive “Ladies Bar” just off the main lounge. The British and European ladies made good use of this lounge and enjoyed their drinks while catching up with the latest news and exchanging gossip with their friends.. The Ladies lounge also had a huge grand piano and the ladies invariably gathered around it singing all the old songs and ballads while one of them played the piano. The club was surrounded by a beautiful garden with well maintained sprawling lawns and flower beds. The serene surroundings with the golf course on the side looked like a picture from an old English Countryside.

The foyer of the club has many deer and bison heads on its walls. There are also a number of framed photographs of all the old Superintendents and Chairmen of the Mines starting with Mr. John Taylor in the lounge of the club. Besides these there are a lot of other photographs as well.

One particular faded sepia print of smiling Britishers standing around an iron bucket on one of the walls of the lounge draws one’s attention. The old Bar man Susairaj was often willing to share the story behind this photograph to anyone who was interested in listening even if it meant repeating the story any number of times.

According to Susairaj’s story, when the KGF Golf Club came into existence, and a new club house was built, and the 12 Hole Golf Course was laid, the Club hosted the first KGF Gymkhana Golf Tournament. However the organizers forgot to arrange for a suitable Trophy for the first Tournament. It was quite an embarrassing moment when it was time to award the winner and there was no trophy to be given. They just improvised by using an old cast iron bucket with the words ‘The Cup’ painted on it. The old picture is of the winning team posing with the trophy of the very first tournament.

Like the rest of KGF, there are visible signs of deterioration in this once prestigious Club. The Bar is 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. The mounted Antlers and Horns still adorn the foyer of the club. However, 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, the beautiful crockery and cutlery with the Club’s monogram have all disappeared and now replaced with ordinary ones.

The Club still has almost 600 members on the rolls. The members still enjoy their rounds of Golf and visit the Club for a game of Billiards and Snooker and enjoy a drink in the not so well stocked Bar!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


The Boy Scouts Movement was started in India by the British as early as 1909 in Bangalore but it was open only to British and Foreign Scouts. In 1916, the Indian Boy Scouts Association was founded and was open to all Indians.
In 1929, Mr. V.N. M. Felix, who was a Malaria Inspector, attached to the Sanitary Department, Champion Reefs, founded The 5th Kolar Gold Fields (St. Mary’s) Open Scout Group, that functioned from the Champion Reefs Scout Den until the late 1980s. Scouts from this Den attended many state and national level camps under the leadership of Mr. Felix. Scout meetings were held regularly on Saturday evenings. The Scouts and Guides movement in KGF was quite active under Mr. V.N.M. Felix, who was the Scout Master in KGF. He was a short thin man with a huge white mustache. He wore his khaki shorts and shirt and the Scouts tie, scarf and stockings with pride. Besides, training the young boys to be scouts he also started the Bulbul Movement for the girls. Mr.S. A. Bayley, a British Officer, who was the Chief Cashier and Accountant in Nandidroog mines was the Vice-President, K.G.F. District Scout Association in the 1940s and 50s. His contribution to the growth and popularity of the Scout movement in K.G.F. was significant. In 1946 he was awarded the ‘Silver Elephant’ (which is the highest award in Scouting in India) by the then Chief Scout His Highness The Maharaja of Mysore! The Boy and Cub Scout Movement was active in the K.G.F. School up to the 1950s then went into decline.

In 1962, Mr. Dudley Pinto took over as the Head Master of the School from Mr. Sterling. Incidentally, Mr. Pinto was the Group Leader and District Scout Master at the Southern Railway Mixed High School (English Medium) in Khargpur, West Bengal, where he worked until 1961. In 1966 some students prevailed upon Mr. Pinto to revive the Boy Scouts group in the KGF School. Accordingly, a Scout Group with about 20 boys was formed with Mr. Pinto as Scout Master in KGF School. Mr. Felix and Mr. George Bastian of the St. Mary’s Scout Den, Champion Reefs, were closely associated with the Scout activities of the KGF School.
In 1967, Mysore State celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Scouting at the Central training Camp in Doddaballapur in which the Scout group from the school participated. A two day Scout Camp was also conducted by Mr. Felix at Bethamangalam for the scouts of the KGF School. The Scouts movement was quite active for a few more years, but with the departure of Mr. Pinto from K.G.F. School, the Scout Movement was overtaken by the NC

These pictures of the 2 day Scout Camp at Bethamangala in 1967 attended by the Boy Scouts from KGF School were very kindly given to me by Mr Ravindra Kumar who now lives in Chennai when I was bringing out my book on KGF. Thanks Ravi.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Skating Rink , (Nandydroog Mine KGF)

The Skating Rink was diagonally opposite our house and next door to the Nandydroog Club. The Skating Rink was the only big Auditorium or Party Hall in KGF at the time and was the most popular venue for Wedding Receptions, Parties, Get-togethers, School Functions and Concerts, Musical recitals, Meetings, Dances etc. The Christmas Dances, May Queen Balls, Easter Ball, June Rose Balls, The Anglo-Indian Association’s Annual General Meeting and Ball, New Years Eve Ball, Independence Day Ball, The Republic Day celebrations etc, were all held at the Skating Rink.

A function was held there practically every month and it was a famous landmark for all in KGF.

In the olden days this hall was used for Ice Skating and Roller Skating by the British. The floor was as smooth as silk and was an amazing dance floor. Just before a dance, chalk powder would be strewn on the floor to facilitate easy dancing movements for the dancers. Besides being used as a hall for functions and dances, the Skating Rink was also an indoor Shuttle Badminton Court. We would regularly play shuttle here during the holidays.

Sadly, the Skating Rink which stood the ravages of time for well over a hundred years is now in shambles. The inner walls are all crumbling and the false ceiling of Tatty Cane is worn out in several places. However people still continue to hold their functions in it and camouflage the interiors walls with huge coloured Cloth and decorations. It will always remain their ‘dear old Skating Rink’

Saturday, July 9, 2011


- The Hindu Life & Style » Metroplus 3rd June 2011

A Passage to Colonial India 
Bridget White-Kumar takes Mini Anthikad-Chhibber through the delicately spiced pages of history into a world of memsahibs, cucumber sandwiches, kedgeree and khansama

Stepping into Bridget White-Kumar's house just off the busy Koramangala Ring Road is to step into another world altogether. There are the flowering trees, plants, shrubs, lovebirds all flourishing in a riotous symmetry. The old world charm of the house with its glass showcases, the colourful aquarium with its plump, brilliantly-hued fish is an echo of Bridget's life-long project of preserving the Anglo-Indian legacy through its cuisine.

Having written seven recipe books including the latest, “Vegetarian Delicacies” and a book on Kolar Gold Fields, where she was born — “Kolar Gold Fields – Down Memory Lane – Paeans to lost Glory,” Bridget is doing her bit to see that a way of life does not pass off into the dusty pages of history.

“It all started when my daughter, Kusum, was going to England to study,” says Bridget with a smile. “I wrote her a small recipe book. The original little black book! There were recipes for regular cooking like rice, curries and snacks. When Kusum returned, she said all her friends had enjoyed the food. That Easter, while we were eating the traditional Easter lunch, my daughter said these recipes would die out unless they were recorded. That got me thinking and I set about collecting recipes.”

Collating recipes handed down from her mother and grandmother, Bridget soon had a wealth of information about Anglo-Indian recipes. “I sent the manuscript around and Roli Books showed interest. But it was all taking too much time. I decided to pick out the most famous Anglo-Indian dishes and publish it myself.”

And that is how “The Best of Anglo-Indian Cuisine – A Legacy” was born. “I tempted readers with the picture of classic Anglo Indian dishes — coconut rice, devil chutney and ball curry, on the cover,” Bridget says with a laugh. The book was a super success. The other books followed including “Flavours of the Past” with colonial favourites such as Railway mutton curry.

After her graduation in Kolar, Bridget came to Bangalore to do her B.Ed, which is where she met her husband. “He was my first cooking instructor! He taught me to strain rice. I asked my mother and mother-in-law for recipes. “Since my husband is from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, known for its fiery cooking, and I am Anglo-Indian, my cooking was a fusion of the two. I started off with simple dishes and then graduated to more complicated recipes. My first big success was the biryani, which was not too bland nor was it too spicy or too rich. I realised ethnic cooking is dying out and needs to be preserved.”

About the legacy of Anglo-Indian food, Bridget says: “Roasts, stews, bakes, sandwiches and white bread, fish and chips, cutlets, croquettes, sausages, bacon, ham, egg variants, puddings, custards, became part of the Anglo-Indian culinary repertoire. The Sunday English breakfast of eggs, bacon and kippers, toast, cheese, butter, jams, and English roast dinners complete with steamed vegetables, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy, English sausages, colloquially known as bangers with mash, became very common in Anglo-Indian homes.” Anglo-Indian cuisine has a strong Scottish influence too. “The bread pudding, treacle pudding, mince and tatties, steak and kidney pie and of course kedgeree (kichdi) are a result of the cross pollination between cultures.”

Anglo-Indian food should not be looked at as a homogenous entity, Bridget says. “The recipes are an amalgamation of the tastes and spices of the region. So the Anglo-Indian cuisine from Bengal will have more sea food and mustard oil while the cuisine from landlocked Kolar would feature more meat.”

Bridget took VRS from Canara Bank after working for 23 years. She says she is busier than before.

She started a blog on KGF “four to five years ago. Every time I visited, I saw the deterioration. I felt the nostalgia and the need to preserve the story of KGF for coming generations”. That is how “Kolar Gold Fields – Down Memory Lane – Paeans to lost Glory” was born. An easy read, the book effortlessly brings to life the world of dances, food and hard work.

As I look through Bridget's collection of recipes, written by her mum and grandmother on little pieces of paper and also flip through this rare, old book, “Original Madras Cookery” published in 1874 written by an anonymous British Resident's wife I am transported to a world of khansamas, mulligatawny soup, bone china tea services and delicately-sliced cucumber and chutney sandwiches. At my back I can hear the insistent hum of Koramangala traffic as it speeds down our very own information highway. It is however nice to sometimes take a break and indulge in some heavy duty Raj nostalgia.

Mini Anthikad-Chhibber