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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 10, september 1-15, 2009

Historic Residences in Chennai - 25

(Sriram V.)

Mammen Mappillai’s House
55/28, G.N. Chetty Road, T. Nagar


Hailed as one of the pioneers of the Indian tyre industry, K.M. Mammen Mappillai (1922-2003) was born in Kerala. His father was K.C. Mammen Mappillai, the editor of the well-known newspaper Malayala Manorama. Graduating in science from Madras Christian College, his attention turned to balloon-making. In 1946, the young entrepreneur opened a small toy balloon manufacturing unit in a shed in Tiruvottriyur, with very little money and lots of hope and energy. He and his wife, Kunjamma, worked in the factory and he himself took the balloons for sale. The company grew from strength to strength and in 1952 ventured into tread rubber. It was registered as a private limited company in 1960. The next year, it became a public limited company and, in 1962, entered into an arrangement with the U.S. tyre giant Mansfield, for production of tyres. Madras Rubber Factory became MRF, the first Indian tyre firm to export tyres to the U.S. In 1973, it introduced nylon tyres to the Indian market. That year, following the death of his elder brother, Mammen Mappillai became the Chairman of MRF. Apart from its main business, the group is recognised for the encouragement it has given to sport in India, particularly cricket, by setting up the MRF Pace Foundation in 1988 to train fast bowlers.

K.M. Mammen Mappillai was honoured for his contributions to Indian industry. The Government of India conferred the Padma Shri on him in 1992. His residence on G.N. Chetty Road was a landmark and is noteworthy for its Art Deco frontage. It is one of the few bungalows to survive on this busy stretch. (Courtesy: ­Kalam­Kriya.)

Sriram V.

In this issue

Thank you, Chennai
Foundation stones...
19th & 20th Century...
Historic Residences...
Other stories

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


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