British India History

British India History British India is no more but there are many statues, plaques and exhibits concerning it throughout the UK. These are explored here and general background information on the subject is also provided. The page in not Nationalist nor Imperialist.

Archive150
10/04/2020

Archive150

Life in Karachi c. 1897

Paper Jewels
30/03/2020

Paper Jewels

The Ruling Princes of India. D. A. Ahuja, Rangoon, c. 1908. Halftone, Divided back.

A collage which would have been assembled from a variety of photographs, not a single sitting. In the bottom center with the black jacket is the Nawab of Hyderabad, the richest of them all. To his right, three figures down in the blue cape is Maharajah Rao Scindia of Gwalior.

[Verso, handwritten] "Dear May This will make a nice collection for you how many P.Cs. [postcards] have you got now what I have sent you. Leel"

14/02/2020
Under Every Leaf

Under Every Leaf

Queen Reviews Men Of Valour (1956)

About 300 Victoria Cross holders are gathered in central London for the VC centenary parade.
VC winners include, Subedar Khuda Dad Kan and Sepoy Ali Haidar, Sir Adrian Carton De Wart Lieutenant-General Lord Freyberg though Charles Upham is to be a touch shy for the camera!

and at 0.51 you can see Ishar Singh VC in the line up, he was the first Sikh to receive the Victoria Cross.

Great British Tea Party
04/12/2019

Great British Tea Party

Lipton's Teas Newspaper Advertisement in The Illustrated London News from 1892.

06/11/2019
Archive150

Archive150

c. 1925: The earliest documentary Film about Village Life in #Punjab - #Pakistan

Jim Corbett Books
02/11/2019

Jim Corbett Books

Jim Corbett illustration by Bill Gregg for a magazine article by Zack Taylor. Published in Sports Afield - July 1965

Paper Jewels
02/11/2019

Paper Jewels

[Afghan Territory Border with British India]. Unknown Publisher, c. 1930. Real Photo, Divided back.

The western edge of the Raj was the border with Afghanistan on the Khyber Pass. The man standing next to the sign is probably an Afghan border guard. Getting this close to the border usually required a special permit from the authorities during this time; the Third Afghan War had been fought in 1919.

Paper Jewels
26/10/2019

Paper Jewels

Prince of Wales Wild Boar Bagged in Patiala State. Raphael Tuck & Sons, London, 1924. Halftone, Divided back.

This card was part of a series published in connection with the British Empire Exhibition in Wembley in 1924, copyright and likely sponsored by the Patiala Government. It is one of those postcards that makes one reflect on the multiple levels of simulation offered to the user. The wild boar is dead, but looks alive on a platform arranged to look as if it is in the brush, with the stick that might have killed him thrust in its body.

Archive150
22/10/2019

Archive150

c. 1877: Arrival Of Viceroy of India at Quetta

Peterborough Cathedral
22/10/2019

Peterborough Cathedral

Henry Martyn (1781–1812) lived a short and in many ways lonely (but nonetheless incredibly fruitful) life as a Christian missionary and scholar. Having studied Mathematics, he was ordained and served his curacy at Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, under the celebrated Evangelical theologian, Charles Simeon.

Although he felt the call to become a missionary, he struggled to obtain funding. His father’s business of coal mining failed and Henry needed to find another way to support himself. He thus accepted an invitation to become chaplain to the East India Company in Bengal. Unlike others, he soon got to know the local Indian population and learned the local languages. Martyn visited Hindu temples and engaged in discussions about matters of faith with Brahmin priests. He led services for local people, and even went out to preach to beggars in the street. This aroused suspicion among members of the East India Company, who feared that the revolutionary message of the gospel might lead to insurrection among the locals.

As a gifted linguist, Martyn translated the New Testament and the Book of Common Prayer into Hindustani and Farsi, and prepared a translation into Arabic. He even travelled to Persia, where he met Muslim scholars and debated the central tenets of the Christian and Muslim faiths with them.

Henry Martyn died aged 31 in Armenia, alone among strangers, but his legacy lives on.

Paper Jewels
29/09/2019

Paper Jewels

Coin-card with Viceroy-Flag of India. B. Rigold & Bergmann, Mumbai Bombay, c. 1905. Lithograph, Divided back.

An early postcard summarizing the value of British Indian coinage, one rupee and below, in silver and copper. One British pound at the time was worth 240 pence, with 1 Rupee worth 16 pence (the 'd' on the card). Another postcard summarized the value of larger coinage in a variety of currencies. Note that it took 1 anna (the center silver coin at the very bottom) to mail this card to Europe, and a half-anna (the large copper coin with Queen Victoria on it center right) to send it within India and Burma.

Paper Jewels
15/09/2019

Paper Jewels

Shipping Tea, Colombo. The Colombo Apothecaries, c. 1905. Halftone, Divided back.

In the 1860's the coffee rust fungus disease destroyed much of the the coffee industry of Sri Lanka. In the late 1860s, a Scotsman named James Taylor established the first multi-acre tea plantation in the country. Within a few years the first tea consignments were being sent to England. In 1897 tea replaced coffee as the island's biggest export and Ceylon tea became the brand name around the world it still is today.

Carts like these were used to bring dried tea from plantations to harbors, and the loaded tea cart became a symbol of Lipton and other prominent tea companies; postcards like this charted the movement of the crop from plantation to what can barely be glimpsed in the background is Colombo harbour.

The Aftermath of an Earthquake in India Postcard (Part 2)
15/09/2019
The Aftermath of an Earthquake in India Postcard (Part 2)

The Aftermath of an Earthquake in India Postcard (Part 2)

Last week we looked at a postcard from India showing the aftermath of an earthquake. Tonight we look at another image that I believe was taken at the same time as the last. this image shows a much …

Paper Jewels
15/09/2019

Paper Jewels

A Dandy. J. Burlington Smith, Darjeeling, c. 1910. Collotype, Divided back.

"I was carried to and from the hall in a primitive conveyance, called a “dandy”; it consists of a bit of canvas, fastened stoutly to an oblong frame of wood, terminating in a short pole at either end," writes Margaretta Catherine Reynolds, author of the fine memoir At home in India ; or Tâza-be-Tâza (1903). "The canvas forms a kind of hammock, in which one sits, being carried by the poles on the shoulders of two bearers, four of whom accompany each dandy; this mode of locomotion being by no means unpleasant."

Another point of view, as Clare Danes notes in the book Transcultural Encounters in the Himalayan Borderlands (2017) writing about precisely this Paar postcard, refers to Saloni Mathur as seeing in "the white woman carried aloft in a dandy by local men, the 'natives' are literally the bearers of European civilisation embodied, in this instance, in female form" (p. 100).

The word dandy itself, according to Hobson-Jobson, has multiple meanings, from a boatman in Gangetic rivers, with an origin in the Bengali dand, 'a staff or oar,' to a type of ascetic who carries a small wand or Dand. For a third meaning, the dandy pictured here, they write: "Same spelling, and same etymology. A kind of vehicle used in the Himālaya, consisting of a strong cloth slung like a hammock to a bamboo staff, and carried by two (or more) men. The traveller can either sit sideways, or lie on his back. It is much the same as the Malabar muncheel (q.v.), [and P. della Valle describes a similar vehicle which he says the Portuguese call Rete (Hak. Soc. i. 183)]. [1875. -- "The nearest approach to travelling in a dandi I can think of, is sitting in a half-reefed top-sail in a storm, with the head and shoulders above the yard."- Wilson, Abode of Snow, 103." (p. 296). One stick, many worlds.

The Black Watch Castle & Museum
22/08/2019

The Black Watch Castle & Museum

#MuseumMonday #BWMCollection
This McVities oatcake tin commemorates Private James Davis carrying the body of Lieutenant Bramley under fire during the attack at Fort Ruhya for which he won the Victoria Cross. It can be seen in Gallery 4 of the Museum.

Paper Jewels
22/08/2019

Paper Jewels

Bombay, From Harbour. Raphael Tuck & Sons, London, c. 1906. Halftone, Divided back, Bombay Series II.

[Original caption] Bombay from Harbour. Bombay is without doubt a prosperous city. The houses are large, hand some and well built–the gardens well laid out and cared for, while the streets are clean and orderly. This locality is the favorite spot of European inhabitants, of whom there are about 15,000 British born. [end]

Note the Taj Hotel in the distance on the left, so this postcard would likely have been made from a photograph taken after 1903 when it opened.

Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust
22/08/2019

Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust

Tollygunj Club, Kolkata: Scottish Connect

Officer’s Hill, Dagshai Postcard
22/07/2019
Officer’s Hill, Dagshai Postcard

Officer’s Hill, Dagshai Postcard

For this week’s postcard we go back to the Indian hill station of Dagshai and this image of the officers’ bungalows as seen from the hospital: The bungalows themselves can be seen array…

Deccan British War Hospital Postcard
19/06/2019
Deccan British War Hospital Postcard

Deccan British War Hospital Postcard

In the First World War it became clear that for troops injured seriously in the fighting against the Ottomans in places such as Mesopotamia, the journey back to England was too great. The authoriti…

Punjab Mail completes 107 years
01/06/2019
Punjab Mail completes 107 years

Punjab Mail completes 107 years

Punjab Mail is over 16 years older than the more glamorous Frontier Mail. Ballard Pier Mole station was actually a hub for GIPR services. The Punjab Mail, or Punjab Limited as she was then called, finally steamed out on 1 June 1912

Paper Jewels
01/06/2019

Paper Jewels

Murree from Pindi Point (snow). Baljee, Murree/Rawalpindi, ca. 1905. Collotype, Divided back.

A view of one of the Murree hills, showing a number of the British-built homes along the road that winds from the main bazaar to Kashmir point, looking north. Murree sanitarium was founded in 1851, with many of the homes shown here constructed in the next two or three decades. At a height of between 7,000 and 8,000 feet, its cool summer climate made the cantonment a recovery spot for British troops in the Frontier, although it was not much inhabited by colonists when the original photograph for this postcard was taken in the winter.

Families In British India Society
12/05/2019

Families In British India Society

Ongoing restoration work of the cemetery of the Hyderabad British Residency, conducted by the Department of Heritage Telangana, Deccan Heritage Foundation and the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia - BACSA, to be completed by the end of this year. https://heritage.telangana.gov.in/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2019-04-16.png

Paper Jewels
12/05/2019

Paper Jewels

The Ayah. M.V. Dhurandhar [signed], Unknown Publisher, ca. 1903. Halftone, Undivided back.

This postcard shows a nanny with a pram on the “Queen’s necklace” of Malabar beach in Bombay. The artist Dhurandhar and other fellow J.J. School of Art students spent much time here sketching the many urban types who were drawn to this new social space. It also shows Dhurandhar's careful eye for detail. Towards the right in the background a Parsee couple is seated (one can tell from his hat); they may well have been her employers. In the background are what appears to be a fishing or leisure boat, the covered babies head rises from the pram, the ayah looks like she may well be from Madras as many ayahs were in those days, and to the left, a hawker is busy.

Paper Jewels
12/05/2019

Paper Jewels

Indian Soldier, World War I. Actualite Mondiale, Lausanne [Switzerland], ca. 1914. Lithograph, Divided back.

A beautiful lithographic postcard celebrating an Indian soldier in World War I. Published in Lausanne, Switzerland, its design is exquisite: the flag just breaks the white border in a field of red, and features a faux postmark from the campaign. The sleek soldier's white uniform and black boots offer tempered contrast to the red and yellow, while the soldier's brown face fits perfectly under the flag pattern and is topped with a white turban. On the right, below, is the Star of India emblem. French-speaking Europeans in particular used postcards to celebrate and thank the hundreds of thousands of Indian troops who fought in the Allied side in World War I, many of whom came from Punjab.

[Original French] Soldat Hindou, La Guerre 1914 [end]. Note that in French, Hindu was often used as a synonym for Indian.

Paper Jewels
03/05/2019

Paper Jewels

Tea in Transit to Wharf Ceylon. The Photochrom Co., London/Detroit, ca. 1910. Halftone, Divided back, Lipton Series.

The Sri Lankan tea industry grew from 250 acres under cultivation in 1876 to almost 400,000 acres in 1900.8 Some 150 million tonnes of tea were produced in 1900 worth 50 million rupees, half of Ceylon’s total exports. Growth was stimulated by marketing postcards like this published on behalf of Lipton’s Tea, helping to make it one of the most recognized brand around the world and certainly in the subcontinent.

Paper Jewels
21/04/2019

Paper Jewels

Lucknow, Indian Mutiny, 1857. Price's Patent Candle Company Limited, ca. 1905. Lithograph, Divided back.

The back of this advertising card for "Price's 'Lighting Tapers,' for lighting candles, gas, &c, White or coloured, in various thicknesses, and 12 or 22 inches long," provides this caption about what is also known as the First War of Independence or Uprising today:

Lucknow, Indian Mutiny, 1857.
[Original] Lucknow was besieged by rebel tropps on July 1, 1857, and Sir Henry Lawrence, with the European inhabitants of the station and a single battalion of troops, withdrew to the Residency, which he had fortified and provisioned. Lawrence was killed on July 2, but the little garrison held out gallantly till, on Sept. 25, they were relieved by Havelock and Outram, but were again besieged, the rebel forces attacking more closely and with greater numbers. It was impossible to send away the sick and wounded and the position was maintained with great heroism. On Nov. 9, Sir Colim Campbell fought his way to Lucknw and the garrison was once again relieved, but on the 24th the heroic Havelock died, worn out with the anxieties and exertions of the siege. [end]

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Comments

What is the story of liptons tea?
My grandfather was an Inspector of Smoke Nuisances in 1915 following the 1905 Bengal Smoke Nuisance Act. Does anyone know where I could research this? I am proud to think he was an early eco-warrior before the phrase was invented!👍
My family, the Vanrenens, lived in India for 2 centuries. I have written a book about my mother and father, Wally and Zizza's Amazing Journey, a lot of which takes place in India. Louis Vanrenen
Khaksar and Jallianwala Bagh Massacres https://www.facebook.com/KhaksarAndJallianwalaBaghMassacres/
Khaksar Movement in British India https://www.facebook.com/Khaksar.Movement/
One of the five stories of bravery published by UNESCO
!! JAI BHAVANI JAI SHIVAJI !!
First World War history of Dulmial Village, Punjab, present day Pakistan. 2pm Sat March 10th in Nottingham
“ Afghanistan in the Age of Empires” The Great Game for South and Central Asia is the result of years of painstaking effort by the author Farrukh Hussain , himself an Afghan who lives in England born to a 1947 uprooted father Zahid Hussain from Ludhiana in the wake of ethnic cleansing in the Punjab divided by machinations of retreating foreign occupiers and willy politicians of the day .The writer had earlier assisted William Dalrymple during the research for his book “ Return of a King -the battle for Afghanistan” . This 400 plus page book is written with a heart - from the heart of an Afghan lamenting the decay of his nation and the story written in fluid style is largely of The First Afghan War from the early stages of this epoch making event to its last stages that has echo till date in similarities in events in and around his loved nation. Several new facts have been uncovered by the writer that were never published before from his researched efforts in the U.K. , U.S.A., Switzerland , Pakistan and Afghanistan .I only wish he should have though done some digging into extensive Indian Archives also , for this war waged by the British was paid for by the Indian people .The book has several maps and photographs some of which have been from author’s personal collection .There is at the end of the book a helpful reference list of both Primary and Secondary Sources referred by him . While the story has been told from the native perspective , as it should be ,the tale makes compulsive reading . There has been want of such works for far too long our stories have been written by the occupiers of our land . There is this African proverb “ Until the Story of the hunt is told by the Lion, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” Throughout history even written by mostly by outsiders the Afghan has been extolled for his chivalry .This book unravels many events where this facet comes to the fore Ranjit Singh ‘s empire largely nibbled the Durrani empire established by Ahmed Shah Abdali and ever since the rivalry of these two has found way into the tales written of this era .The present work is no different where Hussain’s contempt for the Sikh Maharajah and Sikhs comes through and through .Remember Multan ,Derajat , Kashmir and frontier areas that are divided by the present day Durand line were all part of the Durrani empire that Sikhs won from the valiant Afghans .But what rankles the most for the Afghans , reading through this book , is the loss for ever of Peshawar for which the Sikhs are given the blame . Interestingly the man at the centre of events Shah Shuja is so contemptible that the author says since his death no mother names her child with this name ! Then the man who actually killed the Afghan Shah was killed by his name sake Shoojah Adowlah who was thus named by the Shah as he was present on his birth and as a mark of compliment , he conferred his own name . Many hidden facts of these events that transpired from the formation of the Army of the Indus at Ferozpur in 1839 ,even as Ranjit Singh was indisposed ,to its utter annihilation in 1842 and retreat from Kabul epitomized by Dr Robert Brydon as the lone survivor in a painting of that name , from 16000 plus British soldiers who were sent to install Shah Shuja to the Afghan throne . Throughout the book the author points to parallels in present era with the occupying forces even now not learning from the events of 1840’s that author has penned .Like this letter of Major D’Arcy Todd quoted from Secret letters , who wrote on Afghanistan “ It does not appear to me that the country ..would submit without a struggle to the power of strangers , infidels and invaders .” Fictitious reasons were given by Lord Auckland in justification for launching this war on Afghanistan and documents presented to the then British parliament were doctored and altered in the Blue Book to justify the war .One hundred and fifty years later it was in the manner that Blair launched the British into the Iraq war . As late as March 1839 Dost Mohammad sent overtures to the British to avoid going to the war with the British but Russophobia excuse and the Great Game ( word coined by Arthur Conolly of the Bukhara fame ) in which the author claims Sikhs were willingly playing their part ensured war was thrust on the Afghans .Decades later we find Saddam Hussain pleading in similar manner but to no avail. Syed Ahmad Barelvi , the author says raised the first jihad against the invaders starting with expelling the kafir Sikhs from the homelands of the Afghans .This is his take on this man for he was propped up by the British by allowing him to go with money and arms supplied by them through Baluchistan and Sind to northern areas to occupy the Sikh army lest they execute their design on Shikarpur and Sind that Sikhs hey had been actively pursuing .His followers excesses with the Afghan women has been not divulged .He dissipated the goodwill the Afghans held him in . One of the most notable revelations in the book are of the libido of the British and their ways with the women of the Afghans both the wives and daughters and their slave girls .British historians have not shed much light on this and a recent book by Craig Murray “ Sikandar Burnes: master of the Great Game” also only alluded to it in covers .Here the author debunks this master of Great Game and dares to lay the blame of what befell on the British in 1842 to Burnes and men of his ilk. ’Burnes life was dedicated to pleasure .Burnes God was that belonging to the true hedonist , for Burnes worshipped his own desires , which he pursued voraciously .’ Mohan Lal the Kashmiri Brahmin British master assistant Spy of the Great Game too ‘ like his master Burnes would stoop to any depths to get his desires met .’This is first time Mohan Lal has been written of in these tones thanks to writer’s in depth grasp of the time and boldness to go ahead and go to print truth and not just what is palatable to the English reading public . It has been documented in earlier works how Macnaghten’s escapades alarmed her wife and she along with several other wives of the British officers reached Afghanistan on coming to know of the sexual escapades of her husband. That the women of Afghanistan were known to be beautiful and many a battle have been waged for them was known, but that they were valiant and took to arms to defend their land or their men or themselves is something the book brings forth abundantly in several incidents recounted .At the gates of Ghuzni as the British were stopped by Afghans trying to fend them off from advancing further an old lion heart knew in the ensuing battle that he was outnumbered but did not beg for any quarter .He had killed several men of Queen’s Royals and finding an officer in danger an grenadier rushed to the British officer’s rescue bringing the old chieftain to the ground .At this moment a beautiful girl of seventeen jumped to the man’s rescue and plunged a dagger into the assailant .She cast herself on the body of the chieftain , her father , till more Afghans came and removed it to the interiors of the citadel . Sister of Dost Mahomed Khan kept stoking an uprising in Kohistan against firangees paying by day and night visits to the chiefs of Kohistan , producing the holy Koran before them , tying knot at their garment , and thus securing their co-operation on behalf of her brother . A Pashto landay “May you be blackened by gun powder and dyed in blood; But you may not return from the battlefield and in disgrace . It is well that you are wounded in the battle , my love! Now I shall walk proudly ” Hussain has revealed the human side of the Afghan nobles , of their love for poetry and of their daughters hitherto not much was known of . Shah Shuja was a poet in his own right who wrote many heart wrenching ones of pains of separation from his land of birth . Sample this “I wish to hear from those sweet lips I wish to have sugar and sweet from that mouth My heart burns from the heat of Hindustan ..... O, companions for God’s sake ,I want from you some news of my country. My heart is weeping in memory of my country . The nightingale of my heart cries because of separation from my country .” Shah Shuja loved his daughters so much he did not marry them off for he considered none suitable for them , even sons of his blinded brother Shah Zaman . Shah Zaman had kept an embalmed body of her daughter’s corpse in her finery and took her with him when he followed his brother from Ludhiana to Kabul as also when he returned back to India to live in exile in Ludhiana where he spent last years of his life .Eventually both father and daughter lay buried in Rauza Sharif in Sirhind . Amongst many details and tales of those times are that there were Sikh forces with Akbar Khan son of Dost Mohammad Khan as also with the East India Company that were promised help by the Sikh Maharajah with forces from Peshawar who were overlooked in awards given post this misadventure in Afghanistan . When the British arrived in Kabul they described it as a land of milk and honey .By 1842 they on their retreat had made it a burning hell and repeated this when they left India in 1947 leaving India in a blazing frenzy of bloody progrom . During the retreat from Kabul hundreds and possibly thousands of disabled Indian camp followers ,who were hitherto living on 1/2 and sometimes 1/4 of rations of the British soldiers , were left to their doom in the passes of Khyber in bitter cold deserted in enemy country .For years travellers would find scattered in these passes bleached bones of the unfortunate ones along with the bones of dead British soldiers .The author points out how the British repeated this during retreat from France in the Second World War when British Officer was ordered to abandon Indian troops under his command for want of space in evacuating ships .Not having obeyed this racist order the officer was later courtmartialed for evacuating Indian troops .Thhe author quotes this from news published in The Guardian on 7th September 2000. The land of conquerors that had given rise to at least three great dynasties from Mahmud of Ghazni to Timur and then Babur was now shamelessly occupied by an army of mercenaries , paid for by a mere trading company .Then these expenses were being paid for by the sale of opium to China grown on soil of India and now ( 2001 ) the occupiers have come to this land to buy and sell opium ! The British lust to plunder wealth of occupiers is legendary and the writer point out that the word ‘loot’ has entered the English language from Urdu to describe to their citizens their inhumane spectacles .The Afghans disdain of the British is legendary as they never called them ‘sahib’ like subservient Indians did and always looked in their eyes as soldiers would . This book exemplifies that ‘wars never tolerate fools’. Go grab this one, and enjoy the history of those times through an Afghan whose ancestors once kept the Koh-i-noor for the Durranis , as it hits the stands in early March and will be sold through www.silkroadbooksandphotos.com.The writer may be contacted on [email protected]