Sir Robert Stanes has left an indelible mark in the progress and development of Coimbatore. And it is his Coimbatore and Spinning and Weavings Mills (CS &W Mills) that kick-started the industrial growth of this city, especially in terms of textiles. He spent more than 70 years in Coimbatore.
Born in England and entering Coonoor at the age of 17 to manage the family coffee estates, he took over the upkeep of a new coffee curing unit at Coimbatore soon after. Thus was born the first industry of the Stanes family in Coimbatore. The building with just two rooms on Trichy Road in which Stanes lived for a number of years had now become a mansion with several rooms. When he was just 21 years old, he decided to open a school in Coimbatore. And it was launched in a rented building near the Kumaran Market. Then it was shifted to a building near the Coimbatore Clock Tower and two years later to another building near the Head Post Office.
By then it had become a residential school. It was only in 1927 the foundation for the current school was laid because he was determined to give the institution a very vast space. Stanes is said to have gone through terrible times following the collapse of his company - Stanes Watson and Co in London in 1880. He was left with just Rs. 500. However, Stanes and Co got resuscitated with the help of another company. During that period, he had no money even to send his wife and children to England and they had to travel in a cargo ship in intolerable conditions. An extremely industrious man with indomitable will, he managed to overcome all the trials and tribulations.
It was in 1888 stone was laid for the CS and W Mills and this cotton mill started functioning two years later. Now this unit is under the control of the National Textiles Corporation. According to historian C.R. Elangovan, it was Robert Stanes who advised cotton merchant G. Kuppuswamy Naidu (the founder of Lakshmi Mills) to use oil engine for ginning instead of buffaloes. Not only did he become a very good friend of Kuppuswamy Naidu but also did manage to learn to speak to him in Telugu. The British honoured him conferring “Kaiser-i-Hind” Award. He passed away at the age of 95 leaving behind one of the best schools in the State for the benefit of Coimbatore public.