Friday, September 12, 2014

Old Sealdah Railway Station



Sealdah Railway station was started in 1869. Before 1978, there was a tram terminus at Sealdah Station. Trams departed from here towards Rajabazar, Howrah Station, High Court, Dalhousie Square, Park Circus and Dharmatala. The first horse tram service of Kolkata was also started from Sealdah to Armenian Ghat, following the currently route 13, 14 & 16 between Lebutala & Dalhousie Square. The Sealdah-Lebutala & Dalhousie Square-Armenian Ghat (later extended to High Court) stretch is now closed. That terminus was demolished in 1978 also with the Sealdah-Lebutala tram track stretched through Boubazar Street for construction of the Sealdah flyover. The flyover is not high enough to pass tramway tracks under it. However, after its construction, tram tracks were relaid on the flyover. Now tram services between Rajabazar-Esplanade, Parkcircus-Burrabazar and other services pass through Sealdah. Currently, a car parking exists in place of the old tram terminus.


The history of Sealdah Division is a little difficult to track. The part of network under this division was a part of the Eastern Bengal Railway. Eastern Bengal Guaranteed Railway was formed on 29.09.1862 in undivided Bengal. After the state acquired the Guarantee Railway, this was renamed as Eastern Bengal Railway on 01.07.1884 and amalgamated with North Bengal State Railway and South East Railway.Then again it lost its identity and amalgamated with Assam Bengal Railway and a new Railway Bengal & Assam Railway was formed on 01.01.1942. But this was also short lived. B.&A.Railway was divided according to international boundaries after partition of India. in 1947. Sealdah division was formed on 14.04.1952 after reorganisation of railways, The main line (Sealdah to Ranaghat was opened far back on 29.09.1862 during formation of Eastern Bengal Guaranteed Railway.

Eastern Bengal Railway Eastern Bengal Railway Company was registered in 1857 to establish railroad connection between Calcutta and Eastern part of undivided Bengal beyond Ganges(Padma) . First section was completed in January 1962 from Calcutta to Champahati. By May 1862 this extended to Port Canning. Ranaghat was connected in September 1862. After this for the next 20 years there was no extension. Between 1882-1884 Ranaghat , Dum Dum , Bongaon and Diamond Harbour was completed. State took over in 01.07.1884. Dum Dum - Chitpore Goods line was connected in 1914. Shantipur branch opened in 1924. Baruipur - Lakhikantapur section was opened in 1928. (source Jivan Marg : 15.10.1952.)

The original station , designed by Mr. Walter Glanville was built in 1869. This was the main station. Subsequently as Calcutta spread, large areas south of the became suburbanised and it became necessary to provide these new areas with railway communication. The lines radiating to Diamond Harbour (once the main port) , Laksmikantapur, Canning and Budge Budge were known as south section. Interestingly this part of Sealdah station was built close to the main station but at right angles to the main station. Due to the same reasons for growing traffic to and from northern suburban areas another new north Sealdah station was built adjacent to main station. Unfortunately Sealdah lost much of its importance and business after partition.

The division covers the geographical part between river Hooghli on the west, Bangladesh on the north and East and Sundar bans on the south. It is connected with Howrah division main line at Bandel and HB chord at Bally.

It is predominantly a Suburban Division which connects Calcutta with suburbs, surrounding metropolis and villages. Apart from lines in three direction it also controls the Calcutta Circular Railway. The division is the gateway for the traffic of Calcutta Port Trust. It provides services to the Thermal Power stations, feeds - paper, jute, Iron & Steel Plants etc. Gede is the principal interchange point with neighbouring Bangladesh through which cement, coal etc. are exported. It serves the oil terminals at Budge Budge. Apart from this the division has a large number of goods sidings at Cossimbazar, Berhampur, Krishnanagar, Kalyani, Titagarh, Sodepur, Dum Dum Cantonment, Barasat and New Alipur at Kolkata.



A few facts : It was a horrendous task to build a station building at the central business district of the then Calcutta. The foundation of the main Station had to be abnormally deep , in many places 45 ft. below normal ground level owing to the presence of many underground tanks or pits at the site. Some of the walls at that depth are 8 to 10 ft. thick. A six mile long approach embankment was constructed to bring the main line into the station. This was necessary to cross various roads and canals.
Front of the Sealdah Main Station in the year 1944.


Sealdah Main Station near College Square in the old times.





Approach to Sealdah North Station during the morning rush-hour in the past.
Facade of Sealdah Main Station in the year 1956.
Sealdah Railway Station in the year 1944 showing a stationary train.
Sealdah Station in the year 1942.
Public transportation waits out in front of Sealdah Station in the year 1940.
 Front of the Sealdah Main Station in the year 1940.
Steam Locomotive of the Bengal and Assam RR in the yards of Sealdah Railway Station in the year 1940.
Trains ready to depart Sealdah Station - 1940.
Another view of the Trains -1940
Sealdah Railway Yard in the past.

Sealdah North Station in the old times.



Passenger waiting area, Sealdah Station - 1940.










Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tram Transport in Calcutta - The only city in India which has a public tram service still in continuance.............

Tram Transport in India was established by the British in the 19th century.
Discontinued in most Indian cities between 1930 and 1960, as of now Calcutta has the only public tram service in the country.

Horse-drawn trams were introduced in India in the early 19th century. The first electric tram service was started in *Madras in 1895. Electric trams were subsequently introduced in *Calcutta (1873), *Bombay (1907), *Cawnpore (1907) and *Delhi (1908).
(*Note - Madras is now known as Chennai, Bombay is Mumbai, Cawnpore is Kanpur, Delhi is New Delhi and Calcutta is Kolkata)

In the year 1873,the first attempt to run a tramways service in Calcutta began between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat Street of route length 2.4 mile was made on Feb 24 The service was not adequately patronised and was wound up on Nov 20.

The Formation and Registration of The Calcutta Tramways Company Limited:

In the year 1880, The Calcutta Tramways co ltd was formed and registered in London on 22nd December. Meter -gauge horse-drawn tram track between Sealdah to Armenian Ghat via Bowbazar Street, Dalhousie Sq. Customs House and Strand Road was laid . The route was inaugurated on 1st nov 1880.
From then on the progress of the tramways service was developed rapidly as they became very popular transport for city transit during those days (not now unfortunately).
The prime reason was that during those days, only 1% of the population of Calcutta could afford to travel in their private cars.
There were less or say no other modes of transport available during those days. So these tram cars were very popular among the people for transit and also the fare was also low (its low even now).

See below the timeline of the tram development from past in a nutshell:

1882 :- Steam locomotives were deployed experimentally to haul tramcars. By the end of the nineteenth century the Company owned 186 tramcars, 1000 horses, 7 steam locomotives and 19 miles of tram tracks.

1900 :- Electrification of Tramways and simultaneous reconstruction of tracks to the standard gauge (4'-8½ '') was taken up. By the end of 1905 the entire system was converted to an electric traction.

1905 :- Howrah station to Bandhaghat section for tramways was opened in June. Lines to Sibpur via G.T. Road was made ready in 1908.

1943 :- The Calcutta system was connected with Howrah section through the new Howrah bridge in Feb with this extension , the total track length reached 42.09 miles (67.73Kms).

1951 :-The Govt. of West Bengal entered into an agreement with the Calcutta Tramways Co and the Calcutta Tramways Act, 1951 was enacted . The Govt took over all rights with regard to Tramways and reserved the right to purchase the system on 1st Jan, 1972 or any time thereafter giving two years notice.

1967 :- The Govt of West Bengal passed the Calcutta Tramways Company (Taking Over of Management ) Act, 1967 and took over the management on 19th July 1967. On November 8th, 1976 the Calcutta Tramways (Acquisition of Undertaking) Ordinance , 1976 was promulgated under which the Company with all its assets vested with the government.

1970 :-The Howrah sections were closed down in Oct 1970 and Dec 1971/1973 Nimtala Ghat route was closed down in May 1973. The total track length was reduced to 38.58 miles (62.08kms).

1985 :-On April 17, extension of track was completed connecting Maniktala to Ultadanga Station via Maniktala Main road (3.7 kms) This is the first Tramways extension since 1947.

1986 :- On Dec 31 further extension of tram track from Behala to Joka was completed.

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An old picture of an horse driven tram in Calcutta in the year 1873.






Street scene. Tram cars were popular as city transit in those days.



A Tram Terminus Scene from past.


Another Tram Terminus scene in old Calcutta.

The picture showing a man in the year probably in the year 1945 or 46 trying to get into the Tram from window to get a seat. From the image you can easily know how the trams were popular during those days.
Tram cars in the past Calcutta

The First Electric Tram Car in Calcutta.
Early Tram Cars in Calcutta in the year 1944.




Looking south down Chowringee Road from tram terminus. Maidan is on right. Calcutta, 1944.




Tram terminus at Esplande Row East and former Chowringee. First car, first class; second car, second class.





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Approach towards the west side of the Howrah Bridge in 1944. No Trams can be seen today on Howrah Bridge as they are discontinued in that route because of heavy traffic.
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The Trams filled with almost full passengers were seen only in those days. Today the Trams runs empty mostly with one fixed passenger, i.e. "the conductor."
First journey of Tram in Calcutta maybe in the year in between 1908 to 1910.
Chowringee and tram terminus from Calcutta Statesman editorial.











Friday, May 24, 2013

Oldest Bridge in Calcutta

HOWRAH BRIDGE (RENAMED RABINDRA SETU) - OPENED TO TRAFFIC ON 3RD FEBRUARY 1943 


The Howrah Bridge is a cantilever bridge with a suspended span over the Hooghly River in West Bengal, India. Commissioned in 1943, the bridge was originally named the New Howrah Bridge, because it replaced a pontoon bridge at the same location linking the two cities Howrah and Calcutta . On 14th June 1965 it was renamed Rabindra Setu, after the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore who was the first Indian and Asian Nobel laureate.However it is still popularly known as the Howrah Bridge.

It was said that it was the third longest cantilever bridge at the time of its construction, and it is currently the sixth longest bridge of its type in the world.


The railway station at Howrah set up in the year 1906 and the bridge (later popularly known as Howrah Bridge) thus served as the logistic link with the country's one of the oldest metropolis  Calcutta. The Legislative department of the then Government of Bengal passed the Howrah Bridge Act, in the year 1871, under the Bengal Act IX of 1871.

Sir Bradford Leslie's famous floating pontoon bridge, the earlier avatar of the modern Howrah Bridge, was initially set up in 1874, almost coinciding with the establishment of the port of Calcutta in 1870.
For the convenient plying of passenger and vehicular traffic, the pool was connected as a whole. However, this was unfastened everyday, particularly during the night for safe passage of steamers, boats and other marine vehicles. From 19th August, 1879, the bridge was illuminated by fixing electric poles at the centre. This was done by using the electricity rendered from the dynamo at the Mallick Ghat Pumping Station. The Bridge was then 1528 ft. long and 62 ft. wide. On both sides-were pavements 7 ft. wide for the sake of pedestrians. The 48 ft. road in between,was for plying of traffic.


The emergence of Calcutta as the political capital of the nation and expanding volume of merchandise routed through the port of Calcutta had a synergistic effect on the commercial importance of the bridge. The location of the initial pontoon bridge, was around 100 yards down-stream of the present Howrah Bridge.

Brief accounts of the initiatives of the construction of the Bridge:

1. The newly appointed Port Commissioners in 1871 were also appointed Bridge Commissioners and were enjoined to take charge of the structure . The Commissioners took over the management of the Howrah Bridge in February, 1875. Since the early part of the 20th Century, the bridge showed signs of duress for catering to the increased traffic load. The Commissioners of Port of Calcutta instituted a Committee under the convenorship of Mr. John Scott, the then Chief Engineer of the Port. The other members included Mr. R.S. Highet, Chief Engineer, East Indian Railway and Mr. W.B. MacCabe Chief Engineer, Calcutta Corporation.

2. The Options at Hand:

The committee explored six major options viz:-

a) Large ferry steamers capable of taking vehicular traffic (One time set up cost Rs. 29 lakhs, annual cost: Rs. 4.37 lakhs).

b) A transporters bridge [One time set up cost Rs. 20 lakhs]

c) A tunnel [one time set up cost Rs. 3382.58 lakhs, annual cost: Rs. 17.79 lakhs]

d) A bridge on piers (One time setup cost: Rs. 225 lakhs)

e) A floating bridge (One time cost: Rs. 21.40 lakhs; annual maintenance cost: Rs. 2 lakhs).

f) An arched bridge (Cost to be ascertained).

The committee, after considering the financial aspects and traffic potential, zeroed in on installation of some form or other of a floating bridge. It decided to call for tenders from 23 firms for design and construction of the new bridge. A prize of money £ 3,000 (Rs. 45,000, at the then exchange rate) was earmarked for the firm whose design would be accepted.

3. The Aborted Attempt:

The construction of the bridge, in spite of an early and well meaning effort, had to be postponed because of outbreak of the First World War (1914 - 1919 ). The bridge was partially renewed in the years 1917 and 1927.

4. The Renewed Efforts: Small Steps Towards the Final Grail:


1921 : A committee of Engineers, named the 'Mukherjee Committee', was formed, comprising Sir R.N. Mukherjee, Industrialist, Sir Clement Hindley, Chairman of Calcutta Port Trust and Mr. J. McGlashan, Chief Engineer.

1921 : The matter regarding construction of the bridge on piers was referred to
Sir Basil Mott, an expert. He proposed construction of single span arched bridge.

1922 : (New) Howrah Bridge Commissioners to the Government of Bengal was set up. Mukherjee Committee submitted its report.

1926 : New Howrah Bridge Act. passed. The Commissioners for the Port of Calcutta, for the time being, were made the Commisioners for the new bridge

1929: M/s. Rendel, Palmer and Tritton submitted their report and alternative estimates for a cantilever and a floating bridge were drawn up.

1930 : A committee (Goode Committee) comprising Mr. S.W. Goode, C.I.E, I.C.S., as President, Mr. S.N. Mallick, C.I.E. and Mr. W.H. Thompson, M.L.C. was constituted to investigate and report on the advisability of constructing a pier bridge between Calcutta and Howrah.

1930: Report submitted by the officiating Chief Engineer to the Chairman, Calcutta Port Commissioners. He recommended that M/s. Rendel, Palmer and Tritton be asked to consider the construction of a 'Suspension' bridge and attached the plan of a suggested type of suspension bridge prepared by Mr. Walton, Chief Draftsman. 


1935: New Howrah Bridge Act. amended



5. The Renewed Start:

M/s. Rendel, Palmer and Tritton submitted their report including the design and drawing of the bridge. The construction of the bridge was awarded to a British firm viz. Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company Ltd. on the basis of a global tender invited during 1934-35. The construction of the new bridge commenced in 1936 under the supervision of the Howrah Bridge Commissioners under the aegis of the then Commissioners of the port of Calcutta.

6. The Impending War Clouds:

The Second World War was looming large and the bridge was constructed under the tense and formidable war pressures. It was completed in 1942 and opened to public in February 1943.

7. The Final Deliverance : The New Structural Wonder:

The new Howrah Bridge, the fourth cantilever bridge in the world, was commissioned (under the aegis of the then commissioners of the Port of Calcutta) in February 1943. It consumed 26,500 tons of steel and was constructed at an approximate cost of Rs. 250 lakhs. No incidents of major casualty were reported during the construction phase of the bridge.

Howrah Bridge during construction.
The construction of the bridge started in the year 1936 and ended in the year 1942.

Rare photo of the construction of Howrah Bridge in 1942 from the archives of Anandabazar Patrika(leading Bengali newspaper in Calcutta).




The old Pontoon Bridge (also called the old Howrah Bridge) in the year 1935.



The New Howrah Bridge in the year 1944 after it was opened to the traffic.
Old Howrah Bridge (Pontoon Bridge) road in the 1920s.

The old Pontoon Bridge old picture.

Another picture of the old pontoon Bridge.

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Howrah Bridge scene in the year 1944.
Notice the vintage cars, trucks, etc.
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Howrah Bridge from Howrah Station side of the river in 1944.
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Cremation ceremony at a Ghat a short distance upstream from Howrah Bridge in 1944.
See the old Howrah Bridge picture of 1912.
The Howrah Bridge under construction, 1940. The Howrah Bridge under construction across the Hooghly River, linking the cities of Howrah and Calcutta.
Women in a rickshaw passing evacuees streaming across the Howrah Bridge on their way to the railway station in hopes of escaping the city after bloody rioting - Calcutta (Kolkata) August 1946

Calcutta Bus Stand near Howrah Bridge, most likely on the Howrah Station side of the Hoogly River in 1944.
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The old Pontoon Bridge on the Hooghly River, c. 1901





Friday, May 10, 2013

Life in past Calcutta - amazing and rare pics of streets, schools, colleges, markets, stations, buildings, hotels, places etc.

View of Calcutta - 1880's (source eBay)
Esplanade area in the old times.
The Esplanade and Government House from Chowringhee - Calcutta  1865, source British Library
(A view from the north end of Chowringhee Road, beside the carriage stand, looking north-west across the Dhurrumtollah Tank, towards the façades of the houses along Esplanade Row, with Government House at the extreme left. The flat-fronted, verandahed building behind the premises of William Coish & Co is the Adjutant-General's offices. Among the commercial premises on Esplanade Row are Mountain's Hotel, Madame Nielly (French milliner), Payne & Co's Belatee Bungalow and Thomson & Co)
View of Calcutta from Esplanade, a old post card image






Esplanade Row (East) in the nineteenth century, a painting by Allom T.



Esplanade Mansions, Calcutta













Esplanade Row in 1878. source - British Library
(Esplanade Row contained many of Calcutta's impressive public buildings including the High Court, Town Hall and Government House)

An old photograph taken in the year 1903 somewhere in Calcutta showing four Britishers in a car. 


A 1944 picture of Chowringee Road (Esplanade) near the tram terminus. Building with clock tower housed Whiteaway and Laidlaw department store. It stocked good, British and Indian made clothing and accessories. Even in 1944, the Hotel Continental lacked most modern conveniences.

The GI tourist here ponders the purchase of a "rare gem" --- a typical camera study of life on Chowringhee during the war. Firpo's  famous restaurant is in the background and a dhoti-clad native Indian and a British officer in shorts lend a bit of atmosphere. Picture taken somewhere in between 1935 to 1947.

Firpo's Restaurant in Chowringhee.
An old lunch menu dated Friday, the 30th March, 1945 of Firpo Ltd Caterers.

Firpo's Restaurant in Chowringhee in the year 1917.
Firpo's Restaurant in Calcutta was established after the Great World War I around 1917by Angelo Firpo, an Italian birth and culture. He opened several famous restaurants, a tea room that was favorite spot for the high society, a renowned pastry shop and a popular catering service that delighted Lord Irwin, the Viceroy and Governor of India, several Maharajas and other important dignitaries.His refined cuisine made him famous worldwide. The restaurant produced bread for the entire Bengal region and it had a turnover of  one billion liras at the time.











Street scene - buffalo carts. 





Side street (today's Bentinck street), north of tram terminus,  1944

Bentinck Street -1945 





Harrison Road (today's M G road), Calcutta - 1910

Fort William and Red Road, Calcutta - 1870




Esplanade (also known as Dharamtala street), Calcutta






Native Street Scene, Harrison Road, Calcutta.

Tank near Camac Street and Burial Ground Road Crossing, Calcutta( 1858-61)
The road Camac Street was named after William Camac, a senior merchant in the days of Lord Cornwallis and Lord Wellesley.
Burial Ground Road is now known as Park Street.



A poor cripple's ox-cart, Calcutta in the 1900's.

Very old photograph of Durga Idol. Probably from late 19th or early 20th century.
 Durga means "the inaccessible" or "the invincible" is a popular fierce form of the Hindu Goddess or Devi. She is depicted with multiple (variously,from ten up to thousand) arms, carrying various weapons and riding a ferocious lion. She is often pictured as battling or slaying demons, particularly Mahishasura, the buffalo demon.
For the Goddess-worshipping Shaktas, Durga is sometimes equated with Mahadevi, the Supreme Goddess. Her triumph as Mahishasura Mardini, Slayer of the buffalo Demon is a central episode of the scripture Devi Mahatmya. Her victory is celebrated annually in the festivals ofNavaratri and Durga Puja.
It was also said that even British officials regularly attend Durga Pujas organized by influential Bengalis and British soldiers actually participate in the pujas, have prasad, and even salute the deity.
Calcutta's biggest and largest festival celebration till date.




A typical early morning scene in Burial Ground Road( Park Street) probably in the 1930's or 40's.
Street scene. Cows, dogs are commonly seen household animals on the streets, even today. 

Harrison Road view probably in the late 60s.



Small Cause Court, Calcutta 1878


Old court house street near Esplanade, Calcutta. probably in the late 1920s.


Clive Street, Calcutta - 1890

Vintage photo of Howrah Station probably in the year 1943.
An overview image of  Howrah Station in the early 1940's.
A distant view of old Writers Building taken before the Dalhousie Institute was built within Dalhousie Square.
The foundation of Dalhousie Institute was laid on 4th March, 1865.


Street scene showing a traffic police standing with an umbrella in the centre on Chowringee Road in front of Whitewaw and Laidlaw & Co Ltd in the year 1944.

Native Calcutta Traffic police in the old times.










View of Writers Buildings - 1905






Writers Building view probably in the early 1900s.
The Writers' Building originally served as the office for writers of the British East India Company, hence the name. Designed by Thomas Lyon in 1777, the Writers' Building has gone through several extensions over the years.


Zoological Gardens (today's Alipore zoological gardens) in the old times.

Great Eastern Hotel, Calcutta in the year 1930 probably.
The Great Eastern Hotel is a colonial era hotel in the Indian city of Calcutta. The hotel was established in 1840 or 1841; at a time when Calcutta, the seat of the East India Company, was the most important city in India. Referred to as "the Jewel of the East" in its heyday, Great Eastern Hotel hosted several notable persons visiting the city. After India's independence in 1947, the hotel continued its business but went into decline during the Naxalite era of West Bengal; later the state government took over the management.
Street near Great Eastern Hotel in the year 1945 showing two cars.

Great Eastern Hotel, Calcutta
Photograph of Great Eastern Hotel in Calcutta, India, taken at some time between 1850 and 1870.
The hotel was established in 1840 or 1841 by David Wilson as the Auckland Hotel, named after George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, then Governor General of India.[1] Prior to opening the hotel, Wilson ran a bakery at the same site.[2] The hotel opened with 100 rooms and a department store on the ground floor (Spence's Hotel, established in 1830 but no longer in existence, is considered to be the first major hotel in Calcutta).[3] The Auckland was expanded in the 1860s and its managing company renamed from D. Wilson and Co. to Great Eastern Hotel Wine and General Purveying Co. In 1883, it was electrified, and is thought to be the first such hotel in India. It was also amongst the first to have an Indian on its board of directors, in 1859.[1] It became the Great Eastern Hotel in 1915.













Great Eastern Hotel Calcutta, India Luggage Label ca.1920



Council House Street, Calcutta in the mid nineteenth century.
See the Great Eastern hotel on the right.

Kalighat Temple (Kalighat Kali Temple is a Hindu Temple dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Kali. It is the one of the 51 Shakti Peethas.) in the year 1932.


Pahawallah (Indian Policeman), Calcutta

The High Court at Calcutta, formerly known as the High Court of Judicature at Fort William, was brought into existence by the Letters Patent dated 14th May, 1862, issued under the High Court's Act, 1861, which provided that the jurisdiction and powers of the High Court were to be defined by Letters Patent. The High Court of Judicature at Fort William was formally opened on 1st July, 1862, with Sir Barnes Peacock as its first Chief Justice. Appointed on 2nd February, 1863, Justice Sumboo Nath Pandit was the first Indian to assume office as a Judge of the Calcutta High Court, followed by legal luminaries such as Justice Dwarka Nath Mitter, Justice Ramesh Chandra Mitter, Sir Chunder Madhab Ghosh, Sir Gooroodas Banerji, Sir Ashutosh Mookerjee and Justice P.B. Chakravartti who was the first Indian to become a permanent Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court.
The Calcutta High Court has the distinction of being the first High Court and one of the three Chartered High Courts to be set up in India, along with the High Courts of Bombay, Madras.

Calcutta High Court in the year 1860.
The High Court building is an exact replica of the Cloth Hall, Ypres, in Belgium.


Calcutta High Court in the year 1905.

Old Picture of Calcutta High Court from Life Archive hosted by Google. Exact date and photographer is unknown.



Calcutta High Court - 1890

The Ochterlony Monument, in Esplanade, Calcutta in the late  1860s' probably.
It is a monument in Calcutta that was erected in 1825 by Major-general Sir David Ochterlony, commander of the British East India Company, to commemorate both his successful defense of Delhi against the Marathas in 1804 and the victory of the East India Company’s armed forces over the Gurkhas in the Anglo-Nepalese War. The monument was constructed in his memory. It was designed by J.P. Parker and paid for from public funds.
In August 1969, it was rededicated to the memory of the martyrs of the Indian freedom movement and hence renamed the "Shahid Minar," which means "martyrs monument" in both Bengali and Hindi, by the then United Front Government in memory of the martyrs of the Indian independence movement. The present government has decided to illuminate the tower during evenings and allow visitors to the top.



Statue of Lord Hardinge and Ochterlony Monument, Calcutta 1860s'.
A view looking across the Maidan towards Chowringhee Road, with J.H. Foley's equestrian statue of Viscount Hardinge of Lahore, Governor-General of India from 1844-1848, in the foreground. The monument to Sir David Ochterlony, the victor of the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-1816, now renamed the Shahid Minar, a monument to Indian martyrs, is beyond.




Bally Bridge (Vivekananda Setu). maybe in the year 1945.


Maidan in 1870s; 143 yrs old view

BBD Bag (Dalhouse Square) in 1920.


Shyambazar, Calcutta in the past.


Grand Hotel (now called The Oberoi Grand) in the 1940's on Chowringhee  Road.


Grand Hotel advertisement in the 1940's.


GRAND HOTEL, Calcutta India April 19, 1946 Program for Dancing Dining Wining.


Victoria House (Headquarters of the Calcutta electric Supply Corporation) along the left in the year 1945.

Old Picture of Victoria Memorial, Calcutta from Life.



An old picture showing the construction of Victoria Memorial Hall (now serves as a museum and a tourist attraction) going on.



Imperial Museum (now Indian Museum) Calcutta - Mid nineteenth Century.
(The Indian Museum (Bengali: ভারতীয় জাদুঘর) is the largest museum in India and has rare collections of antiques, armour and ornaments, fossils, skeletons, mummies, and Mughal paintings. It was founded by Dr Nathaniel Wallich a Danish botanist at Serampore (originally called Frederischnagore) near Kolkata (Calcutta), India, in 1814. It is a multi-disciplinary institution of national standing and is one of oldest museums in the world)
The Imperial Museum, one of the oldest museums in the world on Chowringhee road, Calcutta in 1905.
View from the Imperial Museum, Calcutta - 1880's.



Elite Theatre (now Elite Cinema) in the year 1945.



Strand Road - 1885











An old picture of Curzon Gardens (the gardens infront of the Victoria Memorial Hall) - Calcutta

A 19th century photograph of the Ballygunge area, Calcutta




Grains Boats, Alipore bridge, Calcutta - Mid 19th Century ( Between 1850's to 1870's)






South Suburban College old building (renamed Asutosh College) in the year 1916-17.
The college was established in the year 1916  under the stewardship of educationist Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee.
Bethune College and School buliding in the year 1949.
Bethune College, the first college to play a historic role in the cause of women's education in Bengal , started as the Hindu Female School and blossomed into the Bethune School on 7 May 1849. Its founding father,John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune, himself a graduate from Trinity College, Cambridge and the Fourth Wrangler, had arrived in India in April 1848 as the Law Member of the Governor General's Council. He also held the post of the President of the Council of Education.


Sir Stuart Hogg Market possibly in the year in between 1910 and 1930.

The Calcutta Boys School old building in the year 1893.
The Calcutta Boys' School was founded by the Rev. James Mills Thoburn (Methodist Missionary to India, and later Missionary Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church), and was opened in 1877. It was endowed by the late Robert Laidlaw and others interested in the education of the sons of the Anglo-Indian and domiciled European community.
Hogg Market in the year 1905.




La Martiniere School, Calcutta (founded 1836) in the mid ninteenth century.
The Calcutta La Martiniere Schools, were the result of Martin’s desire to start a school “for the public good of the town of Calcutta or establish a school for educating a certain number of children of any sex to a certain age, and to have them put prentice to some profession.” Through it generations of young lives would find a footing in the world. It took 30 years to dispose of the litigation arising out of the will. Finally, as a result of a Supreme Court decision , La Martiniere School, opened in Calcutta on 1st of March, 1836. The first body of Governors determined what sort of school La Martiniere was to be. Their report, dated 1835, showing exceptional enlightenment for that age, decided that the school should provide a liberal education, in which foundationers as well as day scholars should participate. Twenty poor girls and thirty poor boys were to be chosen from the Christian population of Calcutta and they were to be directly educated and supported from school funds. Other Christian students could be admitted on payment of fees. The main building was then occupied by both boys and girls; the boys being on the eastern, and the girls on the western side. There were iron railings running north and south on both sides of the building, dividing the two departments. Both sexes attended the School Chapel.





Sir Stuart Hogg Market (Hogg's market or Hogg Shaheber bajaar in Bengali) in the year 1945
The market is now called New Market situated on Lindsay Street.

La Martiniere Boys' School, Loudon Street, Calcutta in the year 1906.
An old photo of the New Market, Calcutta showing a meat stall. 
A Vintage picture showing Chowringhee, Esplanade Crossing, Calcutta.
An old picture showing a street in Bowbazar.
1880 Calcutta Municipal Market (Hogg's Market)








A very old picture of Sudder Street probably older than 100 years.
The picture showing The Sudder Court building on the left. The northern side of the Calcutta Museum is on the right. The second building on the left is the Methodist Chapel.
The picture showing Chowranghee Street probably in the 1940's.
                                Fame and fortune have attended Chowranghee Road for nearly three centuries. One of Kolkata's principal arteries, throughout the length of its history it has carried an aura of prestige and importance.

Standard Chartered Bank in Chowranghee. Notice the horse driven carriages standing nearby.
Chowranghee in the year 1798. The Englishmen settled here in the mid-eighteenth century and built magnificent buildings. That is why Calcutta was also known as ''The City of Palaces".   


Chowranghee and Up-to date store in the year 1905.
Also see the Hall and Aderson, G F Kellener, & new (1908) building of the Bengal Club together.



On the eastern side of Esplanade stands a spectacular building in Baroque style, complete with domes, pediments, balconies & clock tower. Known as the Metropolitan Building it once housed Calcutta’s leading departmental stores run by the famous Whiteway, Laidlaw and Co.
Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co (nicknamed ‘Right-away & Paid-for’ because it operated on cash payments only, no credit) was ‘the’ colonial emporium or department store in India and became a household name throughout the East; it was founded in Calcutta by two eponymous Scotsmen in 1882.
The Whiteway, Laidlaw & Co.’s departmental stores in Calcutta was considered the poshest and classiest department store this side of the Suez.

This elaborate, ‘wedding-cake’ structure was purpose-built by Calcutta-based contractors Mackintosh Burn & Co as the headquarters of Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co; its architecture, sheer size and prominent corner position were intended to attract buyers to enter its doors. The ground floor and the first floor were occupied by the department store itself. Given the size of the building, the floor space was huge. The second and third floors accommodated offices and apartments; the offices were known as Victoria Chambers.

Galstaun Mansion (renamed Queen's Mansion) in the year 1927.
The Galstaun Mansion is almost an exact copy of a famous building in Paris, also built on a similar corner plot.
When the building was "mortgaged" to Prudential Insurance, the company changed the name to Queen's Mansion.




Thadious Mansions (now Park Mansions), Calcutta
Built on the site of the former Doveton College, this large Edwardian residential block of mansions was erected by TM Thaddeus, the prominent Armenian philanthropist.
Burial Ground Road (now Park Street) in the 1930's, Calcutta.
Park Street has been the recreation zone for Kolkata people since the British era.
It was also the popular foreign tourist spot in Calcutta then and even now.
Spences Hotel (Estd. 1830), Calcutta.
Spence's Hotel (now not in existence) was one of the first hotels in Calcutta, opened in 1830. It was necessitated due to the large numbers of visitors coming to Calcutta from Britain and other parts of India. As the Government encroached on buildings around Government House, Spence's Hotel was moved to another location before eventually being demolished.

Spence's Hotel & St. John's Cathedral, Calcutta, 1858-61
from the Government House (north side)
by John Constantine Stanley (1837-78).
The last photo from the above is a hand-coloured print of Spence's Hotel, Calcutta, from the Fiebig Collection: Views of Calcutta and Surrounding Districts, taken by Frederick Fiebig in 1851. This is a view looking south along Clive Street, with Spence's Hotel on the right and the grounds of Government House on the left.

Early photograph of the Metcalfe Hall in Strand Road. Calcutta.
The Metcalfe Hall was erected as its name imparts to perpetuate the memory of Lord Metcalfe, who officiated as Governor General of India from March 1835 to March 1836. It was originally conceptualised as a Public Library later on housed the Imperial Library.


Metcalfe Hall, Calcutta in the mid-ninteenth century.

The Town Hall, Calcutta - 1860s.
Photograph of the Town Hall from 'Views of Calcutta and Barrakpore' taken by Samuel Bourne in the 1860s. Located on the Esplanade, the Town Hall was built in 1813, east of the High Court, by Colonel John Garstin. This view of the main facade shows the classical style and the Doric portico. The Town Hall overlooks Eden Gardens in the Maidan.



Town Hall, Calcutta - Mid nineteenth century (1857-61)
Calcutta Town Hall in Roman-Doric style, was built by the architect Col. John Garstin in 1813 with a fund of Rupees seven lakhs raised from lottery to provide the Europeans with a place for social gatherings. At first, the hall was placed under a committee, which allowed the public to use the hall under such terms and conditions as were fixed by the Government. The public could visit the ground floor hall to see statues and large size portrait paintings but they were not allowed indiscriminate access to the upper storey. Applications for the use of the upper storey were to be made to the committee. In 1867 Town Hall came under the custody of the Calcutta Municipality (later on Kolkata Municipal Corporation). In the year of 1897 the Town Hall had been partly renovated. After political independence in 1947, Indiscriminate interference with the structure inevitably took its toll. That, at last, has been prevented in 1998 by timely intervention.


Gillander  House, Clive Row, Calcutta- c.a 1870's
Built for the firm of Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co (1819) - a managing agent for jute mills, collieries, tea estates, railways, building and engineering - it sits in the heart of the British central commercial district of Calcutta.


The arrival of the Czarevitch (an heir apparent of a Russian czar) at Calcutta.



Currency Building, Calcutta in the year 1885.
Currency Building photograph taken in the year 1885.
This is a handsome three storied building, designed in Italian style, the walls were made of brick. Founded in 1833, it at first housed Agra Bank. The building was named as the Currency Building when the Government occupied a large portion of it for its Currency Department in 1868 from the Agra Bank Limited. The roof was arched on iron joist and the floor covered with marble and chunar sandstone. A handsome gate at the entrance in three parts, is of a very florid design in wrought iron. The Central Hall gets sunlight through skylights overtopping the large domes. The Central Hall & a row of exchange counters for notes gold, silver and other change. The Currency office has a vault of a massive masonry lime on its roof, walls and floor. The second floor is similarly designed and the then Assistant Commissioner in-charge of the Currency Building had his residence there. The rooms above are spacious and are paved with Italian marbles.



Bank of Calcutta, later renamed Bank of Bengal (now State Bank of India) - founded 1806.

The Bengal United Service Club (Bengal Club) in Calcutta - 1865

The Bengal Club, Calcutta - old picture.


A Market place probably in Chowringhee, Calcutta.
A street scene in Calcutta in the past. People most probably having a tasty and popular street snack called PHUCHKA in West Bengal and Calcutta. In English it is called watery bread or crisp sphere.
Barrackpore in the mid nineteenth century taken by photographer Francis Frith between 1850's to 1870's.
A busy intersection showing somewhere in the North Calcutta area in the year 1926.
Bus stand near Maidan in the year 1920. Courtesy: Life Magazine.

Bengal United Service Club (founded 1845) in the year 1905.
The club is said to be the handsomest and best appointed Club House in the East.