La Martiniere College

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La Martinière College
Motto Labore et Constantia
(By Labour and Constancy)
Established 1836 by Major General Claude Martin
Type Private
Location Lucknow, Kolkata and Lyon
Campus Urban city, varying area
Number of branches: Seven (Three schools in Lyon, two in Calcutta and two in Lucknow)
Colours Blue and Gold
Website Lucknow
Calcutta

La Martinière is a non-denominational private school in India (Kolkata and Lucknow) and in France (Lyon).

La Martinière Schools were founded posthumously by Major General Claude Martin in the early 19th century. Martin had acquired a large fortune while serving the Nawab of Awadh Asaf-ud-Daula and bequeath a major part of his estate to establish the schools. His will outlined every detail of the schools, from their location to the manner of celebrating the annual Founder's Day. The seven branches function independently, but maintain close contacts and share most traditions.

La Martinière College, Lucknow was awarded a Battle Honour - 'Defence of Lucknow' for the part the staff and pupils played in the Defence of the Residency at Lucknow during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 - the only school in the world so distinguished.

La Martiniere Calcutta and La Martinière Lucknow consist of separate girls' and boys' schools, while the three in La Martinière Lyon are co-educational. The Colleges are day schools, but Calcutta and Lucknow have boarding facilities as well. Extra-curricular activities, including sports and community service organizations, are emphasized, and music and dance are included in the general curriculum.

Claude Martin - the founder[edit]

Claude Martin (1735-1800)
Main article: Claude Martin

Claude Martin was born on 5 January 1735 in Lyon, France. He came to India when he was seventeen. After the French influence declined in India, he served in the British East India Company and rose to the rank of Major-General. After taking up residence in Lucknow, he occupied an important position in the court of Nawab Shuja-ud-Daulah and later his son, Asaf-ud-Daula.

During this period Martin accumulated a fortune of about 4,000,000 rupees. He built the palace of 'Constantia' and his fine house of Farud Baksh, both of which he equipped with luxuries that included a library of some 4,000 volumes written in many languages and a picture gallery containing a collection of works of art.

Martin died in Lucknow on September 13, 1800. According to his will, he was buried in the vault prepared for his remains in the basement of the college in Lucknow.[1]

The major portion of his estate were left for the founding of three institutions, one each at Lucknow, Calcutta and his birthplace Lyon in France. It took 30 years to dispose of the litigation arising out of Claude Martin's will. Finally, as the result of a Supreme Court decision, La Martinière Schools opened in Calcutta, on 1 March 1836.

Claude Martin's intent was the education of children in India without specific mention to race and creed. However, the attitude of British rulers in India changed to a Victorian and imperialist outlook resulted in the formation of a school meant for European Christians, though permitting Catholics, Armenien Christians and those of other denominations. It was only in 1935 that native Indians were permitted to join the school.

La Martinière coat of arms[edit]

The La Martinière coat of arms was designed by the founder Claude Martin.[2] It is supported by seven flags, each bearing the design of a fish, the emblem of Oudh.[3] The devices on the escutcheon appear to epitomise Claude Martin's life. The ship recalls his voyage to India where he established his fortune. The lion with the pennant represents his career as an officer in the East India Company and with the Nawab of Oudh The setting sun behind the castellated building to the right of the shield has been said[2] to point to the sunset of his days and the large part which the building of "Constantia" played in his later years. The coat of arms and the accompanying motto Labore et Constantia are now shared by all the schools founded by Martin.

The La Martinere College flag consists of the coat of arms on a blue and gold background. The flag is generally flown above the buildings, and used for formal events and celebrations, such as the annual Founder's Day.

The seal is engraved on the school buildings.

College traditions[edit]

Founder's Day[edit]

Founder's Day is commemorated every year on September 13, the day Claude Martin died. Some of the traditions of this day include an extended formal assembly in the morning with a faculty march, a speech by a prominent guest or alumnus, the playing of bagpipes, singing of the school song and other selected hymns by the College choir, and the laying of a wreath at Claude Martin's tomb.

For the Founder's Day dinner the entire senior school and staff are treated to an elaborate sit-down dinner in the afternoon. Claude Martin had apparently listed in his will that his death should not be commemorated as a day of mourning but one of celebration of his life. He had also written out a menu for the meal to be served. Although today, the menu does not remain the same, the tradition of the Founder's Day dinner is still preserved.

A Founder's Day Social is held in the evening for the senior school. Classes are suspended on Founder's Day, which is generally followed by a school holiday.

Prize Day[edit]

At the end of each academic year, usually in April, Prize Day is held to recognise academic excellence and to honour high achieving students. Some of the traditions include a formal assembly in the afternoon involving a faculty march, a formal speech by a prominent guest or alumnus, singing of the school song and other selected works by the College choir. Generally the top three ranking students of each class are awarded prizes, usually books, and upper classes receive subject proficiency awards.

In India, the students achieving first rank in competing academic examinations in grades 10 and 12 are awarded the Founder's Gold Medal. Several additional special prizes are also awarded.

Sports Day[edit]

Each year, on the last Sunday of November, the athletic talents of the students are displayed. Traditions include a school march (which involves a military-type march around the school grounds), gymnastics, a performance by the school band, and an athletic competition between the school houses.

Houses[edit]

The students of each College are divided into four houses, mainly for promoting academic and athletic competition among students. The houses have different names in La Martiniere Lucknow and in La Martiniere Calcutta, stated in order of number of Cock Houses, as given below:

Colour La Martiniere Lucknow La Martiniere Calcutta
Blue Martin Martin
Green Cornwallis Charnock
Yellow Lyons Macaulay
Red Hodson Hastings

The School Socials[edit]

The Socials at La Martinière are elegant events in the English tradition. Students from both the girls and boys sections are invited to the socials. Ceremonial uniform is worm by boys, while formal dresses are worn by girls. "The Social" is a tradition of La Martiniere and a memory of its English past.

The Socials are held in the College Hall and the girls are invited to the boys school. Socials are also held after the yearly 'Cal-Meet' is held between the two schools at Lucknow and Kolkata.

La Martinière has always been regarded as one of the finest schools in India. Given its foundation in English tradition, it has been compared to the Public Schools of England, and has been referred to as "The Eton of the East" by William Dalrymple, in his book "The Age of Kali."

Hostel[edit]

La Matinière Calcutta and Lucknow both have hostel facilities. Dormitories are provided with Tata Sky, swimming and other facilities. Every December the boarders have a special night named "Boarders Night" where all the boarders and teachers come together for a dance party. The next night is followed by Boarders Night Socials where both boys and girl school boarders have socials.

La Martinière Old Boys (Blacks and Tigers)[edit]

The Try, 1930s boys' comic illustration of play in a school rugby match

La Martinière Old Boys (L.M.O.B) was founded in 1873 and during its centenary 100 years in 1973 won the major tournaments in Calcutta under the leadership of Dada Osman. The L.M.O.B. mascot was drawn by Cris Rowe in 1976.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, LMOB had a legendary player in the name of Sydney Edge, famous for his signature drop kicks. Also round about this time at La Martinière school, there were the outstanding Armenian brothers - Romek and Armen, who were also school captains during these times.

Another renowned player-cum-manager was Iqbal Ahmed in the mid 1960s who played as a prop in the scrum. The legendary players of his time were Dada Osman who even captained the side, Babul McLeod, Mathew Kurian, Milford Hennessy, Nandu Chandavarkar, S. Guha Thakurta (Bua) and Peter and Richard Hooper(brothers).

In the 1980s the renowned players were Tony and Steven McLuskie (brothers), Herman and Chris Bulsara, Naresh Ojha, K.C. Lee, Philip Kuruvilla and David Yah.

Some of these players won the M.V.P.(Most Valuable Player) award during the All India Tournaments.

In 1982 the college reached its prime when in an All India Tournament in Calcutta, both its teams, L.M.O.B. (Blacks) & (Tigers) made it to the finals.

Notable alumni[edit]

Auguste (left) and Louis Lumière.
  • The pioneers of filmography the Lumiere Brothers studied at the La Martinière, Lyon.
  • The actress Merle Oberon studied at La Martinière, Calcutta. Both the Lucknow and Calcutta Girls' Schools have produced a "Miss India" each: Priyanka Chopra, from La Martinière Lucknow and Nafisa Ali from Calcutta. La Martinière Calcutta has produced a father and son duo Vece Paes and Leander Paes, both of whom won medals at the Olympics.
  • Rajendra K. Pachauri studied at La Martinière, Lucknow.
  • Vijay Mallya studied at La Martiniere Calcutta.
  • Radio and television personality Roshan Abbas studied at La Martiniere Lucknow.
  • Muzaffar Ali, the noted Bollywood film producer, director of Anjuman, Gaman, Umrao jaan and many others.
  • Vinod Mehta editor of Outlook Magazine was in La martiniere Lucknow
  • Ashok Soota founder of Mindtree a software company was from La Martinere Lucknow
  • Surendra Nigam well known business consultant is from Lucknow
  • Gautam Kaul headed the Indo Tibetan Border Police was at Lucknow

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]