[View of the screw-pile pier under construction at Madras.] 2411
Photograph of the screw-pile pier at Madras (Chennai), Tamil Nadu, taken by an unknown photographer in c.1861. This is a view from the Screw Pile Pier Works on the foreshore looking straight along the pier towards the roadstead where ships are at anchor. Madras was one of India’s main ports and handled high volumes of import and export trade with Britain and other parts of the world. However it had no natural harbour and passengers and cargo had to be ferried to land through continuous surf using special local craft. This disadvantage was met by the construction of the pier, which extends seawards from the Customs House. Designed by Frederick Johnson, it was begun in 1858 and opened to the public in January 1862. The construction of a harbour was subsequently begun in 1875. In 1879 two parallel masonry breakwaters were created, enclosing the pier to the north and south. Work on the harbour was completed in 1896.