Centre

 

Following it's raising at Fort St. George in 1780, the Corps of Madras Pioneers moved for 80 years to various locations - Mercara, Bangalore, Dowlaiswaram - before finally settling down at Bangalore in March 1865. British troops had already been quartered here since 1806, near Halsoor (Ulsoor), a village six km east of the walled town of Bangalore. The Madras Pioneers were allotted the area around Ulsoor Lake, which has been their home since then. A few historical buildings and places of importance in the Centre are depicted as under.

East view of Bangalore.      An early 18th century lithograph, drawn on the spot by RH Colebrooke, shows one of the four towers built by Kempe Gowda to mark the limits to which Bangalore would one day grow.  The city, founded by Kempe Gowda in early 16th century, has far exceeded these limits.  The tower crowns ‘U’ Rock, the Watermanship Training Area of the Madras Sappers.

Ulsoor Rock.
The Ulsoor Rock or U Rock as it is popularly known occupies the southern corner of the Ulsoor Lake. One of the four Kempegowda towers can be seen on the skyline.

Bridge Hard.    This is the holy training ground of all Madras Sappers in bridging and field engineering tasks. The skills of improvised bridging are honed on these haloed grounds. The picture depicts the Improvised Bridging Training stands of the Bridge Hard.

War Memorial.    The Madras Sappers War Memorial was initially erected near the Ulsoor Lake in 1923 to commemorate the Great War on the orders of the British Monarch. Built of grey Mysore Granite, it features an obelisk weighing ten tons. A decision was taken to shift the War Memorial  into the premises of the Centre due to the increasing traffic congestion in the city. The Memorial was dismantled stone by stone and re-erected alongside the Centre parade ground in 1986.

Sapper House.    The official residence of Commandant, Madras Sappers, this spacious, 19th century bungalow lies adjacent to the Officer’s Mess, on Promenade road. It is surrounded by a well planned garden. The bungalow was initially acquired on a lease in 1886, and later purchased by the Madras Sappers in 1962. It is now the regimental property of the Madras Sappers.

Officers Mess.     The move to the present Mess building was made in 1886. The original building consisted of a central hall and three rooms, an ante room, a billiards room, and a dining hall. The building was acquired by the Government in 1920. Over the years , the facilities in the Mess have multiplied manifold to include a Squash Court, Badminton Court, Gymnasium, Library, Band Stand, Synthetic Tennis Court and an Annexe. In the picture, the famous D Circle can be seen lined by Java Trees brought home by the Madras Sappers from their overseas campaigns and planted in the year 1903.

Madras Sappers Museum and Archives(MSMA).   Work on the MSMA was started by Col (later Lt Gen) CA Baretto in September 1977 on taking over as the Commandant. Research and scripting was done by Lt Col J P Thapliyal, VSM. The MSMA was inaugurated by Maj Gen ( later Lt Gen) P R Puri, PVSM, the colonel Commandant in 1979. It is the repository of records, medals, photographs and assorted memorabilia of the Group’s history.

The Monkey House.      The Headquarters of the Madras Sappers, the Monkey House , is a majestic building which even today retains it’s brick red colour. The Group moved to it’s present Headquarters in the year 1934 when Lt Col E Bradley, DSO was the Commandant. According to Col Steedman the name  Monkey House was given because “ In those days there were many monkeys on the trees around the building, chattering all the time. We few people inside the building were in the minority and our voices were inaudible, hence we decided to join the majority.