Posted on: 17 April 2014

Digital Rare Book:
Glimpses of old Bombay and western India, with other papers
By James Douglas
Published by Sampson Low, Marston & Co., London - 1900

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'The Bazar Gate and Part of the Town of Bombay taken from the Esplanade' - 1820

Water-colour painting of the Bazar Gate and part of the town of Mumbai (Bombay) by Thomas Cussans (1796-1870). Cussans served in the Madras artillery in 1814, then the Horse Brigade from 1817 to 1829. This is one of 19 drawings (22 folios) of scenes in Mumbai and the south of India together with a few miscellaneous sketches taken between 1817 and c.1822. Inscribed on the cover of the album is: 'Thos Cussans Lt. Madras Artillery. Janry 1817'; and on the title page: 'Thos Cussans, July 30th, 1817'

Originally, Mumbai was composed of seven islands separated by a marshy swamp. Its deep natural harbour led the Portuguese settlers of the 16th Century to call it Bom Bahia (the Good Bay). The British Crown acquired the islands in 1661when Catherine of Braganza married Charles II, as part of her marriage dowry. It was then presented to the East India Company in 1668. The second governor, Gerald Aungier, developed Bombay into a trading port and centre for commerce and inducements were offered to skilled workers and traders to move here. European merchants and shipbuilders from western India were encouraged to settle here and Mumbai soon became a bustling cosmopolitan town.

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Wow, hard to believe it ever looked like that!