News across the Commonwealth
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Old buildings do not belong to us… We are only trustees for those who come after us.
Encouraging news from Kolkata. Three landmark historic buildings have been restored for public exhibitions. Metcalfe Hall, opened in 1844, has been repaired in traditional lime plaster by the Archaeological Survey of India. Belvedere House has emerged from a five-year restoration programme with an exhibition celebrating Icons of Indian Nationalism. In the heart of the city, the old Currency Building has been refurbished for a jute and silk exhibition and fashion show.
Having secured statutory protection for over I200 historic buildings in the city, the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan (HFP) has organised a major initiative in Karachi. Under expert supervision, local community volunteers have been mobilised to clean the facades of the city’s fine historic buildings. Starting with the Victorian Gothic Denso Hall (above), built in 1886, it is the first step in creating a pedestrian precinct and the wider environmental improvement of the city’s Old Town. Together with Think City, Malaysia and INTBAU, in November 2019 HFP held an inspirational exhibition and conference which highlighted opportunities for conservation-led urban regeneration in both countries.
In Port of Spain, Stollmeyer’s Castle has been restored by the Office of the Prime Minister for official functions. The elaborate Scottish baronial landmark is the embodiment of shared heritage with timber from Guyana and Canada, cast iron, stock bricks and ceramic floor tiles from England, slates from Wales and decorative stained glass. At the nearby Red House, a major restoration project is underway for the Senate and Parliament Chambers.
Historic ruins can be adapted for new uses. Spanish Town High School sits on the Parade Ground of the Old Barracks built in 1791. Intact and roofed until the 1970s, now only the surrounding walls still stand. The School lacks sufficient space to accommodate all its pupils at the same time. The Board of Governors is determined to restore and reroof the Barracks for school use. A volunteer team from the UK and US visited in February to carry out a laser scan survey of the building and discuss ways of achieving this with Jamaican colleagues.
A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.