Vincent Colony, A Charming Locality of RS Puram

Rathinasabapathypuram came as an answer to plague. The Pettai and Kottai were insufficient to hold a growing city. Diwan Bahadur C.S.Rathinasabapathy Mudaliar created R.S.Puram. The idea had been on the boards during the tenure of T.A.Ramalingam Chettiar. Kovai Kizhar C.M.Ramachandran had helped in the task. The roads are named after the former Chairpersons of the Municipality. These gentlemen had provided yeomen service. A number of citizens purchased new plots and began building houses in the new extension. It was bound by Sukrawarpet and the Forest College.
A number of progressive citizens moved over to this part of the city. Big trees, shops, ground water etc., served the people. A club, Police Station, Temple and a Post Office came along the development. The big ground for sports and the Purandaradasar Hall for the promotion of music and fine arts added to the cultural wealth. Diwan Bahadur Road was known as the 70 feet road and some columnists and authors had written about it.
Businessmen, doctors, advocates, chartered accountants and industrialists became neighbours. Municipal Councillors like N.A.Parasuraman of Ramoo & Co (Swatantra Party) set up shop. The R.K.Bai Maternity Home and the Sathyanarayana Temple came up due to the efforts of the Gokuldas Thulsidas family. Cowley Brown Road became the medical corner of the city. Dr.R.Sarojini, the first lady doctor to pursue her education in the United Kindgom built the Balaji Nursing Home and it put the road on the medical map of Coimbatore. Dr.Subbian of Kumaran Hospital, Dr.Shanmugham of Veeku were the other pioneers on Cowley Brown Road. Dr.S.Srihari was the other popular practitioner. Dr. Manonmani, Dr.Ramaswamy and others added to the importance of the road.
The Varasiddhi Vinayagar Temple of Cowley Brown Road is an important landmark. It houses the famous shrine of Kalyana Subramaniar and is located right next to the popular Uzhavar Sandhai (Farmers Market) of the region. Vincent Colony is located in this place. The colony is a lovely neighbourhood and is a quaint place. Walkers prefer to go through this colony in order to avoid noise, traffic and other disturbances. One can be with oneself in this place. Let us look at the origins of this colony this week.
The land which makes up Vincent Colony used to belong to Paul Vincent and family. Paul Vincent was the son of Swamikannu Vincent, the gentleman who put up Coimbatore on the movie map of the world. Swamikannu Vincent was India’s first movie millionaire. He had built the Variety Hall in 1914 (Delite Theatre) and it is the second oldest cinema hall in India. A statue of Swamikannu Vincent had been erected in the theatre those days. Vincent used to also own Palace (Naaz Theatre), Swami (Edison) and a number of touring talkies.
He lived along with his family at Variety Hall Road. His palatial mansion resembled a palace and the Perur Temple elephant used to be fed at his residence on each and every Friday. His sons ruled the roost in Coimbatore. However businesses do not favour people at all times and Paul Vincent lost a lot of money in business. His venture in R.S.Puram was the Kennedy Theatre (Light House). “Paul Vincent used to have a hotel known by the name ‘Town House’ long ago. It was located in Race Course. We used to live in my uncle N.V.Krishnaswamy’s (Annalakshmi Hotel) house those days. I remember going into the hotel compound for the purpose of retrieving the balls which were used by us during our childhood.” Remembers N.Sundararajan a resident of Vincent Colony.
Rai Sahib Paul Vincent had borrowed money from the Vivekananda College in Chennai by mortgaging his properties. The Vincent Colony was also part of the same. It measured about 3 acres. The money borrowed was accruing along with the interest and something had to be done about it. Vivekananda College had filed a case in order to recover the monies owed to them.
It had taken place around the 1953 and eventually the suit properties were brought up for sale through a court led auction. M.K.Suryaprathapam was appointed as the receiver in order to carry out the responsibility. All of this took place around sixty years ago. M.K.Suryaprathapam followed the court procedure. The land was divided into about 30 units with each unit measuring about 7 cents approximately. A road was made between the plots and it was given over to the authorities later.
Bidders took over the plots through the court auction and began building houses later. Members of the Sulur House family and nearly 30 others became the new landlords. A number of nice looking houses came up thereafter.
Some of the buyers built houses and began living in them. However some of the plots changed hands. In some cases houses were constructed and sold later on. One A.R.Venkaraman had acquired one of the plots and built a house for himself. It was ready by about 1960 or so.
The house was purchased by N.V.Narayanaswamy, Superintending Engineer (Electricity Department – Bihar) in the year 1962. N.V.Narayanaswamy had let out the house between the years 1962 and 1970. He moved over into Vincent Colony along with his family by 1970. His family consisting of his son Sundararajan and others have been living here for about 50 years.
Mohanram of the Sulur House family has been living here for a long time.
He looks after Avinashi Charities and also the Varasiddhi Vinayagar Temple with great devotion. One V.Srinivasan built his house ‘Srivatsam’ and moved over to Vincent Colony. He had purchased the plot and constructed his home.
The temple had come up in 1974 and it was constructed in the interest of protecting Vincent Colony. Interestingly a Vincent Colony Welfare Association had come up in the interest of the residents.
The receiver who was responsible for the creation of Vincent Colony M.K.Suryaprathapam lived on West Ponnurangam Road and he was an office bearer of the Coimbatore Cosmopolitan Club. The Jubilee celebrations and souvenir of the Coimbatore Cosmopolitan Club were the results of his hard work and efforts. He was a social minded person and was well known in Coimbatore.
Vincent Colony is over 60 years old now and one can see people flocking the Uzhavar Sandhai in order to purchase vegetables everyday.
The weekends are really crowde Kiran, the sweet corn boy with an engineering degree sells exotic stuff with devotional songs in the background. Quite a few walkers offer their prayers to Kalyana Subramaniar and his consorts Devayani, Valli from the window found on Cowley Brown Road. It is also possible to notice some residents offering their early morning prayers to Lord Surya.
Times are changing these days, however it is gratifying to observe the residential nature of Vincent Colony being preserved. The quaint locality is adding to the calm nature of the city. Let us strive to maintain it.
—Rajesh Govindarajulu

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