La Martiniere College, Lucknow, India
The first Mart Lucknow web page published (March 1996) on the internet!
 

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La Martiniere College, Lucknow, India, was founded in 1845. The founder, Maj. Gen. Claude Martin, Claude Martin was a French soldier who settled in what was then known as Oudh ('Avadh') and what is now part of Uttar Pradesh (UP). UP is the most populous state of India and is north-east of India's capital, New Delhi.


Claude Martin (the bust at left stands in the centre of Constantia building) died in 1800 and, in his will, left his estate for the founding of three schools (in Lucknow, India, Calcutta, India, and Lyon, France). By my estimate this has got to be one of the oldest schools in India. The school has a place in history - it is the only school (certainly in India) to have won battle honours (for the role played by its boys in the 1857 uprising in India).


The building dates to somewhere in the late 1700's. Apparently it was a country house, surrounded by woods. There are differing versions of how Claude Martin came to own it and I don't know which one is accurate. What is accurate, however, is that (what is now) the central part of the building, known as Constantia, was left by him to become a school. The wings were added later and then, much later, the school auditorium and science block were added.


The estate is surrounded by some 600 acres of land, mainly used as playing fields. Not many schools in India can boast of so many playing fields. Not many schools in India (possibly in the world) have so much history behind them.


Here are a few views of the school building :

 
 



View of the Steps
View from 3rd Dorm side
The Lart
 

The cannons you see in the pictures above were actually used in battle. The column that you see in the last picture above is fondly called The Lart (probably because it rhymes with The Mart - as we affectionately call our alma mater). When I was in school, the Lart was surrounded by a small lake (pond may be a better description!). We were forbidden to swim across to the Lart - which, naturally, prompted a few of us to do so; you may see a few names scratched there. Now, sadly, the lake has been drained (to prevent damage to the building caused by the periodic overflow of the Gomti River which runs past the school) and a bunker put up between the Mart and the Lart.


I found some old pictures that I had taken from across the lake. This was forbidden territory, but the best site for a great view of the Mart! These pictures were taken in 1970 or 1971 (probably with a little Brownie or similar camera which will explain the quality). Colour pictures were a distant dream for us then!:

 
View from across the Tank
Another view from across the Tank
 

And if you're wondering why this page is coloured in blue and gold, those are the school colours!!

 

This next picture is by Johann Zoffany and dates to somewhere between 1786 and 1787. Nawab Asaf ud-Daulah employed many Europeans for the rebuilding of Lucknow, including Colonel Antoine Polier, a Swiss engineer and architect to the court. Major-General Claude Martin was a great patron of art and education in Lucknow, and John Wombwell was Assay Master for the East India Company. While the sitters are shown relaxing amidst Polier's collection of paintings, Zoffany placed himself working at his easel in the centre of the painting.

 
Claude Martin with John Wombwell, 1786-87

 


 
 
 

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(credit for the colour pictures of the Mart on this page goes to my sister, Gillian (Girls' Mart, 1967 to 1970) gilliandewars@mantraonline.com)  
 
© David C King, 1996 - 2003.
Email:
dcking@themart.alumni.net