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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Scottish cemetery registers get back their pristine looks

Snigdhendu Bhattacharya , Hindustan Times  Kolkata, August 28, 2013
First Published: 11:37 IST(28/8/2013) | Last Updated: 11:41 IST(28/8/2013)

A group of 11 registers containing about 4,000 burial records at the Scottish cemetery dating back to the 1840s have been restored in the city as a crucial step to preserve records of the Scots who died in Kolkata.

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The registers not only have immense archival value but also have of sentimental value for the present-day Scots as many of them have their ancestors or close relatives buried there.

“It’s an important restoration work. They carry crucial records on Scots who lived in India but the registers were in a bad shape due to age of the papers,” GM Kapur, convenor of West Bengal and Calcutta regional chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), which restored the registers, said.

The registers have detailed records of the number of the grave, date and place of birth of the deceased, date and hour of death, profession and address as well as the cause of death.

 There are about 1,800 graves in the cemetery.

The first entry in the oldest register is of Ann Emily Shaw, a 16-month-old baby and resident of Creek Row, who died of cholera on November 8, 1840.

The second entry is of Donald MacLeod, who served as medical inspector general of Her Majesty’s Hospital in India and resided at 22, Theatre Street.

Born in the Isle of Skye in Scotland, MacLeod died in Kolkata on November 12, 1840, at the age of 65.

Established in 1826, the cemetery at Park Circus is the only Scottish cemetery in Kolkata and considered by many Scots as ‘a piece of Scotland in Kolkata’.

Presently, the cemetery is under the maintenance of St. Andrew’s Church, the only Scottish church in the city. Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust, a UK-based organisation, took up an initiative in 2008 to restore and preserve Scottish heritages in Kolkata.

Located in a congested area south of AJC Bose (Lower Circular) Road at 3 Karaya Road, Kolkata 700014, it covers an area of six acres and contains approximately 1,800 graves.

Their appeal was heard and the Scottish Cemetery was finally opened in 1826 and expanded over the years. It is now full, no longer in use and over the years has fallen into decay.

The Scots had come to Kolkata mainly as administrators in the East India Company but later moved on to running the jute and tea businesses.


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