Following the restoration work of the 184-year-old Central Library of Town Hall, now the iconic stairway leading up to the reading room has been demolished ahead of a reconstruction project.
The neoclassical-styled Town Hall, which was reopened in February for the public, is also the venue for the annual tea party hosted by the chief minister. Having appeared in countless films and photographic depictions of the city, the wide white steps are not only a city icon but also a spot frequented by aspiring photographers, students and tourists.
Believed to be more than a century old, the iconic steps of Town Hall has sustained several fractures and seepage that have damaged the 30 steps.
“Part of the scope of the work is to undo the damage done to the stairs by leakages. There are several cracks also spotted on the steps and the underside. The work would entail dismantling the steps completely,” said a senior official associated with the project.
Conservation architect Abha Lambah and her team were appointed by the state to restore the central library.
According to officials, work is underway on 15 steps on the upper end of the stairway.
“The work began on the top flight after the mid-landing. Work started in March primarily because the seepage through these steps was affecting the room below this part of the staircase,” said an official.
While the current work is expected to end in May, the repairs on the lower flight will be underway even during the monsoon, claimed an official.
Conservationists said that for the repair work, basalt rocks were brought in one from quarry in South India and another from Rajasthan.
The repairing team is currently numbering each step after dismantling, but not disturbing those steps that are in good condition.
Envisioned originally as the pride of colonial civic planning, it was here at the Town Hall where Queen Victoria’s proclamation liquidating the East India Company’s administration of India in 1858 was read.
The neoclassical Town Hall was designed by Colonel Thomas Cowper of Bombay Engineers and completed by his colleague Charles Waddington in 1833 at a cost exceeding Rs 6 lakh.
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