Madras. The Beach
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the beach at Madras (Chennai), Tamil Nadu, taken by an unknown photographer during the 1880s, from an album of 62 views of India and Ceylon. Madras, the fourth largest city in India and capital of Tamil Nadu, lies on the Bay of Bengal and has a long shoreline stretching to 12 miles. The port of Madras ( the site originally of fishing villages) was founded by the English East India Company in 1639 and it became the most important city in South India by the 18th century. Under the British empire it was the capital of the Madras Presidency, comprising most of south India. In the 19th century as one of India’s major ports it handled high volumes of import and export trade with Britain and other parts of the world. The foreground of this view shows a great variety of cargo which has been unloaded onto the beach, including ordnance and timber. The view looks south along the beach and was taken from the screw-pile pier which runs out seaward from the Custom House. Opened in 1862, the pier was later enclosed by two breakwaters to the north and south to create a harbour.