Chennai Port Trust – 125 years old

Today the Chennai Port is celebrating the 125th year of its formation. The port has a colourful history behind it. Till 1800s, there was no harbour or port in Madras. Ships used to stay in the high seas and the cargo and passengers had to get into boats to disembark in Madras. The Madras Chamber of Commerce lobbied hard for the construction of a Harbour in Madras for development of business.

Madras Harbour when the Piers were buing built – Src = The building in the background is the Collector’s Office and Customs House.

Madras Harbour as seen in 1858

The initial piers were built in 1861, but the storms of 1868 and 1872 made them inoperative. So the Masonry work for L shaped breakwaters was started in 1876, but the storm of 1881 completely washed the almost completed harbour. The Chennai Port Trust has taken the year of rebuilding 1881 as the starting year and is now celebrating its 125th anniversary. (Source – S.Muthiah)

It was under the stewardship of Sir Francis Spring from 1905-1919 that the major improvements took place. It can be said without doubt that the Madras Port was the main reason for the booming industry in Madras and contributed in no small measure to the development of the City. Sir Francis Spring is more famous (atleast in Google Searches) for the special appointment he got for a clerk in the Port Trust – a University drop out who got the job based on the theorems he had written down in a notebook – S. Ramanujan.

4 Comments so far

  1. Navneeth (unregistered) on December 21st, 2006 @ 7:43 pm

    You might also find another(Indian) name associated with the Port and Ramanujan – you can certainly find that in the biographies. That is my great-grandfather’s. :)

    More info can be found in the article from The Hindu:

  2. Chenthil (unregistered) on December 21st, 2006 @ 9:15 pm

    Navneeth, no need for me to check the link. Is S. Narayana Iyer, then Chief Accountant of Madras Port Trust, your Great Grandfather? Then your family can legitimately claim a stake in bringing to light the genius of Ramanujan.

  3. Navneeth (unregistered) on December 21st, 2006 @ 11:20 pm

    That’s right. In fact, the author(s?) of the Ramanujan biographies have visited our house before. I think it was Robert Kaniegal, although I’m not sure about Bruce Berndt. I didn’t get to meet them, though.

    My grandfather’s name is also mentioned in the article – M.S.Venkataraman.

  4. Anand Kumar (unregistered) on December 27th, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

    Official Website of Shri Srinivasa Ragavaswamy charitable Trust in South India working towards constructing a temple for Sri Srinivasa Perumal (balaji) with Raja Gopuram which is named as Kovai Thiruppathy.

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