The stone tablet carries the names of seven persons who had contributed Rs. 500 and upwards for improvement of the hospital
SALEM: A 1908 stone tablet, informing that a committee of important citizens had been formed to run the ‘The Queen Alexandra Hospital for Women’ on the western bank of Tirumanimutharu river, was found on the premises of the Fort Government Girls Higher Secondary School here when authorities demolished old buildings to construct new class rooms.
The tablet, with 2 feet width and 1.5 feet height, inscribed as May 1908, carries the names of seven persons who had contributed Rs. 500 and above for improvement and management of the hospital under the chairmanship of E S Ramaswami Iyer. The names of subscribers are: Muthyammal (Mittadarni of Namakkal), Nanjunda Iyer (Mittadar of Thuthikulam), Kailasa Gounder (Mittadar of Palamedu), Kanakasabapathi Mudaliar B.A. (Mittadar of Kannakurichi), Ambalathadi Chettiar (Dharmapuri), Robert Fischer, esq., (Madura) and Manickam Chettiar (Contractor).
According to Salem Historical Society general secretary J. Barnabas, the finding is very important as it shows that the British had given special importance to women’s healthcare by constructing a hospital exclusively for them. The hospital, according to records, was built in 1903 to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII, Emperor of India and His consort Queen Alexandra – Empress of India.
In 1908 a committee under Ramaswami Iyer was formed for its expansion. It is claimed that the hospital had also received funds from the coronation ceremony in 1910 and was brought under the Provincial Government in 1920. “In fact my grandmother Ruth Muthaparanam (1904-1983) was once admitted in the hospital for treatment,” said Barnabas. After Independence, it was converted into Nurses Quarters for Government Hospital before it was taken over by the education department for Girls Higher Secondary School.
“The hospital’s other stone tablet, erected at the time of foundation ceremony, is yet to be traced and the one found should be retained,” Barnabas said. School Headmaster S Mohammed Khalil told The Hindu that he would take necessary action to retain the historical evidence inside the campus itself.