Officer’s Mess House Fort St George Madras, 1880 Photo.
An old 1880 photo of the officer’s mess house inside the Fort St George in Madras, now Chennai. This is one of the rare photos with an inside view of Fort St George, the first British fortress in India. It shows the officer’s mess building located in the front, facing the Marina Beach and the sea. On the right of the image is a partial view of the huge defensive walls. And a partial view of the tall tower of the Madras Light House can be seen at a distance.
This lighthouse is actually located adjacent to the yet-to-come-up Madras High Court building. The High Court building came up only in 1892. On this spot where the officer’s mess stands, there formerly stood a house. The house was pulled down and in its place, a building was constructed, between 1787 and 1790 called the Exchange. A sort of commercial center. On the ground floor was both a coffee house and a tavern (a bar). On the first floor, it had a warehouse, a bank, and so on.
The bank (est. 1683) was known at different times as ‘Government Bank’ and ‘The Madras Bank’, which was the ancestor of the ‘Bank of Madras’. Which later became the ‘Imperial Bank of India’. By 1800 the East India Company decided it wanted the merchants and all businesses out of the Fort. It used the building as an office until 1861. Consequently, it became the officer’s mess of the British Regiment stationed in the Fort. Since 1948 it became a national museum. Click on the photo for better view.
See pictures of Old & new Chennai.
Did you know – the ‘Imperial Bank of India’ went on to become the ‘State Bank of India’ after India’s independence.
From the collection – Raja Ravi Varma’s “Birth of Shakuntala” Oleograph 1894., Institute of Science & Museum Bombay, Old PC 1947., Bombay Prince of Wales Museum As Hospital, 1917.