Kolkata Port Trust Maritime Heritage Centre


Kolkata Port Trust Maritime Heritage Centre

Honestly, I never knew there were so many museums in Kolkata. I wanted to do a consolidated blog with all the museums of the city and while researching I realized that there are far too many to fit them into a single blog. So the next best option would be to cover some of the unusual and lesser-known museums.

I am sure you have traveled multiple times through Strand Road while going to Howrah Station and you surely must have noticed several old buildings and dilapidated structures on your left after crossing Millennium Park. While some of these old building still functions as a warehouse some are clearly beyond any use. While almost reach the Howrah Bridge (Rabindra Setu) you will come across a very interesting museum on your left which also happens to act as an archive section.

This museum belongs to the Kolkata Port Trust (Syma Prasad Mookerjee Port) and apart from housing several exhibits they also have their central archive here. This is what they call their Maritime Archives and Heritage Centre. Basically what they have done is to create neat displays or various documents and objects related to the maritime history of Calcutta. Keep in mind that Kolkata Port Trust is also responsible for the maintenance of Howrah Bridge and other significant structures along the Hooghly River apart from marinating the three ports.

Calcutta has a long river trade history which started much before the arrival of the British in India. What happened after the establishment of the British Empire in India was to formalize the organization and transforming it into a regular authority managing the river transportation system.

Once you enter the gate you will see a three-storied building to your right. The ground floor has a vigilance office of the Kolkata Port Trust while the first floor houses the museum and the archive. The old British-built building has a beautiful two stairs approach with which you can reach the first floor by availing any one of the stairs on each side from the ground floor.

Office of the Chief Vigilance Officer & Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust on Strand Road
Office of the Chief Vigilance Officer & Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust on Strand Road
Ground Floor Housing the Office of the Chief Vigilance Officer and Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust on First Floor
Ground Floor Housing the Office of the Chief Vigilance Officer and Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust on First Floor
View of the Building from Front
View of the Building from Front
Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust – Outside Corridor
Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust – Outside Corridor
Memorial Plaque at Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Memorial Plaque at Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust

The first room houses the office section while the museum and display rooms are in two separate rooms after that. The archive is at the last in another separate room.

Display Rooms

The museum or the heritage carefully takes one from the start of the maritime trade of India with the outside world. Long before the ports were established in Calcutta their pre-existed trade with Europe and Africa. How this part of India was referred to as “Gangaridae” also the significance of Tamralipta which was once the main port of entry to the eastern part of India especially Bengal. Further taking the user through the river system of Bengal and how it helped trade deep down Bengal following the river path. You get to know about Khejuri Lighthouse which started operating in 1810, the foundation of Port of Calcutta.

The rooms have different sections which have been carefully separated subject-wise. You will get to see some old paintings of the city, the history of the establishment of Calcutta port, foundation laying of Haldia Port, and other important information which directly or indirectly connects the river to the history of the city.

Room 1 at Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Room 1 at Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Room 1 at Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Room 1 at Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Copies of Some Old Paintings of Calcutta
Copies of Some Old Paintings of Calcutta
History of Sea Trade between India and the World
History of Sea Trade between India and the World
Rivers Of Bengal Forming the Backbone of Ship Trade
Rivers Of Bengal Forming the Backbone of Ship Trade
History of Calcutta Port and How the British Traders Established Their Footprints in the City
History of Calcutta Port and How the British Traders Established Their Footprints in the City
Information Regarding Cyclone of 1864 & Some Legendary Businessmen of the City
Information Regarding Cyclone of 1864 & Some Legendary Businessmen of the City
Bonded Labour Transportation from Calcutta Ports to the West Indies
Bonded Labour Transportation from Calcutta Ports to the West Indies
Some Key Members of the Calcutta Port Trust
Some Key Members of the Calcutta Port Trust
Construction of Howrah Bridge & the Imperial Visit
Construction of Howrah Bridge & the Imperial Visit
Some Important Indian Personalities Who Have Travelled From Calcutta Port
Some Important Indian Personalities Who Have Travelled From Calcutta Port
A Marine Telescope on Display
A Marine Telescope on Display
A Marine Telescope on Display
A Marine Telescope on Display
Scale Model of SS Churni – Steam Powered Suction Dredger
Scale Model of SS Churni – Steam Powered Suction Dredger
Scale Model of Floating Crane Vir Bahu
Scale Model of Floating Crane Vir Bahu
Scale Model of Despatch Vehicle Nadia – Primarily Used For Transportation of Food and Other Supply to Light House
Scale Model of Despatch Vehicle Nadia – Primarily Used For Transportation of Food and Other Supply to Light House
Room 2 at Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Room 2 at Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Room 2 at Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Room 2 at Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Room 2 at Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Room 2 at Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Scale Model of Double Chain Bucket Dredger
Scale Model of Double Chain Bucket Dredger
Scale Model of 200 Ton Cantilever Crane
Scale Model of 200 Ton Cantilever Crane
Revolving Lantern
Revolving Lantern
Acetylene Gas Accumulator Light
Acetylene Gas Accumulator Light
Revolving Light House Signal Setup
Revolving Light House Signal Setup
Boat Compass
Boat Compass

One of the most interesting instrument that is on display is the original 100-foot steel measuring tape that was used by the Chief Engineering Drawing Office in charge of building the iconic Howrah Bridge. The steel tape had to be special since heat and cold can alter the length of the tape thus this tape was made from special steel that did not change in length due to temperature change and remained constant.

The Original Steel Tape Used While Construction of Howrah Bridge
The Original Steel Tape Used While Construction of Howrah Bridge
The Original Steel Tape Used While Construction of Howrah Bridge
The Original Steel Tape Used While Construction of Howrah Bridge
The Last Room on This Floor Houses the Archive Section
The Last Room on This Floor Houses the Archive Section

Last but not least is the connection between the iconic Bengali movie star Uttam Kumar and Calcutta Port Trust. Before joining the movie industry when Uttam Kumar was known by his original name Arun Kumar Chatterjee and apart from doing theatre he used to work here in Calcutta Port trust as a cashier at the Port Commissioners office at Kidderpore in the year 1944.

The archive has a special file bearing the name of Uttam Kumar which has an original Deposit Slip of Rs. 1000 deposited by Uttam Kumar on 19th August 1947. This money was returned to him on the 7th of February 1951 when he had already shifted his focus to the cinema.

The Information Board about the Connection of Calcutta Port Trust with Uttam Kumar
The Information Board about the Connection of Calcutta Port Trust with Uttam Kumar
File of Uttam Kumar from Archive
File of Uttam Kumar from Archive
The Original Security Deposit Slip Belonging to Uttam Kumar Which He Had Signed As Arun Kumar Chatterjee
The Original Security Deposit Slip Belonging to Uttam Kumar Which He Had Signed As Arun Kumar Chatterjee

One of the most interesting original materials on display is the original Inspection Book of Saugor Light House. This book has record logs by the light house master from the year 1878 to 1982. Apart from the information that has been logged here the book itself is special as it’s manufactured by Waterlow & Sons Limited who were the official accounts book manufacturer for Her Majesty’s Government.

Original Inspection Book of Saugor Light House
Original Inspection Book of Saugor Light House
Waterlow & Sons Limited Brand Label
Waterlow & Sons Limited Brand Label
Entries into the Inspection Book
Entries into the Inspection Book
Entries into the Inspection Book
Entries into the Inspection Book
Times Moves On At the Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust
Times Moves On At the Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust

Location of Maritime Heritage Centre Kolkata Port Trust

Before visiting the museum please call them once to enquire if they have opened after COVID outbreak.

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