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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus architect’s kin in town: ‘Did not know his works got so much love in India’

Diana Robertson (59), on a visit to the city, said it was important to preserve the heritage character of the building while retaining its simplicity.

Written by Neha Kulkarni | Mumbai | Published: April 21, 2017 2:19:58 am
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus architect, Diana Robertson, Kevin Robertson, India news, National news, Latest news, India news, National news Diana Robertson is great great granddaughter of CST’s architect, Frederick William Stevens. Nirmal Harindran

As a UNESCO-recognised World Heritage building, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is used to visitors coming to marvel at its grandeur. However, the iconic building had a special visitor on Thursday — the great great granddaughter of its architect, Frederick William Stevens.

Diana Robertson (59), on a visit to the city, said it was important to preserve the heritage character of the building while retaining its simplicity.

Diana along with her husband Kevin Robertson (60) made their maiden visit to Fredrick’s grave at the Sewri cemetery. This was followed by a tour of the CST, the BMC and other structures designed by F W Stevens and his son Charles. The Robertsons run a furniture business back at Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

Overwhelmed by how celebrated her ancestors’ works are, Diana said, “I always knew about the creations of my great great grandfather but never knew they received so much love back in India. I felt extremely emotional on reaching the cemetery and the love received makes me feel proud of who I am.”

The Central Railway with INTACH is working on the preservation of the heritage structure of the building. The works will include removing temporary structures obstructing the view of the building and reworking on the nuances tampered with through incorrect preservation techniques.

“It is very important that heritage structures are preserved in the correct manner. It is much needed that they remain simple and nothing seems overdone. In my participation, I would try to help authorities here with documents of drawings or mentions made by my ancestors. This could help them achieve clarity on what could be done,” Diana added.

Kevin mentioned sharing the importance of works by Stevens back in London. “We could discuss the celebration of works done by Diana’s ancestors among academic circles back at home. This could help them keep a record of the importance of his works. There is also no harm in sharing the documents through a proper channel on the Internet if need be,” Kevin said.

Diana said though she had planned to visit the city earlier, the plan could not work out for various reasons. “My grandmother Helen and my father Timothy Pramoed have spent a considerable portion of their lives in India. Though my father suffered from dementia in his last days, the memories of India never escaped his mind… While my trip here was a chance visit, I am happy to have seen most of their creations,” Diana added. The couple plan to visit other cities, like Jaipur and Delhi.

The city too was happy to welcome them. “CST did not know of the presence of a descendant of its creator. This would be the most memorable day for heritage lovers,” said Anita Kothare from Museum Society Mumbai, who was instrumental in planning this visit.

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