Monday, February 7, 2011


JOHN WATSON OF WATSON HOTEL BOMBAY VS Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata, founder of the Tata Group, opened the TajMahal Palace & Tower, the first Taj property, on December 16, 1903. He was inspired to open the grand luxury hotel after an incident involving racial discrimination at the Watson's Hotel in Mumbai, where he was refused entry as the hotel did not permit Indians.Hotels which accepted only European guests were common across British India . However, this story has been challenged by some commentators that suggest that Tata was unlikely to have been concerned with 'revenge' against his British adversaries.
On Mahatma Gandhi (formerly Esplanade) Road: the Army and Navy Building, formerly a department store but now offices for Tata Consulting;
{on the right, the edge of the former Watson's Hotel, crushed by the Taj OFFICE}
Image result for WATSON HOTEL BOMBAY
A Brief History of Watson's Hotel, India's Oldest Cast-Iron Building

watson hotel bombay 1863 Bombay's first 'STAR' hotel

Now known as esplanade mansions is India's oldest surviving cast iron building,fabricated in England ,shipped to India, ,JOHN WATSON opened this whites only hotel with 130 guest rooms,bar,restaurant,employed English waitresses in ball room.famous guests included Mark twain.The first movie film by the Lumiere brothers in India was shown here ,seen only by white people.Rumours that industrialist TATA was denied entrance into the white only hotel and he retaliated by opening the TAJ hotel in 1903 .

IN 1960 the building was sold to private owner and now in bad condition.

Bombay: Verandah of Watson's Hotel, 1870s

Hooper, William Willoughby

BOMBAY,FROM WATSON'S HOTEL .Date: Between 1850s to 1870s Whole Plate Albumen Print from Wet Collodion Glass Negative Maker: Francis Frith

'Bombay - The Esplanade and Colaba in the distance. March 1870 (from the top of Watson's Hotel).--Artist: Lester, John Frederick (1825-1915)-Date: 1871-

'Bombay - The Esplanade and Colaba in the distance. March 1870 (from the top of Watson's Hotel).


Taj Mahal Palace Hotel Opening date 16 December 1903

Royal Visit, Sans Souci,1876

{the house of the successful Jewish merchant/banker and philanthropist Sir David Sassoon, named "Sans souci". This house still exists as the main building of the Masina Hospital Bombay,Run by a Parsi trust,}

A Baghdadi Jew, the Sassoon family made Mumbai its home in the early 19th century and Masina Hospital was David Sassoon's mansion residence called Sans Souci, or "No Worries", with a grand double stairway in carved oak that still exists within the main entrance to the hospital.
David Sassoon made his fortune in trade with China (ironically opium, and yarn) and in the cotton mills of Bombay in the 19th century. Like wealthy Parsis of the time, the Sassoon family bestowed its benevolence on the city that gave them their wealth, in the form of public buildings.Masina Hospital, M.M.C. Building, Sant Savta Marg, Byculla (E); tel. +91 (0) 22 23714889/23714890



The Adelphi Hotel Bombay. Dec 1857. This hotel is believed to have been at Byculla.

November, 1835. The Albion Hotel. R. T. Hart.

December 14th, 1837. Victoria Hotel opened, 15, Apollo

December 31st, 1837. Hope Hall opened, Mazagon.

August 24th, 1839. A Bombay Hotel Company started to supply the want of a good hotel.
Boarding-house Advertised.

March 30th, 1842. It is remarked " there is no Hotel in Bombay at present," hence a Joint Stock Hotel and Boarding House Company is started with a capital of 2 lakhs.

November 26th. The British Hotel and Boarding House, Apollo St., Mrs. Black well, announced.

December 10th. The big dinner given to Outram advertised to take place in this hotel.

1850. A single man may live most comfortably on £100 a year. — Br. Moses' Sketches. 1851.

1850, June 1st. Benson's Hotel, Kampart Row, opened.

1852, June 21st. Sailors' Home, Sanatoriums and Hotels

Sailors' Home

. 1853, May 16th. Hope Hall Hotel.. Annie Blackwell.

. 1854, September 10th. John Manuel de Souza, Matheran, starts a Bakery and can receive and lodge two gentlemen. This is the smallest hotel on record.

1856, February 26th. Good entertainment for gentlemen and parties visiting this delightful station. Matheran Hotel, B. Basteon.

January, 1857. The Bombay Quarterly Review says : — ” A broker introduced at a festive dinner at the Family Hotel, the Theodore Hook of the Fort Community, extracts a yellow handkerchief from his white jacket and sings. Considered a wonderful and inimitable being.”

1858, March 4th.
All liquor shops to be closed on Sundays between 10 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. and from 5 to 8 evening

1859, April 1st
. There is a goodly show of hotels. One paper says : — ” If people must stand on their dignity there is
The Hope Hall;
if convenience is preferred above fashion there is The British and the English Hotel in the Fort.

1859, July 16th. Adelphi Hotel,names of residents published.

December 16th.
The Clarendon Family Hotel,

August 12th. Smith’s Oriental Hotel, Mazagon, each person Rs. 3, or Rs. 60 per mensem.

1861. Kaka and Mendoza’s Hotel at Matheran well patronised.

1864, August 30th. “Watson, for an
Esplanade Hotel,

bought from Government at auction a lot of ground at Rs. 110 per square yard.
Competitor the Bombay Club.

" The St. Andrew's Dinners of 19 th century :-

has taken all the go out of us. It was not the Haggis nor the ' Cockie-leckie,' but let us fairly confess, as Mr. Hunter assured us — honesty is the best policy — the Whiskey Toddy."

It was on this occasion that the Town Hall was first lighted with gas.

A nest of unfledged sparrows caught fire in one of " the moons " on the ceiling, and, sad to say, flopped on the table as the guests were sitting down — a gruesome antipasto
which the makers of the elaborate menu had not reckoned on. There are numerous traditions connected with this jovial dinner which we consign to the mists of antiquity, which is their merit.

1867, November 30th. — This dinner was held in the Durbar Room of the Town Hall, and was much more limited than the last — confined to about 100. A. D. Grant, Chairman ; Hamilton Maxwell, Croupier, But two conspicuous men were there — Dr. Norman Macleod and

The Lord Napier

Portrait of Francis Napier, 10th Lord Napier in 1866

Acting Viceroy of India
In office
24 February 1872 – 3 May 1872
MonarchQueen Victoria
Preceded bySir John Strachey
As Acting Viceroy
Succeeded byThe Lord Northbrook
Governor of Madras Presidency
In office
27 March 1866 – 19 February 1872
Preceded bySir William Thomas Denison
Succeeded byAlexander John Arbuthnot
As Acting Governor
Ambassadors of the United Kingdom to Russia
In office
Preceded byJohn Crampton
Succeeded byAndrew Buchanan
Personal details
Born15 September 1819
Thirlestane Castle, Selkirkshire, United Kingdom
Died19 December 1898 (aged 79)
Florence, Kingdom of Italy
Spouse(s)Anne Jane Charlotte Manners
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge

Lord Napier.
As it was a Saturday evening,
Dr. Macleod would not accept the invitation unless the gas was turned off at twelve. I can verify that the croupier put us in total darkness at that hour, leaving us to grope our way out as best we could,

1872, November 30th. — I rather think

In This Photo:

95. John Mackintosh11 Balfour-Melville (James10 Balfour, John9, Professor James8, James7, James6, James5, Andrew4, James3, David2, Alexander1) was born in Edinburgh 23/09/1811. John died 22/09/1893 at 81 years of age.

Mackintosh Balfour was chairman of this dinner in the Town Hall.
He did his duty well. I asked John Connon how he managed to make such an excellent speech. "By walking up and down the verandah for half an hour before I delivered it." Allen, of the Pioneer, was a perfect torrent of after-dinner eloquence.
His subject was "The Press," and he did not weary us with the commonplace of the subject — the Press is " a mighty engine " and all that sort of thing. The Commander-in-Chief spoke of the defenseless state of Bombay and the desideratum. There happened to be a Masonic Dinner on the same evening, and the Admiral on his way home — Hewitt, I think — looked in. There were immediately loud calls for him to return thanks for the Navy. He did so in a most amusing speech, the gist of which was that we need be in no concern as long as he was there with his ships — never mind the Army, sotto voce — and concluded that we might rest perfectly satisfied of our security. " While I am outside I will see to it that you are all right." This was vastly
fine, and we were pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw.

The Bombay Theatre, 
on the margin of the Green (not far from the Times of India office, 1892), dated from 1770 and was the oldest in India
The players were amateurs, and the purpose was charity as well as amusement.
Gaiety culminated in 1804, with 

Arthur Wellesley, after his splendid victories.

General Bellasis gave a dinner to him in the Theatre, and

Colonel Lechmere and the officers of the Fencibles a magnificent fete in the same place. Dinner at seven. Illuminations all over the Green, far and wide.

The Governor gave a grand ball at Pareil,

when that sheet of water, to which succeeding generations of wearied 
dancers have repaired to recruit their exliausted energies, became a fairy scene of gorgeous fireworks, which blazed away, far into the night and early morning, over the faces of fair women and brave men. The Duke, though a man of few words, was not callous to these ovations. It was the first blast of that mighty trumpet of praise which, in successive bursts, was to sound over him for the next fifty years. " The approbation of this Settlement is a distinction which will afford a permanent source of gratification to my mind, and I receive with a high sense of respect the honour conveyed to me by your address." And much more to the same effect.  

The date is January, 1800,
when a great number of genttemen and some ladies attended on a Saturday at the Riding School, to witness the baitjng of a horse, a wild boar, and some buffaloes by a leopard. The first object of attack was a dummy man, which leopardus tore to pieces in a twinkling. He then essayed the wild hog, for which he soon showed a Muslim aversion, and " backed," with his tail between his legs, which did not suit the spectators, who goaded him into fury by squibs and crackers until the brute, becoming exasperated by its tormentors, suddenly, by one tremendous leap, alighted on the edge of a high bamboo palisade which divided the spectators from the arena. You may well believe that, as he hung in mid-air, there was a great consternation. The account says that " each waived all ceremony in the order of his going, to establish his own right of precedence." The riding-master, who happened to have a loaded pistol in his hand, was equal to the occasion, and shot the leopard dead on his perch, his body falling with a thud into the enclosure, while the crowd flew helter-skelter. 

1879, November 30th. — The dinner at Altamont

was a big affair, Mr. Mowatt, Chairman — Magnus Mowatt. Cameron, the
war correspondent, sat next me. He sang some Jacobite songs, and
the plaintive strain of " When the King comes ower the water "
still lingers like a melancholy refrain on the ear. Wordsworth, the Principal and son of the poet, was good. He had never been in Scotland, but from the hills of Cumberland he had once " a glimpse of the Promised Land." Everything he touched, on "The Literature of Scotland," was true and eloquent, though
a little long. There was a story, most probably an invention, that a huge cauldron was steaming away during the small hours, out of which ladlefuls were swept as continuously as if from the goblets round a Persian wheel, that the cauldron
suffered no diminution, that the thirst of the applicants was insatiable, and that someone scattered the byke in the words of
the old song —
" Drink thy night and day's desire !
Get up this precious hour, or, faith,
I'll fling your whiskey i' the fire ! "

The last great dinner of 1886, at which Lord Rosebery and many other notables were present.


Date: Between 1850s to 1870s

About the time the Club was founded the privilege for 
which they had appealed to Parliament was granted to Indians of holding commissions of the Peace by the Charter Act of 1833, and of the 14 Indians appoin- ted under this Act nine belonged to the Parsi com- munity, two were Hindus, two Mahomedans, and one belonged to what is now called the East Indian commimity.

 Byculla Club, 1833-1916, a history by Samuel T. Sheppard

Prince's Dock, Bombay: Pilgrims Embarking, 1870s

Hooper, William Willoughby


Anonymous said...

these are precious jewels.... priceless... we see these places n compare their condition today... gives a sense of what we hv done wth our heritage...

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