The Western Railway has finalised plans to restore the grade-1 Bandra railway station to its original glory. This means that all the present-day offices, artificial partitions, walls and additional rooms built will be demolished and the station building, built in 1888, will be brought back to its original layout to explore the beauty of this nineteenth century structure.
"All the offices like the station masters cabin, ticket checkers office etc will be shifted to a new building that has been recently built. All artificial partitions, walls and alterations done will be modified and the building reinstated to its originality as the English had built it," Dhananjaya Singh, senior divisional engineer (estate) of Western Railway told HT.
"Plans have been finalized and contracts should be awarded in a month’s time. We were looking for experts in the field as restoring a heritage building cannot be done by one and all. It requires conservation professionals who have done similar work in the past. We have now received the right kind of people and works shall begin soon," he said.
"It is one of the most beautiful stations in Mumbai built in typical vernacular style. It has to be restored with great care," conservation architect Abha Narian Lamba said.
"A lot of changes have been done in the building and it has been customised according to the need. A temporary room has been built on the first floor, a lot of partitions have been erected. Passenger amenities like public phones and railway information boards have been put up in a haphazard manner. All this will have to go and put up in an organised manner to go with the heritage structure," Singh said.
"One of the main components is to restore the original porch outside the station. At one point of time, this was used by horse-drawn Victorias to drop and receive passengers. Uplifting the porch will give the station a very original look," he elaborated. The last time the station was given minor repairs and got it freshly painted was in the early 90s, but this time the railways are looking for a complete restoration of the building.
How Bandra station came to be
It was about just ten years that the railways had arrived in India and two railway companies--- The Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR, now called CR) and the Bombay Baroda and Central India (BB&CI, now called WR) ---had begun operating in Bombay, fiercely competing with each other to vie passengers’ attention.
It was amid this competition that Bandra station -- then called Bandora --was established in 1864. The station had to look attractive and officers of the BB&CI Railway worked overnight to prepare plans of the station building.
"In fact the design and structure of the Bandra station building were finalised in London and to get precision the entire decorative roof and its arches were built there. Once ready, they were dismantled, put in a steamer ship and brought here. The station waited for its roof for more than four years. At Bandra, the structure was assembled again and put over the station around 1869. Even the Manglorean tiles over the station’s roof were specially manufactured for the station. The outer building, however, was built in 1888," city railway historian GD Patwardhan writes in one of his railway chronicles.
What exactly the railways are doing?
1)Removing partitions, artificial walls and rooms erected
2) Restoring the station’s original façade
3) Restoring central tower that has been badly battered by weather over the years.
4) The stone structure will be treated with lime mortar and strengthened
5) Wood work to be polished and maintained instead of applying paint.
6) Wood to get anti-termite treatment
7) Passenger furniture to be in sync with the heritage station like old iron sign holders and Victorian telephone booths
Approximate cost of project: Rs 40 lakh