Tollinton Market

Tollinton Market, now but a shadow of once remarkable structure, is located to the east of the museum, across Public Library Road—so named because of the presence of Punjab Public Library housed in Wazir Khan's Baradari. This building was built to house the first important exhibition of Punjab's arts and crafts. This building, which once presented a picture post card view, is of great significance in tracing the urban history of Lahore.

It was in this exhibition hall, now famous as Tollinton Market, that the first major exhibition (1864) of the produce and products of the province was held. It later housed the Punjab's museum collection consisting of objects d'art, arts and crafts and rare finds.

The quaintness of this picturesque building was captured in The Illustrated London News of May 14, 1864. The "Punjab Exhibition of Arts and Industry" was opened by Lieut. Governor Robert Montgomery on January 20, 1864. The displays included "shawls from the looms of Umritsar, carpets, pictures, books and illuminated manuscripts and many other specimens of native workmanship." The wares comprised precious jewelry, exotic dresses, pashmina shawls and carpets contributed by wealthy sirdars and jagirdars of the Punjab, rare manuscripts and contemporary calligraphic pieces, a variety of implements and a wide range of weapons including jeweled scabbards, hand-woven fabrics of Multan, Batala and Lahore, Rawalpindi, Bhera, Khushab etc., articles made from steel, silver and leather, huqah and dishes etc. of various metals, minerals of all kinds including precious and semi-precious stones, all kinds of fauna, animals and birds and water creatures such as snakes and alligators taxidermed and displayed attractively in glass boxes. Even the big gun Zamzamah was displayed there.

The original building, modeled after the prevalent bungalow design, utilized encircling verandahs with sloping tiled roofs supported on simple wooden posts. The main exhibition hall, with a length of 112', rose above the verandah roof, its pitched roof with gable ends, sporting an array of dormer windows for bringing natural light into the hall. Two square towers rose 12' above the roof of the main hall, supplementing the natural light entering the central section of the hall.

The facade was designed to express the wooden structure of the building consisting of posts and a sloping roof fabricated with wooden trusses, while internally brick walls were used to support the trusses. To introduce a feeling of unlimited space, these walls were punctuated by a multitude of pointed arch openings, around which displays in the form of stalls were arranged.

After the transfer of the museum collection, the building was handed over to Lahore Municipal Committee. In the 1920s the building was remodeled as a market by the famous municipality engineer, Rai Bahadur Sir Ganga Ram, and became known as Tollinton Market, after H.P. Tollinton, Secretary Punjab Government. For decades, it served the city well as a market, accommodating small stalls stocking a variety of daily provisions.

Its recent rehabilitation and restoration, in view of the images available from publications such as The Illustrated London News, have been welcomed by conservationists.

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