Heritage garden emerges from British-era workshop

Govt. Agriculture Engineering Workshop being restored

Close to the Metro station in Washermenpet is a historical treasure not many know — the Government Agriculture Engineering Workshop started by the British in 1919.

Buildings and machinery in this spacious area were left to ruin after the workshop stopped production. After Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami made a suo motu statement announcing its restoration last year, the Horticulture Department has transformed it into a Heritage Garden to provide space for recreational and physical activities for the people and children of north Chennai. The cost of the project cost is estimated to be ₹5 crore.

“The entire area was covered with bushes and became a refuge for anti-social elements. So we decided to create a park that will benefit the people of north Chennai,” said Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Principal Secretary of the Agriculture Department.

The 3.8-acre heritage garden has entrance from both the Washermenpet railway station and Ramadoss Nagar, where encroachments have reduced the road to the garden into a bottleneck. But officials pointed out that the completion of multi-storied Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board flats would lead to removal of encroachments and better accessibility. “The garden will have a 1.5-km walking track, two indoor museums with garden showcasing the machines used for agriculture tools, an indoor children’s playground, a theatre with a capacity of 104 seats and an open gym,” said N. Subbaiyan, director, Horticulture and Plantation Crops.

Work is moving at a hectic pace. Two workshop buildings, other structures and machines imported from England for making agriculture tools have been taken up for restoration. Masons and carpenters are using the old teak beams and columns and iron girders which are still in good condition.

A garden is gradually emerging from the area after planting trees, ornamental plants and creation of a waterbody and walking tracks. The department has built a huge compound wall to prevent illegal entry into the park. Beautiful paintings adorn the wall. The 32 feet deep well inside the area has been revived. “Instead of pulling down the old structures, we are restoring them because of their heritage value. Films educating people and children on culture, heritage and environment will be screened in the theatre,” Mr. Subbaiyan added.

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