25th Anniversary Celebration of The Lutyens Trust
by Charles Lutyens
A reception to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Lutyens Trust was generously hosted by the Nehru Centre, the cultural wing of the Indian High Commission, in London on 5 July. About 70 Lutyens Trust members and invited guests attended. There were three keynote speakers. Colin Amery, President of the Lutyens Trust, gave an entertaining account of the origins of the trust and its achievements over the last 25 years. Mr. S K Misra, former Chairman of the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), gave an illuminating overview of the challenges of preserving New Delhi’s cultural heritage in a time of fast-growing population and developmental pressures. This was followed by an excellent slide presentation ‘West Meets East’ by Professor Jane Ridley of her greatgrandfather’s work. The event was graciously hosted by Mrs. Monika Mohta, Director of the Nehru Centre.
The reception was preceded by a Round Table discussion to debate the preservation of the heritage of New Delhi. Several Lutyens Trust members attended together with a number of distinguished observers. Mr. S K Misra, who was instrumental in the formation of a joint venture between INTACH and The Lutyens Trust, with the aim of protecting the garden city character and the principal buildings of New Delhi, observed that constant vigilance was needed to protect the Lutyens Bungalow Zone. He made a number of suggestions which would help to encourage support for Lutyens in Delhi and could lead, in time, to World Heritage status for the LBZ and Shahjahanabad.
In April, a seminar had been organised by INTACH in Delhi to debate the challenges of attaining World Heritage status. Chaired by Professor A G K Menon, Convenor of the INTACH Delhi Chapter, the conference concluded that the LBZ and Shahjahanabad are heritage precincts that should be conserved and that INTACH should co-ordinate a pressure group to encourage the Indian Government to make an application to UNESCO. The support of the various bodies that govern Delhi would be essential for the project to succeed.
A lively debate ensued. John Bold, a leading architectural historian who had prepared the successful application for making Greenwich a World Heritage site, noted that it would be important to establish the universal benefit and value of making New and Old Delhi a World Heritage site and that it should be made clear why this was wanted. It required huge effort, resources, a management plan and a dedicated team to achieve it; and the environment rather that the architecture may be a decisive factor.