Henry Irwin
1881 - 1888
Home page
Early years
Post 1920
Web links

The Indian Engineering, a Calcutta periodical of the times, carried the following note in its issue of October, 1888: "...Mr. Henry Irwin, C.I.E., is transferred to Allahabad ... It is now seven and a half years since Mr. Irwin came to Simla, to build the public offices. Since then he has designed and superintended the building of the Army Headquarters; the P.W.D. Secretariat; the Post and telegraph Offices; the Foreign Office and the Rippon Hospital ... His crowning work in Simla is the Viceregal Lodge, a handsome stone building of the Elizabethan style, which he saw completed during the summer of the present year. He leaves Simla, the city he has beautified, on the 1st of November, carrying with him the best wishes of a large circle of friends and acquaintances" [8].

Buildings in Simla:
The decision to build the Viceregal Lodge was a statement in stone of the government's intention to establish a permanent presence in Simla. Designed by the public-works department's principal architect, Henry Irwin, in a dark and heavy Elizabethan Renaissance style and located atop Observatory Hill at the western end of Simla, it was built to impress, with the entry hall panelled in teak, the ballroom hung with tapestry's of silk, and the dining room embellished with heraldic shields. It cost Rs. 970,093 to construct. (1)

Mr. Henry Irwin was the architect and chief superintendent of works, but associated with him were Mr. F.B. Hebbert and the Hon'ble L.M. St. Clair as executive engineers, and Messers. A. Scott, T. Macpherson and T. English, assistant engineers. The names of the first three are inscribed in metal letters on the stone façade above the main porch. The merits of Viceregal Lodge were discussed in my presence many years ago by several men, but when questioned as to the architect no one was able to recollect one of the engineers I have mentioned, and I have therefore used the opportunity to place their names on record. (3)

According to one other authority on British architecture, the Viceregal Lodge bears a striking resemblance to Hardwick Hall, in Northern England. Stylistically it is English Renaissance and Elizabethan. Hardwick Hall is the same place where one of the three husbands of Bess of Hardwick kept Mary Queen of Scots in 'protective captivity'. Young Bess was jealous of Mary and her foresaid husband was fond of Mary and this Earl kept her in custody in Hardwick Hall before she was removed to Fotheringhay in the 1570's and was executed. (4)
(but which one?). The Secretariat Offices, situated on the main mall close to the new Imperial Offices, now occupied by the Railway Board and Commerce Department occupy the site of old residences known as 'Herbert House' and 'Lowville'. These houses having been rented by the Government for some years were purchased and demolished, and a handsome structure in brick and timber erected in their place; but this latter was burnt to its foundations on the night of the 12th February 1896. The present building is substantial and serviceable in appearance, and is also fire-proof. It was commenced in April 1896, and completed in August 1897, at a cost of just over four lakhs. (3)

The Railway Board Building is a huge building, a few yards away from the State Bank of India on the Mall (West). This is one of the biggest block of offices in Simla; and the iron-grippeed stone ediface is multi-storeyed, towering, spacious and fire-proof. The building was constucted in the year 1896-97 very soon after its predecessor was burnt to its foundations on the night of the 12th February, 1896. The present building is also supposed to be shock-resisting and earthquake proof. (4)

'DOZ' makes a funny remark about the old building which stood in the place of the present Railway Board Building earlier. Mr. Horace B. Goad was the head of the Public Works department of the Simla Municipality and he had built the former building which was totally destroyed by fire. It was a strange coincidence that on 12th February 1896 Goad committed suicide in Ambala and the very same night the P.W.D. building that was before the present Railway Board building, built by Goad, caught fire and was razed to the ground. 'DOZ' remarks that "the building of the P.W.D. committed 'sutee' on the 12th February, 1896 out of sheer respect for Goad, the Municipal Secretary (who had it built) who died on that day. (4)

(very controversial, now as stump, the Gaity Theatre)
  • Ripon Hospital

  • Roman Catholic Church

Events during this period:

1881 Appointed asSuperintendant of Works Imperial Circ., Simla
1884 Hamnet Edward Andrew Langford was born, presumably in Simla
28th March, 1886 Hyacinth Florence Marion Taylor was born, presumably in Simla . There is a record of her having been baptized in Simla.
31st July, 1887 Haidee Lilian Henrietta Tankerville was born, presumably in Simla
1887 Hamnet Edward Andrew Langford died, presumably in Simla aged 3
25th February, 1890 Hubert Richard Benjamin Hinde was born, presumably in Simla
26th March, 1891 Harold Edward Alan Langford was born, presumably in Simla.
1886 Civil Engineer
1888 Supt. Eng. & Sec. Public Works to Agent (?) Gov. Genl. Rajputana & Central India
1888 Cr Comp. Ind. Emp.
1888 Appointed Consulting Architect to the Madras Government