Ripon Building In Chennai

Written by Sudhir Kumar

Ripon Buildings is named after Lord Ripon who made great contributions to local self government. The Westminster quarter chiming clock, atop the central tower, is one of the attractions of the massive structure.

About Ripon Building :

Ripon Building, one of the most beautiful modern British constructions in Madras. Corporation of Chennai. The Municipal Corporation of Chennai, after functioning from several other places, settled at Ripon building in 1913, with P.L.Moore as the President of the Municipal Corporation at the time of the inauguration.

Named after Lord Ripon, the Father of local self-government, the foundation for the magnificent building was laid by Sir Gilbert John Elliot Murray Kynyn Mound Bart and Carl of Minto, then Viceroy and Governor General of India on December 12, 1909.

Attraction  Of Ripon Building In Chennai :

The attractive white structure, close to Chennai Central, has dimension 252 ft. by 126 ft rectangular shape. This classic structure, presently the headquarters of Chennai Corporation, is a blending of three types of architectural styles – Gothic, Ironic and Corinthian. To support the huge structure, the walls have been erected with stock bricks, composed and plastered in lime mortar. Teak wood pillars support the roofs. The Cuddapah stone flooring has been re-laid with marble in the ground floor. The flooring on the first and second levels is with the pressed terracotta variety. A mighty clock of 8 feet diameter and a tall tower of 132 ft jewel the building. The clock is equipped with a mechanical key system, which is to be wound every day. This is a classic structure worth seeing.

Features of Ripon Building in Chennai :

  •     The building is named after the Father of Local Self government, Lord Ripon. The proposition for building such a building was given by the Viceroy and governor general of that time on December 12, 1909.
  •     The site of the municipal Corporation of Madras shifted base to the Ripon Building in 1913 after carrying out its operation from many other places. P.L Moore acted as the president of the Municipal Corporation during the inauguration of the Ripon Building.
  •     The Ripon Building displays a unique blend of three architectural designs- Gothic, Ionic and Corinthian. The total floor area of the Ripon Building is estimated around 9, 628 square meters. The construction of the Ripon Building was placed under the supervision of four engineers at different points of time. They were C.L.T Griffith, J.E.Hensman, E.P Richard and James R.Coats.
  •     To make the Ripon Building strong enough to withstand the ravages of time, stock bricks set and plastered in lime mortar were used. Teak wood joists were used to provide support to the roofs and the Cuddapah floor in the ground floor was replaced with marble flooring. On the other hand, the floors of the first and second floors sported a pressed Terracotta variety.
  •     The main highlight of the Ripon Building however is the West Minister Quarter Chiming Clock. The Clock was put up by Oakes and Company in the year 1913 at an elevation of 20.58 meters from the terrace level. The ancient clock has a mechanical key system which needs to be winded everyday. The 4 bells were put up by Gillet and Johnston.

Building Details :

  • The building is rectangular and is 85 meters long and     32 metres wide.
  • The first of its three floors offers about 2,800 square      metres of space.
  • Its central tower is 43 metres tall and has a clock 2.5 metres in diameter.
  • The walls were constructed with stock bricks, set and plastered with lime mortar.
  • The roofs are supported with teak wood joists. The original flooring of the ground floor was Cuddapah Slate. This has now been replaced with marble.
  • One of the main attractions of the building is the chiming clock. This was installed by Oakes and Co. in 1913. The clock has a mechanical key system, which is wound every day. There are a total of 4 bells, which were cast by Gillet and Johnston in 1913.

History Ripon Building In Chennai :

Ripon Building, a fine modern attempt at the Indo-Saracenic, is the headquarters of the Corporation, to which the move from Errabalu Chetty street was made in 1913. A magnificant white building, it was built by Loganatha Mudaliar who received Rs.5.5 lakhs for his share of the Rs.7.5 lakhs work. Four years under construction, Ripon building is 252 feet long and 126 feet wide. Its tower is 132-foot tall and features a clock eight feet in diameter. The first of its three floors has a 25,000 sq.ft. area, It was declared open at a function attended by over 3000 of the city’s elite. Lord Ripon, Viceroy from 1880-1884, when he introduced local government reforms is remembered in a statue here.

During the year 1947, Building Dept. was under the control of Works Department, headed by an Engineer. The following were the chief functions of the Works Department:
1. Execution of all works pertaining to the construction and maintenance of roads, pavements, culverts, bridges, buildings, parks, etc.,
2. Maintenance of records of all Corporation lands and buildings.
3. Regulation of the construction of buildings and structures according to the provisions of the City Municipal Act and the Town Planning Act.
4. Improvements to slums, land development and housing the poor.
5. Preparation of Town Planning Schemes and their execution.


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Sudhir Kumar

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