From prosperity to memory

The company marked its presence way before India got independence. It had over 1,500 workers.
Standard Pottery Works Company High School
Standard Pottery Works Company High School

KOCHI: If you are someone who takes the Kochi Metro, then you would probably be familiar with station named Companypadi, the third stop from Aluva. Formerly known as Poyyakara to its residents, the locality in Choornikara panchayat was renamed after a prominent company that used to function several years ago.

The firm, ‘Standard Pottery Works Company,’ a pottery and tiles manufacturing firm in Poyyakara established on February 2, 1939, had been a source of living for a majority of the locals.

“The company marked its presence way before India got independence. It had over 1,500 workers. Everybody in the locality depended the company for livelihood, and even today, the area surrounding the company’s plot is occupied by children and grandchildren of former employees of the company. Most of the structures have disappeared and only the school built by the management remains,” says Shily Sunilkumar, a 52-year-old shopkeeper.

Thangamma Jacob, a former employee of the company, fondly recalls her life back in the day. “My entire life is entwined with this company,” she reminisces.

“I studied at the company school, and my late husband and I worked there. The place operated round the clock, with workers divided into shifts. Recently when the plot was piled for construction, they got so many tiles from underneath. This is an indication of how much work the comany did,” says the 72-year-old.

The school emblem
The school emblem

Leena O B, a teacher of 30 years and the headmistress in Standard Pottery Works Company High School observed how the functioning of the school that was established on June 8, 1947, changed over the years.

“The workers who lived close to the company raised a concern to the management about the education of their children. This was the beginning of Standard Pottery Works Company High School. It was built exclusively for the workers’ children. The school had around  2,000 students. Later, after several requests and numerous protests, the school was opened to others nearby. Now, it is a government-aided school,” says Leena.

However, the school that saw the dawn of Independence is not in its full glory now.

According to Leena, most of the residents send their children to other new schools that have come up recently.

End of an era

The company, once the lifeblood of the community, soon encountered challenges that threatened its operations. Daily trade union strikes disrupted the workflow, resulting in significant losses and ultimately forcing it to shut down.

Leena further elaborated that the management of the company changed multiple times.

“The company was started by a Tamil nadu native Nataraja Mudaliyar. After several years, actress K R Vijaya’s husband, Sudarshanan Velayuthan, bought the company from him and changed the name to  ‘Sudarshanan Clay and Ceramics’. The company was passed through many hands until it was acquired by Desai Homes, a construction group that now owns the company land and manages the school.”

The Company still holds a place in the hearts of people. “Tresidents have a history of their ancestors, who worked, ate, studied and earned together,” says Shily.

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The New Indian Express