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St Patricks RC Church Poona.jpg
Presidency: Bombay
Coordinates: 18.520469°N, 73.85662°E
Altitude: 560 m (1,837 ft)
Present Day Details
Place Name: Pune
State/Province: Maharashtra
Country: India
Transport links
Great Indian Peninsula Railway
Southern Mahratta Railway
FibiWiki Maps
See our interactive map of this location showing
places of interest during the British period

Poona is a city about 100km south-east of Bombay (now Mumbai), which was a popular social retreat for residents of Bombay as well as formerly the largest garrison town in the Deccan for the British Army. The British comedian, Spike Milligan, spent his childhood there (his father was in the Royal Artillery[1]). There was also another cantonment nearby, at Kirkee.

Poona was the headquarters of Poona District in the Central division of Bombay Presidency during the British period. See Bombay Districts. It was an important junction where the metre gauge Southern Mahratta Railway met the broad gauge of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway.

Modern Pune lies on the west side of the Deccan plateau beneath the Western Ghats (Sahyadri mountain range) at the confluence of the Mula and Mutha rivers. Known for its textiles and metal working, it is now the sixth largest city in India, with India's largest student population, and site of the ashram of the Orange People (followers of Sri Rajneesh).


Poona grew under the Moguls from 1636 as a trade route. Its importance escalated after 1750 when it became the capital of the Marathá Empire, where the Peshwas had their palace.

A battle for Poona in October 1802 between the Peshwa Bajirao II and the Holkars led to the 2nd Anglo-Maratha War.

The British involvement in Poona began after the 1802 Treaty of Bassein - when Peshwā Bjī Rao allowed the English to station a small military force in the town.

After the Peshwas were defeated at the Battle of Poona on 17/18 November 1817 (aka: Battle of Yeraoda) between the British and the Marathas near Poona in the 3rd Maratha War the city was seized. It was placed under the administration of the Bombay Presidency. The British built a large military cantonment to the east of the city (still used by the Indian Army).

The arrival of the railways opened up communication routes to Bombay, previously constrained by the terrain.

Poona Municipality was established in 1858 and was at one time the "monsoon capital" of the Bombay Presidency.

Spelling Variants

Modern name: Pune
Variants: Puna/Poona/Poonah

Western India Club, Poona

FIBIS Resources

English Quarters

  • The Civil Lines
  • Stavely Road (from the old city, heading to the Poona Cantonment)
  • Poona Cantonment


  • Western India Club - English members
  • Deccan Club - mixed Indian and English members
  • Sanvarjanik Sabha and Deccan Sabah- Indian members

Volunteer Regiment


Further Education

Poona Sanskrit College 1837 opened and offered a combined Sanskrit and medicine course (linked to Sansoon General Hospital) – under Superintendant: Captain Candy.

Sanskrit and Vernacular College est 1851/52, formed from the amalgamation of Poona’s English and Venacular schools, later it became the Deccan Arts College 1857, with an affiliation to Bombay University 1860.

The Engineering College was founded 1865 and was affiliated to Bombay University (its creation is contemporary with the construction of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway) Later (1880) it was known as the College for Science . It educated staff for the Public Works Department. Courses were offered in: Civil Engineering, Agriculture, Forestry, plus apprentice training.

Political activist Bal Gangadhar Tilak and local citizens founded The Deccan Education Society est 1884, and were responsible for founding Fergusson College, a law school, in 1885.


Supplementing native sanskrit schools, Government Schools opened in 1826 to teach vernacular, initially under control of Mr Jervis. Numbers increased to 3 Government Schools in Poona by 1847, and 23 by 1883 (many other existed in the greater Poona district). They comprised:

  • High School 1
  • Anglo-Vernacular 2
  • Vernacular 18
  • Teacher Training schools 2 (male est: 1857, female est: 1870)

In addition there were 45 Private schools, including:

  • The Free Church Mission School for Girls est 1850 in the camp
  • The Convent High School for Girls est 1860
  • Bishops High School, est1864
  • The Pensioner's Middle Class School for boys and girls est 1864
  • Free Church Mission Institute est 1866
  • Poona Native Institution est 1866
  • St Vincent Roman Catholic High School est 1867 includes anglo-indian section,
  • St Mary’s Girls High School est 1867
  • St Anne’s Middle Class School for Girls est 1873
  • The Victoria Girls High School est 1876
  • The Free Church Mission School for Boys est 1876 in Aditvar Peth
  • The Conference Middle Class School est 1879
  • The Mission Orphanage and Christian Boys Middle Class School est 1879
  • The New English School est 1880
  • The Scottish Girls High School est 1882
  • The Zanana Mission Anglo-Vernacular School for Girls est 1882 in Sukravar Peth, Sadasiv Peth *Civil Lines and Kamathipura
  • The Mission Orphanage Panch Haud Vernacular School est 1882
  • The Free Church Mission for Girls Vernacular School est 1882 in Aditvar Peth
  • The Bene-Israel Girls Vernacular School in Rastya Peth est 1882
  • The 'posher' schools in Poona in the 1940s : Protestant schools were Bishops School for boys and St Marys School for girls. Both these were adjacent to St Mary's Anglican Church; Catholic Schools were the Convent of Jesus and Mary for girls and St VIncents for boys. Both were adjacent to St Xaviers Church.[2]


In addition to the Sansoon General Hospital, Roman Catholic Orphanage, Charitable Infirmary, St Margaret’s Hospital, St Johns Hospital, and Leper Hospital,there were 10 dispenseries in Poona.


St Paul's Church
  • St Mary’s Church est 1825 originally, mainly for the officers and soldiers of the British, along with their families located in the military cantonment (the latter also known as the camp).
  • Christ Church opened by Scottish Missionaries 1831
  • St.Patrick's Cathedral est 1850
  • Church of the Immaculate Conception, est 1854
  • St.Xavier's Church est 1864
  • The St.Andrew's Church est 1864, was built to cater to the British Army personnel and their families belonging to the Church of Scotland. St.Andrew's Church,Khadki,Pune You Tube. Baptism and Marriage registers are now wth St Andrew's Church, Calcutta
  • All Saints Church est 1869 (Birth, Death, Marriage and Baptism registers are all available since 1869) a military church at the Kirkee cantonment
  • Methodist Marathi Church est 1872.
  • The Church Of The Holy Name est 1885
  • Ghorpuri Garrison Church, est 1890, now known as St.John's Telugu Church
  • St Matthew's Tamil Curch est1893
  • Jewish Synagogue
  • United Free Church
  • St Paul's Church


St Sepulchre Cemetery (East Gate), Poona 2011
  • Sangam (near the old Residency)
  • St Pauls Church
  • East Street
  • Kirkee close to the rifle butts
  • Sholapur Road
  • Kirkee Memorial for 1,800 servicemen who died in India during the First World War, who are buried in civil and cantonment cemeteries in India and Pakistan
  • Kirkee War Cemetery contains 1668 Commonwealth burials from the Second World War - many graves have been reinterred at Kirkee from other sites in western and central India
  • St Sepulchre's Cemetery. See FIBIS Resources above for images and transcriptions. Thought to contain both Protestant and Roman Catholic graves.[3] In the 1980s burial registers were available at the gatehouse[4], but at a visit in 2011 these were no longer available, and the East part of the cemetery was a jungle infested with snakes.[5] Some general cemetery images may be seen here.


European newspapers were the Deccan Herald, and Poona Observer.

External links

Spike Milligan [Obituary] 28 February 2002 The Telegraph, archived.

Historical Books Online


  1. "Chapter 1: Beginnings" Milligan's Meaning of Life: An Autobiography of Sorts by Spike Milligan, edited by Norma Farnes. 2011. Google Books.
  2. Taylor, Rosemary. Public schools in India Rootsweb India Mailing List 10 March 2011, archived.
  3. James, Leslie. St Patrick's RC Cathedral Poona Rootsweb India Mailing List 20 June 2007, archived.
  4. James, Leslie. Anybody Heading Down The Family Trail This Holiday??? Rootsweb India Mailing List 14 November 2009, archived.
  5. Bourne, Edmund trip to India Rootsweb India Mailing List 15 March 2012, archived.