Death of Hazel Morrison - Passing of an Era

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On Monday, May 29, I received news that Hazel Morrison, widow of the late Frank Morrison, former Salt Commissioner Jaipur, died in Patna. She was 94 years old and died peacefully, with her niece by her side. She had lived a full life, fought the good fight and has now gone to her reward.

I spent quite a bit of Tuesday, browsing Google Maps of Patna, particularly the estate called Hazeldel which is right up by the Golghar, sandwiched between it and the Commissioner's office on Ashok Rajpath, behind the sprawl of St Xavier's school.

I am writing this because with Mrs. Morrison's death, a solid piece of Patna will die.

The Hazeldel "estate", if it may be called that, comprises a main bungalow built in the style of all Raj bungalows with deep arched verandahs and cool rooms with red cement floors, plus two cottages. It was built by the mother of Mrs. Morrison, Dr. Francis, one of the first women LMPs in Bihar and very well respected as a doctor in the first half of the 20th century. She had several children, among them Mrs. Morrison and a son, Oswald Francis, an international labour law expert.

As a child, I grew up in Patna and spent wonderful times at Hazeldel, so I was curious to know what would happen to the estate, now that Mrs. Morrison has died. This is when I learned that it was held by the family on a long lease which expired a long time ago but the state government had not taken it back in deference to Mrs. Morrison. The rest of the family left India a long time ago, anyway.

So now Hazeldel will revert to the state government and I wonder what will happen to the bungalow and the cottages. I do hope that no public institutional eyesore will come up in its place. Perhaps it can be part of an extended garden for the Golghar, which is itself a pretty sad place, judging from the pictures I have seen of it!

I am hoping that PatnaDaily will do a story on the place, so that people at least will learn a bit of its history. It would make a very interesting reading.


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