Ooty’s Paris Connection

(Around the middle of the 1800 Ooty was so popular that it attracted people from most of the European countries. They came for missionary work, for research, for business and trade or for rest and leisure. Here are some interesting Paris links to Ooty)

Around 1850s, Ooty was a happening town. Fashionable ladies formed the high society of the town. Dance and merry making went on into the small hours of the day. The demand for hi-fashion attracted Monsieur Julien Etienne to come from Paris, in 1859, and open a tailoring and millinery establishment, the latter being under the management of his wife. He is believed to have had his shop near Shoram Palace and was very expensive.  Later he built the house called Montauban, and carried on business there. Montauban is a missionary guest house now on the right side of the road leading to Rose Garden.

Etienne is said to have been an excellent tailor and died in 1868. The grateful  people of the town  named the longest and one of busiest roads in Ooty after him. Etienne, his wife Virginia Anne and their three sons are buried in St. Stephen’s church.

Millicent Pilkington ( 1872– 1960) travelled from Lancashire to India in 1893 and stayed four months in Ooty. Pilkington was the daughter of Thomas Pilkington, son of William Pilkington, one of the founders of the hugely successful Pilkington glass works at St Helens on Merseyside.

Pilkington  went out to India as part of what was called the ‘fishing fleet’: wealthy young women travelling to India in search of a husband from among the very well-off single young men that worked in the country. She didn’t find a husband on this trip, but did keep a very beautifully illustrated account of her travels. The album goes on to describe her time in very high Indian society, attending balls, parties, plays and other social events. She travels around a little, starting at Ootacamund and going to Wellington.

While at Ooty she stayed at Hotel de Paris and sent a  post card from there with a picture of the garden outside the hotel. To the best of my knowledge I cannot make out where was this hotel. Suggestions are welcome.

Nilgiri Documentation Centre

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