The Gun and Shell Factory, Cossipore, considered as the mother unit of Indian Ordnance Factories, started its journey when the hallowed land adjacent to the Chitteshwari temple at Cossipore was bought in the year 1801 and production activities started on 18 March 1802. Initially, it used to repair the gun carriages belonging to the East India Company, which were earlier done at Fort William. From repairing gun carriages, when it was called Gun Carriage Agency, the factory graduated to Gun Foundry in 1830.
Much later in 1905, it became a full-fledged gun and shell factory. Cossipore Club was set up in the same year for the recreation of the Europeans and Anglo-Indian employees of the ordnance factories and allied military establishments. However, the palatial building of the club, located at Seven Tanks Estate 4, Dum Dum Road, has a long history behind it.
As the name suggests, the Seven Tanks Estate or Saat Pukur on Dum Dum Road was once girdled by a number of tanks, out of which only five have survived till date. The Estate, surrounded by high walls, has a gateway and two bridges across a tank leading to the majestically imposing double-storey building, which looks like an ancient Roman temple, rather than a clubhouse. Adorned with a grand pediment held aloft by a row of seven fluted columns with capitals of the Corinthian order, the magnificent building seems to be rather mismatching for the congested Dum Dum area, where it stands.
History says, the Saat Pukur originally belonged to Umanandan alias Nandalal Tagore, son of Harimohan Tagore. This Harimohan was the fourth son of the illustrious Darpanarayan Tagore of Pathuriaghat Tagore family. It is said that, as Nandalal’s old mother had expressed the desire to visit Vrindavan and as Nandalal was reluctant to take the risks associated with the long journey in those days of uncertainties, he decided to build a replica of Vrindavan close to Calcutta where his mother could rest in peace in an atmosphere like Vrindavan. He excavated the seven tanks and imitating the groves of Vrindavan, built a pleasure garden, named Gupta Bridaban, along with the huge colonnaded building, which was subsequently described by Bishop Heber as more of an Italian villa.
It is not clear when the Tagore family had sold off this sprawling estate. However, at some point of time, it was acquired by Ruplal Mallik, the father-in-law of Raja Rajendra Mallik, who later constructed the famous Marble Palace on Muktaram Babu Street in north Calcutta.
Unfortunately, though the beautiful building is enlisted in 1997, for preservation and conservation, it has lost much of its dignity and character, as the columns on both sides have been joined together by a wall and small concrete boxes with glass windows have sprouted behind the pediment. As if that is not enough, a lift within a granite cage has been installed behind the building, to access the guest house for the VIPs on the first floor.
Nevertheless, the Cossipore Club, which occupies the majestic building, is considered as one of the oldest and prestigious sports clubs of Calcutta. It provides ample opportunities to the young people for individual development, as well as inspires them for contributing collectively to the society.
The club has a nice infrastructure for playing lawn tennis in hard court, a state of the art swimming pool, Billiard room, a modern Gymnasium and a nicely arranged bar.