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Recollections of Calcutta for over Half a Century by Montague Massey

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the very fast an inestimable boon to the inhabitants, both of Calcutta
and Howrah. It is very difficult for any one who has never had the
experience of doing without it, as I have, to conceive what it was
like before the bridge was built. If you wanted to cross the river
except at stated intervals when the ferry-boat was plying, you had of
course to go either in a dinghy or green-boat, and accidents were of
frequent occurrence, particularly amongst the native element, in the
rainy season, when, as we all know, the freshets are exceptionally
strong. Goods and all sorts of merchandise had to be transported to
and fro by cargo-boats and lighters which entailed much delay, besides
extra expenses, loss, and damage to the goods by changing hands so
often in transit. When the bridge was first opened a small toll was
levied for each person crossing over. After a time Railway terminal
charges were levied and appropriations from the revenue of the port
commissioners allocated to support the upkeep of the bridge, and tolls
were abolished.


Was also designed and built by Sir Bradford Leslie in 1887, and
although it does not bulk so largely in the public eye as the Howrah
Bridge, it is none the less a work of immense value. In addition to
many other advantages it ensures by linking together the two railways,
the East Indian and Eastern Bengal, an uninterrupted and continuous
flow of an enormous amount of goods traffic from all parts of India
direct to the docks and alongside vessels waiting for cargo. Its great
importance and utility would have been further and greatly enhanced
had Government carried into effect the proposed and long-talked-of
scheme of a central station, the site of which, as far as I recollect,
was to have been to the north-east of Bentinck Street taking in a
portion of Bow Bazaar Street adjoining, and, extending in a northerly
direction, parallel to Lower Chitpore

Road. Of course all passenger traffic would have centred there, and
every one, leaving for home or up-country, would have driven to the
new station, and so have avoided the long unpleasant drive over the
bridge to Howrah on the one side and to Sealdah on the other. But like
many another proposed scheme that I have heard of in my time in
Calcutta it unfortunately all ended in smoke.


Looking back to the time when Warren Hastings ruled over the destinies
of Bengal, there were then established in Calcutta two courts, the
Supreme Court of Judicature situated on the site of the present High
Court, and the Sudder Audalat or Appellate Court which was located in
the building at the corner of Bhowanipur Road opposite the Medical
Officers' Quarters which has since been converted into a Hospital for
European Soldiers. These courts were still in existence when I arrived
in Calcutta. The Supreme Court was ruled over by the Chief Justice,
assisted by two Puisne Judges appointed by the Government at Home, who
tried all criminal cases as well as civil suits on the original side.
The court house was a two-storeyed, white stuccoed building, having
much the same kind of appearance as a good-sized private dwelling with
a long verandah running the whole length of the south side facing the
maidan, supported by rather a conspicuous looking row of white

[Illustration: _Photo. by Johnston & Hoffmann_ High Court, erected

[Illustration: Small Cause Court]

The Sudder Audalat was a Court of Appeal for cases sent up from the
mofussil, and all the Judges were members of the Indian Civil Service
recruited from time to time from the various collectorates in Bengal.
When the High Court came into existence in the early sixties the
former mentioned court ceased to exist, and automatically became
merged into the latter.


This court was originally housed for many years in the large, white
building in the Museum compound to the north-east, close to the Sudder
Street entrance, and now in the occupation of the Director of the
Zoological Survey of India. It was enclosed by a high brick-wall
having an entrance on Chowringhee Road through a large gateway,
supported by two upstanding pillars. There used to be only three
Judges, First or Chief, Second, and Third, and I recollect some time
after my arrival in Calcutta one of the first incumbents of the office
of the Chief Judge was the late Mr. J.T. Woodroffe, Advocate-General
of Bengal, and father of Sir J.G. Woodroffe, Judge of the High Court.
He would, however, only accept the appointment temporarily, as he
considered his future prospects at the Bar too good to jeopardise by
being absent beyond a certain time. I was very intimate with him at
that period; in fact, we lived in the same boarding house for quite a
long time in Middleton Row, now run by Mrs. Ashworth, and it is rather
a singular coincidence that when this lady was a little girl her
mother, Mrs. Shallow, presided over this very house. The present court
was built on the site of the old post office and the residence of the
Calcutta Postmaster, a Mr. Dove--a large, fat man, but one of the
best. As Calcutta grew and litigation increased the number of Judges
was also gradually increased until there are now, I believe, six and a
Registrar to do the work that three, formerly, were able to cope with.


The Chief Presidency Magistrate has lately changed his court from
Lall Bazaar to Bankshall Street, formerly occupied from time
immemorial by the Board of Revenue. Originally there were only two
Magistrates sitting on the Bench, the Chief, a European barrister
designated the Southern, and a native known as the Northern,
Magistrate. The courts were formerly held in the large, white building
in the centre of the Police compound, since pulled down, on the top
floor of which the Commissioner of Police for a long time resided. It
was found at last, as in the case of the Small Cause Court, that the
increased work had outrun the existing accommodation; so Government
built the police court on the site of the old Sailors' Home which has
lately been vacated and found the Commissioner of Police a handsome
residence standing on the site of the premises of the United Service

[Illustration: Treasury and Imperial Secretariat Building at the
present time]

[Illustration: Department of Commerce and Industry, Council House
Street, built on site of Old Foreign Office. _Photo by J & H_]

[Illustration: _Photo. by B. & S._ Foreign and Military Secretariat,
built on the site of the "Belatee Bungalow"]

[Illustration: _Photo. by Bourne & Shepherd_ Dalhousie Square, showing
Post Office and Writers' Buildings.]

My friend, Willie Bonnaud, the present popular Clerk of the Crown,
held for some time the responsible position of Chief Presidency
Magistrate, and by his considerate and courteous manners, combined
with the able manner in which he discharged the duties of his office,
won the approval and respect of Government as well as of the public,
both European and native. He only vacated the appointment on account
of the age-limit and because there was no pension attached to the


As I have already said, was originally situated on the site of the
Small Cause Court, close to the old Ice House on the west side. This
is one of the very few buildings in Calcutta about which I have the
least recollection, I suppose owing to it having been one of the first
to be demolished. It was no longer in existence at the time of the
great cyclone of 1864. As far as my memory serves me, it was a
low-roofed, one-storeyed building, having a decidedly godownish
appearance, fenced in on the south side, which was the entrance, by a
row of low, green-painted palings with an opening in the centre. It
was however notwithstanding a place of great interest for the time
being, more particularly to boys like myself having recently landed in
a strange country, for on the arrival of the mail steamer at Garden
Reach, which occurred at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, we used to
go down after dinner to get our home letters, which in those days, I
think, were more highly prized than they are now. I quite forget what
occupied the site of the present post office building.


I think most people will be surprised to hear that the magnificent
pile of buildings stretching from Old Court House Corner along
Dalhousie Square to nearly half the length of Wellesley Place, housing
a most important Department of Government, had in the old days a
habitation within a portion of the premises now occupied by George
Henderson & Co. It was originally only an ordinary sized house, having
one entrance in Clive Street, and the top floor was occupied by one or
two of the assistants as a residence. The only place for handing in
telegrams for transmission was on the first floor landing, through a
small opening cut in the door leading into the Jute Department of the
Barnagore Jute Co., and the operators were clearly visible in the room
beyond working at their instruments.

[Illustration: _Photo. by Johnston & Hoffmann._ Old view of the Great
Eastern Hotel]

[Illustration: _Photo. by Calcutta Phototype Co._ Present view of the
Great Eastern Hotel]

The site of the present Telegraph Office was occupied in that portion
in Old Court House Street by a low-roofed, one-storeyed building owned
by a firm of the name of Burkinyoung & Co., piano and musical
instrument dealers, that in Dalhousie Square by the office and produce
godowns of W. Howarth & Co.; further on to the corner of Wellesley
Place by a gateway and passage, ending in a flight of stone-steps
leading up to a house, which, at a later period, was occupied by the
Superintendent of Government Medical Stores; this, together with the
godowns adjoining, was demolished some time ago to make room for the
new wing of the Telegraph premises. I think there was also at a later
period an entrance from Wellesley Place to the house in question.


Formerly covered the site of the Treasury and Imperial Secretariat
Buildings, and was considered a first-class residence for old
Calcuttaites as well as for casual visitors. It possessed many
attractions and conveniences, being centrally and pleasantly situated
within easy distance of the maidan and Eden Gardens and business
quarters. The entrance was from the east, facing Government House.
There was a large, old-fashioned wooden gate and a lofty porch of
considerable dimensions arched over by a passage running across the
first floor from north to south, and affording complete protection
from sun and rain and leading into a spacious, open quadrangular
courtyard, where carriages and other conveyances used to stand. The
portico was flanked on either side by two or three steps, those on the
right giving direct and immediate access to the dining-room which ran
parallel to it in its entire length, the billiard and other public
rooms branching off from them. On the left was the principal entrance
to the residential quarters. The passage above referred to, I think,
is a clear indication that at some time or other the hotel was divided
into two sections and the porch was an open gateway. I once lived
there myself for a time and many well-known Calcutta people made it
their permanent home. In those days any number of people lived in
town, over their offices, or in residential flats, and it was then as
now noted for its extreme healthiness and salubrity.


Was originally styled Wilson's Hotel, and as such it is known even at
the present day to gharriwallahs, coolies, and certain others of the
lower orders. It was started long before my arrival in Calcutta as a
bakery by Mr. Wilson, a well-known resident of Calcutta, and converted
into a hotel at a later period. In the early sixties it was floated
into a limited liability company by a few prominent businessmen,
amongst whom was my old Burra Sahib. It was an entirely different
place in appearance, both inside and out, from what it is now; it had
only two storeys and no verandah or balconies; a large portion of the
ground floor was occupied by shops, selling all sorts of goods, and
owned by the hotel. The whole of the central portion from one end to
the other was a sort of emporium lined on both sides with a continuous
row of stalls on which were displayed the most miscellaneous
assortment of articles it was possible to conceive. In addition to all
this they kept for many years a farm at Entally which they eventually
closed down, and the produce which they then sold is now vended by
Liptons in exactly the same place at the north end of the building.

It took the directors a very long time to discover that a combination
of shop and hotel keeping was not a paying proposition although they
had had plenty of convincing evidence year after year of the fact. I
forget now at what period it suddenly dawned upon their minds the
necessity of making a thoroughly drastic change and altering their
whole policy; nor do I know to whom was due the credit of this _volte
face_, but whoever it was he most certainly earned the lasting
gratitude of the shareholders as well as every one else connected with
the concern, as by his action he converted a chronic non-paying affair
into a thriving and ever-increasingly prosperous one. When they
abolished the shops they devoted their energies to developing the
place into a first-class hotel which it certainly never had been
before, and proceeded to increase materially the residential
accommodation. They erected a third storey, and built an extra
corridor on the first floor and two on the second, installed an
enlarged and improved system of sanitary arrangements, and added a
bathroom to very many of the bedrooms. The walls were embellished with
dados of bright coloured tiles and the floors paved with black and
white marble. The old antiquated doors were removed to give place to
others of the latest design with polished brass handles and fittings.
Several alterations and improvements were also inaugurated in the
public apartments.

There used to be a billiard table in the room oft the Mr. g-room in
the north-west corner, and the two others adjoining were utilised as
lounges. The space now occupied by the new dining-room overlooking
Waterloo Street was, as far as I can remember, taken up by private
suites. The palm court was built on the roof of the first floor and
was a very great improvement to this part of the hotel as it removed
from sight what had always been a blot and an eyesore. After the
abolition of the shops, tiffin-rooms were established on the Waterloo
Street side, which have since been converted into a spacious billiard

[Illustration: The Old Royal Exchange.]

[Illustration: _Photo. by Johnston & Hoffmann._ The New Royal

The large hall to which I have alluded has been removed, and a new
central entrance inclusive of the lounge has been driven right through
the middle, greatly enhancing the appearance and conveniences of the
hotel. The old south-west staircase has also been done away with, and
the empty space on the ground floor let out as a shop. The erection of
the arcade with a spacious verandah on the top forms one of the most
striking and effective of the new improvements that have been
initiated. But the introduction of the much-desired, necessary
structural alterations on the ground floor gave the deathblow to a
very old and enjoyable social function which used to take place
annually at Christmas-time. It was the custom to hold a sort of
carnival on Christmas Eve in the large central hall, which, for that
one special occasion, was dubbed the "Hall of All Nations," and it was
for the time being divested of all its former paraphernalia of
miscellaneous goods which were replaced by a varied collection of
confectionery and cakes of different designs and sizes made on the
premises, bon bons, crackers, sweets of all sorts, and a variety of
fancy articles suitable for presents. The hall was beautifully
decorated and festooned with flags of all nations and brilliantly
illuminated. Shortly after dark the whole of the elite of Calcutta
society trooped in from their evening drive to exchange pleasant
Christmas greetings with each other and to make mutual little gifts.
It was a most agreeable and enjoyable affair and quite looked forward
to by all sections of the community. People who might not have met for
months before were sure to meet there, and we all felt sorry when it
came to an end. But the departure of people for dinner did not by any
means bring the _tamasha_ to a close, as later in the evening the
elite of Dhurrumtollah and Bow Bazaar made their appearance, the
ladies decked out in all their new gorgeous Christmas finery, and no
doubt they enjoyed themselves fully as much as their more favoured and
fortunate sisters of the _haut ton_. The hotel was supposed to close
at midnight, but many of those already inside roamed about for a
considerable time longer.

The verandah above referred to, overhanging the footpath of the Great
Eastern Hotel, was erected by Walter Macfarlane & Co. in 1883, and
there is a curious story regarding it, related by my friend, Shirley

Before it could be erected the sanction of the Municipality was
necessary, and under the Act they were entitled to charge a fee of Rs.
100 per month for such sanction.

The Municipality, however, refused to sanction it unless the Hotel
Co. agreed to pay a monthly fee of Rs. 300. The Hotel Co. were in a
fix, they had placed the order for the verandah as the Municipal
Engineer, Mr. Jas. Kimber, had approved the plans, and willy-nilly
they had to consent.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. & H._ The Exchange--Mackenzie Lyall's old
premises in Dalhousie Square.]

[Illustration: _Photo by J. & H._ The Exchange--Mackenzie Lyall's
premises from 1888 to 1918.]

However, one of the directors had been studying Bryce on _ultra
vires_, and he went round to the Bar library to take advice from his
friends there. Sir Charles Paul and Mr. Hill said offhand: But you
agreed to pay, how can you get out of it? To this Mr. Tremearne (the
director in question) replied: Yes, but it was an extortion, the
Municipality is the creature of a statute, they have only statutory
powers, and are not entitled to charge what is not sanctioned. As he
was leaving, Mr. W. Jackson said: Look here, Tremearne, don't pay that
Rs. 300 a month.

A case was then sent to the Advocate-General, and he held that the
Municipality were exceeding their powers in levying such a charge.

Sir Henry Harrison, the Chairman of the Municipality, was very angry
when the opinion was sent him, and a case was sent to the Standing
Counsel, Mr. A. Phillips, asking him, amongst other things, if the
hotel could not be compelled to pull down the verandah, the latter
agreed with the Advocate-General and held, moreover, that the
Municipality could only order the verandah to be removed if it was
necessary in the public interests, and then they would have to pay
compensation. Thereupon the Municipality climbed down, took the Rs.
100 per month fee, and the matter dropped. But Sir Henry Harrison
never forgave the hotel for what he called the dirty trick they had
played him, and when the Municipal Act was amended, power was taken to
charge such fees or rent as the Municipality think fit! (Section 340).


I have a distinct recollection of Bishop Cotton's School prior to its
removal to Simla having been located in the vicinity of the site of
the School of Art. It was a pavilion kind of structure, one-storeyed,
crescent-shaped, and supported by pillars with a verandah encircling
the whole of the outer portion facing Chowringhee. It must have been
removed shortly after my arrival in Calcutta, as I can remember
nothing further about it. There were, in addition, the old Small Cause
Court already mentioned, and other buildings, but the only one that
clearly visualises itself in my mind was a small bungalow,
self-contained in its own compound, shut in by tall wooden gates in
which some foreign ladies (Italians, I think) resided. The old museum,
before the present building was erected, was contained in the premises
of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and in addition there was what was
then known as the Museum of the Geological Survey of India located in
1, Hastings Street, now in the occupation of Grindlay & Co., and was
under the charge of Dr. Oldham, a man of great attainments, and much
honoured and respected by Government and all classes of the community.

[Illustration: _Photo. by Johnston & Hoffmann_. The Imperial Museum.]

[Illustration: Municipal Offices, at the present day.]

It will thus be perceived what vast strides have been made in the
development of these particular branches of science and industry by
the Government of India since the days about which I am writing.


There used to stand on the site of this very handsome-looking block of
buildings a long, one-storeyed tenement which went by the name of "The
Belatee Bungalow," the proprietors being two brothers of the name of
Payne. They sold provisions of all sorts and did a very lucrative
trade. There was only one other shop of the kind in Calcutta, the
Great Eastern Hotel. It was a business with a great reputation and
patronised by all the Burra Memsahibs of Calcutta. A rather piquant
and interesting episode occurred in connection with the wife of one of
the brothers before the introduction of the revised rules to be
observed in connection with the holding of Drawing Rooms at Government
House. Mrs. Payne on seeing the usual notification in the public
prints of the announcement of the approaching ceremony sent in her
cards intimating her wish to attend; but much to her surprise and
dismay they were returned with a polite note from the Military
Secretary to the Viceroy. Thereupon she sat down and indited a reply
to the effect that, as she had already had the honour of being
presented at a Drawing Room held at Buckingham Palace by Her Majesty
the Queen, she thought she might reasonably consider herself eligible
to attend the like ceremony at Government House. It is almost needless
to say that the much coveted invitation was promptly forwarded. The
Paynes, I believe, got into financial difficulties, and the business
was eventually wound up. It was afterwards converted into what in
those days was called "Investment Rooms," where they sold all sorts of
ladies' requirements and was known as "Old Moores," owing, I presume,
to the fact of the proprietor having rather a venerable appearance,
and to his having kept the same kind of establishment for many years
in Hare Street in the premises now in the occupation of Dewar & Co.,
the great firm of whisky distillers.


When I arrived in Calcutta in the sailing ship in which I had
travelled out _via_ the Cape, we anchored just opposite the ghaut
which was then situated immediately on the river bank, approached by a
steep flight of stone-steps.

[Illustration: _Photo. by Johnston & Hoffmann_ Prinsep's Ghat from the
land side]

[Illustration: Mullick's Bathing Ghat, Strand Road.]

When it was low water, and it seemed at that time to be nearly always
so, you had to be carried ashore by the dingheewallahs on an
antiquated kind of wooden chair or board, as the mud between the river
and ghaut was more than ankle-deep. It was of course an immense
improvement in every sense when the land was reclaimed from the river,
and the present roadway at that part of the Strand was made and
extended in a straight line as far as Tackta Ghaut. The railway to the
docks did not then exist nor the two houses to the south of the ghaut,
one of which is occupied by the Conservator of the Port. Another
striking improvement higher up at the junction of the Strand and
Esplanade Road, West, has been also effected in recent years. On the
site of the Public Debt Office which has been added on to the Bank of
Bengal there had stood, from time immemorial, a large three-storeyed
house adjoining the residence of the Secretary and Treasurer of the
bank, flanked on the Strand side by some low godowns in which Harton &
Co. had their stores and office. It was at various times occupied as
offices and residential flats, and was quite a pleasant sort of place
to live in, particularly the top floor as it overlooked the river on
the west and the Strand and Maidan on the south. The Bank of Bengal
requiring space for the new building of the Public Debt Office
acquired the property under the Act, which I seem to remember resulted
in a big law-suit in the High Court, as the owners claimed a good deal
in excess of what the bank was willing to pay.


The site of this was once occupied by a concern called the Calcutta
Auction Company, started, I believe, in competition with the
well-known and old-established firm of Mackenzie Lyall & Co. It was a
huge barn of a place stretching away from Dalhousie Square to Mission
Row, filled from one end to the other with a medley of all sorts of
goods and chattels which had been sent in for sale from time to time
by various people. The office accommodation was also of the most
primitive order, and consisted merely of a slightly raised wooden
platform on which were perched a couple of desks and a few chairs.
They had never held at any period a position of standing or importance
in the commercial world, and some time after my arrival there were
unpleasant rumours floating abroad about them, and I recollect shortly
before their final collapse the manager's chair was occupied by the
founder of one of the most influential and leading firms of the
present day. When it disappeared the ground was acquired by the Agra
Bank which erected the present very handsome buildings, shortly after,
as far as I remember, it amalgamated with the Masterman Banking
Concern in London, and it was subsequently known as Agra and
Mastermans Bank.

[Illustration: _Photo. by B. & S._ Currency Office, built on
the site of the old Calcutta Auction Company.]

[Illustration: _Photo. by J. & H._ Hamilton & Co's premises, Old
Court House Street.]

[Illustration: _Photo. by Bourne & Shepherd._ Old view of Clive

[Illustration: _Photo. by B. & S._ Present view of Clive Street,
showing Chartered Bank's premises on the right, middle centre.]

The office formerly was where Gladstone Wyllie & Co. are now. The
amalgamation, I think, did not prove so successful as was anticipated,
and eventually Mastermans dropped out of the concern and the bank
assumed its old title, and though it was in a sound enough position
even up to the date of its liquidation, the management considered it
prudent to draw in its horns a little and sold to Government for the
office of the currency department the larger part facing Dalhousie
Square. It then retired to the back part of the premises looking on to
Mission Row, which became the entrance to the bank. As time went on
the bank seemed in some way or another to dwindle in standing and
importance, and it did not tend to increase either its reputation or
popularity when it issued a notice to the effect that in future no
exchange brokers need trouble to call as it had appointed its own
individual broker (Mr. Chapman) to do all the work. The bank continued
to carry on in this manner for a number of years until one day it was
announced that it was going into liquidation, for what reason no one
ever seemed to know. I believe the liquidation proved eminently
satisfactory and the shareholder reaped a handsome return on their
holdings, but it seemed a thousand pities that, after the bank had so
successfully ridden out the awful financial storm of 1886, when banks
and institutions of all sorts and conditions, and of much higher
standing and position, went clashing down by the dozen like so many
nine-pins, the management without any apparent reason should close
down for ever one of the oldest banking institutions of the city.


The site on which these premises stand, as well as those to the east
as far as Vansittart Row and the new block at the corner now in course
of building, was for very many years in the occupation of Mackenzie
Lyall & Co. as an auction mart. It was an old-fashioned place of two
storeys having rather a dilapidated appearance, and the top floor
consisted of a series of rambling, ramshackle rooms, one leading into
the other, extending away back to the old office of the Alliance Bank
of Simla in Council House Street. These were at one time the
residential quarters of one of the partners of the firm, and adjoining
on the north stood the Exchange Gazette Printing Press. That portion
on the western side was once, I believe, the assembly rooms of
Calcutta, where dances and other social functions used to take place.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. & H._ 12, Dalhousie Square, East, showing
West End Watch Co.'s premises]

[Illustration: _Photo by Johnston & Hoffmann._ Smith, Stanistreet &
Co's premises, Dalhousie Square, East.]

Later in the sixties, I recollect, it was for a time utlised amongst
other things as investment rooms where some of the ladies of Calcutta
congregated about noon and met their gentlemen friends engaged in
business in the city. It was also the room in which the Government
held the public sales of opium of which Mackenzie Lyall & Co. had at
one time the sole monopoly. There is a story told, and a perfectly
true one, to the effect that one chest of opium was once bid up to the
enormous sum of Rs. 1,30,955. The circumstances that brought this
about originated in the China steamer being overdue and hourly
expected; consequently the buyers were in total ignorance of the state
of the market on the other side, so in order to prolong the sale as
far as possible they went on bidding against each other until they ran
the price up to the figure above mentioned, which, however, never
materialized. Mackenzie Lyall & Co. continued to occupy the place
until the year 1888 when they removed to their present building in
Lyons Range, from which they contemplate a further change in the early
part of next year to premises now in course of erection at Mission


Was formerly styled the Bengal Military Club, the members of which
were limited to the I.C.S. and military services. As time, however,
moved on and things changed they found that this particular form of
exclusiveness was rather an expensive luxury, and very wisely threw
open wide the heavenly portals and admitted within their celestial and
sacred precincts members of other government services, save and except
those of the Bengal pilots. Why the club ever made this invidious
distinction, of course I cannot say, but at a later period,
recognising possibly the injustice of their action, they rescinded
their prohibition, and now the pilots sit in the seats of the mighty
amongst the members of the other services. The club house, as many
people will recollect, originally stood on the site of Chowringhee
Mansions. It was quite an ordinary looking dwelling enclosed by a
brick-wall skirting Chowringhee Road, and the building extended for
some little distance down Kyd Street. In addition to the club house
itself, there were several other houses in Park Street attached to it,
and I think where the Masonic Lodge has now its habitation was once
their property. Before the war the members in the cold weather used to
give an "At Home" once a week which was looked upon as one of the
society functions of Calcutta. It took the form of a garden party on
the lawn from about 5 o'clock to 7 o'clock, and a band was always in
attendance to brighten and enliven the proceedings.

[Illustration: _Photo by Johnston & Hoffmann_ McLeod & Co.'s new
premises, Dalhousie Square, West]

[Illustration: Alliance Bank of Simla.]


When I first came to Calcutta was situated in Bow Bazar Street on the
site of the Police Office at the corner of Chitpore Road which has
been recently vacated. The place became in the course of time a
crying scandal, as it was infested all about with native grogshops in
which they sold to the sailors most villainous, poisonous decoctions
under various designations; also by a very low class of boarding
houses run by a thieving set of low-caste American crimps who used to
fleece and swindle poor Jack out of all his hard-earned money. They
would give him board and lodging of a sort, with bad liquor, and when
he had secured a ship they would often ply him with drink the day
before he sailed after having first secured his advance note and have
him conveyed on board in a more or less helpless condition. The next
day when he came to his senses he would find himself in the forecastle
of some strange ship in unfamiliar surroundings half-way down the
river without a rupee in his pocket and very often with little more
than the clothes he stood up in. The Government at last stepped in and
ordered the home to be transferred to its present position, but for
some reason or other it took four years to accomplish. Jack is now
very comfortably off and well taken care of, and away from the
temptations that formerly assailed him; besides this he is entirely
free from any attempts to swindle him, as the authorities are always
prepared to cash his advance notes for a small fee. This change has
proved to be the greatest boon that could have been conferred on the
sailors coming to Calcutta.

Since writing the above, I have been furnished by my friend Willie
Bryant, Branch Pilot of the Bengal Pilot Service, with the following
particulars of incidents that occurred in the days that I am writing
of, for the correctness of which he can thoroughly vouch. I feel sure
they will be read with the greatest interest.

Many men were shanghied on board ships in the 80's and 90's, more
especially American ships; in fact there was in Calcutta a recognised
American boarding master, or otherwise known as a crimp.

In '87 they shanghied a padre on board an American vessel, and when he
awoke in the morning found the vessel on her way down the river. On
his expostulating with the captain, the reply was: "Well, I guess you
are down as J.B. Smith and Sonny, you are bound to Salem or h----"

[Illustration: _Photo. by Bourne & Shepherd_. Writers' Buildings and
Holwell Monument]

On 6th December, 1887, the _Alpheus Marshall_, an American vessel, had
a salemaker shanghied on board; he, poor fellow, had been only on
shore once from a ship called the _Terpsichore_ and was buying soap,
matches, etc., when some man offered to stand him a drink, which he
accepted. The next thing he remembered he was outward bound for
Boston, Mss.

On the _Bolan_, on the 17th February, 1888, a soldier was shanghied,
or at least he said so, and when interviewed on the way down the
river, came to the salute as he had been taught. He went on to
Liverpool where he was arrested.

The renowned boarding master, after the Government stopped these
houses and methods, went to America as bos'un of a brigantine called
the _Curlew_, and a very fine sailor he was too.

On 24th July, 1890, a case occurred of a woman being shanghied. Of
course when she proved her sex she was landed at Diamond Harbour.

There was also a case of a dead man being taken on board as drunk and
shanghied; this was discovered after the ship had started for sea.


The first attempt to introduce horse traction tramways in the city was
made as far back as 1873, when the Corporation constructed a line
commencing at Sealdah. It ran along Baitakhana, Bow Bazaar, and
Dalhousie Square through the Custom House premises into and along
Strand Road to the terminus at Armenian Ghaut. But after the lapse of
about nine months it was discontinued as it was found to be working at
a dead loss, the reason for which it is unnecessary to state here. The
plant was subsequently sold. Some years later Mr. Soutar and Mr.
Parish--the former a brother of the then Acting Chairman of the
Municipality--obtained the necessary concession to construct a
comprehensive system of tramways throughout the city, on which they
formed a syndicate with the object of giving practical effect to the
proposed scheme. Eventually in 1879 they disposed of all their rights
and existing plant to the Calcutta Tramways Co. for the sum of L4,000
per mile, and the latter commenced operations in the latter part of
1880. But the company could not make headway, and the poor
shareholders got very little return for their investment until the
introduction of the electric system in 1902. Then matters brightened
up considerably and an era of great prosperity set in, which has been
fully maintained ever since. I think the company's last dividend was
9-1/2 per cent.

The first manager of the company was Mr. Maples, but, as far as I
recollect, he did not stay very long and retired to England. He was
succeeded by my friend, Martyn Wells, who was a _persona grata_ with
all sections of the Calcutta community. He was a man of most genial,
bright and happy temperament, an earnest and enthusiastic mason, the
possessor of a magnificent voice, which was at all times at the
service of the public for any charitable object, and was invaluable at
the smoking concerts at the New Club and other social functions; he
was truly, in the words of Shakespeare, "a fellow of infinite jest, of
most excellent fancy." He died very suddenly after only a few days'
illness at the early age of 48 I well recollect the grief and concern
expressed on the occasion which was both deep and widespread, and it
was not confined to his co-workers and the employees in the tramway
service, but was shared alike by the innumerable circle of friends,
whom he had gathered round about him, and the public generally.


Street and General Structural Improvements.

I think what must strike the observer of the present day more forcibly
than anything else, after contemplating the wondrous transformation of
Clive Street and its surroundings, is the great advance that has been
made in the direction of the many and varied structural improvements
and additions that we see on every side, several of which have been
developed in the time of the present generation. It might not be
amiss, with the view of ascertaining by a personal visit their nature
and extent, to invite my Calcutta readers to accompany me on a short
tour, say, from Scott Thomson's corner along Esplanade Row, East, then
branching off into Chowringhee, as far as Circular Road, looking in
_en passant_ at the various streets on our way.


The extensive pile of buildings that confronts us at the outset was,
as we know, erected by Mr. Ezra on the space formerly occupied by
Scott Thomson's shop and the two adjoining houses, the one nearest
being the residence of the manager of the firm, and the other for a
considerable time by Morrison & Cottle, the saddlers.

[Illustration: _Photo. by Bourne & Shepherd_ Old view of Esplanade,
East, showing Dharamtala Tank]

[Illustration: _Photo. by Johnston & Hoffmann_ Esplanade, East,
showing tank now filled in.]

The Mansions contain twenty-four flats. This, as can be perceived, has
entirely changed the whole aspect of this particular section of the
city, which has been further enhanced by the erection of Thacker,
Spink & Co's new premises on the site of 1, Chowringhee, or old
Mountains Family Hotel, which had been running for many years prior to
it being acquired by the late Mr. Matthewson on a long lease of 30 or
40 years at an exceptionally low rental. All the buildings in this
row, with the exception of that at the corner of Bentinck Street, have
been built in my day, and many people will doubtless recollect that
Peliti once occupied the house now in possession of the Trocadero.
Turning into Chowringhee we are faced by the Bristol Hotel, formerly
known as the Hotel D'Europe, the proprietress of which latter was the
late Mrs. Scott of the Park Hotel, Darjeeling, formerly known as
Madame Fienberg, and who was highly respected and greatly esteemed by
the older generation of Calcuttaites, of whom she had quite a large
clientele. She afterwards removed to the Hotel de Paris, and finally
to 1, Chowringhee, and there established the Palace Hotel. She
represented one of the old land-marks of Calcutta which, I am sorry to
say, are now so rapidly disappearing. Opposite to the hotel there used
to be a very dirty and unsightly tank, quite different from all the
other tanks in Chowringhee, which was eventually filled up, and the
greater part of the ground thus reclaimed has been occupied by the
Calcutta Tramways Co. for their Esplanade junction, and a small
portion to the extreme west forms part of Lady Curzon's Garden. Before
we proceed further on our travels I may as well state that
Chowringhee, Esplanade Row, East, and Park Street were devoid of
European shops, with the exception of the Belatee Bungalow, and, I
think, T.E. Thomson & Co. The next street to arrest our attention is


Formerly known as Jaun Bazaar Street, a place of ill repute and the
resort of some of the worst characters and budmashes in Calcutta. It
was a dirty, filthy, narrow sort of lane having no side-paths and the
houses being built most irregularly and without any attempt at
symmetry or alignment. In fact it had altogether a most disreputable
and evil appearance. The street as all can see has undergone quite a
transformation, more particularly in that section near the Chowringhee
end, and has now become an ornament and acquisition to the city.


Here, as it says in the "Directory," is Chowringhee Place, formerly
known as Chowringhee, but so utterly changed as to make it difficult
to recognise it as the old street of the past.

[Illustration: _Photo. by Bourne & Shepherd_ The Sir Stuart Hogg

[Illustration: Chowringhee, showing tanks opposite Lindsay Street and
Bengal Club.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Bourne & Shepherd_ Modern view of Esplanade,
East, showing Tramway Junction and shelter]

[Illustration: _Photo. by J. & H._ View of Tramway Company's Esplanade
Junction, before shelter was built.]

There is only one landmark left to distinguish it by, and that is the
house on the left, No. 10, forming part of the Continental Hotel. At
one time this was occupied by Colonel Searle who, I remember, had two
pretty daughters whom I used frequently to meet out at dances--one of
them married Colonel Temple, Superintendent of the Andaman Islands,
son of the well-known Sir Richard Temple.

I recollect there were two other houses, one a small, two-storeyed
affair standing where the Grand Cafe now is. It was for many years in
the occupation of a firm called Cartner & Newson, and they carried on
a very profitable trade in the manufacture of jams, pickles, and
several kinds of Indian condiments. The other house was much bigger,
being three storeys high, and stood on the spot where the Empire
Theatre is built. In the very early years it was a favourite boarding
house known as 13, Chowringhee, and was always full of young people;
latterly it was, I think, occupied by Colonel Wilkinson,
Inspector-General of Police, who married a daughter of Dr. Woodford,
Police Surgeon, all of whom were well known in Calcutta society. I
must not forget to say that these two houses formed a _cul-de-sac_ and
that on the other side as far as I remember was bustee land. I have
also an indistinct recollection that the right-hand side going east
from Chowringhee Road as far as the gateway of Gartner & Newson's old
establishment was the northern boundary-wall of the compounds of the
three boarding houses in Chowringhee kept by Mrs. Monk prior to the
formation of the Grand Hotel and in which they became subsequently


The nucleus of this very imposing structure consisted of five houses
facing Chowringhee, inclusive of the three just referred to and two to
the south, Nos. 16 and 17, which are clearly shown in the photograph.
The former is the present main entrance to the hotel in which are
located on the ground floor a billiard saloon, bar and lounge for the
convenience of people attending the Theatre Royal, and No. 17 stands
further to the south at the extreme south-west end of the hotel next
to Mitchell & Co.'s shop. These two houses were once occupied by an
institution called the Calcutta Club, and were connected with each
other by a plank bridge. The members of the club were merchants,
brokers, public service men and sundry. It was quite a nice sort of
place, in some respects similar to the Bombay Club, and was managed by
Colonel Abbott, father of the late F.H. Abbott, Superintendent of the
Horticultural Gardens, Alipur.

[Illustration: _Photo. by Bourne & Shepherd_ Grand Hotel.]

[Illustration: The five houses in Chowinghee that formed the nucleus
of the Grand Hotel.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Johnston & Hoffmann_. W. Leslie & Co's
premises, Chowinghee]

[Illustration: W. Leslie & Co.'s premises, Chowringhee _Photo, by
Johnston & Hoffmann, Calcutta_.]

It carried on for some considerable time after my arrival, but
eventually there was a split in the cabinet and it was wound up. The
houses were afterwards, I think, let out in residential flats and
boarding houses, and at one time No. 16 was converted into the Royal
Hotel by Mr. Jack Andrews, former proprietor of old Spence's Hotel;
they were finally acquired by Mrs. Monk. Mr. Stephen purchased from
Mrs. Monk the whole of the houses herein mentioned and all the
property attached thereto, and proceeded gradually to develop them
into the very handsome-looking structure which now adorns the city
under the style of the Grand Hotel. On the spot where the dining-room
stands used to be an open air skating rink run as a private club. It
was rather small, but we had some very enjoyable evenings. Of course
all the members except myself have long since disappeared. I remember
only a few--Mr. Ted Smyth of Turner Morrison & Co., Mr. Craik of
George Henderson & Co.'s piece-goods department, Mr. Loraine King, who
met his wife there for the first time, and Mr. J.J. Ross, well known
in Calcutta society in those days.


Is greatly changed from what it used to be. At one time in the very
early days it was occupied principally by boarding houses of a second
class type, and amongst them was one situated at the top at the
left-hand corner, which has been since pulled down and the present
building erected on its site, in which young assistants in offices on
not too large a salary used to get comfortable quarters with home like
surroundings at a very moderate figure. It was as far as I remember
run by a widow lady whose husband had left her rather badly off, and
she took much interest in, and carefully mothered her young charges,
amongst others a son of her own who was in the Bank of Bengal. On the
opposite side an old house has been renovated and faced with iron
railings which has much improved its general appearance. Turning into
Chowringhee again we approach Castellazzo's, Mr. Leslie's new
premises, the Picture Palace, and Perry & Co.'s shop. These are all
built, with the exception of Castellazzo's, in the compound of Mr.
Gubbay's old house in Lindsay Street, as well as all the other shops
extending round the corner including Wallace & Co. I understand that
Mr. Leslie has acquired the whole of this property, and will, in the
course of time, demolish the present buildings and erect in
continuation of his present new block a very handsome pile having a
tower at the corner of Lindsay Street.


Has also undergone some wonderful and striking changes, not the least
being the clearing of the large open space facing the New Market on
which the old wooden structure designated the Opera House had stood
for so many years, and the erection of the new Opera House and all the
shops adjoining up to within a short distance of Fenwick Buildings.

[Illustration: _Photo by Johnston & Hoffmann_. Esplanade Mansions,
built by Mr. Ezra on the site of Scott Thomsons corner.]

[Illustration: Thacker, Spink & Co.'s new premises, completed in
1916. _Photo. by Johnston & Hoffmann, Calcutta_.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Johnston & Hoffmann._ Walter Locke & Co's
premises, esplanade, East]

[Illustration: Mackintosh Burn & Co. and Morrison & Cottle's
premises, Esplanade, East.]

The streets on either side running parallel to the market have also
been much improved, particularly that on the eastern part where in
former days there used to stand a low form of tea and coffee shops
with one or two mean streets branching off to the east and leading to
a disreputable part of the town. The whole street has been
straightened out and brightened up, and many of the irregularities and
disfigurements that were so marked a feature of it in the old days
have been removed.


On this particular spot many of my readers will doubtless recollect
that Mr. W.T. Woods, one of Calcutta's earliest and most successful
dentists, had his surgery and residence for a great number of years,
and laid the foundation of the fortune with which he returned to
England early in the present century. It was a place that
unfortunately I knew only too well, but I will say this that he was at
all times the gentlest and most sympathetic dentist that I ever came
across, and for nervous people, ladies, and children he was _par
excellence_ the one man to consult. The house adjoining, at the corner
of Sudder Street, has always had the reputation of being haunted, and
no one would go near the place for years, and it was gradually falling
into decay, when one day to the surprise of everybody some natives
appeared on the scene and occupied it, and later on Parrott & Co.
leased the premises for their whisky agency. Let us hope that the
material spirit has had the effect of exorciting the supernatural one.


Is and always has been an extremely dull and most uninteresting
street, entirely lacking in all the essential elements that go towards
making a place look bright and cheerful. I really forget what it was
like before the Museum was erected, but this did not apparently have
the effect of adding to its attractions. The Wesleyan Chapel, School,
and Parsonage have been built in my day on the site of what, as far as
I remember, were ordinary dwelling houses. There does not appear to be
even now much traffic of any sort passing through the street during
the day.


Since the erection of Chowringhee Mansions and the new United Service
Club this street has been much improved by bringing the various
buildings more or less into alignment with one another, and by the
introduction of paved side-walks on either side, more particularly near
the Chowringhee quarter.

[Illustration: _Photo by Johnston & Hoffmann_ Bristol Hotel,

[Illustration: _Photo. by Johnston & Hoffmann_. Corporation Street,
showing Hindustan Buildings--Proprietors, Hindustan Co-operative
Insurance Society, Ltd.]

[Illustration: Hindustan Buildings--Proprietors, Hindustan
Co-operative Insurance Society, Ltd., Corporation Street]

[Illustration: Old site of the present Continental Hotel, Chowringhee]

[Illustration: _Photo. by Johnston & Hoffmann_ Hotel Continental,

At the Free School Street end new buildings have taken the place of
old and antiquated ones. I well recollect there was for some time a
house on the left-hand side which was occupied by the assistants of
the old Oriental Bank, all of whom I knew very well, and it went by
the name of the Oriental Bank Chummery. They subsequently removed to
one of the Panch Kotee houses in Rawdon Street, where they used to
give dances and other entertainments. The house next to their old one
in Kyd Street suddenly collapsed one day and was reduced to a heap of
rubbish, but fortunately no one was hurt. At the time of the
Exhibition in 1883-84 there was an entrance to the grounds of the
Museum alongside the archway over the end of the tank, which has
recently been bricked up, close to which dining rooms were opened, and
the elite of Calcutta society often dined there during the months that
the Exhibition was open.


I have already observed that there were no shops in this part of the
town, and there was nothing to distinguish it from any other
residential street such as Middleton Street and Harington Street. As
far as I recollect Hall & Anderson were the first to establish the
new departure in this respect. The site on which they have built their
premises was an old, tumble-down godown, in the occupation of some
French people of the name of Dollet, who sold French wines, brandy,
and condiments. The row of shops immediately on the left, facing
Russell Street, styled Park House, are built on a portion of the
compound and the site of the stables and coach house of the old 56,
Park Street, at one time occupied by the _late_ J. Thomas, senior
partner of the old firm of R. Thomas & Co. Proceeding further down the
street on the same side we come to the row of shops extending as far
as the corner of Free School Street. These, from the Light Horse Club,
are built on ground that in the old days was part of a large compound
attached to the girls' department of the old Doveton College, and the
Park Street Thanna, which I observe has been lately pulled down, was
the girls' school. Of course we all know that Park Mansions are built
on the site of the Doveton College for boys. The large, imposing
looking house on the opposite side, No. 24, was formerly occupied by
the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal before Belvedere became the official

[Illustration: _Photo by Johnston & Hoffmann._ The old United Service

[Illustration: _Photo. by Bourne & Shepherd_. Present-day view of
United Service Club.]

[Illustration: _Photo. by J. & H._ Park House, Park Street, William
Heath's premises.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Johnston & Hoffmann_ The "Haunted" House,
corner of Sudder Street, Chowringhee.]

Further eastward we arrive at Allen Garden, situated between the end
of Camac Street and Wood Street, which for many years was known as
the three-cornered taut, the banks of which were both high and
precipitous, and a constant source of danger to children playing in
the surrounding garden. The Corporation very wisely decided to fill it
up, and so converted it into the present garden, in which are to be
seen every evening crowds of happy and merry children playing about
and thoroughly enjoying themselves. I might here mention that a rather
singular episode occurred in connection with the filling in of the
tank in question, for the particulars of which I am indebted to my
friend W.H. Phelps. It appeared that the Corporation had mixed along
with the earth and rubbish which they used for this purpose a certain
amount of ashes from the incinerator which was then in use, which had
the immediate effect of creating such an offensive and nauseating
effluvia that it was found impossible to live anywhere near the place,
and the houses in the neighbourhood were quickly evacuated. One of the
houses facing the new garden to the south happened at the time to be
in the occupation of a lady who took in boarders, all of whom very
quickly left. She claimed compensation from the Corporation of the sum
of Rs. 30,000 for the loss and damage she had sustained, and they paid
it to her. She had to close the house altogether for several months. I
might state that Park House above referred to was erected by Mr.
Phelps, and was set back seven feet to a new alignment in anticipation
of the eventual widening of Park Street at the Chowringhee end which,
I believe, the Improvement Trust have in contemplation. The block of
buildings contained in Park House was the first important line of
European shops erected in this great arterial section of the city.

Turning again into Chowringhee we arrive at G.K. Kellner & Co.'s
establishment, the site of which was formerly occupied by one of the
handsomest houses in Chowringhee of three storeys. It was, however, so
badly knocked about by the earthquake of 1897 that it was considered
unsafe, and would have had to be pulled down and rebuilt, but, rather
than do this, Mr. Meyer, the owner, made an arrangement with Kellner &
Co., whose premises at that time were in Bankshall Street, to build to
their own plan a thoroughly up-to-date place which would embrace on an
extensive scale all the necessary requirements for their very large
and expanding business, including residential quarters for their
senior partner. That this has been successfully accomplished I have
recently had ocular demonstration, and I have no hesitation in saving
it is a marvel of perfection down to its very smallest detail. It is
well worth any one's while to pay a visit to their premises, and I
feel sure that my friend Jeffreys will accord to them the same quiet
courtesy as he did to me.

[Illustration: _Photo by Johnston & Hoffmann_ G.F. Kellner & Co.'s
premises in Chowringhee]

[Illustration: _Photo. by Bourne & Shepherd_. Army and Navy Stores,


Most people will recollect the erection of this exceedingly handsome
block of buildings, but few perhaps are aware that some time
previously the Bengal Club had entertained serious thoughts of
acquiring the original property for their new club house, and had even
gone the length of having plans and estimates prepared, but for some
reason the negotiations fell through and the idea was abandoned. As
far as I recollect, the price was very moderate, some Rs. 2,50,000 or
Rs. 3,00,000. I think the main objection to the scheme was based on
sentimental grounds, many of the members disliking the idea of
forsaking the old place in which the club had been housed for so many
years. There is no doubt that it would have been an ideal spot,
bounded as it is east, west, and south by three of the principal
thoroughfares of Calcutta.


Has undergone some changes and alterations. The first to make its
appearance was the erection of the house situated in the compound of
No. 3, on the left-hand side as you enter the gateway from the
street; it rather spoils the general look of the place, but I fancy
the proprietor is amply compensated for this by the increase of his
monthly revenue. No. 10 on the opposite side, once one of Mrs.
Walter's boarding houses, has recently been altered and much improved,
and is, I believe, let out in suites. Further down on the south side
two new houses have been built in the compound of old No. 4; I cannot
say that this is any improvement, and it has involved the sacrifice of
one of the most attractive compounds in the street. This I fear, as
time progresses, will be the fate of many of the compounds that now
adorn this part of the city.


I well recollect in the far-off days what was then called 2, Harington
Street, next to Kumar Arun Chundra Singha's house. It consisted of an
old-fashioned, long, straggling two-storeyed building, situated in the
centre of a large, ill-kempt compound. It was run as a boarding house,
together with several other establishments of a similar kind, by a
lady of the name of Mrs. Box, who was well known at that time, and
who held the same sort of position in Calcutta as did Mrs. Monk at a
later period. She had the reputation of being very wealthy, and her
old khansamah I know had also done himself very well, as when he
retired he set up as a ticca gharri proprietor just at the junction of
Camac Street and Theatre Road, and was one of the first to introduce
into Calcutta the "Fitton" gharri.

[Illustration: Chowringhee Mansions, built on the site of Old United
Service Club.]

[Illustration: _Photo. by Johnston & Hoffmann_ Hall & Anderson's
premises, at the corner of Park Street]

Many of the present generation must recollect seeing the patriarchal
looking gentleman with a long flowing white beard, perched on a
charpoy every day just outside his stables. He did remarkably well at
his new occupation, as he was able to build the two houses 39 and 40,
Theatre Road. Returning to Harington Street, I may mention that the
houses Nos. 2, 2/1, and 2/2, besides 8, Little Russell Street, were
all built in the compound of the old house referred to as No. 2. Going
further down to the end of the street on the left-hand side we arrive
at what used to be No. 8, a very old and popular boarding house, for
many years in the occupation of Mrs. Monk, upon which has been erected
by Mr. Galstaun what is called the Harington Mansions, and on the
opposite side the very handsome house owned and occupied by Sir
Rajendra Nath Mookerjee, both of which were designed by my old
lamented friend Ted Thornton; there are thirty flats in the Mansions,
and I fancy they are always fully occupied.


No. 1 was, at one time, occupied by Sir Richard Markby, Judge of the
High Court, during part of his stay in Calcutta, at another by a
chummery consisting of Jim Henderson, Keith Douglas and Charles Brock,
and afterwards it was let out as a boarding house to various people.

The present Royal Calcutta Turf Club premises were in the occupation
for a considerable period of Sir Richard Garth, Chief Justice of
Bengal, father of the present Sir William Garth, and he and Lady Garth
were great favourites and very popular in Calcutta society. They used
to entertain a good deal and give a ball once every season. Very
pleasant affairs they always were. I recollect on one occasion I had
engaged one of the Misses Searle previously alluded to for a valse,
and when I went to claim it I found her seated on the verandah in
conversation with Sir Richard, who, when I announced my errand, at
once chipped in and said that I must have made some mistake as it was
undoubtedly his dance, and nothing I could say would convince him to
the contrary. The fact was he was having a good time and did not wish
to be disturbed, so recognising the position I complacently retired. I
may incidentally mention that Sir Richard was a well-known, ardent
devotee of the fair sex. When he retired he wrote a pamphlet called "A
Few Plain Truths about India." It caused a great sensation at the
time, but is now quite unobtainable. A secondhand copy would be
interesting not only for its material but for the price it would

As we proceed down the road, we come to No. 5 on the south side,
which, from time immemorial, has had an undefinable, sinister, and
uncanny reputation. What it is no one can exactly say, but it is
sufficiently significant to keep people from occupying it. At one time
it seemed as if the owners were going to allow it gradually to tumble
to pieces, but this year they have apparently awakened up and have
built an entirely new facade and enlarged it on a considerable scale,
which must have entailed a very heavy outlay, but so far unfortunately
to no purpose. If all I hear is correct it has already been let twice,
but the would-be tenants cannot get a single servant to venture near
the place, so how it will all end remains to be seen.

[Illustration: _Photo. by Johnston & Hoffmann_ Old Bengal Club]

[Illustration: _Photo. by Bourne & Shepherd_ New Bengal Club.]

From this point onwards to Camac Street, embracing Pretoria Street and
all the houses round about comprised within the vast block extending
from Theatre Road to Circular Road, the ground was formerly bustee
land with the usual insanitary tank in the centre. It can therefore
easily be perceived how greatly this section of the city has been
transformed and improved. On the opposite side of the road the houses
from No. 44 to Smith, Stanistreet & Co., and extending round the
corner into Camac Street including No. 4/1, are also built on
reclaimed bustee land. Nos. 45, 46, and 47 on the same side, higher
up, are built on what was, at one time, part of the compound of 5,
Harington Street, owned and occupied by Mr. George McNan, the boundary
wall of which formerly extended to Theatre Road. Further down on the
south side we come to No. 15, in the occupation of the Rajah of
Hutwa, at one time in the dim past the Young Ladies' Institute of
Calcutta, and at a much later period one of Mrs. Monk's numerous
boarding houses, presided over for some time by old Daddy Cartwright
as a sort of chummery.

Further on we come to Rawdon Street; the houses to the north facing
the burial ground as far as Park Street, including those in Short and
Robinson Street at the east end adjoining, are also built on waste and
reclaimed bustee land as well as those of red brick Nos. 29, 30, 31,
and 32 in Theatre Road on the left-hand side after passing Rawdon
Street. On returning to Little Russell Street we find many and various
additions. In the old days there were only three houses numbered 1, 2,
3. No. 1 was demolished in the far-off time, and the present Nos. 5
and 6 were built on its site. No. 4 was then No. 2, No. 8 is built as
already stated on the grounds of old 2, Harington Street, and No. 1
and No. 2 in the compound of the old No. 3, which latter house has
been greatly enlarged and improved, and was once known as the
Officers' Hospital.

At the south-east corner of Theatre Road and Loudon Street there used
to be a tank, which was filled up many years ago and converted into
quite a pretty garden which has been named Macpherson Square.

[Illustration: _Photo. by Johnston & Hoffmann_ Bishop's Palace,


I well recollect the time when it was considered rather _infra dig_ to
reside in this particular part of the town, but then, of course, it
was an entirely different place from what it has since become. Lee
Road, for instance, was not then in existence, and for a very long
time after it was opened contained but one house. No. 1, at present in
the occupation of Mr. Goodman. On the south side of Circular Road
immense alterations and improvements have been inaugurated, old bustee
lands have been reclaimed, on which handsome residences have been
erected, new roads and thoroughfares have been opened out and built
upon, and Lansdowne Road, formerly known as Peepal Puttee Rasta, has
also been widened, improved; and extended almost beyond recognition.
In addition an entirely new street at the extreme end of the road has
been created in Lower Rawdon Street.

This, I think, brings our perambulations to an end, and I can only
express the hope that I have not wearied out the patience of those of
my readers who have taken the trouble to accompany me on my

In concluding these reminiscences and bidding farewell to my readers,
I would crave their indulgence for the imperfections of which I am
only too sensible there are many: but at the same time I hope they
will not forget that they are written entirely from memory, without
any memoranda or data to refer to.

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