Frere Hall, Another Architectural Wonder of Karachi!

Friday, November 18, 2016 Hiba Moeen 6 Comments

After having visited the Quaid-e-Azam Museum House we decided to hit the road across and step into the same historic era by visiting the Frere Hall for some photography and book shopping. It is another relic of the British Colonial era and abode to hundreds of pigeons too that are fed by people on a daily basis.

Frere Hall was built in honour of Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere (born March 29, 1815, Brecknockshire, Wales—died May 29, 1884, Wimbledon, Surrey, Eng.) who was known to be very active in the regional economic development of Sindh which he was the Chief Commissioner of from 1850 to 1859. He was later stationed in Bombay where he served as a governor; afterwards, he was stationed in South Africa. 

Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere (Picture taken from

The hall is located near Fatima Jinnah Road and is opposite Marriot Hotel. Its construction commenced in 1863 and took two years to complete; 1865 witnessed the construction of what we see as the remnants of the Frere Hall. It was initially used as a Town Hall during its early years where several busts including that of King Edward VII’s were displayed; it also accommodated oil paintings by Sir Charles Pritchard who was the former Commissioner of Sindh. Frere Hall is surrounded by two lawns; namely, the Queen’s Lawn and the King’s Lawn which had been renamed as Bagh-e-Jinnah after the Independence of Pakistan. The Hall’s library is known as the Liaquat National Library which is closed for some odd reason. It is known to have more than 70,000 books and is one of the biggest libraries in Karachi. Inside the hall is the Sadequain Art Gallery which too was locked up, probably because of Sunday.

The Venetian Gothic look had been given to the hall by the architect, Lieutenant Colonel Clair Wilson whose work was considered among a dozen others as the rest of the architects faced stiff competition and he was finally chosen to design this building. It’s a palpable reflection of the British architecture with its ribbed vaults and multiple pointed arches, not to mention the perfectly calculated buttresses that support the entire structure. The cost of this architectural magnificence was Rs. 180,000 out of which Rs. 170,000 were paid by the municipality while Rs. 10,000 were paid by the government. 

There are some very old trees which really make you wonder why our city is deprived of the glorious greenery like this. And yes! There are squirrels, which seem to have become extinct in Karachi as the trees are slain by ignorant fools. Oxford dictionary describes a squirrel as ‘an agile tree-dwelling rodent with a bushy tail, typically feeding on nuts and seeds.’ These creatures’ frolic around trees is refreshing to say the least as they search for food and chase others in their dray. Here are two pictures that I took of them as I was finally able to shoot these lovely rodents … with my camera of course.

If you are a book lover, Sunday is the best day to visit the Frere Hall as there are book stalls that sell some very interesting books of a wide variety of genres including classics. 

Know your history, know your roots, and plant trees please! 

All pictures were snapped with my Nikon D3100.

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  1. History of Karachi is very interesting but unfortunately we are not telling about this history to new generation. Hope people read this article about Frere Hall and visit it also.Appreciate efforts of this author in introducing Karachi to the natives of city

    1. I believe schools should also teach pupils about their heritage and architectural history to make it more interesting.

  2. Liked the discription of your visit to Frere hall it's the place which I have frequented with my parents in my childhood, so going through your blog brought old memories .and one more thing which reminded me of was that I hAve given my mbbs exam in this hall hubs keep doing your thing Dr muhammad hussain

    1. Wow. It must be so interesting appearing for your exams here.

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