Madras Plate 49
Artist: Simpson, William (1823-1899)
This chromolithograph is taken from plate 49 of William Simpson's 'India: Ancient and Modern'. Madras (Chennai) was at this time a group of fishing villages, and the site in 1639 of one of the earliest East India Company settlements. It developed rapidly into a flourishing port and the centre of a major British administrative zone, the Madras Presidency. The print shows the line of customs and port authority buildings north of Fort St George on the beach. Before the contstruction of an artificial harbour in the late 19th century, goods and passengers would land directly on the beach, carried through the high-running surf by 'masula' boats: non-rigid craft made of planks lashed together with coir ropes. The climate in Madras was cooler than Calcutta, due to a refreshing sea breeze, and the lifestyle was more relaxed.