Royal Charter: The Beginning of a Saga

By Ms Sundari Khargonkar, Research Intern, Maritime History Society

Mumbai, (erstwhile Bombay) has been a treasure trove for several rulers whose influence has led to political changes in the region. In 1661, the then seven islands of Bombay were given as a gift to King Charles II of England on his marriage to the Portuguese Princess Infanta Catherine of Braganza. The British Crown then rented the islands to the English East India Company (EEIC) who significantly contributed to Bombay’s development. The blog throws light on the aftermath of the Royal Charter signed between the British Crown and EEIC on 27 March 16681. Continue reading “Royal Charter: The Beginning of a Saga”

Christian Kolis: Mumbai’s Living Heritage

By Leora Pezarkar, Senior Research Associate (Programs and Collections)

At the heart of the bustling city of Mumbai against its towering skyline is the narrow yet lively lanes of the Worli Koliwada, it is one of the many Koliwadas or fishermen hamlets within the city. Surrounded by the sea on three sides, the Worli Koliwada stands out for its picturesque view of the Bandra-Worli sea link, the brightly coloured fishing boats that sprawl the shoreline and the Worli Fort, a remnant of the British era. Continue reading “Christian Kolis: Mumbai’s Living Heritage”

HMS TRINCOMALEE: A LIVING PROWESS OF SHIPBUILDING

By Saba Purkar, Project Research Associate, MHS

The average lifespan of a ship at sea is considered as 25-30 years. After that, the maintenance of the ship becomes too expensive and dangerous to voyage in. However, today i.e 12 October marks the launch date of the Royal Navy’s Leda class frigate HMS Trincomalee who carries in her bones over two centuries worth of history, making her the oldest afloat surviving warship of Great Britain. What is interesting and makes it relevant to us is that this ‘Grand Old Lady’ was built in the Bombay dockyards by none other than the famed Wadia shipbuilders.

The ships of East India Company covered a wide range of trade routes and to tap into this network they established a shipbuilding industry in Bombay under the local builders, the Wadia’s in this case. The HMS Trincomalee was built after the end of the Napoleonic wars by the Wadia group in Bombay at a whopping cost of 23,000 pounds back then. It was in May of 1816 that the work of building this ship began after none other than the master builder Mr. Jamsetjee Bomanjee Wadia himself hammered a ceremonial engraved silver nail into the ship’s keel, which was considered vital for ships well-being, according to the Parsi Zoroastrian tradition. What sets this ship apart from her sisters is that, she is made of teakwood in place of the commonly used oak. This was probably because of the scarcity of oak wood in Britain, in those times, owing to the rapid shipbuilding during the Napoleonic wars.

Continue reading “HMS TRINCOMALEE: A LIVING PROWESS OF SHIPBUILDING”