151-year-old monument in bad shape

District administration urged to protect it from further damage

Members of the Salem Historical Society has urged the district administration to protect 151-year-old historical monument along the railway line at Thaneerpandal Palayam at Sankari.

From 1856 to 1861, the Madras Railway Company began laying railway tracks from Salem to Erode through Sankari in which most of the labourers were Indians. Due to intense heat and heavy work, workers suffered a lot. An English woman, Matcher, a widow of a band sergeant in the British Army and also the mother-in-law of Taylor, a Permanent Way Inspector (P.W.I) in-charge of the work in the area started helping the workers.

She stayed with Taylor and offered food, water and shelter to the workers. Her charity continued even after the track works were completed. In 1868, she died at the age of 50 due to illness and was buried near the railway line. A monument was erected by her son-in-law and the workers and the grave site became a place of workshop for the railway workers and the public.

In 1910, a new railway officer A. Vail, P.W.I, came to know the story of her from the workers and the villagers. Moved by her charity, Mr. Vail erected a fully-turned granite cross at the memorial that carries the inscription on the cross. “Only this cross was erected by A. Vail. ,P.W.I. of Sankari Drug in April 1910 from his pocket expenses in memory of a stranger named Matcher -widow of band Sgt. Matcher aged about 50 years died in 1868 while she lived here with her son in law Taylor, P.W.I. on the Railway construction.”

J. Barnabas, General Secretary, Salem Historical Society, who recently visited the monument said that the monument now stands alone in an arid grassland, about 40 feet from the railway line, for over one-and-half century. The presence of the monument and the prayers offered by people were mentioned in the book Kongu Natin Thalainagar Sangakiri Varalaru, he said and wanted the administration and the Salem Railway Division to protect the monument from further damage. “Iron fencing around the monument and a board declaring its history is needed”, he added.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 8:02:58 PM |

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