Sandy Pearson

We are indebted to Sandy Pearson for his help in bringing some of the Duncan Bros
and Goodricke history to the koi-hai website for others to enjoy

Please click on the headline to go to the story

An Interesting piece of History

Windermere hotel

The Story of Tea

The Duncan Group

Doloo and Gargunda

The Milk Thief

National Highways Development Project


November 22, 2016

Sandy Pearson tells me---  have just been reading that Duncans are to open up seven of the gardens that they closed starting with Birpara later this month.

October 28 2010

An interesting piece of History

Sandy Pearson received the following from his friend Anant, the owner of the Doloo Tea company in Sylhet



Dear Anant


Thanks for getting in touch.


I mentioned Doloo Tea in my book on Conan Doyle which was published in Britain and the United States two years ago. You can buy it on Amazon if you want. If you have problems, please let me know


Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was an investor in Doloo Tea. The connection was his wife's family, called Leckie, who had interests in the tea business in India. Again I can give you further information if you want.


I shall be in India, talking about Conan Doyle, at the Jaipur Literature Festival in January. Perhaps you could come along


with best wishes

Andrew Lycett


November 16 2006

Sandy Pearson forwarded the pages from the Telegraph Magazine to the Editor who is pleased to show it on and we feel sure that a lot of our readers will enjoy the feature--Thank you Sandy

Imperial Echoes
Windermere Hotel Darjeeling
Returning to the Windermere Hotel in Darjeeling after 25 years the photographer Martin Parr is delighted to find it still redolent of long-gone days of the Raj. 
Emma Hagestadt writes for the Telegraph Magazine

Darjeeling Windermere Hotel

Martin Parr first stayed at the Windamere Hotel in Darjeeling 25 years ago.  After revisiting the hotel and the nearby Tea Planters Club to capture the last vestiges of Anglo-India, he is happy to report that nothing much has changed.  ‘It's really how you imagine a hotel in the 1930s,' he says, brandishing a picture of the hotel's parlour complete with fringed lampshades, Axminster carpets and a framed portrait of the Queen.  In a hill station originally built to look like the suburbs of Guildford, it's easy to see why this Surrey-born documentarist might feel at home. 

Perched just below the summit of Observatory Hill, the hotel's primrose-yellow bungalows look out over deeply shelving tea plantations and sub-tropical valleys.  Originally a boarding house for English tea planters, it was turned into an Edwardian-style hotel in 1939.  Now owned by the Tenduf-la family, a quixotic clan with links to Tibet and Sikkim, it is patronised, Parr says, largely by ‘tourists and wealthy Calcuttans.'

The Windermere Hotel lounge

The Planters Club Library

The Windermere Hotel's dining room

Parr has long been preoccupied with Englishness.  Although he thinks of himself as a romantic, his photographs immortalizing Tory summer fetes and Scarborough sun-worshippeers often suggest mockery rather than affection.  Steeped in nostalgia, both the Windamere Hotel and the club have preserved the rituals of another age-an excellent thing, insists Parr, who would prefer to have everything ‘as it was in 1950.'

The trials of eating in public - from seafront fish and chips to cricket teas - is a recurring theme in Parr's work.  The Windamere's retro dining arrangements fill his with schoolboy glee.  Breakfast is served in a turret-shaped room with views of the mist-shrouded Himalayas.  Porridge, bacon and ‘rumble tumble' eggs are wheeled in by waiters decked out in white frock-shirts and Lepcha caps.  Raj favourites such as mutton hash, devilled kidneys and Madras fritters (ham and chutney sandwiches battered and deep-fried) may have been replaced by pancakes and rosemary and raisin muffins but the toast remains reassuringly leathery and the coffee lukewarm.

The lunch time gong is sounded every day at 1pm precisely and at 4pm


Everything stops for tea The Hot water bottle wallah warms the beds

English influence in the Windermere's grounds

with colourful plates and food

The bar at the Windermere

At every meal guests are offered both ‘international' and Indian dishes, which means new arrivals often end up with shepherd's pie, butter naan and egg curry on the same plate.  ‘Look at the gravy!' Parr enthuses, pointing out a shot of a marooned slice of Yorkshire pudding.

There is still the comforting din of the one o'clock lunch gong and on Sundays roast beef and plain vegetables are on the menu, as is jam roly-poly and custard - a clubroom favourite whose super-saturated colours scream out for Parr's appreciative lens.  At the stroke of four, weary trekkers and visiting deputy high commissioners settle on the veranda for tea:  a nursery feast of cucumber finger sandwiches, scones, fruit cake and, of course, a pot of Darjeeling.

The unabashed decoration at the tea planter's Club

One thing doesn't go down well with Americans - the lack of central heating.  ‘There's a hot-water bottle wallah,' Parr chortles, tripping over his w's ‘and a fire-lighting wallah.'  The bedroom fires are lit at 6 pm and hot-water bottles are slipped under the chintz quilts during dinner.

Furnished with twin beds and miniature memsahib dressing-tables, the sparsely decorated rooms are not designed with tantric canoodlers in mind.  The bar is open for post-prandial nightcaps but guests generally opt for an early night.  Signs in the ‘Snuggery' remind them not to ‘lie supine on the hearth or sleep behind the settee.'

Traditional teatime fare at the hotel

Inscrutable an interviewee though Parr can be, his enjoyment of the Windamere Hotel seems entirely genuine.  ‘It's very pleasant,' he says, sounding every inch the Home counties gent.  ‘Don't you just want to

Retro promotional knick-knacks
adorn the hotel bar

The menu board broadcasts the available delights

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October 2 2006

We are indebted to Sandy Pearson for locating this pamphlet on the origins of Tea. It was created by Osbert Lancaster and is no longer in copyright

It is an  interesting and fun read --Thank you Sandy


The origin of tea is a subject which, like the date of Stonehenge and the whereabouts of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, has given rise to much profound speculation and has be productive of a multitude of theories no less dogmatic than surprising. By the Chinese it is confidently asserted that the year 2737 B.C. the Emperor Shen-Nung, a potentate remarkable at that date for an abiding interest in hygiene, was one day boiling his drinking water, a sanitary precaution that he never tired of commending to the notice of his subjects, when a few leaves from the branches that were crackling beneath the pot fell into the water imparting to it a delicate and exquisite aroma. Subsequent investigation revealed that the branches were those of the wild tea-plant.

Patriotic Indians, on the other hand, maintain that the discovery of tea must be ascribed to the saintly Darma, a Buddhist worthy who flourished early in the Christian era and, from motives of piety, devoted seven years of his life to sleepless contemplation of the Buddha. At the beginning of the fifth year he was assailed by not unnatural drowsiness, but in his dire extremity was so fortunate as carelessly to pluck a few leaves from a near-by bush which he started to chew. Needless to say these proved to be those of the tea plant, which immedi­ately produced so revivifying an effect that all trace of drowsi­ness vanished and with their help he was enabled to accomplish the two remaining years of his self-imposed vigil.

                    Darma or Dharuma, by Soami.

The Japanese, while accepting this story in outline, differ nevertheless in detail, and in their version a new and characteristically Macabre note is introduced
       When the pious Darma felt sleep approaching there was no stimulating tea plant, so they maintain, at hand or for that matter in existence, and the only way in which the saint could keep awakewas by adopting the somewhat drastic expedient of cutting off his eyelids. These he tossed carelessly aside and immediately much to his astonishment, there sprang up two handsome bushes which proved, surprisingly enough to be tea plants.   Whichever of these theories one may feel inclined to accept it is nevertheless an established fact that the drinking of tea is a habit that first evolved among the Chinese.  The earliest reference to tea in the literature of that country occurs in a scholarly work by one Kuo P'o who flourished in the fourth century of our era.  A hundred years later the custom seems to have become general in the province of Szechuan, and by the middle of the 8th century to have become so widespread that the tea industry had assumed a position of considerable economic importance.
     In the year 780, in order that the habit might become even more popular, the tea merchants of China decided that it would prove a profitable investment to commission some prominent writer to produce a work extolling the merits and extending the knowledge of this wholesome beverage. Accordingly they secured the services of Lu-Yu, a well known litterateure of the period, who wrote a book under the title  Cha Ching in which the whole subject of tea was exhaustively dealt with and for which his backers spared no effort to procure a wide circulation. The work immediately achieved an enormous success, which obtained for its author the friendship of the Emperor and numerous social advantages.
     Some thirty years after the publication of Cha Ching another Buddhist saint, Dengyo Daishi, brought seeds of the tea plant to Japan, and in a short time the Japanese had adopted the custom of tea-drinking with an even greater enthusiasm than the nation which had first developed it. In the year 815the Emperor Saga issued an imperial edict commanding the cultivation of tea in five provinces and appropriating a large annual tribute for the consumption of the Imperial Household. Soon the Japanese had surrounded the whole business of tea-drinking with the elaborate web of ceremony and ritual so characteristic of this nation.
     At first , both in China and Japan, tea had been valued for it's medicinal rather than it's social or gastronomic virtues, but by the time that the first travellers from the west penetrated into the Far East it had long become the national beverage of both countries.  The first European to bring tea to the notice of the Western world was the learned Giambattista Ramusio, who edited the many works of travel , among them being an account of his experiences in China by a Persian merchant, Hajji Mahomet  by name,which included in a volume entitled  Navigatione et Viaggi published in venice in 1559. In this work the intrepid Persian gives along account of tea, it's cultivationand brewing, and seems, like it's first discoverers, to have been chiefly struck by its medicinal properties, which he compares very favourably with those of Rhubarb.
     However, the distinction of being the first European to mention tea was only secured to Signor Ramusio by an exceedingly short head, for, in the very next year, 1560 an enterprising Portugese, Father Gaspar de Cruz, to whom belongs the honour of first preaching Catholic as opposed to Nestorian Christianity to the inhabitants of China, published ans account of his missionary activities in which he devotes a paragraph to tea.   A little later another missionary, Father Almeida, gave his countrymen an account of tea as it is drunk by the Chinese, and in 1589 a learned Venetian Giovanni Botero devoted considerable space to a discussion of the beauties of tea in a work entitled, rather surprisingly, On the Causes of Greatness in Cities  Our own countrymenwere forced to remain in ignorance of the existence of tea, unless of course they could read Italian or Portugese, until 1598, when there appeared in Londonthe translation of a Dutch work by that daring navigator Jan Hugo van Linschooten in which he provides a long and detailed description of the custom of tea-drinking, carefully differentiating between the manner
favoured by the Chinese and that in vogue in Japan. Between the first mention of tea in European literature and its first actual appearance in the West there elapsed a period of some fifty years.            Although it is not absolutely certain, the first consignment of tea ever to arrive in Europe is generally thought to have reached Holland in 1610 ; it was transported from Macao to Java and thence transhipped to Europe. For many years to come such tea as was imported by sea was carried by the Dutch ; but in 1618 the first tea caravan from China reached Russia by the overland route.

    In Holland the custom of tea-drinking soon spread with a remarkable rapidity that was partially accounted for by the high repute in which the traditionally costive Dutch held its supposedly laxative qualities. In England, curiously enough, the habit took much longer to establish itself and it was not until 1657, when a certain London coffee-house proprietor, Thomas Garraway, issued a broadside extolling its virtues and announcing that henceforth it would always be obtainable at his establishment, that it can be said to have emerged from the fashionable curiosity stage. It was still regarded as a panacea for every conceivable ill and the list of complaints which Mr. Garraway affirmed that it would instantly cure, or at least relieve, far out-numbered the few simple maladies that the sceptical Dutch had claimed it would remedy. In 1660 Samuel Pepys records his first cup and soon afterwards it achieved great popularity in Court circles, into which it had been introduced by Catharine of Braganza, who had brought the habit with her from Portugal, where it was already well established among the nobility and gentry.
      From this time forth references to tea-drinking occur in almost every European language with increasing frequency. In France it had provoked the most acrid controversy in medical circles as early as 1650, but nevertheless soon attained to a degree of popularity that it has never since
enjoyed. Mme. de Sevign6, writing in 1680, informs us that Mme. de la Sabliere was the first person to take her tea with milk, and among other distinguished French tea-drinkers of the period were Cardinal Mazarin, who took it for his gout, and the dramatist Racine. In 1679 there appeared a work on tea, by the learned Dr. Bontekoe of Alkmaar, which enjoyed an enormous circula­tion and probably did more than almost anything else to popularize tea as a beverage in Western Europe.
    At first the demand which all this propaganda had cleverly created tended to exceed the supply, and in 1666 two noble Lords, Ossory and Arlington, made a handsome profit from.
a quantity of tea which they imported from Amsterdam and distributed among their friends (a historic transaction that proves, among other things, that the stigma attaching to `trade' was the invention of a much later epoch), which was not perhaps surprising as, although the price in Amsterdam was only 3s. 4d. a lb., it sold in London at £2 18s. 4d. It was not until 1681 that the East India Company gave a standing order to its agents in the East for a supply of tea, and not '  until 1689 that they imported direct from Amoy. As a result of this sudden display of enterprise the market was at one moment almost flooded, but it soon recovered and the price remained about
12s. to 13s. a lb. until the end of the century.
      The 18th century saw the firm establishment of tea as a national beverage among all classes of the community. Never­theless there were some who still regarded it as an unmitigated evil to be resolutely and constantly opposed, both on medical and social grounds. One of the first and most prominent of these was Lord President Forbes, who was anxious that a law should be passed confining the use of tea to the upper classes in that, like so many other simple pleasures, it was notoriously a powerful agent for the demoralization of the working man. This opinion was shared by no less a person than John Wesley, who roundly condemned the pernicious beverage on moral and religious grounds. However, the fact that he left behind a half-gallon tea-pot, which still survives, inscribed with a suitably evangelical invocation to the Deity, tempts one to think that the great preacher may perhaps have shown a certain lack of constancy in his disapproval
         But the most famous of all attacks on tea was that published by the well-known  traveller  Jonas Hanway who branded it `as pernicious to health, obstructing  industry and impoverishing the nation' ; famous, not because it contained any stones    that

had not previously been thrown, nor for any particular literary graces, but solely because it roused the ire and provoked the intervention of the most justly celebrated of all tea-drinkers. Goaded by these puny attacks on his favourite beverage the portentous figure of the Great Cham himself rolls majestically into action. In a series of shattering broadsides in the Literary Magazine Dr. Johnson utterly demolished the absurd preten­sions of Mr. Hanway and proudly ran up his flag as the un­swerving addict and champion of tea. "A hardened and shameless tea-drinker who has for many years diluted his mea's with only the infusion of this fascinating plant ; whose kettle has scarcely time to cool ; who with tea amuses the evening,

With tea solaces the midnight---and with tea welcomes the morning"
    Although he was never again called upon to defend the cause of tea-drinking with his pen Dr Johnson never ceased, until his dying day to promote it by his example.
     While Dr Johnson was remarkable among tea-drinkers of all time for the actual quantities he consumed , his fondness for the beverage was in no way exceptional among his contemporaries. By the middle of the 18th century the habit had

At that time, it is calculated, more than half, some say as much as two-thirds, of all the tea consumed in England was smuggled. All round the coast of Britain, but more particularly in Cornwall, Dorset and Kent, an elaborate system of revenue evasion had been established. Dutch merchantmen lying off the coast were surrounded by a crowd of smaller vessels that had put off from the shore and their cargoes were rapidly transferred by night to a hundred different bays and inlets. British-owned luggers and cutters made regular voyages from various continental ports to numberless secluded coves in the West Country. Large and convenient caves, cleverly ventilated and connected with little-used lanes by the most ingenious systems of underground passages and tunnels, were employed as storehouses whence the tea (as well as brandy, tobacco and silk) was conveyed all over the country by well-organized caravans of ponies and carts.

So profitable was the job of carter that in certain parts of the country a real shortage of agricultural labourers resulted. In vain did the Government employ all the paraphernalia of excisemen, revenue cutters and ferocious penalties in their effort to stamp out this illegal traffic ; the whole community combined to make the attainment of such an aim impossible.

So virtuous, so generally respected and so wealthy a figure as the celebrated Mrs. Montagu, Queen of the Blues, did not hesitate to concoct elaborate plots whereby her friends and acquaintances visiting Paris might elude the vigilance of the customs officials and save her a pound or two by bringing over supplies of tea and silk. In many churches all over the country the crypts were found to be convenient places in which to store contraband, and few indeed were the parsons who hesitated to place them at the disposal of ` the Gentlemen.' Even the members of the Board of Trade themselves, as Horace Walpole took considerable pleasure in pointing out, were ` wallowing in contraband wine, tea and silk handker­chiefs.'

No taint of criminality attached to those engaged in the traffic, and when. from time to time a smuggler fell a victim to the guns of the revenue officers he was popularly regarded as a brave martyr brutally butchered. The epitaph on the tomb of one of the celebrated ` moonrakers,' as they were called, who was shot by the customs men in flagrante delicto, well exemplifies the general view of such tragedies :­

A little tea ; one leaf I did not steal 
For guiltless bloodshed I to God appeal. 
Put tea in one scale, human blood in Cother, 
And think what 'tis to slay a harmless brother.

Distressing as was this aspect of the East India Company's monopoly, it could not compare in the gravity of its effect with another. This is not the place to inquire into the complicated reasons for the War of Independence, but it may safely be

The great auction room at East  India house, where all tea sales took place 
2until the abolition of the Company's monopoly by Parliament in 1831

stated that tea was, if not one of the most important causes of that conflict, at any rate the spark which finally produced the conflagration. In 1765 the unfortunate Stamp Act was passed which aroused burning resentment among the colonials and had the immediate effect of transferring half the trade with America into the hands of the Dutch ; a development which affected no one more adversely than the East India Company. In order to recapture their lost market the Directors evolved a scheme whereby the Company was to be given the right to export tea to America direct, thus cutting out both the London exporter and the American importer, which (together with a duty of 3d. a lb.) they prevailed upon Parliament to accept in 1773


Up till this time the Americans had been no less oug ty tea-drinkers than the English, but now with one accord they resolved to deny themselves the pleasure of their favourite beverage in the interests of patriotism and to boycott a drink which reached them under such humiliating conditions. In December of the same year the first three tea ships arrived at Boston from England and were allowed to unload all their cargo save the tea ; but as the harbour authorities would not allow the ships to leave until they had unloaded all their cargo the unfortunate captains were in a sad dilemma that was, however, forcibly resolved on the night of the sixteenth. As soon as darkness fell a large band of youths and men who, from a national weakness for dressing up in outlandish finery had been led to disguise themselves as Red Indians, descended upon the three ships and straightway emptied the contents of the holds into the water.

Neither the news of these shocking events, nor the resentment felt by the English exporters for the East India Company, in any way affected the habit of tea-drinking among the English. In every walk of life the ` diffusion of this fragrant leaf' gained an increasing number of adherents. King George himself much enjoyed his cup of tea and frequently condes­cended to take it in the company of various suitable persons in the neighbourhood of Windsor. It is not, however, recorded that any of his sons displayed any undue enthusiasm for this healthful and ,stimulating beverage. Such redoubtable figures as Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Delany, Mrs. Chapone and Miss Anna Seward, the Swan of Lichfield, were all notable tea-drinkers, and among the literary lions of the day both Cowper and Pope sung the delights of tea. The latter's best-known reference is, it is true, incidental to his description of Queen Anne, published much earlier in the century, who ` sometimes counsel takes and sometimes tea,' but Cowper constantly praised it both in prose and verse.

With this increase in popularity tea-drinking was now surrounded by a ritual less pompous but no less binding than that prevailing in Japan, and on the decoration of the various symbols of the mystery was lavished anenormous amount of art and skill. The tea-pot, when it was not silver, was frequently a triumph of the potter's craft, at that time passing through its most flourishing period ; nor werethe cups, the sugar-tongs and the caddies any whit inferior in design and elaboration. Rich noblemen even went so far as to employ special function­aries, to superintend the infusion of their evening tea, who went by the name of 'tea-blenders' As they were almost invariably young women of considerable beauty, one is tempted to assume that they were occasionally called upon to undertake other dutiesno less enjoyable if perhaps less innocent than that of presiding over their masters tea table; an assumption which the fact that the lovely Emma hamiltonbegan her career as a tea-blender does little to disprove.

But it was not only among the nobility that tea-drinking had now become a daily rite ; in the circles immortalized by Jane Austen the life of the household gravitates no less surely around the tea-urn and for the rising evangelical middle-class the swilling of enormous quantities of tea was the one permissible indulgence. The connection between tea and Dissent is close and strange and would doubtless be profitable to investigate at length. Here, however, we can but remind readers of the memorable scene in Pickwick when Sam Weller prevails upon his unwilling father to accompany him to a soiree at the Brick Lane Branch of the United Grand Junction Ebenezer Tem­perance Association, where the poor old gentleman was very disturbed to notice the enormous quantities of tea consumed and was shocked to observe the " young 'ooman on the next form but two as has drunk nine breakfast cups and a half and she's a swellin' wisibly before my wery eyes. "

The date of the origin of the chapel tea-fight has, it is worth noticing, been definitely established by the exhaustive re­searches of Mr. G. M. Young, who has proved conclusively that it was the invention of W. Daniell, the author of War­minster Common, and first took place on December 13, 1815. As to its nature, in these early days a lot may be gleaned from the following extract from the latter's diary : " Drank tea at Chapel with Christian friends. A holy unction attended and great was the joy. We all could say ` Unto us a child is born'." One trusts that the worthy man was speaking figuratively At the end of the first quarter of the 19th century two very important changes took place. Now for the first time tea became a meal in itself; hitherto it had always been drunk in the drawing-room after dinner, now it is taken in the middle of the afternoon (an innovation for which tradition maintains the Duchess of Bedford of the period to be responsible). And in 1833 Parliament ended the East India Company's monopoly of the China trade. The far-reaching results of this measure were not at first apparent, but early in the 'forties the London tea merchants became seriously alarmed at the amount of trade that was being captured by the Americans and there then ensued a period of intensive competitive shipbuilding which produced the last and most romantic chapter in the long history of the sailing vessel.

In their endeavour to seize this profitable market the American shipbuilders evolved a new and incomparably fast type of ship that came to be known as the tea clipper. Hitherto the clipper had mainly been employed on the dangerous opium trade, where speed was essential ; but now various improve­ments were effected in the design and these American clippers rushed their tea cargoes from Canton to Boston or New York in times which no British boat could hope to emulate. Dis­tressing as was this invasion of British preserves worse was to come. In 1849 England entered on its long period of free trade and the very next year the American clipper Oriental hauled into the West India Docks, only 97 days out from the Canton river, with 1,118 tons of prime tea.

At last the English merchant marine awoke to the danger and in the very same year the first English clipper, the Stornoway was launched by Jardine, Matheson & Co., the great firm of China merchants, at Aberdeen. From now on an intense rivalry developed between the shipbuilders and designers on either side of the Atlantic, and the speeds at which the voyage from China to London was accomplished became steadily higher and higher. Luckily perhaps for the British various outside factors conspired against the Americans.The discovery of gold in California created a demand for fast ships to transport miners round Cape horn, which led to the withdrawal of some of the fastest clippers from the China trade: the great famine in Ireland increased the stream of emigrants to America and caused the American ship-owners to concentrate far more on fast passenger traffic, and finally the Civil War completely wrecked the American merchant marine for many years to come 

But the spirit of rivalry which the American challenge had created did not vanish; it continued to operate between the various British shipping firms, and the public interest in the annual tea race grew apace throughout the 'fifties, until in the next decade it surpassed that shown in any sporting event with the possible exception of the Derby itself.

Seven or eight crack ships would leave the Canton river on the same tide and then no more would be heard of them until they were sighted in the Channel. The excitement which this intelligence created in London was intense ; as the time approached when the first news of them might reasonably b° expected all connected with the trade were in a frenzy. Not only was the first cargo home invariably sold at fancy prices, but large sums of money were wagered on the result, and as the progress of the ships up the Channel was followed by telegraph the excitement mounted. On arrival in the Downs a long delay frequently ensued while a favourable wind to come up the river was awaited, and in order that they might know the moment the ships could weigh anchor many tea merchants installed a wind-clock in their city offices. This was a large clock-face marked with the points of the compass and furnished with a single hand which was connected with a weather vane on the roof. At night clerks watched the dial constantly and, the moment the needle veered towards the south-west, rushed downstairs to inform the messenger who was mounted in readiness at the door and at once galloped off to awaken the merchant in his villa at Balham or Streatham. He, in his turn, immediately took horse for the docks. As the winner hauled in, a storm of cheering broke out from the crowds of merchants, samplers and general public gathered on the quay, and the victorious captain and crew invariably received a large bonus, usually five hundred pounds or so.
The most celebrated of all the tea races was that of 1866, when the Taeping and the Ariel came racing up the Channel

Duke of Wellingtons Teapot. Designed by Flaxmanand made by Wedgewoods  to commemorate the battle of Vittoria. On one side is the medallionof the Duke (crowned with laurel)and inscribed  On the reverse the words "India Portugal and Spain Vittoria 21st June 1813

together and arrived at the Downs within minutes of each other with the Serica scarcely four hours behind Officially the race was not finished until the first samples of tea had landed at the London Docks and much depended on the luck with which the pilot was obtained; but on this occasion the owners of the two ships were so terrified of losing the 10s. a ton bonus for the first tea landed that they agreed to divide the prize, much to the fury of the captain and crew of the Taeping, who managed to dock just twenty minutes ahead of the Ariel. But this race, if the most celebrated, was also one of the last. The competition of steam soon proved too strong, and five years later the Titania won the last tea race in a ninety­seven-day run from Foochow.

Some thirty years before the year of the great tea race an event had taken place which was to change the whole situation in regard to tea far more extensively than the adoption of steam. For some years various experiments had been carried out in India with the object of starting the cultivation of tea in that country, but, in 1813, an Act of Parliament diminishing the East India Company's powers and privileges, decreed inter alia that the monopoly of the China trade should cease in 1833. In these circumstances, the idea of introducing tea­growing into India received a fresh impetus and importance. The culminating point, which marks the real birth of the Indian Tea Industry, was the discovery by Major Robert Bruce, in the year 1823, of indigenous tea plants in Assam. During the following decade further discoveries of tea growing wild in Assam were made and some experimental work carried out.

In 1833 the China monopoly ended and in 1834 that en­lightened Governor-General Lord William Bentinck, appointed a Committee charged with the duty of submitting to the Government a plan for the introduction of tea cultivation in India. At first the Committee's work was largely confined to the growth and manufacture of tea from seeds or plants imported from China, but pioneers pursued the cultivation of wild tea until it was finally established on a commercial scale. In January, 1839, a first consignment of eight chests of tea from India was auctioned in London and sold at prices ranging from 16s. to 34s. a lb.        (Exactly one hundred years later, i.e. on 10th January, 1939, a ceremonial auction sale was held in Mincing Lane to mark the Centenary of the Empire Tea Industry).  

The same year, 1839, saw the founding of the Assam Company, the first commercial venture in tea, to which concern the Government made over most of its experimental holdings. The tea industry in India was launched, and from these begin­nings it developed and spread to other districts in the north-east and in the south of India, so that, to-day, India has over 800,000 acres under tea, with an annual production of over 550,000,000 lbs.

The story of the founding of the tea industry in Ceylon is more dramatic. Coffee was the island's great and prosperous crop, though small areas of tea, both of the Assam and China varieties, were experimentally cultivated following the estab­lishment of the Indian industry. But in 1869 a devastating blight attacked the coffee with such violence that within a few years it had completely destroyed the trees and ruined the whole industry. The British planters who formed the industry were broken financially, but not in spirit. A grim struggle ensued to replace the lost plantations with another product and from the ashes of coffee, tea, phcenix-like, arose. The rapid establishment of tea was a noteworthy achievement. In 1875 the first thousand acres of old coffee land was planted up with tea and twenty years later 305,000 acres were under cultivation. To-day there are over 550,000 acres of tea in Ceylon with an annual production of some 300,000,000 lbs.

The introduction of tea into Java belongs to the same era as the beginnings of tea in India, but it was not until 1878 that the foundations of a successful industry were laid with the regular importation of tea seeds from Assam and the introduction of Indian manufacturing methods. Thereafter,

the tea industry in Java, rapidly developed , with a later extension to Sumatra, until, before Japan's occupation of the Netherlands East Indies in 1942, there were some 500,000acres under cultivation in these two islands with an annual production of some 250,000,000lbs of tea.
The production of tea in India Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies was later supplemented by the development of a tea growing industry in East Africa. This began in 1902  in Nyasaland and was followed in 1925 by planting in Kenya and then Uganda and Tanganyika. Today there are over 40,000 acres of tea in these four countries with an output of some 30,000,000 lbs. a year. The development of these vast new sources of tea represents a remarkable triumph of British and Dutch industry, science and business enterprise which enabled an ever-growing world demand for tea to be satisfied at prices which all could afford. Moreover, India, Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies gradually supplanted China as the world's chief source of tea, until by 1939 these countries, together with East Africa, supplied some 85 per cent. of the world's total exportable tea production, with China supplying less than 10 per cent.

The reign of Queen Victoria saw the national institution ` afternoon tea ' firmly established among all classes of the community in Britain, and of the many illustrious figures of the reign few there were who were not confirmed tea-drinkers. If the 19th century produced no such conspicuous champion of tea as Dr. Johnson, it was largely because the cause no longer required championing either by word or example. Two tea-drinkers, however, stand out from the rest, both by reason of the enormous quantities they consumed and the fame they attained in other connections. The Duke of Wellington was a notable tea addict and always insisted on taking vast stores of tea with him on all his campaigns, and it was Mr. Glad­stone's proud boast that he consumed more tea between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. than any other man in the House. Indeed, so over-powering was the great man's longing for tea in the small hours that in order to satisfy it with the minimum of trouble on those occasions when he was not in the House but in his own bed, he was accustomed, it is said, to make a practice of filling his hot-water bottle with boiling tea in order that it might fulfil the two-fold purpose of warming the feet and quenching an insatiable thirst.

In order to cope with such notable capacities for tea as this, combined with the enormous increase of the population, the tea industry continued to flourish throughout the reign. It might, however, be chastening as well as kind to spare a tear for one tea business that did not flourish. In the 'seventies none other than Mr. Ruskin opened a shop for the sale of tea to the poor in Paddington Street. Alas, like so many of Mr. Ruskin's enterprises it did not prove a success. Excellent as was the quality of the tea on sale, the poor were unresponsive and Mr. Ruskin, himself no mean judge of tea, was forced to explain, with a pardonable degree of sourness, that ' the poor only like to buy their tea where it is brilliantly lighted and eloquently ticketed.' One is left with a shrewd suspicion that those premises in Paddington Street were wrapped in a correct but possibly slightly forbidding Gothic gloom. But the author of the Stones of Venice must have been the only retailer in England at this period who had cause to reproach the public with too little enthusiasm for:­

The tea ! The tea !-the wholesome tea.

The black, the green, the mix'd, the strong Gunpowder or Bohea.

This enthusiasm for tea, however, was by no means confined to the British Isles. The emigrants who peopled the Dominions took their taste for tea with them and it flourished as strongly across the oceans as it did at home.

In Canada, tea was included in the early shipments, in the 18th century, made by the Hudson Bay Company to their forts and posts. Tea became, as it remained, the favourite beverage in Canadian homes, as well as the standby of the trappers and hunters in the Far North, from whom the Eskimos derived a taste for tea which makes them among the world's greatest tea-drinkers.

The Dutch took tea with them when they first landed at the Cape of Good Hope, and the subsequent British settlements reinforced tea's position in South Africa. More recently, the African native people have begun to show themselves as great tea-lovers as the whites.

But it was in Australia and New Zealand that the tea habit took strongest root and, for a time, raised tea-drinking to heights even surpassing those in the motherland. The " billy " in which Australians boil their tea in the bush has a very special niche in the Australian national saga, and tea regularly five times a day still forms an essential part of the life of those vigorous peoples of the Antipodes.

Elsewhere, tea has long been a staple beverage in the Arab world and has never lost its ancient hold in China and Japan, while the inhabitants of the other tea-growing countries also provide an exception to the rule that " The nearer the Kirk, the further from Grace " recent years having seen the habit of tea-drinking spread and increase among the peoples of India, Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies.

Where is this " Grace " not abounding ? Only in Europe­except in Holland, in Poland and in Russia (whose needs are partly met by their own tea grown in the Caucasus) ; in South America ; and, despite the influence of the Irish, in the U.S.A. But although the per capita consumption is small, the U.S.A. is, next to the United Kingdom, the world's largest importer of tea, and in iced tea America has created one of its most popular hot-weather beverages. Next to water, tea has, in fact, become the world's principal, as well as its cheapest, drink, with an astronomical yearly consumption of over 300,000,000,000 cups.

Tea, like all other commodities, suffered from the vagaries of those uncertain years after the 1914-1918 War, when alternating periods of exaggerated prosperity and acute depression upset the stability of the market. In 1932 Tea found itself in a position where rapidly increasing world production far exceeded potential world consumption. Not content with submitting to current maladjustment or idly waiting upon some more benign future unfolding itself, producers in the three main black tea-producing countries set themselves the somewhat formidable task of putting their own industry in order.

What must be regarded as a major event in the history of tea was the signing of the International Tea Agreement in April, 1933, which instituted a scheme for the regulation of the exports of tea from India, Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies with the aim of achieving and maintaining equilibrium betw,°en supply and demand. It is to be noted that the objective was two-fold. Firstly the regulation of exports to provide for the supply of all present and immediately potential require­ments, and secondly the taking of all possible steps for fostering the demand for tea and for increasing its consumption through­out the world.

An international committee was formed to implement the provisions of the Tea Agreement and administer the scheme. Although the Agreement was originally concluded between producers in India, Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies, the growers in the four main African tea-producing countries, viz. Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika and Nyasaland subsequently came into the scheme and all the countries mentioned have representatives on the International Tea Committee. The first Agreement was for five years from 1st April, 1933, to 31st March, 1938, and was renewed for a further period of five

years thereafter. In 1943 arrangements were arrived at whereby the Tea Regulation Scheme was to be continued for the duration of hostilities and a period thereafter to allow of the question of further extension being considered in the light of post-war circumstances and developments.

The Governments of each of the regulating countries enacted such internal legislation as was necessary to allow of the scheme being effectively administered and each Government has a representative upon the International Tea Committee.

Let it be said here that the International Tea Committee, having once assumed an onerous and difficult responsibility, have throughout the years discharged their obligations with wise and wide understanding, with integrity and with success.

Under the terms of the International"-Tea Agreement the International Tea Committee were inter alia required to study ways and means for increasing the consumption of tea in the world.

Individual efforts to increase the consumption of the tea produced by particular countries were already in existence. In 1935, in pursuance of the International Agreement, the statutory bodies in India, Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies responsible for expending the funds for the promotion collected by their Governments, jointly formed the International Tea Market Expansion Board in order to conduct joint promotion work for the teas of all the regulating countries in all markets outside the countries of production.

Since that date, through its Bureaux in the main tea-consum­ing countries, the International Tea Market Expansion Board has undertaken, with marked success, work in Europe, America, Africa and Australia, while similar successful efforts have been made by the producers to increase local tea consumption in India, Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies.

Owing first to shipping shortages and then in 1942 the loss of the Netherlands East Indies, the second World War brought with it control of distribution and, in most countries, rationing to the general public. Never before, however, has tea been more prized than during these war years. The armies, navies and air forces of the British Commonwealth fought on tea, while in Britain itself it was tea that chiefly sustained the ordinary man and woman in their homes, in the Civil Defence Services, and in the factories. The Minister of Food, Lord Woolton, himself truly summed up tea's position to-day when he declared that ` Tea is more than a beverage in Britain.'




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The Duncan group

This is the foreward of the book created for the centenary of the Duncan Group --written in 1959 to celebrate 100 years since the Company started--The Editor has the book but obviously will not give all of the wonderful contents but very much an abridged version --we start with the Foreword dated January 1 1959. Here is a start --it will take a little time to complete


ONE hundred years ago to-day Mr. Walter Duncan arrived in India to found the Calcutta firm which bears his name and which has, in the intervening period, attained a position of some note in the business life of that city, and especially in tea circles. The idea of writing a brief record of the Calcutta and 
London houses originated, it is believed, with the late Mr. J. D. Nimmo, who had collected material relating to their early days, and a short history was compiled and printed for private circulation in 1931.

The desirability of bringing the book up to date was subsequently urged by Mr. Dunlop, and was much in the minds of the members of the home partnership some twenty years later on the occasion of its conversion into a public company, but other and more pressing demands on their attention at that time made it necessary temporarily to put the idea aside.  More recently, however, the approaching centenary of the  Calcutta house suggested that the time had come seriously to  attempt the task, and the following pages are the result and are  offered as presenting an unambitious account of the growth  and achievements of the two businesses founded by Mr. Duncan a century ago. They have been put together by one of the  partners in question, now in retirement and having the leisure,  formerly lacking, to fulfil that desire, and I and my colleagues  are grateful to him for undertaking the task-although I do not for a moment think he looked on it as a task.

By his wish his name does not appear on the title page as he disclaims any right to be dignified as the author, the history having, he says, been contributed by many hands and resting on the memories of others besides himself; but he does accept responsibility for the arrangement of the book and for the composition of all but the first ten chapters, constituting the original work as printed in 1931.

It is the hope of my colleagues and myself that this book will be of interest to our friends and connexions everywhere and that it may afford inspiration to those in whose hands the destinies of the companies will rest in the future. If it serves to show them, amid the cares and preoccupations of these difficult  times, that the past has had its share of frustrations and difficulties-frustrations and difficulties which may, on occasion, have arrested the progress of our organization but have never succeeded in halting it-it will, I hope, afford them the encouragement to go on in the knowledge that the companies have seen many vicissitudes and that adherence to the sound principles on which their prosperity has been based may be expected to ensure their continuing success.
1st January, 1959.

Then we have the start to the actual book ----

Chapter 1 


MR. WALTER DUNCAN, the founder of the two firms of whose 
activities a brief account is given in these pages, was descended from a line of farmers in the county of West Lothian, and parish of Abercorn. He was born in the year 1834, and he began his career in the office of a Glasgow firm of merchants, Messrs. 
Playfair, Bryce & Co., in the year 1855, or possibly in the early
part of 1856. 
This is the photo of the Founder Walter Duncan

Scarcely any information is available concerning the activities of the firm, except that they traded chiefly with Canada. Mr. Duncan appears to have been appointed on the recommendation of the Rev. David Playfair, Minister of the 
Parish of Abercorn, who was related to the senior partner of 
the firm, Bailie James Playfair. The Rev. Mr. Playfair's brother,
Mr. Patrick Playfair, was also a merchant in Glasgow at the 
time, but he was not connected in a business way with Playfair, Bryce & Co. He was, however, a close friend of Mr. J. D. Bryce, the second partner in the firm, in addition to being a relative of the senior. He carried on a business in Demerara, trading under the name of Playfair, Allan & Co. This business was not prospering in 1855-56, and Mr. Playfair had decided to wind it up. To give effect to this decision, he purposed sending a representative to Demerara, and his choice fell upon Mr. 
Duncan. He was doubtless influenced by his friend, Mr. Bryce, 
who, on learning of the position of the business, suggested that Mr. Duncan should be sent out to put things right. Mr. Duncan accepted the offer which was thus made to him, and he sailed for Georgetown towards the end of 1856. He was then twenty-two years of age; and the fact that so young a man should have been chosen, on the suggestion of his employer, for so responsible a mission, is evidence that while with Messrs. Playfair, Bryce & Co. he must have given promise of altogether unusual capacity.

Not a great deal is known of Mr. Duncan's work in Demerara
but a few interesting details were put on record in 1922 by 
his friend Mr. William Lightbody. When he arrived in George- 
town from Europe in October, 1857, Mr. Lightbody had with 
him a letter of introduction from a mutual friend to Mr. Duncan, 
with whom-their tastes and inclinations being in accord he 
soon became on very friendly terms. Regarding the firm of 
Playfair, Allan & Co., Mr. Duncan told him that, after con- 
sidering his report on the details of the business, and certain 
orders for new goods which had been sent home, Mr. Playfair 
had proposed that the business should be continued. With this 
object in view he had offered Mr. Duncan a partnership if the 
latter would remain in Demerara. But Mr. Duncan said that he 
had declined the offer. The business did not appeal to him, and 

he had consequently asked Mr. Playfair to permit him to carry 
out the original intention and to close it as soon as possible. 
It is not stated by Mr. Lightbody, but it may be inferred, that 
Mr. Duncan did not like the business because he thought that
it was on too restricted a scale. That such was his opinion 
appears from a letter written by him from Calcutta two years 
afterwards to Mr. Lightbody. Referring to the class of business 
that he was doing in Calcutta, he said that things were "done on a very different scale from the Demerara one. Packages are never opened, and sales are made from sample.... With all its faults, I like the style of business done in Calcutta. It is worth one's while to spend some time over a bargain when the thing 
arranged is not a dozen of Carlisle's thread, but ten cases of
Figured Shirtings, twenty bales of Madapollams, or as many 
of Mule Twist, each package always averaging about £30 

Mr. Playfair did not apparently press his proposal for the 
continuance of the business and Mr. Duncan proceeded to 
dispose of it. He was no believer in half measures, and, accord- 
ing to Mr. Lightbody, "when the close of the business was 
effected, it was in a way that set the City talking, as I can well
remember, because it was so summary at the end". When it
became known that the business was for sale a Portuguese 
merchant, who occasionally looked in at Mr. Duncan's office 
for a chat, astonished him one day by asking: "What will you 
take for the whole stock in the store?" Mr. Duncan replied 
that he could not say straight off, and he asked the Portuguese

to come back later for his answer. He forthwith set about 
making the best valuation possible in the circumstances; and
when the Portuguese returned the bargain was struck immediately. The stock and fittings were bought with a time allowance of the premises for the sale of the goods. The transaction was for cash; and, to quote Mr. Lightbody, "in not a  very long time afterwards, Mr. Duncan was on his way home  very nigh with the same steamer which had in its post-bag the 
bill for the sale. I remember well the surprise of the whole of the business community at the transaction, as it seemed a record one of its time, how smartly an affair of that amount was got  through."

It was in the spring of 1858 that Mr. Duncan returned to Glasgow from Demerara. Soon after his arrival Mr. Patrick  Playfair evidently offered him a prospective partnership. For in  writing to Mr. Lightbody, on 14th August, he said that he was  going to a business firm in Manchester to learn all that he could  of the various classes of goods sent from there to India. The reason for his doing this was, he added, that he was to go out  to Calcutta to establish a business in which he was to be associated with Mr. Playfair. He sailed from Southampton on  20th November; and in a letter which he wrote from Calcutta  in the following February to Mr. Lightbody, he gives a vivid 
account of the voyage Yes, here I am in Calcutta, an evidence to you that since  the date of my last, I have been doing something. Shortly after you heard from me, I returned to Glasgow, completed  my arrangements with Mr. Playfair for commencing business  in this Eastern Metropolis, and, after waiting about six weeks  for a passage-all the steamers in the interval being full left Southampton in the "Peru", per overland route for 
India. Perhaps the best thing to be done may be to give you  one or two notes on the kind of passage I had.

Nothing need  be said about the tender emotions awakened by parting with  many valued and dear friends-you know , that in every man's experience there are things that according to good  authority are too sacred "for a stranger to intermeddle with",  and these are some of them. But all these having been got  over--every cord snapped-our anchor was up and we  steamed off from Southampton on 20th November-from  the same place, on the same day and at the same hour on
which I had left for the West Indies. For some days previous to our sailing a severe storm had prevailed all along the coast,so much so that five mail steamers were all driven into Falmouth Harbour for shelter at once. Though the storm had subsided, the swell caused by it still continued, and we had it rather rough crossing the Bay of Biscay and all the way to Gibraltar. Being a screw steamer, the vessel rolled very much, and it was no uncommon thing to see half-a-dozen chairs capsized at once and their astonished occupants sent spinning up against the bulwarks. Arrived at Gibraltar, we could scarcely see the Rock for the heavy rain that fell, and evening soon darkened down to hide it entirely from our view.

The railway is now completed all the way from Alexandria to Suez, and our company was the first to cross since it had been opened. We saw nothing of the vans that used to be at once so romantic and so uncomfortable. We saw them indeed, but I mean we did not need to use them. It would tire both you and myself to recapitulate all I saw in Egypt, but if ever you travel that way, I commend you to a ride on a donkey as one of the most enjoyable things you have ever tried. Pompey's Pillar, Cleopatra's Needle, the Sacred Nile, the Pashas' Palace, the Pyramids, and all the other wonders we saw. Malta with its Church of St. John, a most splendid building at once the most ancient and most gorgeous in internal magnificence I ever saw. Aden, with little else than its famous tanks lately discovered-but yet having no more to show a stranger than "some crows, a few donkeys, and one or two Scotsmen". Ceylon, "where spicy breezes blow soft" as our Missionary hymn has it; and Madras-all tend to make the overland route exceedingly interesting; but the arrangements on board the steamer are inferior to those of the West India line, notwithstanding the high name they get. Our passage from Suez to Calcutta was tedious, as the boilers of our steamer were bad. One day in the Red Sea we made only 81 miles in 24 hours! So strong was the wind against us. 

We anchored in the Hooghly on New Year's Day, and got up to Calcutta on 2nd January. Coming up the river, for you know Calcutta is 120 miles up from the sea, we saw some vultures fluttering over a black object in the water. The black object was the mortal remains of some poor Hindoo-and it is no uncommon thing to see these ravenous but useful birds  on the river's bank "hold o'er the dead their carnival".

Calcutta is a very gay place with its 600,000 inhabitants- as yet I cannot say a great deal about it. My object in coming here is to establish a business under the firm of Playfair, Duncan & Co., and although all is new, and I must count upon difficulties, yet for these I have made up my mind and in the long run I think the style of business will suit me better than anything in Demerara. When next I write, after hearing from you, I will be able to say more; meantime, silence best befits those who are only buckling on their armour

Map of N.E. India then

This is a map of the Tea districts in NE India

Above is a chart dated 1959 showing the 1898 plantation with  a comparison to the Plantations of 1958

More to follow --editor

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April 2006

Photos from Doloo and Gargunda

Below are some photos of Sandy's time at Doloo and Gargunda  ----and thank you Sandy for sharing

The wedding of Valerie and Peter Hardy at the Garganda Burra Bungalow in 1964

Doloo 1958 
Left to Right: Sandy Pearson Barbara Pearson,  ???, John Lindsay, Iris Lindsay, Mrs Macfarlane, Angus Macfarlane

2--Doloo !960

The New Staff Club in Silchar 1962


The Massey Ferguson  training course at Stoneleigh Warks in 1960
Left to Right: Instructor, Andy Anderson, Clark, Burnett, ? McDougall, Jimmy Storrier (recently deceased),
 Sandy Pearson, & Instructor

Entrance to the Doloo factory and office.

Garganda Burra Bungalow

Drilling a tube well by manpower on Chatlapore
 in Sylhet

The Kalimpong road after a heavy fall of rain 
caused this landslid

Carron factory and bungalow from the air

the lake on Doloo built in 1927 to power the 
Hydro electric plant

A view of the Lake again with Barbara Pearson and her pair of Daschunds  

Doloo burra Bungalow

he ferry crossing point from Doloo to SILCHAR 

 Doloo lake again

Barbara Pearson on the  top verandah of Doloo B Bungalow over looking the lake, with her special dogs




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May 14 2006

This article is taken from "TEA CADDY" the June 2005  Goodricke House Magazine

(From the diary of an old Planter)

My first year in tea was certainly exciting ! Travelling in an old rickety WW11 Dakota to my first Tea Garden -Kumargram - accompanied by a basket of chickens !. One dog and a drunken pilot ! Jamair as the airline was called, comprised of these WW11 Daks, piloted by ex-RAF  pilots who were great flyers having flown sorties over the "Hump" during the war. Their excellent flying abilities  through hail, storm, or sunshine and the ability to land in any sort of weather  and on any sort of terrain, it appeared, was directly in proportion to the level of gin and/or vodka in the blood.

Kumargram is a lovely garden sandwiched between two pther properties- Sankos to the  the East on the banks of the Sankosh River and Newlands to the west on the banks of the Rydak River. The `Corner' - as the area was known, is bordered by Assam on one side and Bhutan on the other. I call it "God's own little country": beautiful, remote and far away from Head Office and VAs (not any more!) and most of all with the best wildlife around- my first love (now my second!!).

More excitement was to follow in the first few months Getting chased by a Tusker, while out hunting jungle fowl early one morning (shooting for the pot!). It was quite an unnerving incident as it was my first exposure to a wild elephant - especially so close to my Bungalow - I had seen it on the road but I assumed it was one of the estate's captive elephants!! (which in those days were still being used for uprooting tea and shade trees.) Till I was about 20 yards from its rear when it suddenly turned around and chased me! I wish I could say that I coolly got off my bicycle - a la Jim Corbett - stood still aimed for the spot just a little above the crease line of the trunk and brought him to his knees with a well placed bullet from my trusty 450/400 Jeffries, hardly 5 yards from where I stood !! Unfortunately reality being that, me and my trusted •12 bore with bird shot were soon parted as I fell off the bike, turned tail and ran helter skelter into the tea bushes!! Shouting at the top of my voice and scampered up the nearest shade tree! How I got up the tree is anyone's guess as I never could climb a tree in my youth - however, I escaped as he did not pursue me and soon waddled off down the road. How the chowkidar and the senior assistant got me down the tree is another story - most embarrassing!

A few months later we had ageneral strike in the Tea Industry. Agitations and intimidation of managerial staff was almost a daily affair. I was soon to taste the real "Planter's Punch" - my Acting Manager and I got assaulted! A militant mob of 100/200 agitated workers led by women, instigated by the local Union on some trivial issue, rendered the necessary excuse for me to fly to Calcutta for attending to my cuts and bruises and for my Acting Manager to tender his resignation the next morning.

Spent a lively weekend at the Fairlawn and then a few days at Woodlands - very reluctant to leave, as in those days Woodlands was staffed by some very pretty Anglo Indian nurses!! But Alan Macdonald would have none of it and packed me off by the next available Jamair flight - the same drunken pilot - sans the chickens and dog!

The cold weather was always looked forward to with a great deal of longing ! What with the parties, tennis, shikar and fishing! The first year in Tea ended for me on an even more exciting, if not hilarious note! Here's the story  fact or fiction - I leave it to you!

One morning the Burra Sahib arrived at the office as usual sharp at 6.30 am but with an unusual squeal of brakes! He marched into my office (the dastoor was in those days that the assistants must reach the office 10 minutes before the Burra Sahib) and demanded I charge-sheet his bungalow night chowkidar Kancha - a wiry Nepalese - my hunting companion on weekends! The allegation was that Kancha was milking the Burra Bungalow cow during his night duty and stealing the milk!! Burra Mem was understandably furious as this was her best jersey cow and the other cow gave much less milk! And although she disliked the idea, due to a shortage of milk, she would now have to `throttle her conscience' and allow the cook to mix a little more water before sending it to the chota bungalows!

I was quite stunned! Knowing Kancha I did not think he would do such a thing and subsequently when I asked him point blank he swore on his wife and children that he was innocent. I believed him. I procrastinated for a few days before taking action hoping the boss would forget it or the cow would start producing the required quantity of milk! Alas! The harangue continued till I reluctantly had to get DBITA to draft a charge-sheet. Deliverance came from another quarter! Let me tell you about it!

The cold weather always brings the leopards down from the hills in search of dogs, goats and sometimes the odd stray cattle. I was summoned by my Burra Mem one evening and told that I must shoot the wretched leopard which was bothering her cows! Apparently this leopard had been trying for some nights to get near the cattle shed but because of the security lights and the loud snoring of the night chowkidar, was not able to make a kill! The experts - the milkman, mali and chowkidar opined that the smell of the `tiger' dried up the milk in the udders of 'Basanti' -the jersey cow!

Be that as it may, I decided that I would sit up for the leopard with my now retrieved shotgun ! This time loaded with a 3" Alphamax Magnum ELEY L.G. cartridge in the left choke barrel and a spherical ball in the right. I chose a Wednesday as everyone would be at the club and I could peacefully sit in my makeshift 'machan.' There being no tree close by, it was decided by my friend Kancha that for safety sake the sahib would sit in a pit in front of the cow shed! Leopards being highly sensitive creatures, it was decided to dig the pit a few days in advance and carry away all the earth so as not to make the leopard suspicious! I was more worried that the damn `unsuspecting' leopard would fall into the pit! The thought was most distressing. However, as there was no alternative, I decided to do it.

On Wednesday around 9 pm I took up residence in the pit along with a few playful ants, centipedes and earthworms. The bungalow servants were told to put off all lights and the night chowkidar was strictly forbidden to snore. Around 11 o'clock I heard a shuffling sound coming from the cowshed ; it was one of the cows stamping its feet. I had a three-cell flashlight clamped to the barrel of my shotgun which gave a pretty strong beam.

I felt the leopard was near and the restlessness of the cows was indicative. All sound stopped for the next fifteen or twenty minutes. I then heard a sound like a `sigh', thinking the leopard had got the cow. I flicked on the flash light. In the dark, clearly visible in the light of the torch was the culprit! I am a pretty good shot and using the right barrel with the spherical ball, blew its head off! My duty done, I covered it with a sack and awaited the burra sahib.

The boss and Burra Mem rolled up at near midnight and found me sitting on the verandah, waiting - the happy night chowkidar having fixed me a hot cup of tea (I would have preferred a large shot of some stronger stuff, but the Burra Sahib kept all the `spiritual comforts' locked in his bedroom).

"Bill", I said, as he got down from the jeep, "I have shot your `Milk Thief!" He nearly had a heart attack! "Kancha? Why you stupid - gger, now there is going to be hell to pay!" You bloody nit wit, idiot etc etc, carried on till he asked me "Where is the body?" I said, "In the cowshed". He again threw a fit! By this time the Burra Mem was near fainting! I thought she would have a stroke with all her hyperventilating! I let them stew for a bit and then suggested we go and look at the body (I had made all the necessary arrangements for this `drama' well in advance).

We marched off to the cowshed and on entering, I turned on the lights. "Where is he?" asked the Burra Sahib. I jerked the sack off! And the expression on Bill's face was worth recording for posterity's sake! - "Damn you! You bloody joker ! What's this? Where's Kancha's body?" "Bill," I said, "Kancha was not your milk thief - there's 'your milk thief" I stated, pointing to the eight foot female cobra lying near the cow with its head missing!! Yes, I had for a long time thought that it was folklore when people in the villages said that the female cobra "Dhamana" drinks milk from a cow directly from her udders, first wrapping herself around the legs 'of the cow.

The night ended as Bill and I sat and polished off one of his favourite single malts. The Burra Mem was happy. The milk supply fully restored! No more dilution!! My shikar jaunts with Kancha continued, till I was transferred out to another estate a few months later!

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Below is the plan which is scheduled to start shortly, and will create a very superior road system to allow the great expansion of communications, wealth and progress. It is to me a tremendously exciting project for all people in India

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