glimpse of its past
Year 1905. Named as The
Gymkhana Club, a Planter's Club was started, with a loan of
Rs.2500/- from the erstwhile Kanan Devan Hills Produce Co.
Ltd., for the gentlemen planters of the High Range in
Kerala. It was located on the present Golf Course with small
pavilion built on the grounds. It was here the first coolie
gymkhana for the workers of the Company was held. In the
year 1909, the High Range Club was formally set up with
furniture and fixtures, and was completed in 1910.
It was one of the first
planter’s clubs to be electrified and one of the few clubs
to built as a residential club. Telephones were installed at
the Club 1916. The Library was constructed near the present
Nursery in 1916 but was demolished in 1925 after the floods
that created havoc and changed the face of the hills and
dales in the High Range. The present nursery and Ladies Room
were made at the same site.
The first club to be
affiliated to the High Range Club was the Trivandrum Club in
1915. In 1916, the first meet the Madhurai Meet was held.
Lord Pentland, Governor of Madras visited the Club in 1916.
Golf Course, grounds and Tennis Court were extensively
damaged in the 1924 floods. But subsequently, they were all
redone, Amateur Concert and Dramatic Society was formed in
1925 and closed in 1930!
During the Indian Freedom
Movement, an armory was built near the Club. However, no
occasion to use the Armory arose in the High Range. The
Lascar’s quarters are in use today as Club Staff Quarters.
The Armory was also used as a cellar during the post World
War II, when imported liquor was in short supply! The High
Range School of Madupatty rented the Armory building from
the club at a notional rent of Re. 1/- per year until 1987,
when it moved to the present exotic location. The armory
was converted to accommodation for visitors in 1987.
The First Class
Compartment of the Kundaly Valley Light Railway, which was
considered too heavy for the use of which it was built, was
used as a Bar on the Gymkhana ground after the Railway
became defunct in 1932. The last coolie gymkhana was held in
1940 and was attended by the Maharaja of Travancore. Club
Grounds were threatened by the construction of a Decantation
Chamber and head works of the Pullivasal Hydro Electric
Scheme. Fortunately, the grounds were saved from total
Cottages were constructed in
1935 for the use of Moylam & Co. which constructed the
Pullivasal Hydro-Electric Works. They were first used for
visitors in 1941 and rented out at Rs.75/- per room per
month. The Cottages were converted to self contained rooms,
with enclosed verandahs, mosaic tiling, glazed windows etc.
The Skittle Alley was designed
and constructed in 1939-39. The Alley, rarely used for
bowling, was used for lectures (1940), as a Games Room and
Recreation Centre (1940-44). It was finally closed for
bowling and opened for squash in 1958. Rugby was played at
the Club grounds between 1925-1972. Billiard was thrown open
to ladies for the first time in 1941.
The first “away” meet was held
in 1910 at Peermade. The first Indian to be made a member of
the Club was the Dewan of Travancore in 1934. The first
Indian to be elected on the Club Committee was in 1958.
Diwali and Independence Day were celebrated at the club for
the first time in 1972. W. O. Milne was the first planter to
hang his hat (at the end of thirty years of continuous
resident membership of the Club) in the Men’s Lounge, a
tradition followed to this day.
Within an area of
6 acres and a river forming its natural boundary, the old
world charm of the high range club continues…