Saturday, June 21, 2008

The grandfather of clocks

Though the bus stop sign says that time does not stop here, the building of P.Orr & Sons seems to have succeeded in pausing the clock for a long time. Another of the old Madras landmarks, it has been around for a hundred and twenty-five years and has aged far more gracefully than many of its contemporaries. There have been some modifications to Robert Chisholm's original design, including an additional turret over the clock-face, but the biggest change has been the shutting down of the workshops that were right behind the showroom.

Those workshops were once bustling: apart from selling watches, with which P.Orr is synonymous even today, the firm was also the leading goldsmith and jeweller, not just to Madras society, but across South India (and also Burma, Ceylon and Malaya). Over its life, it had also diversified into other businesses - engineering products, arms & ammunition, automobiles. It was probably the last that provided the bait for the Amalgamations Group to buy the firm in the late 1950s, though they hived it off in 1967 to Karumuthu Thiagaraja Chettiar, whose family continues to run the business.

P.Orr has expanded - apart from their flagship showroom here on Mount Road, they have 6 other branches; 4 in Chennai itself and 2 outside the city. Their current diversification into mobile phones is just to make sure they are up to speed on all ways of telling time!


magiceye said...

seems to be such a laid back yet dignified and imposing structure, does'nt look as if it is going to change anything in a hurry, and hopefully so!

Shantaram said...

>> Magiceye>> Agree with you - and yet, so much of the original design has been changed!