Dec 26, 2008

Bombay Dockyard - 272 years old

Bombay was given as dowry by the Portuguese to King Charles II of England when he married Princess Catherine in 1662. Then Portuguese viceroy of Goa was opposed to this. He had written 'I foresee that India will be lost the same day on which the English nation is settled in Bombay'. British shifted their capital from Surat to Bombay in 1686 and Bombay became the naval fortress from which Britain went ahead to build a vast colonial empire.

Lowjee Nusserwanjee Wadia was brought from Surat to Bombay in March 1736 along with his 10 carpenters. Lowjee became the master builder in 1740 and this post remained with his descendants till 1884 when the dockyard was transferred from Bombay government to Indian Government under British rule. 

In 1772, shipbuilding with British oak was restricted to protect oak forests as well as due to superiority of teak over oak. Teak was not disposed to splinter as well it did not corrode iron. This brought on golden age of Bombay shipbuilding.

One of ships built in Bombay in year 1813 was HMS Cornwallis. This is the ship on which historic treaty of Nanking, ceding Hong Kong to the British was signed. HMS Trincomalee (1817) is the oldest British ship afloat was built with Malabar teak in Bombay Dockyard.

Indian nationals in Mumbai can participate in a heritage walk to examine glorious history of these yards that are 270+ years old. Heritage walk is conducted on the first Sunday of every month. For details, call 91-222-265-5750.

Here's also a stamp issued on the 250th anniversary of the dockyards in 1986. When built, Bombay Dock was the first dry dock built in Asia.

Current dockyard is spread over 138 acres of land.