Saturday, August 8, 2015

Keeping time

This post has been in the making for about a year. Knowing that the centenary celebrations  of the Women's Christian College were going to be this year, I had hoped to time this post with the kick-off of those festivities. But 7/7, the date on which the college was founded in 1915, came and went and the blog remained un-updated. And then it had to wait until the next symmetric date came along, didn't it? 

The WCC was established by Eleanor McDougall, who came to India in 1915. There does not appear to have been any reason for her to come to Madras other than to se up a college for women. The plans for the college must have been very much in place; McDougall was possibly the final piece in the jigsaw of setting it up. Within a week the college had its motto ("Lighted to Lighten"), its crest, (with sunflowers, a lit lamp and the motto) and its song. Of these, only the song appears to have been changed in the last century, the rest continuing to be the identity of the college. 

The missing part, in July 1915, was a campus. The college conducted its classes at rented premises for the first year. But even before the anniversary, on July 5, 1916, the college moved to Doveton House, on the banks of the Cooum, where it has remained since. Eleanor McDougall's work is remembered in this clock tower, donated by her brother Charles in 1937, when she was in her final year as the Principal. It stands right outside the Doveton House; having marked time over the past seven decades, it can be forgiven for being a couple of hours ahead of what the time is!

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