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Friday, 24 May 2013

Elphinstone Bridge - Name Reason

:: Chennai Factoids ::

:: Name reasons behind famous places in Chennai ::

Elphinstone Bridge from the Lens of ARAVIND KUMAR

:: Elphinstone Bridge ::

From the lens of PRASANNA

This place needs no introduction. This is a bridge which supposed to connect Santhome with Adyar. But  now this bridge connects us to NOWHERE :)  The ELPHINSTONE BRIDGE   was built in 1840 and it carried vehicular traffic till 1973. The pillars of this bridge were washed away by a flood in Adyar river and it doesn't stop the bridge from being used. It was in the year 1973 , when Thiru Vi Ka Bridge was opened, this Elphinstone Bridge was closed. Since then, this bridge is being used as a pedestrian bridge. 

Side View from the lens of Vinod VV

Heard that there is a plan to construct a new bridge to connect Beach (Foreshore Estate) with Adyar like the Sydney Bridge. But not sure of this information. If the information is true, then it will be a good thing and the bridge will be the scenic beauty alongside beach.

It is also worth to mention here that our Chennai Bloggers Club in Facebook is taking tremendous efforts in reviving this Elphinstone bridge and again am proud to be part of it.

Why this name Elphinstone Bridge ?

This bridge is named after John Elphinstone (13th Lord Elphinstone), the Governor of Madras.

Who is John Elphinstone ?

John Elphinstone (Img Source:

The only son of John Elphinstone, 12th Lord Elphinstone in the peerage of Scotland, he was born on 23 June 1807. He succeeded his father as Lord Elphinstone in May 1813, and entered the army in 1826 as a cornet in the Royal Horse Guards. He was promoted lieutenant in 1828, and captain in 1832, and was a lord in waiting to William IV from 1835 to 1837. 

Elphinstone - Governor of Madras :

In 1837 he left the guards on being appointed Governor of Madras by Lord Melbourne; It was said at the time that his appointment was made in order to dissipate a rumour that the young Queen Victoria had fallen in love with him. He was governor of Madras from 1837 to 1842; he built a house at K√°iti, in the Nilgiri Hills. On resigning his governorship in 1842 he travelled for some years, and explored Kashmir.

Elphinstone - Governor of Bombay :

He returned to England in 1845, and in 1847 was appointed by Lord John Russell to be a lord in waiting to the queen, an office which he held until 1852, and again under Lord Aberdeen's administration from January to October 1853, when he was appointed governor of Bombay. 

During this governorship the Indian Rebellion of 1857 broke out in 1857. Elphinstone checked attempts made at a rising at a few places in his presidency, and put down the insurrection of the Rajah of Sholapur. He discovered a conspiracy in Bombay itself, and he seized the ring leaders. and prevented the conspiracy from coming to anything. He sent many of his troops elsewhere.

Elphinstone & his contribution to education in Madras : 

The arrival of Governor Lord John Elphinstone in 1838 provided the impetus for Education in Madras. When Advocate General George Norton presented the Governor on November 1, 1839, a petition signed by 70,000 “native inhabitants,” which read in part, “We descend from the oldest native subjects of British Power in India, but…where amongst us are the collegiate institutions which, founded for these generous subjects, adorn the two sister presidencies?” Elphinstone acted promptly.

In six weeks he announced a University Board to set up a High School for the study of English Literature, a regional language, Philosophy and Science, as well as a College to which the high school students would move for higher studies in these subjects.

Presidency College (Source:wikimedia)
A preparatory school was almost immediately established in Edinburgh House, Egmore (it later moved to Popham’s Broadway) to prepare students for the High School which opened on April 14, 1841 in D’Monte House, now the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Egmore.

When the School was declared open by Elphinstone, he declared, “This is the dawn of a new era, rather than the opening of a new school.”

The first Principal was Eyre Burton Powell and the subjects taught were English Prose and Grammar, Arithmetic and Algebra, Moral Science, History, Mechanics, Natural Philosophy, the South Indian Vernaculars and, later, Political Economy.

Graduates were called ‘Proficients’ and the first Proficient was C.V. Ranganatha Sastri, who went on to become a Judge of the Small Causes Court. Other early Proficients included T. Madhava Rao and A. Seshiah Sastri, both later knighted, Basil Lovery, later Principal of Pachaiyappa’s College, and T. Muthuswami Aiyar, the first Indian High Court judge.

Madras University (Source: Wikimedia)
The faculty included Norton, J.D. Mayne, another barrister, and Talboys Wheeler, a chronicler of the historical.

The High School was elevated to a college in April 1853 and, further expanded, was named Presidency College in 1855.

The first college in South India, Presidency is from where the University of Madras sprouted in 1857, the University even occupying a part of the College’s premises for a while as its first home.

References : Wikipedia, The Hindu, Madras Musings, University of Madras Website,Chennaimadras.blogspot


  1. What we see in the picture is not the actual bridge. It is a structure on top of the original bridge. Loving what you write. Cheers!

  2. Nice pictures and a good post. Good to hear about the initiative to revive it back.

  3. Thanks Sushmitha.. And also am waiting for that bridge like the one in Sydney.

  4. I have been to Chennai only once and was very fascinated because it is so different from the other metro cities... loved this and will be coming back for more!

  5. History is always fascinating. Thanks for bringing out the facts and stories behind places.

    Joy always,

  6. @Privy : Thanks for your comment and keep visiting this blog and also chennai for more unique things :)

    @Susan : Thanks a lot. Expect a lot more in the days to come.