New village of Cheltenham built - on tsunami-battered Indian coast

Last updated at 09:39 23 January 2008

A new Cheltenham has sprung up on the Tsunami-stricken Indian coast - with every house named after a feature of the famous Cotswolds Spa town.

The new village of 108 brick-built houses in Andrha Pradesh has been named Cheltenham because the people of the Gloucestershire town contributed so much to its formation.

In the Indian Cheltenham there's a Cavendish House - the name of Cheltenham's big House of Fraser department store - a Bishop's Cleeve, one of Cheltenham's suburbs, and a house called The Echo, the name of Cheltenham's evening newspaper.

The 108 houses all have Cheltenham names - including one called the Planets, the best known composition of Cheltenham-born Gustav Holst.

Other houses are called Promenade, Tivoli, The Spa, Queens and The Robins - the nickname of Cheltenham Town FC.

It's all because Cheltenham's Rotary Club and the town's former Mayor, Councillor Rob Garnham, were so instrumental in helping to fund the building of the new village that locals wanted to show their gratitude.

One of the houses is called Mayor's Parlour and another Garnham House to reflect Councillor Garnham's fundraising during his year as the town's first citizen.

A delegation of Rotary Club members left for India this week to attend the official handover and opening of the village to the new "Cheltonians" on February 2.

The Andrha Pradesh Project in Cheltenham began when Tory councillor Mr Garnham made the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami victims one of his Mayoral charities.

He was supported by Cheltenham Rotary Clubs, led by district governor Paul Charter.

Together they raised £37,000 for the Tsunami stricken area of Nizampatnam in India.

Mr Charter, from Churcham, near Gloucester, said "Rotary immediately replaced 110 boats to enable people who had fished for a living for generations to carry on.

"But it was soon clear more was needed.

"We dug new wells to provide clean water and replace salt polluted supplies. Then we tackled the problem of all the lost homes with funding from ourselves and the Government."

He said the decision was then taken to build an entirely new village with houses built of brick on high ground further from the sea than the original settlement.

"We had to buy the land, get planning permission and build roads before house building could begin," said Mr Charter.

"It's a remote area and needed better connections to the outside world."

Builders battled drought, high temperatures and monsoons to complete the village, which Rotary and the Indian government agreed to name in honour of the people who made it possible.

Mr Charter said "The local Indian government were so taken aback by the generosity of the Rotary and the Mayor of Cheltenham's Appeal they matched our funding.

"They and we felt that because this was all made possible by the people of Cheltenham's generosity they should be honoured when it was completed."

Councillor Garnham said "It's moving to think that because of this families on the other side of the worldl will be able to live in more comfort.

"I hope it will be the start of a long friendship between our two areas."