Saturday, 12 October 2019

Colonial Chartered Bank building of Kolkata - first bankers in ''Opium trade with China''

-Standard Chartered Bank, Kolkata, India. dolphin.blogspot.com/
The Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China, founded by the granting of its Royal Charter  by Queen Victoria in 1853,  opened its first branch in Bombay and Calcutta in 1857.   The Chartered Bank's  founder was  one James Wilson and the  earliest branches were in Mumbai, Kolkata and Shanghai. Today’s Standard Chartered Bank was formed in 1969 when Standard Bank of British South Africa merged with The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China.  In the  early colonial period  under the English company (EIC),  Shanghai and Hong Kong cities saw the operations of this bank which played no less role  in both Indian and Chinese banking during the days of the British Empire,  particularly, when the opium trade was in full swing. The British got the Chinese hooked on to opium addiction and the  successful opium trade operations in China helped Britain improve  her Silver reserve in the treasury. Incidentally, Bihar, India was the main producer of opium, followed by Maharastra. In reality, opium was exported to China  from India illegally.
Standard Chartered Bank, Kolkata, India. lbb.in/kolkata
 Quite absorbing is the impressive  and imposing  bank building  in Calcutta and it bears testimony to the British  bank's status as one of the great British colonial bankers in Asia. Then its competitor was  the Hong kong & Shanghai Bank which  is  at a short distance  on the south side of Dalhousie Square. The historic structure  is across  Allahabad Bank’s headquarters in the heart of the city and became  home to the National Bank of India’s Kolkata branch in 1902.
Standard Chartered Bank, Kolkata, India. lbb.in/kolkata/
This big and beautiful  building was  built in  almost Byzantine-style using a theme of round arches crowned by octagonal corner towers. The striking feature are  110 ft tall  clock tower  on the China Bazar St side  and the 135 ft tall entrance tower on the Clive
Charted bank, Kolkata. double-dolphin.blogspot.com
Street (NS road) facade  above the main entrance to the banking hall. The architect was  Calcutta-based Edward Thornton who was known for his exotic colonial designs.  The look of this building is enhanced by the contrasting red brick bands  with the Porbunder stone specially brought from  Bombay. The plinth of the building is made of Chunar stone with Porbunder stone to face the ground floor exterior with Cornish granite for the columns guarding the main entrance. The other striking feature is the  wrought-iron  entrance gates imported from England. The building contractor was the famed Calcutta-based contractors Martin & Co., owned by  Sir Rajen Mookerjee. Built in 1908,  the cost of construction was INR 9,62,000.  The building was originally owned by the Maharaja of Burdwan, and was leased to the Chartered Bank. Additions were made  to its current form in 1914 to accommodate the bank’s growing business.

A whooping 80,000 sq ft space built in the 19th century, the bank had inherited the NS Road property from ANZ Grindlays  and London-based bank decided in Sept. 2015 to sell this iconic building in Kolkata to tide over certain financial impediments that strangled the company's future growth.  A StanChart India spokesperson said, "As part of our ongoing process to achieve better efficiency, we are divesting our branch office at 19 NS Road in Kolkata."The bank demanded Rs.100 crores for this colonial building. It is an irony the British bank is selling the property and others in Kolkata where it had begun its lucrative banking odyssey related to India-China opium trade. 

The oldest foreign bank in India (that has more than 110 years   history behind it) -  Standard Chartered Bank's decision to sell its earliest building was a sad story in its banking history.
 https://realty.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/commercial/standard-chartered-bank-to-sell-its-iconic-kolkata-office-for-rs-110-crore/49068476
https://www.flickr.com/photos/23268776@N03/3030059680/in/photolist-5BKRbh-9ssrBr-hYGtmd-r