Burnpur O'Leary Cheshire Home

The young Group-Captain Leonard Cheshire RAF had been Winston Churchill's representative on the Allied team making the last preparations for launching the atom bomb. The U.S. B-29 bomber with the name Enola Gay painted on its nose, dropped the atom bomb Little Boy on Hiroshima at 9.15 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945. Afterwards, L. Cheshire was deeply affected by the dramatic sequels of the atomic blast on the Japanese civilian population.

When he retired from the RAF, Gr.-Cpt. Leonard Cheshire (later Lord Leonard Cheshire, V.C.) decided to open rehabilitation homes for disabled patients, in Great Britain and other countries of the world. He had worked in India and loved the country. He was invited by Mr. John McCracken, the IISCO British managing director, to open a home in Burnpur. He came himself to lay the foundation stone for the O'Leary Cheshire Home. The building was later on achieved by the Steel Plant engineers.  Homes would years later be opened by the Cheshire Homes Society in Serampore and Bangalore.

present: Gr-Cpt. L. Cheshire; Mrs. wife of  IISCO Managing-Director; Mr..., IISCO Town Administrator; John De Ridder, priest-in-charge.


Laying of foundation stone ceremony:

page 48 Cheshire Home a
page 48 Cheshire Home b

 page 48 Cheshire Home c


Burnpur O'Leary Cheshire Home completed:


page 48 Cheshire Home d

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empty space



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Burnpur - the new presbytery building is opened

At long last, after so many years, a priest's residence and office is available next to St Antony's Church.

1. St Antony's church and presbytery

 page 39 Burnpur Bungalow inside c 

2. Burnpur bungalow


page 39 Burnpur b


3. John De Ridder busy at his desk on the bungalow first floor.


page 39 Burnpur Bungalow inside d


4. JDR and Koka, the keeper's half-breed watchdog 

 page 40 Burnpur Koka

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Burnpur - St Antony's Church and presbytery

When completed, the presbytery building handsomely fitted into the church surroundings and was much appreciated for its convenient disposition. The generous donations both of materials and transportation facilities granted by the IISCO and Waggon Factory managements, brought this project to its conclusion at record speed.


page 39 Burnpur a 2
page 39 Burnpur b 2
Later transformations of
St Antony's Church & Presbytery
photos submitted by Br Frank Gale ICB Asansol (August 2009)








New developments in the ASANSOL DIOCESE

see the link below


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Foundation work for the presbytery

In the Burnpur IISCO township, the need for a presbytery bungalow in the St Antony's church compound was felt more and more and the parish commitee decided to entrust its construction to John De Ridder. Under the guidance and with the assistance of a group of devoted parishioners, professionally both engineers and contractors, he therefore conceived and built the structure best adapted to the requirements of a priest's residence and parish office. The work started with the foundations being digged on location opposite the church-keeper's hut.

page 49 Burnpur foundations a



page 49 Burnpur foundations c




page 49 Burnpur foundations d

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Asansol - St Patrick's School


Asansol SPS.jpg

On pastoral visit to Asansol parish, archbishop De Souza pays a visit to St Patrick's Senior Cambridge School and meets the I.C.Brothers' staff & parish clergy.

sitting, front row: archb. De Souza, pp. C. Van Exem (bearded) , School Principal I.C.Br. X, back row: second from right: John De Ridder - others: I.C.Brs & 2 diocesan priests.


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Chelidanga Hindi Girls' Sodality of Our Lady

At the Maria Goretti School, Hindi girls would gather once a week for pratical teaching and common prayer. But at the end of a term, outings would allow them to see the countryside.


page 38 Sodality a


page 38 Sodality c
page 38 Sodality d
page 38 Sodality b

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Chelidanga Girls' Sodality outings at the Griffiths'


Maria Goretti HS Girls' Sodality 1963
The IISCo Financial Officer Mr. Griffiths and his wife more than once graciously invited the sodality for tea in their garden in the Burnpur township. Girls were also very fond of taking a stroll along the Hoogly river bank whenever they got a chance to leave their village. 
In attendance: Chaplain John De Ridder


page 36 Burnpur Griffiths a

page 38 Burnpur Griffiths b

page 38 Burnpur Griffiths c

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Durgapur ISCo Township: new St Xavier's High School

1 Broad avenues are being drawn for the Durgapur Iron & Steel Works township.
page 34 Durgapur Township a
page 34 Durgapur Township b
page 34 Durgapur Township c


page 34 Durgapur Township d
page 36 Durgapur Township b


page 33 DurgapurTownship 3 a


page 33 DurgapurTownship 3 b


page 33 DurgapurTownship 3 d

2. Opening day ceremony when the groundplot with a building in construction for the Durgapur St Xavier's HS was handed over to Albert Wautier (center),  the Calcutta provincial, by the Township administrator.
In the background: C. Van Exem, pp et John De Ridder
page 36 Durgapur Township c


page 36 Durgapur Township d

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Bettiah church & girls'school

A large majority of Catholics in Chelidanga village, Asansol are from Bettiah, Bihar, a prosperous Christian community near Patna. They come to work in the Asansol Railways Yard and the Burnpur plants: the Indian Iron Steel Company (IISCo) and the Burnpur Waggons Factory. But they regularly visit their home town of Bettiah to keep in touch with their cultural roots.
page 25 Asansol Bettiah Church


page 25 Bettiah school e

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Asansol - Chelidanga - St Joseph's Junior High School



In the Chelidanga village of Asansol Township, the St Joseph's (then Junior) High School caters to the Hindi-speaking community and educates children of several ethnic groups.


1. John De Ridder and JHS top class.

page 32 St Josephs HS



2. JDR ready to bestride his bike.

page 32 St Josephs HS JDR

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Asansol - St Maria Goretti Hindi Junior High School for Girls

North of the Asansol railway quarters, the village of Chelidanga harbours an important Hindi-speaking community of labourers, natives of Ranchi and Bettiah.

They have secured lucrative jobs in the several local industrial plants: the Railway Maintenance machine tools Sheds, the Burnpur IISCO Steel Plant and the Waggons Factory, and further north of Asansol, even the Chittaranjan Locomotive Factory. Two schools which would in time become full-fledged High Schools with Hindi as medium of instruction, were slowly developed through the years by Robert Drugman, to provide excellent teaching to the avid children of this community: for the girls, the St Maria Goretti HS, entrusted to the Daughters of St Ann, the diocesan congregation, and for the boys, the St Joseph's HS entrusted to layteachers with R. Drugman as headmaster. These schools have enjoyed a remarkable reputation of efficiency and achieved splendid academic results.


1. Sister of St Ann teaching an open air class. JDR in the background.


page 32 St Maria Goretti HS


2. Girls enjoy looking after the convent calf.


page 32 St Maria Goretti Calf

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Asansol - Anglo-Indian Schools

Asansol is an important railway link on the Calcutta-Delhi line. In the early days, the railway staff of drivers and maintenance officers belonged mainly to the English speaking Anglo-Indian community which counted many Catholics.

Catholic schools were therefore founded to cater to their children's educational needs. Thanks to the easy journeying facilities afforded by the railways, youngsters from all-over North India, Nepal and neighbouring Burma, eagerly joined one of these two boarding-schools for boys, the St Patrick's Senior Cambridge School (250) and the St Vincent's Training School (200), both entrusted to the Irish Christian Brothers.


page 31 Asansol St Vincents a


page 31 Asansol St Vincents b


page 31 Asansol St Vincents c




page 31 Asansol St Vincents d

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