Hyderabad: A devastating and massive fire completely gutted the historic 144-year-old Secunderabad club, one of the city’s most famous and elite clubs in the early hours of Sunday.
The club’s Colonnade bar and administrative office were among the structures that were completely destroyed in the fire.
The fire is thought to have started in the bar room between noon and 1am, and by 3am, when seven firefighters were rushed in, the whole building was on fire. Initial attempts by some club staff to extinguish the fire did not help, with the club’s liquor stores also catching fire.
Madhusudhan Rao, the District Fire Officer, Secunderabad Division, said, “Seven fire tenders were immediately dispatched to the site around 3.15 a.m. when we received the message regarding the fire. Several parts of the heritage structure, including the roof, are made of wood, hence most of the structure was burnt down, and a hall and room where alcohol is believed to be stored were completely damaged.
One of the oldest clubs in India, the Secunderabad Club was founded in 1878. Once a hunting lodge, the Salar Jung I, Mir Turab Ali Khan, who served as the Nizam’s Prime Minister, stayed there during his hunting trips.
The club buildings were given heritage status in 1999 and the fire is believed to have destroyed several items of historical value.
Secunderabad club was known as Secunderabad Public Halls. Later, the British presence in Hyderabad increased and the British brought in civil officers to take care of the Nizam’s railways as well as the judicial and administrative system. The public halls of Secunderabad have been transformed into the United Services Club representing all sections of the services.
Until 1947, only British citizens were allowed to hold the post of club president and only a handful of high-ranking Hyderabad nobles were offered membership. Currently, the club has about 5,000 members.
According to Prakash Ammanabolu, a member of the club, the fire could have started because of an electrical short circuit. “As it was a public holiday on Saturday, only partial services were open on Saturday evening.”