EXCERPTS: Down memory lane
First printed in 1860 for private circulation, these summaries of the history of Lahore were incorporated, in 1876, in a guidebook which was a joint piece of work by T.H. Thornton and J. Lockwood Kipling
H.R. Goulding writes about Old Lahore and the Mall
It is of interest to recall that the beautiful Mall of which we are so justly proud and which is admittedly one of the finest public roads in Pakistan was first aligned in 1851 by Lieut-Colonel Napier, the Civil Engineer, who described it as “a direct road from Anarkali to Mian Mir.” He submitted alternative estimates for its construction, one for Rs12,544 and the other for Rs10,428. The former was for kankar throughout, the latter for an under layer of bricks with a kankar surface. Colonel Napier thought that the cheaper design would be sufficiently durable, but, in transmitting both estimates to the government of India, the Board of Administration remarked that they thought that as this road would be “the great thoroughfare not only with Anarkali but also with the city,” it would be more economical in the long run to sanction the higher estimate.
The Government of India, however, accepted Colonel Napier’s opinion and sanctioned, in April, 1851, the lower estimate. No noticeable alteration either in alignment of width seems to have been made till Sir Ganga Ram was Executive Engineer in charge of the Lahore Provincial Division, and extensive improvements were carried out in the sections east of the Post Office crossing. Later still the whole length of the Mall was remodelled on its present lines under the personal supervision of the late Mr DuCune Smythe, Chief Engineer, who, in turn, was supervised by the then Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Charles Rivaz. It was nothing unusual to meet, on a winter’s morning, these two high officials in earnest consultation by the roadside. On one occasion the writer saw the chief Engineer kneeling on the ground with a measuring tape in his hands, while on another the Lieutenant-Governor, who never allowed the felling of a tree if it could possibly be avoided, was personally superintending the marking of certain roadside trees which had to come down when the Mall was being realigned and widened opposite the Mayo School of Art.
It is worth noting that the estimate submitted by Colonel Napier on March 13, 1851, was sanctioned by the Government of India in the following April. Such indecent haste would be considered unpardonable in these days of railways, telegraphs, telephones and other up-to-date means of expediting work.
The Lower Mall
It is doubtful whether there is nothing on record to show when the “direct road from Anarkali to Mian Mir was first officially described as the Upper Mall, but it was shown as Lawrence Road in maps previous to 1876. Originally there was the one and only Mall, now known as the Lower Mall, extending from the Deputy Commissioner’s court to the Multan Road junction. It is very probable that the new nomenclature came into general use about the time that the portion of the Civil Station between government House and Anarkali was christened Donald Town, in commemoration of Sir Donald McLeod’s Lieutenant-Governorship.
One seldom, if ever, hears of Donald Town now, but Anarkali and Naulakha, the two original subdivisions, are still well-defined areas. The social life of Old Lahore centred round the now deserted Lower Mall in days not too far distant, when the Police Band played regularly twice a week in the Gol Bagh, then known as the Bandstand Gardens, and the beauty and fashion of the station gathered there to exchange gossip and listen to the music. The bandstand and the masonry promenade are all that now remain as indications of departed glories.
The Mall in 1875
Having given some details of the evolution of the famous Lahore Mall, from its original alignment and construction in 1851, when it was described as “the direct road from Anarkali to Mian Mir,” it may be of interest to paint, if possible, a word picture of what this important road was like in 1875.
Coming from the direction of Mian Mir, nothing was to be seen after crossing the canal but barren plains on both sides of the road, with the exception of an old double-storeyed bungalow on the left, now owned by H. H. the Maharaja of Patiala. This was occupied for some years by the Anglican Bishop of Lahore and was known as Bishopsbourne. Further on, on the same side of the road, were the Lawrence Gardens and the Lawrence and Montgomery Halls, with Government House on the opposite side. By the way, there is a curious mistake in Lieutenant-Colonel Newell’s Lahore, on page 41, where he describes the Lawrence Hall as a “handsome red brick building.”
Another mistake which might be corrected in a future edition of that pamphlet is the statement on page 60 that when Anarkali’s tomb “was converted into a Christian church … the sarcophagus was transferred to the east recess where it stands on a small dais.” As a matter of fact, it was placed in this position, taking the place of the communion table, when the building was no longer required for use as the parish church. In the interval between the Consecration of the tomb as a place of Christian worship and its conversion into a record room for Secretariat files, the sarcophagus was stored in one of the turret chambers.
However, let us resume our ramble down the Mall as it was in 1875. Having passed Government House, we came to Arundel, occupied for several years by Mr R. Burney, ICS, and by a succession of many other officials and non-officials well-known in Lahore society. There is a small plot of land between Kashmir road and the Arundel gateway which is still, I think, sometimes spoken of as “Burney’s garden.” Next we came to the old Punjab Club, a hideous barrack-like structure, with its racket-court at the back, which explains why Egerton Road, was known in years gone by a Racket Court Road. Nedou’s Hotel now stands on this site. There were no buildings on the opposite side of the road, where the new Masonic Lodge was built in 1916. Nor were there any buildings on the left, between Charing Cross and the Hall Road Crossing, except the one of which Mr Bremner’s photographic studio is an annexe. On the opposite side of this section of road there were only three bungalows, the one at present occupied by the office of the director of Industries, Mr Dav Johnston’s estate, “Beau Parc,” and the building later owned by the Ford Motor Company, in which Mr Rudyard Kipling served his apprenticeship as a journalist on the staff of the Civil and Military Gazette.
This building was also the office of the Military Secretary to the Punjab Government in the early 1880s. It may be mentioned that, though not actually on the Mall frontage, the building known as the Sunny View Hotel was built by a former Postmaster of Lahore, Mr George, as a private residence. Moving along the section between the Hall Road crossing and the Lawrence statue, the only building which met the eye on the right was the one occupied for so many years by the late Mr Jas Davison’s carriage shops, while on the left were two old bungalows one of which, known in recent years as “The Exchange,” has now been demolished to make room for Sir Ganga Ram’s block of business premises. The other was the building occupied for many years by Messrs Phelps Co., which was demolished to provide a site for the showrooms and workshops of the Bombay Cycle and Motor Agency.
A conspicuous feature in the neighbourhood where the Lawrence statue now stands was a square tower like building of old Punjabi bricks which had been the home for many years of an ex-officer of the British army who, having been cashiered during the Sikh wars, obtained employment as a clerk in the Punjab Civil Secretariat, where he worked to the day of his death. This old gentleman seemed to have neither a friend nor a relative in India, and lived in semi-oriental fashion, with a strictly controlled zenana.
The only building on the plain now occupied by the High Court was the shrine of Shah Chiragh, in which the Accountant General’s office was housed for many long years, until its removal to its present quarters. It appears, however, from some very old records that, before its occupation by the Accountant General’s office, this shrine was the residence of the “Principal Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner.”
On the opposite side of the road, too, there was only one solitary building, which still exists and was in those days occupied by Messrs Richardson & Co., the predecessors of Messrs Plomer & Co. and at that time the only chemists in Lahore. After passing Shah Chiragh, there were no buildings on either side of the road until we reached the Ice Factory. The areas later occupied by the General Post Office and the Alliance Bank on the left, and on the right by the Telegraph Office, Imperial Bank, Foreman Christian College, Convent, Mool Chand’s shop and the YMCA buildings, were open spaces. The writer remembers an occasion when he was taken for an involuntary ride across the present site of the Telegraph Office and Mool Chand’s buildings by a Kabuli pony, unused to wheeled traffic, who took fright at a passing dogcart. Most of this area was then under cultivation.
If the reader can follow this rambling description, he or she may be able to conjure up a more or less accurate idea of what the Upper Mall was like before the construction of the numerous imposing buildings, private and public, with which we are now so familiar. Some of these, for example, the Masonic Hall, Shah Din buildings, Mela Ram’s buildings, the Post and Telegraph offices and the High Court, have filled up open spaces, while others have replaced demolished bungalows, for instance, Nedou’s and Stiffle’s hotels, the Civil and Military Gazette offices, the huge business premises known as Slim Buildings and the showroom and workshop of the Bombay Cycle and Motor Agency, to say nothing of the later contributions made by Sir Shadi Lal and Sir Ganga Ram to the architectural improvement of our Mall.
Excerpted with permission from
Colonel H.R. Goulding was ADC to the King-EmperorT.H. Thornton, a distinguished British official, was secretary to the Punjab government in the 1860s