Wednesday, March 19, 2014

From refugee to property czar, G L’s untold story

A crowd of Hindu refugees preparing to set sail for Bombay, December 1947. Photo: Margaret Bourke-White/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

From refugee to property czar, G L’s untold story

Construction baron Gopal Lachmmandas Raheja (80), who died on Tuesday, was often described as Bheeshma Pitamah, the grand patriarch of Mumbai's real estate industry.

However, the past few years of his life were tumultuous following an acrimonious fight with his son Sandeep over the vast business empire he founded. The dispute began in 2012 when Sandeep objected to the father's alleged proximity to a Brahma Kumari woman half his age. The senior Raheja, though, had refuted the allegation, stating that Sandeep was refusing to hand over a share of the business to his two sisters. The row, which spilled out into the media, ended up hurting both father and son as they had always jealously guarded their privacy.

"Where are you? Come and meet me," he called last month, only to cancel the meeting ten minutes later because he said he was not well.

At one point in time, G L, as he was commonly referred to in the cut-throat property market, was one of the largest land owners in Mumbai; that's before the family separation two decades ago.

His earlier life was full of hardship, though; a rags to riches story. The Rahejas fled Karachi soon after partition, virtually penniless.

One day, his father, Lachmmandas, came home frantically and asked the family to immediately vacate the Karachi home. Within an hour, they had packed up and were ready to sail for Mumbai. The Sindhi clan travelled in a cargo ship and took shelter in a factory at Bombay Central. Twenty members of the Raheja family later shifted to a two-room rented apartment with a common toilet in Andheri.

But the hard-nosed boy, then barely 15, would not allow himself to wallow in pity. He started his career in the then Bombay Housing Board as a civil engineer, earning a salary of Rs 270 a month in 1957. But soon, along with his father and brother, Gopal established Raheja Brothers.

"There was a time when I worked from 7am till 11pm. I often neglected my wife Sheila," the unassuming billionaire would tell this correspondent. In the mid-1990s, she passed away after a prolonged illness, leaving him disconsolate.

During her treatment in the US, G L would often take walks around malls while the wife shopped. It was here that he got the idea to start a similar concept back home. Thus started Shoppers Stop, a brand which he created—later he had to cede the chain of stores to his brother Chandru.

The Rahejas were also one of the first developers in the Bandra-Khar-Santa Cruz belt. Gopal, along with his late father and uncle, constructed their first building at 3rd Road in Khar and sold flats at the rate of Rs 20 a sq ft in the late 1950s. Today, his group claims to have completed 2,000 projects all over the country.

Besides starting the Shoppers Stop chain in 1992, G L also co-founded the S L Raheja Hospital. He was the founder trustee of L S Raheja School of Architecture & Arts, L S Raheja College of Arts & Commerce and L S Raheja Technical Institute.

The construction czar never forgot his humble roots, though. His networking and friendship with top politicians, including the late Bal Thackeray and Sushilkumar Shinde, was well-known in industry circles. But, as he told this correspondent once, "Even now, I sometimes sit with junior civic officers in their cabins and drink chai with them."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The oldest ship -Launched in Bombay, in 1817-by the Wadia family

The oldest ship afloat still has a lived-in feel today
File:Dominic Serres - Foudroyant and Pégase entering Portsmouth Harbour, 1782 - Google Art Project.jpgS

Dominic Serres - Foudroyant and Pégase entering Portsmouth Harbour, 1782 - Google Art Project.jpg

HMS Trincomalee built 1816 by Bombay Dockyard, Bombay ...


Harold Wyllie

(British, 1880–1975)

The launch of H.M.S. "Trincomalee" of 46 guns at Bombay, 19th October 1817

The Wadias of India - English Zoroastrian › vohuman › Article › The Wa...

Educated in England, he soon proved his engineering skills by establishing the well-known Bombay Dying & Manufacturing Co. for manufacture of textiles in 1879.
Lovji. · ‎Nusserwanji. · ‎Nowroji. · ‎Cusrow.
The Wadia family is a Parsi family from Surat, India currently based in Mumbai, India and the United States. The family is related to the politically prominent ...
Lovji Nusserwanjee Wadia (1702–1774) was a Parsi from Surat province of Gujarat in India and was a member of the Wadia family of shipwrights and naval ...

Rustomji Hirjeebhoy Wadia, Bombay, ca. 1859, Peabody Collection in Essex Museum, Massachusetts, USA.

The Parsis in India have had the tremendous good fortune of practicing their religion and customs generally without ostracism and persecution. This freedom has given them an opportunity to establish themselves in a country that not only refrained from proselytizing but also showed considerable tolerance towards all religions. Having been given this opportunity, they also had the encouragement of the British colonial rulers of India to develop their entrepreneurship skills and political savvy. The elevation in stature of the Parsis was undoubtedly one of the main causative factors in the small community’s escalating fortunes.

The recorded history of the Parsis of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries has shown them to have the inspiration to venture into uncharted waters with boldness, garnering their energies to establish a better life and advancement for their families, their community, and the countries of their origin and adoption – Iran and India. Their unique character could be attributed to three essential factors – their Irani-Zarathushti heritage, their Hindu-Indian socio-cultural adaptations, and their eager acceptance of Western (specifically) British educational and temporal values.  The Industrial Revolution was the backdrop against which the Parsis of the 18th, and 19th centuries proved their prowess in education and entrepreneurship, and continued the trend into the 20th century.

Maneckji Lovji, second Master Builder

The ships they sailed on to reach India presented to the Parsis the bounties of the seas. At the height of the power under Achaemenian King Darius the Great, Zoroastrians mastered shipbuilding and learned much from the seafaring Phoenicians. The ability to build seafaring vessels eventually opened up the world of international trade. They founded many industries. By the time India achieved its independence in 1947, a mere 100,000 Parsis, in the subcontinent’s population of over half a billion people dominated major industries like the steel industry, the aviation industry, the textile industry, the movie industry, and the fields of medicine, science and law.

The Wadias, the Tatas, the Jeejeebhoys, and the Godrejs are among several families that have contributed in no small measure towards the industrial and economic advancement of their community and their country. One such family has for the last 250 years taken on the challenge of  industrial entrepreneurship with  great success and provided tremendous resources for their country’s well-being – that family is the Wadias.

Jamsetji Bomanji, third Master Builder

Lovji Nusserwanjee Wadia (Unknown – 1774)
The Wadia (‘shipbuilder’) family had established itself in Surat for many centuries. Surat was a very important seaport on the west coast of India where British East India Company was first established. The Portuguese, Dutch, French and British maintained trading centers in the city from the 15th century onwards. Since all trade was done by sea, the shipping industry started to flourish. The foreign traders knew Lovji Nusserwanji Wadia for the high standards he maintained for shipbuilding workmanship. The British East India Company secured the services of Lovji for building docks and ships in Bombay in 1736. The Bombay dry-dock, the first dry-dock in Asia
, was built by Lovji and his brother Sorabji  in 1750.  Bombay began to be considered a viable trading port for all ships from the West and East.

Lovji has rightly been called the founder of the shipping industry in Bombay, passing away in 1774. His sons Maneckji and Bomanji built on his reputation of integrity, industry and ability.

Nussarwanji Maneckji Wadia, oil on canvas, by a Chinese artist in Bombay, ca, 1803, Peabody Collection in Essex Museum, Massachusetts, USA.

A branch of the Wadias stayed on in Surat and continued to develop the shipping industry and became leaders in the building and construction of bridges, dams and buildings. Between 1840s and 1940s  the shipping and building industry in Surat was dominated by Cowasji, Burjorji, Behramji, Rustomji, Hormuzji, Nusserwanji and Pestonji Wadia.

Pestonji’s sons Framroze, Firozeshah, and Dhanjishah continued in the building and construction business. Their charities include nursing homes, building free institutions of education and hospitals.

While the British ruled India, the French had a couple of small holdings, one on the east coast and the other on the west. In 1929 Khan Saheb Pestonji Wadia bought the west coast region overlooking the Tapti Sea from the French. This included a huge mansion which the family used. Several years later this mansion was donated by the Wadia family for education of women. The Zal F. Wadia College in Surat, was established in memory of young Zal, who passed away at the age of 27. In 1935, Dhanjishah built the first cement concrete road  to be built in India, the Prince of Wales Drive in Poona in honor of the visit of Prince Edward VIII of England. (The author is Dhanjishah’s daughter).

Seven generations of Wadia master-shipbuilders have constructed ships in Bombay that have plied the seven seas from the shores of the New World to the ancient shores of the China Seas. Many ships were built for the Indian and British Navy. When their connection with the Bombay Dockyard ended in 1913, the Lovji Wadia family had left a legacy of ships, from sloops to schooners, merchant  ships and man-o-wars, cutters and clippers, frigates, water boats and steamships – over 400 ships!

Photograph of young Wadia cousins - Jehangir Naoroji and Hirjeebhoy Meherwanji with Uncle Dorabji Mancherji on the left, ca. 1838.

According to a publication in 1955 of The Bombay Dockyard and the Wadia Master, the ship HMS Trincomalee was built by a nephew of Lovji - Jamshedji Bamanji Wadia and launched on October 12, 1817, for the British Navy. Later the ship was named Foudroyant (1897). It served the British well during the Crimean War (1852-1857) and World War II (1939-1945) and now rests in Britain, soon to be converted into a museum.

Jamshedji, Nowroji, and Dhanjibhai Wadia have been the outstanding shipbuilders of the 19th century British India, building 22 ships for the British Navy alone.

Like the HMS Tricomalee, the HMS Cornwallis, launched on May 2, 1813, saw active battle in the British-American War of 1812 and twenty years later as Flagship of the British Fleet in the China Seas, she led an expeditionary force during the “Opium War” of China. The historic signing of the Treaty of Nanking, ceding Hong Kong to the British took place on HMS Cornwallis August 29, 1842.

Several other warships like the HMS Asia saw action in various parts of the world.

Wadia Family, Bombay, ca. 1870s. Cursetji Naoroji Wadia (seated center), grandson of Jamsetji Bomanji Wadia, third Master Shipbuilder.

Nusserwanji Maneckji Wadia (1753 – 1814)
Grandson of the great shipbuilder Lovji Wadia opened up trade through shipping with foreign countries.

Other descendants of Lovji -  Jehangir, Nowroji , Dossabhoy, Dhunjibhoy and Cursetji  further developed worldwide trade with Europe and America.

[Refer to The Yankee Connection below]

In 1834 Ardeshir Cursetji Wadia was the first to introduce gas to Bombay. He became the first Indian Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1841.

[Refer to The Yankee Connection below]

Dhanjishah Pestonji Wadia, ca 1928. (1905 - 1981)

Nowroji Nusserwanji Wadia (August 30, 1849 – December 19, 1899)
Educated in England, he soon proved his engineering skills by establishing the well-known Bombay Dying & Manufacturing Co. for manufacture of textiles in 1879. Several mills were opened under his banner – such as the National, the Neriad, the Dhun, the E. D. Sassoon, the Presidency, Calicut, Century, to name just a few. His efforts for the underprivileged are legendary. He went beyond helping the Parsis exclusively. As a member and chair of various government and educational bodies, he introduced programs for better schooling; introduced the kindergarten system of education; advocated physical training for boys and girls; better administration of hospitals etc. His munificence made many socio-economic programs possible. In 1889 he was awarded the honor, “Champion of the Indian Empire” (CIE) by the British government. There was not a charitable institution in Bombay to which Nowroji was not connected.

Sir Ness Wadia (seated on left): First Indian to receive Knighthood of the British Empire, ca.1919.

Cusrow and Ness Wadia
Naoroji’s sons Cusrow and
Ness expanded the textile business to become the largest textile operations in India, and were known as much for their philanthropy as for their business acumen. In the 1920s, Ness established a wireless service, forerunner of the telephone, the India Radio and Communication Company, linking India and Britain for the first time. He was the first Indian to be awarded the Knighthood of the British Empire in 1919.

The Wadia women played no small role in utilizing their skills in business to leave a legacy of philanthropy that still stands as a gigantic monument to their endeavors.

Motlibai Maneckji Wadia (October 30, 1811 – May 24, 1897)
Born a Wadia, she married her cousin Maneckji, but was soon widowed at the age of 26. She devoted herself to take up the reigns of the family estate. Her inherent business acumen and sterling good sense increased the family wealth and charities. She gave large sums for maintenance of Daremehers and built one in Bombay in memory of her father Jehangirji. I 1894, she rebuilt the Udvada Atash Behram and set aside sums for the future upkeep. She established dispensaries and in particular, the Bai
Motlibai Obstetric Hospital. Land and money was given to orphanages and donations flowed freely for emergency relief of citizens due to fire, famine and flood disasters. One of Motlibai’s dreams was to personally gift a fine collection of old coins to Queen Victoria, but she was unable to fulfill it during her lifetime. After her death, her son Naoroji did so on her behalf.

Two young daughters of Rustomji Wadia of Surat, Tehmina & Banoo, ca. 1919.

Jerbai Nusserwanji Wadia (1852 – March 8, 1956)
She was a pioneer of low-cost housing complexes (Baugs) that are an intrinsic part of Zarathushti life today. The Lal Baug and Nowroz Baug were built through her initiative and donations. In 1917 Jerbai established the Naoroji N. Wadia Building Trust Fund which helped in building the Rustom Baug and Jer Baug. Her sons Cusrow and Ness
continued her mission and built Cusrow Buag and Ness Baug. She donated generously to help build several clinics and hospitals. After her death her sons built the Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children in her memory.

Lady Hirabai Cowasji Jehangir (August 22, 1893 – June 9, 1976)
Born into the Wadia family, and married into the affluent Readymoney family, she did not while away her time in leisurely pursuits, but chose to do something for the betterment of the Zarathoshties and non-Zarathoshties. She established nursery schools, the Wadia-Vatcha
School and the Sir Cowasji Jehangir School in Bombay. She set up the Sir Cowasji Jehangir Rural Home for boys and another one for girls and opened the Cowasji Jehangir Nursing Home in Poona. She promoted the arts and sciences and put her heart into setting up the Sir Cowasji Jehangir Institute for Science and the famous Jehangir Art Gallery, leaving behind an enduring legacy for the people of Bombay.

The B. F. Wadia & Sons Company started in the early 1920s by the Surat branch of Wadias and moved to Bombay, is one of the leading timber companies in India today.

K. Wadia Jewelers  have established a solid reputation as leading Zarathushti jewelers for more than 70 years.

Neville and Nusli Wadia have done an admirable job of continuing their family’s  tradition of building industries, promoting causes and setting up charitable trusts. 

Many generations of Wadias have considered it their duty to extend a hand to their fellow human beings and consider it an honor to share their good fortune. The Wadiaji Atash Behram and Wadiaji Agiari are the result of their generosity. The Ness Wadia College and the College of Technology in Pune, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Neville Wadia Institute of Management Studies and Research (1991) are just some of the many institutions of research and learning. 

The N.M. Wadia Charitable Trust (1909), caters to Zarathushties and non-Zarathushties alike. Some of the donations have gone towards relief of Indians in South Africa, earthquake victims in Burma, famine victims in Oxford, flood relief in Sri Lanka, Japan, Iran and Holland.

Dr. Noshir H. Wadia, of Bombay has been considered the leading neurologist of India  and acclaimed by his peers as one of the top neurologists in the world today.

The love of arts, music and drama prompted the J.B.H. Wadia and his brothers to found the first movie studio in India – Wadia Movietone, bringing in artists, actors and actresses from abroad and also encouraging national and local performers.

The Yankee Connection and a Brush with American History
At the end of the 18th Century many American ships from Boston and Salem began visiting Bombay to trade. There, Nusserwanji Maneckji Wadia (1753-1814), grandson of the great shipbuilder Lovji Wadia, founded a family business specializing in the markets of these newcomers to Bombay.

[Record of these first encounters between Yankee traders and their Parsi business associates have been preserved in a collection of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, the most extensive repository of sources on Indo-US trade in this country].

In 1799 George Nichols, a merchant form Salem, Massachusetts, went to India as business manager of the cargo ship Active which was to carry back a shipload of cotton from India. In his autobiography Nichols wrote:

“The business was carried on by Parsis, some of the most intelligent people I have ever known, rich and very honorable in their dealings. The merchant with whom I did business, Nasservanji Maneckji was a very fine man.”

Nusservanji gave Nichols a beautiful striped exquisite muslin piece for the latter’s bride which he brought back to Salem to fashion into a wedding dress for her. He also gifted the bride and groom with beautiful Kashmiri silk wool shawls. (Mrs. Nichols’s wedding dress and both the shawls are now part of the Peabody Essex Museum).

In 1803 Nusserwanji became one of the first foreigners to make a donation to the collection of  the East India Maritime Society Museum (now the Peabody Essex Museum). That same year Captain R. Dalling gave a portrait of Nusserwanji painted in Bombay by a Chinese artist. This portrait is on view in the Central Hall of the Museum where it has been continuously for almost 200 years!

In about 1815 Nusserwanji’s sons followed their father into the American trade and began opening business ventures with France and other European countries. Captain William Augustus Rogers who arrived in Bombay with the trading ship Tartar recorded his impressions in a journal now in the Peabody Essex Museum. He refers to Nusserwanji as “a man who sustained a most estimable character.” He wrote about visits to the Lovji Castle, and the Wadia family estates in Bombay.

In 1839 other grandsons of Lovji took up the family specialty in American trade. Dossabhoy Wadia with his brothers Dhanjibhoy and Cursetji under the firm name Dossabhoy Merwanji & Co., developed their foreign business largely concentrating

on trade and sales of imported goods. So revered was Dossabhoy’s name beyond India that President Ullyses Grant honored him with a personal visit at his company on February15, 1879, while on a tour of  India. Dossabhoy was appointed Vice-Consul for USA in Bombay in 1852.

The first Parsi to visit USA was Ardeshir Cursetji Wadia, grandson of Nusserwanji’s brother in 1849. He visited the home of Mr. & Mrs. Howard of Salem. Their daughter Caroline Howard King, noted in her memoirs, the pleasant wonder of these encounters:

“Among the strange foreign visitors of those days, we were somewhat startled one evening by a friend’s bringing a real live Parsee, with a tall calico headdress, to take tea with us.

It was rather a revelation to me that a fire worshipper could take tea like ordinary mortals. But he was  a harmless lion, and roared very gently, and drank his tea and ate his bread and butter quite like other folks and told us many interesting thing about his life in Bombay.

I remember we all spoke very distinctly, as if we were talking to a child, and that he answered us in a very low cultivated  refined voice, using much better English than we did”.

The one ship that the Wadias built and of most historic significance for Parsis is the H.M.S. Minden. The Bombay Courier, June 23, 1810 wrote:

“On Tuesday last His Majesty’s Ship, the “Minden” built in the new docks (Bombay) by Jamshedji Bomanji Wadia was floated into the stream at high water, after the usual ceremony of breaking the bottle had been performed by the Honorable Governor Jonathan Duncan.

In having produced the “Minden”, Bombay is entitled to the distinguished praise of providing the first and only British ship of the line built out of the limits of the Mother Country; and in the opinion of very competent judges, the “Minden”, for beauty of construction and strength of frame, may stand in competition with any man-o-war that has come out of the most celebrated Dockyards of Great Britain. For the skill of its architects, for the superiority of its timber, and for the excellence of its docks, Bombay may now claim a distinguished place among naval arsenals”.

A young American lawyer, Francis Scott Key was sent on board the British ship  “Minden”, in Chesapeake Bay to negotiate the release of a friend who had been captured after the defeat of the US forces in Maryland. Key was detained on the ship overnight while the British attacked Baltimore. “At the dawn’s early light” amidst the “rockets’ red glare”, he saw the American flag still flying high over Fort McHenry which inspired him to hurriedly scribble on an envelope a poem, that was to become the Star Spangled Banner, national anthem of United States of America!

There were members of the Wadia family that took up the challenge of the New World and settled down in foreign lands outside of India. In the 20th century they came to USA for further education. The first Wadia on record who came to USA for education was Burjor Wadia in 1916. He joined the University of Michigan and later became a top- ranking engineer with Ford Motor Company. He spent 5 years in USA and another 5 years in England with another automobile company before returning to India.

Several others followed, like the late Burjor Ghadiali, whose late mother Banoo was a Wadia. Burjor arrived in Canada in 1947 and soon rose in ranks to become the Chief Engineer of Ontario Hydro, in Canada. Maneck Bhujwala of California, (also from the Wadia family), has done well in serving the Zoroastrian community here in the West.

Dr. Maneck Wadia

Prof. Maneck S. Wadia of Del Mar, California who has been in USA since the 1950s is an internationally prominent professor, author, speaker and consultant to over 300 organizations & companies here and abroad. He is also a very successful entrepreneur with diversified interests and an author whose books on management are used by over 150 universities worldwide. He has served as Director of numerous corporations, having been listed in “Who’s Who of Contemporary Authors, American Men of Science, Marquis’ Who’s Who Dictionary of International Biography & Who’s Who in the West.

The legacy of the Wadias, as with other families, should, in the final analysis, be measured in terms of benefits not just to their own society and country, but how those benefits relate to the well-being of humanity at large.

[Bombay is now known as Mumbai and Poona is now known as Pune]

The US National Anthem Was Written Aboard This Made-In-India Ship

US National Anthem Was Written Aboard ...

The philanthropist G Wheatly Cobb bought HMS TRINCOMLAEE to replace the training ship FOUDROYANT which had foundered two years earlier on its way to ...

HMS Foudroyant and HMS Trincomalee


HMS Foudroyant

The name is French for “thunder and lightning” and came from a captured French battleship in a single-ship action in 1758 by HMS Monmouth. She remained in the RN’s possession until broken up in 1787.

The second HMS Foudroyant was launched in Plymouth in 1798, as a second rate line of battle ship with 80 guns (variable throughout her career). Designed by Sir John Henslow (Surveyor of the Navy) using the old French ships design. Measurements were 2062 tons, 184’x 51’. Usual armament included 30 32pdrs, 32 24pdrs, 14 12pdrs and 12 carronades.


In her first commission, she took part in Warren’s action off Donegal on 12 October 1798. She became Nelson’s flagship in the Mediterranean in 1799-1800, and took part in the recapture of Naples from the French, the recapture of Malta and the taking of several French vessels. In 1801, after a refit, she was Admiral Lord Keith’s flagship in the Egyptian campaign. In 1803, she joined the Channel fleet after an extensive refit at Plymouth. In 1808 she was Admiral Sir Sydney Smith’s flagship for his expedition to South America. She was finally paid off in Plymouth on November 30th 1812 and remained in harbour service.


In 1862, she was converted to a training ship and served the Plymouth gunnery school, HMS Cambridge. In 1892, she was sold for breaking up to a German firm. Because of her association with Nelson, there was a public outcry including a Punch cartoon by Linley Sambourne. She was purchased by George Wheatley Cobb for twenty thousand pounds (his own expense) with a view for display at various ports and a sail training ship. She was wrecked at Blackpool in a gale on 16 June 1897. The salvage terms were that the company involved received two thousand pounds only if they re-floated her. If they failed, they could buy the wreck for ten pounds. The ship was unsalvageable and the company recovered some of their expenses by making souvenirs from the timber and copper and selling them. Hundreds of different varieties were sold, including medallions, coins, items of furniture and walking sticks.

HMS Trincomalee

HMS Trincomalee was a 38 gun frigate built at Bombay for the British navy. The designer was a Jamsetjee Bomanjee. She was laid down in 1816 and launched in October 1817. Her dimensions were 180’x 40’ and of 1447 tons. She arrived in Britain after the cessation of the Napoleonic war and was immediately placed in ordinary until 1845.

She was then refitted and commissioned into service in 1847 for ten years. She served on the North American and West Indies station, helping to quell riots in Haiti and stop a threatened invasion of Cuba. Her main duties involved being on anti-slavery patrol. In 1849, she was despatched to Newfoundland and Labrador and recalled to Britain in 1850. In 1852 she sailed to join the Pacific Squadron on the west coast of America. On one journey to Alaska she was dressed overall to commemorate the crowning of Tsar Nicholas I. In October 1856, she was ordered home and her active service ceased.

In 1861, she was towed to Sunderland as tender for HMS Castor, a training ship, and was moved to West Hartlepool in 1862. In 1877, she was moved to Southampton as a drill ship. In 1895, she was reduced to reserve and used as a depot ship. She was sold in 1897 for breaking up. With the loss of HMS Foudroyant, she was saved by Mr Wheatley Cobb who purchased the ship as a replacement to the lost vessel. She was renamed Foudroyant to commemorate the lost ship and became a youth training vessel at Falmouth. On his death, the ship was presented to the Society for Nautical Research and towed to Portsmouth as accommodation for HMS Implacable. After World War Two, in which she was used as a store ship, she was demobilised to continue youth training under the auspices of the Foudroyant Trust. In 1986, she was closed as a training ship and the Trust decided to restore her to her original condition and return to her former name of HMS Trincomalee. She was taken to Hartlepool, where the HMS Warrior 1860 had been restored. The restoration has recently been completed and she is now on display in Jackson Dock, Hartlepool as HMS Trincomalee. She is the oldest floating British frigate and the second oldest floating ship in the world.

For more information see the HMS Trincomalee website

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© Royal Naval Museum Library, 2000

The information contained in this information sheet is correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for a bibliography of further reading materials, if available

HMS Trincomalee - Wikipedia › wiki › HMS_Trincomalee
HMS Trincomalee is a Royal Navy Leda-class sailing frigate built shortly after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. She is now restored as a museum ship in Hartlepool, England. Contents. 1 History. 1.1 1812–1847; 1.2 1847–1857; 1.3 TS Foudroyant; 1.4 Later years ... After being ordered on 30 October 1812, Trincomalee was built in Bombay, ...
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Out of service: 1986
Launched: 12 October 1817
Length: 150 ft 4.5 in (45.834 m) (gundeck); 125 ...

HMS Trincomalee

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H.M.S. Trincomalee, Hartlepool Maritime Experience - - 1605077.jpg
Trincomalee in her current location in Hartlepool
 United Kingdom
Name:HMS Trincomalee
Operator:National Museum of the Royal Navy
Ordered:30 October 1812
Builder:Wadia Group
Laid down:25 April 1816
Launched:12 October 1817
Out of service:1986
  • Foudroyant: 1903
  • Trincomalee: 1992
Status:Museum ship, Hartlepool, England
General characteristics
Class and type:Leda-class frigate
Tons burthen:1065.63 bm
  • 150 ft 4.5 in (45.834 m) (gundeck)
  • 125 ft 7.25 in (38.2842 m) (keel)
Beam:39 ft 11.25 in (12.1730 m)
Depth of hold:12 ft 9 in (3.89 m)
Sail plan:Full-rigged ship
Complement:315 officers and men
  • 38-guns: (classed as 46 as carronades were counted in armament from 1817)
    • Gundeck:
      • 28 × 18-pounders
    • Quarterdeck:
      • 14 × 32-pounder carronades
    • Forecastle:

HMS Trincomalee is a Royal Navy Leda-class sailing frigate built shortly after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. She is now restored as a museum ship in Hartlepool, England.



Trincomalee is one of two surviving British frigates of her era—her near-sister HMS Unicorn (of the modified Leda class) is now a museum ship in Dundee. After being ordered on 30 October 1812, Trincomalee was built in Bombay, India, by the Wadia family [1] of shipwrights in teak, due to oak shortages in Britain as a result of shipbuilding drives for the Napoleonic Wars. The ship was named Trincomalee after the 1782 Battle of Trincomalee off the Ceylon (Sri Lanka) port of that name.

Work on the Trincomalee began in May 1816. Ceremonially an engraved silver nail was hammered into the ship's keel by the master shipbuilder Jamsetjee Bomanjee Wadia, this being considered vital for the ship's well-being, according to Parsi Zoroastrian tradition.[2]

With a construction cost of £23,000, Trincomalee was launched on 12 October 1817. Captain Philip Henry sailed her to Portsmouth Dockyard, where she arrived on 30 April 1819, with a journey costing £6,600.[3] During the maiden voyage the ship arrived at Saint Helena on 24 January 1819, where she stayed for 6 days, leaving with an additional passenger, a surgeon who had attended Napoleon at Longwood House on the island, Mr John Stokoe.[4]

After being fitted out at a further cost of £2,400, Trincomalee was placed in reserve until 1845, when she was re-armed with fewer guns giving greater firepower, had her stern reshaped and was reclassified as a sixth-rate spar-decked corvette.[5]


Trincomalee departed from Portsmouth in 1847 and remained in service for ten years, serving on the North American and West Indies station. During her time, she was to help quell riots in Haiti and stop a threatened invasion of Cuba, and serve on anti-slavery patrol. In 1849, she was despatched to Newfoundland and Labrador before being recalled to Britain in 1850. In 1852 she sailed to join the Pacific Squadron on the west coast of America.[6]

TS Foudroyant[edit]

Trincomalee finished her Royal Navy service as a training ship, but was placed in reserve again in 1895 and sold for scrap two years later on 19 May 1897. She was then purchased by entrepreneur George Wheatley Cobb, restored, and renamed Foudroyant in honour of HMS Foudroyant, his earlier ship that had been wrecked in 1897.[7]

She was used in conjunction with HMS Implacable as an accommodation ship, a training ship, and a holiday ship based in Falmouth then Portsmouth. She remained in service until 1986, after which she was again restored and renamed back to Trincomalee in 1992.[8]

Later years[edit]

HMS Trincomalee, stern quarter

Now listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, following her recent restoration Trincomalee has become the centrepiece of the National Museum of the Royal Navy based in Hartlepool.

Trincomalee holds the distinction of being the oldest British warship still afloat[9] as HMS Victory, although 52 years her senior, is in dry dock.

Until his death in 1929, the Falmouth-based painter Henry Scott Tuke used the ship and its trainees as subject matter.[citation needed]


See also[edit]


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12 October

12 October

Today in Gosport’s Past:- on 12 October 1817, HMS “Trincomalee” was launched in the Wadia Shipyards, Bombay, India. After completion, she sailed to Portsmouth, arriving on 30 April 1819. £2,400 was spent on fitting out, then the ship was placed ‘in ordinary’, meaning the masts were removed, and the deck was roofed over until such time as she was required.

In 1829 she was

TS "Foudroyant" at Gosport.
TS “Foudroyant” at Gosport.

recoppered below the waterline to prevent damage; this was repeared in 1845, at which time some alterations were made to the stern, and the number of guns was reduced, although these were more powerful.

On 21 September 1847, HMS “Trincomalee” was finally commissioned for the first time since her launching 30 years previous. After a fairly colourful naval career of 10 years, “Trincomalee” returned to Chatham on 5 September 1857, and was soon demasted, and once again placed ‘in ordinary’.

In January 1861, the ship was towed to Sunderland to act as a tender for the drill ship HMS “Castor”, seeing use for the first time as a training ship. In 1862, she was moved to West Hartlepool, and used there as a training ship until January 1873, but had been re-gunned and roofed over in April 1870.

Recommissioned in January 1873, and taken to Southampton Water for use as a drill ship. After being fitted with a new top deck and galley in 1881, she was replaced by HMS “Medea” taking over the role in 1895, and ‘reduced to reserve’, and it was proposed to use her as a depot ship; however, this never happened, and she was sold for scrap in May 1897 to J Read, in

TS (formerly HMS) "Foudroyant" wrecked on the beach at Blackpool in June 1897.
TS (formerly HMS) “Foudroyant” wrecked on the beach at Blackpool in June 1897.

TS (formerly HMS) “Foudroyant” wrecked on the beach at Blackpool in June 1897.
Portsmouth. This is where fate takes a hand, and Gosport starts to feature vaguely in the ship’s history.
Since 1862, HMS “Foudroyant” (launched 1798) had been in use as a gunnery training ship at Devonport (Plymouth), and was sold for scrap to the same J Read in Portsmouth in January 1892, thence to a German shipbreakers.

Due to a public fuss, Wheatley Cobb immediately purchased “Foudroyant” for use as a training ship again. To offset the £20,000 cost of refitting etc, the ship was exhibited at a number of British seaside resorts, and on 16 June 1897, at Blackpool, bad weather proceeded to wreck the ship, which ended up on Blackpool beach, after first damaging the North Pier.

It just so happens that “Trincomalee” was still in the same scrapyard, and Wheatley Cobb jumped at the chance to replace “Foudroyant”, and rescued “Trincomalee”, which was taken to Cowes, fitted with a new poop deck, and moved to Falmouth in 1902, and repainted.

In 1903 she was renamed TS “Foudroyant” after the training ship she had replaced, and remained in the role at Falmouth until 1927, when she was moved to Milford Haven. In 1932, Wheatley Cobb died, and his widow donated the ship to.the Society for Nautical Research, who moved both TS “Foudroyant” and HMS/TS “Implacable” to Gosport in 1932.

The two ships were moored stem to stern near Hardway(as far as I can tell) as training ships, and were used as stores during the early years of WW2; both were recommissioned in 1943 as a single unit – HMS “Foudroyant”.

After the war, both resumed their training function, but in December 1949, despite a public outcry, “Implacable” was towed out to sea near Ventnor on 2 December 1949, and blown up.

“Implacable” was Britain’s oldest floating warship at the time, having been captured from the French a week after the battle of Trafalgar. TS “Foudroyant” continued as a training ship off Haslar, then off Rat Island, until 1987, when she was transported by ship to Hartlepool, where full restoration begain in 1990, and renamed HMS “Trincomalee” in 1992.

She is still afloat (the second oldest ship afloat in the world), although rather a prisoner, considered far too valuable to be exposed to sea conditions. Only the USS “Constitution” is older and still floats, and “Trincomalee” looks splendid nowadays, just not in Gosport…. Credits to original photographers.

Last week I took a trip to Hartlepool to see what the shipwrights up there had done to what was the Foudroyant.
As most of you will know, the Foudroyant was moored up in Portsmouth Harbour for years and was used to train youngsters in the way of the sea.
Launched in Bombay, India in October 1817s the HMS Trincomalee, the ship cost £23,000 to build and was sailed to Ports mouth Dockyard, arriving on April 30, 1819. The long journey cost the equivalent of £6,600 and the ship was eventually put into reserve until 1845.
She later did stirling work in the Americas in an anti-slavery role and also served in the Pacific.
Sold for scrap in 1897, she was saved by George Cobb who renamed her Foudroyant after a former ship that was lost in 1897.

After her first rescue from the scrappers she was then used as a training and holiday ship based in Falmouth and then Portsmouth.
Eventually she became a little too tired and, being considered a potential liability, was taken out of service in 1986.
A trust was formed to save the historic old ship once more, led in part by Reg Betts, the then defence correspondent of The News, which aimed to preserve the ship and bring her back to her former glory. 

This was accomplished and now she is technically the oldest ship afloat because the HMS Victory still lies in dry dock.
All I can say is fantastic. As you know, the men of the town took over the ship and rebuilt her. From talking to the locals, I know they were not best pleased to lose her after all the work they did.
I must admit that walking around the ship was a joy. She has a ‘lived in’ feel about her, unlike the Victory which is a little too clinical and smart I feel.
There are men in hammocks and a cook in the galley (all mannequins of course) but they are all very lifelike.
I know it is a long way to travel, but if you are ever on holiday up that way do go and have a visit. You will not regret it. I will include a couple more photographs of the ship on Monday.

Appeal to trace HMS Trincomalee's missing history - BBC News › news › uk-england-tees-35743265
Mar 11, 2016 — HMS Trincomalee - built in India in 1817 - is berthed at Hartlepool's ... She was renamed Foudroyant in tribute to his own ship which had been ... image captionHMS Trincomalee was built for the Admiralty in Bombay and ...

TRINC Boys receiving rigging pre instructionimage copyrightTeesside University library archives
image captionDr Ben Roberts wants to trace trainees from across the country who spent time on the vessel

A missing piece in the history of the world's oldest afloat warship is the subject of a new appeal.

HMS Trincomalee - built in India in 1817 - is berthed at Hartlepool's Maritime Experience where it has been a tourist attraction for nearly 30 years.

A historian from Teesside University now wants to uncover a missing part of the warship's past when it operated as the training ship, Foudroyant.

It is hoped people's stories and memories will "bring its past to life".TRINC exterior shipimage copyrightTeesside University library archives

image captionTeesside University library archives have a collection of Trincomalee photos but where they originated from is unknown

Industrialist Geoffrey Wheatley Cobb bought Trincomalee in 1897 and converted it for training use.

She was renamed Foudroyant in tribute to his own ship which had been wrecked in a storm off Blackpool that same year.

Academic Dr Ben Roberts has uncovered the ships' factual history but now hopes to trace trainees who were sent from across the country to spend time on the vessel between the early 1900s and the mid-1980s.

HMS Trincomaleeimage copyrightHMS Trincomalee
image captionThe vessel will celebrate her bicentenary in 2017

He said: "While we know much about the ship's early days and also its restoration, we know little about the people who spent time as trainees on her during the 90-year period when she was known as TS Foudroyant.

"We have information from ships' logs and other archival details, but I now need people to tell their stories to bring the information from the archives to life.

"Their stories will provide a missing piece of the ship's history. There are many photographs from that time too, but no names to go with them."

TRINC Teaching the young ideaimage copyrightTeesside University library archives
image captionIt is hoped people will come forward with personal memories, or stories passed down from relatives of those who spent time on TS Foudroyant

The vessel spent its time in Falmouth, Milford Haven and Portsmouth, remaining in service until 1986.

The ship was brought to Hartlepool in 1987, where it took more than 10 years to restore. It reverted to the original Trincomalee name in 1992.

The research is being carried out in conjunction with the HMS Trincomalee Trust.

TRINC ship and rowing boatimage copyrightTeesside University library archives
image captionHMS Trincomalee was built for the Admiralty in Bombay and served in the West Indies and the Pacific

 HMS Trincomalee 1817 - The Classic British Frigate
    HMS Trincomalee - A Maritime Attraction HMS Trincomalee - the Historic Vessel Virtual Trincomalee Hiring HMS Trincomalee HMS Trincomalee 1817 - the ...
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    Jackson Dock, Maritime Ave, Hartlepool, Cleveland TS24 OXZ, United Kingdom
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  2. HMS Trincomalee - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    HMS Trincomalee is a Royal Navy Leda-class sailing frigate built shortly following the end of the Napoleonic Wars. She is now restored as a museum ship in ...
  3. HMS Trincomalee at Hartlepool's Maritime Experience - Maritime ...
    HMS Trincomalee is the oldest British warship still afloat and Hartlepool is proud to have it! With its towering structure and thundering cannons, is a perfect ...
  4. "HMS Trincomalee", A Nelson era Frigate of the Leda class ...
    Sep 10, 2012 - Uploaded by Kevin Kilpatrick
    Hartlepools Historic Quay and Museum, is an enclosed area, with shops, barracks and workshops, laid out as ...

  1. Wadia family - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    ... for building docks and ships in Bombay (present-day Mumbai). Although the Wadia's would eventually come to be considered a Bombay family, many of them ...
  2. Wadia Group - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The one ship that the Wadias built and of most historic significance for Parsis is the HMS Minden. The Bombay ... The Wadia group now consists of three independently listed companies on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). ... Wadia

When HMS Trincomalee was “Foudroyant” - Teesside ... › files
2 After her launch in Bombay in. 1817, she was initially placed in reserve by the Royal Navy, before finally seeing service in the Atlantic and Mediterranean ...

TK001 The History of HMS Trincomalee 1812 to 1986 › onewebmedia › TK0...
Bombay was chosen for the building of HMS Trincomalee, and the original plans for the ... However the accidental wrecking of another ship, HMS Foudroyant,.

"Launch of the 'Meanee', 80 guns, at Bombay," from the Illustrated London News, 1849

British colonialists deliberately snuffed out all Indian industries including ship building  .when as a small child in India i can remember my pencils for school was from Britain,the pen i used with ink was from Britain even the pins and safety pins i used were from Britain

so looting India was direct and indirect