"We wanted to bring my father's ashes and sprinkle it on FW Stevens' grave," says Diana Robertson, the great-great-granddaughter of Frederick Williams Stevens, father of the iconic Victoria Terminus, now known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST).
On her first ever visit to Mumbai, Diana paid her respects at her forefather's grave in Sewree cemetery, before visiting CST.
Diana and her husband Kevin, who live in Southampton, UK, had initially planned on bringing her father's ashes to pay homage to her forefathers – Frederick and his son Charles, both architects who played a pivotal role in building the city. "But then we thought, it shouldn't pose any issues for the authorities," said Kevin. Instead, they laid a wreath on the grave.
Diana and Kevin visit her forefather's legacy, CST. Pic/Suresh Karkera
In a detailed interview with mid-day last week, Diana and her husband had mentioned that while they knew of her ancestry, they only recently found out how big a contribution her forefathers had made to Mumbai. The last family member to reside in India was Diana's grandmother Stella Helen, before she moved to UK. The couple came to know about the stature of Stevens father-son duo from Dr Anita Rane-Kothare, Head of Ancient Indian Culture and Archaeology department, St Xavier's College. "I am overwhelmed. I had no idea how popular he was," added Diana. Around 5 years ago, Diana's daughter had also come to Mumbai, but she only visited CST and did not go to the Sewree cemetery. During their visit, Diana and Kevin enquired about the cemetery, which was created in 1848. At CST, Diana was amazed by the sheer number of people using the station.
Later, she was shown drawings of the CST building, its pillars, gargoyles and every tiny detail that has been documented. The couple now wants to take this history back home for the future generations. "The family is spread across the world; Scotland, parts of Europe and USA. But home and roots for them is here in India. It is very important to embrace her history and anything that will inspire the family," added Kevin.
Diana and Kevin Robertson are heading for Jaipur before returning to the UK.