”Memorial to a Commisioner’s friendship with his Collector,’

Thornhill_Mayne_Memorial,_Alfred_Park,_Allahabad wikipediaThe Thornhill-Mayne Memorial, Allahabad (Photo source: Wikipedia)

We in the I.A.S. are used to living under the shadow of the Annual Confidential Reports – written impressions of the Boss. But can you imagine an impressive memorial having been built to highlight a Commissioner’s friendship with & admiration for his Collector? Unimaginable but true. The photo above is of such a building in Allahabad.


This is what a plaque put up in the building informs the visitor:

“This building which has received the name of the Thornhill-Mayne Memorial is erected in memory of Cudbert Bensley Thornhill, CSA &Francis Otway Mayne, C.B. both of Bengal Civil Service.

Who died the former on 11th July 1868 at sea off Aden, & the later On 30th August 1872 at  Allahabad.

The name preserves the memory of the close and uninterrupted friendship Which during their lives united them. The memorial itself bears lasting testimony to the affectionate regard in which they were built By those who caused it to be erected.”


This monument was designed by a famous architect of that time, Mr Bayne. Richard Roskell Bayne (1837–1901), an English architect who practised in Calcutta and other Indian cities between 1866–90 was an employee of the East Indian Railway. As a railway engineer, he built bridges, train stations, and bungalows, but he also had the opportunity to design monumental buildings such as the East India Railway Office and the New Market in Kolkata, the Hussainabad Clock Tower in Lucknow, the Oak Grove School in Mussoorie, and the palace of the Maharaja of Durbunga. When he retired, he left India and established himself as an architect in Victoria, B.C. 


This building, completed in 1878 and situated in the Alfred Park is a public library.  It is built in the Gothic Style. It was opened as a memorial to the friendship of Lord Thornhill, the Commissioner of Allahabad and Mr. Mayne, the Collector and subsequently converted into a library. This monument has also served as the house of legislative assembly in British era when Allahabad was the capital of United Provinces.


Mayne was the Collector of Allahabad during the time of the first Indian struggle for freedom in 1857, which was crushed most ruthlessly by the British.  800 people are said to have been hanged in the Chowk area of Allahabad by the British for participating in the 1857 struggle for Indian independence.


Let us try to understand what was the work of a Collector in those times. Following are some extract of a book by Kaye & Malleson*:

‘…   …   Difficulties of the collector: As he returned to his half-ruined home from his morning-duty of hanging rebels, flogging rioters, and blowing up temples, he found letters from the Head of the Finance Department, reminding him that he was personally responsible for every rupee missing in a treasury guarded by European soldiers in a fort three miles off.


Mayne’s wise policy: He therefore, following the lines indicated by the Government of which he was the representative concerning the general uprising, selected only the most guilty men, the ringleaders, in fact, in each parganah, for the extreme penalty exacted by the law, punishing the less guilty by fine. This policy, carried out with the humanity compatible with the necessity of restoring order imposed upon him, and supported by a strong column of demonstration, speedily pacified the district.

In June Kirwi was occupied without resistance. About the same time Sir Hugh Rose delivered the final blow to disorganisation by his victory at Kalpi. It had been necessary to burn a few villages, the inhabitants of which had distinguished themselves by their violence, and to hang one or two head men.


Produces its effect: But flogging had done the rest, and in a comparatively short time, under the able direction of this excellent officer, the district, which had been “revolutionised” by the mutiny, was brought back to order and prosperity. Mr. Mayne’s services were much appreciated by his contemporaries.


The memory of Mr. Mayne: When he died a few years since, these erected to his memory at Allahabad, his last station, a handsome monument testifying to their respect and admiration...   …’ 

(*Kaye’s and Malleson’s History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, Edited by Colonel Malleson. In six volumes. Volume 6:  http://www.ibiblio.org.britishraj/KayeMalleson6/bk18ch03.html )


Thornbill took keen interest in the setting up of the Civil Lines area of Allahabad. Civil Lines, formerly Cannington / Canning Town is the central business district of Allahabad, and is famous for its urban setting, gridiron plan.. Built in 1857, under the supervision of Cuthbert Bensley Thornhill, it was the largest town-planning project carried out in India before the establishment of New Delhi.


(To be continued)

(Text with inputs from the internet)

You may like to see my earlier photo articles:

(i)                  ‘The heritage office building of Deputy Commissioner, Mysore’: http://www.fiftyplustravels.com/?p=3348;

(ii)               ‘Collectorate building , Allahabad, U.P.’: http://traveltalk.co.in/?p=56.


Photos, text & copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

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