The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India

The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India

Sailors transport ice to India aboard the British warship HMS Serapis, 1875

When the British invaded India in the 18th century, they were struck by the burning sun of the country they colonized. Some went to the mountains for the summer. Others who settled in the boiling large cities, were buried in bitter tears and nagging. The book "Simple Tales of British India," for example, says that the warlord Reginald Savori complained: "The wind subsides, the sun becomes hot, the shadows turn black, and after that you are waiting for five months of complete physical discomfort."

The British have found various ways to cope with the seasonal heat. They slept wrapped in wet sheets. They took ice from the northern rivers of India and delivered it to flatlands at great cost. They cooled water, wine, and el nitre. They hung wet windows made of cooling vetiver on the windows and doors. They dug ice holes and placed small pots of water outside on winter nights.In the morning they removed a crust of ice that formed on the surface, cut it into pieces and kept it in holes, but this ice was usually unclean so that it could be consumed.

Frederic Tudor was an entrepreneur from Boston, shrewd and tireless. Tudor decided to hunt for ice, which was mined from the ponds of New England and sent on ships to countries with a hotter climate. Over the years, he tried to get out of bankruptcy, struggling with the capricious weather and ridicule of skeptical peers, who were confident that the ice would not sustain such a long voyage. “No kidding,” the Boston Gazette newspaper reported on the first Tudor flight. - The ship with a cargo of 80 tons of ice left the port and headed for Martinique. We hope that this will not be slippery speculation. "

 

View of Mumbai, early 1900s

Not turned out. Tudor managed to solve a puzzle related to the collection, storage and transportation of ice over long distances. By the time he turned his eyes on India, he had already conquered New Orleans and the Caribbean.

In 1833, he sent his first ship to Calcutta.He transported 180 tons of clear ice taken from the lakes of the state of Massachusetts, covered with sawdust and placed in containers. Along with the ice, the ship was carrying barrels of Baldwin varieties of apples — a more reliable export commodity.

Four months later, when the Tuscany sailed majestically to Calcutta on September 6, 1833, it was met by a crowd of residents who wanted to admire this strange overseas miracle. It is said that one resident of Calcutta asked if ice grows on trees in America. Another put ice on his palm for a few seconds, then, when inevitable blisters appeared on her, he screamed that he had been burned as if by fire. Another citizen, J. H. Stokeler, the editor of The Englishman, rested when he was suddenly awakened by the cries of an agitated assistant. Stunned by the sight of this precious cargo, he, alas, forgot to wrap "ice with a cloth and cover the basket so that its contents would not melt." As a result, he came running with a piece of ice as thin as a nail. Some residents of India, alarmed by the rapid disappearance of ice, demanded their money back.

 

Cutting Ice from Lake Rockland (NY)

However, the trade in ice has become a striking triumph spreading to Madras and Bombay. Along with the ice, Tudor imported apples and butter from New England. His business has grown stronger thanks to a government-supported monopoly and privileges on duty-free ice imports. Huge ice storage facilities began to appear on the streets of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras.

Tudor became a millionaire. He was nicknamed the Ice King. At fifty, he married a 19-year-old girl and later became the father of six children.

At the peak of trade in India, private clubs appeared, founded by the colonialists and offering the administrative elite a truly heavenly delight, eating roast beef and boiled lamb. Clubs invested a lot of money in the construction of ice storages, so their tables were teeming with cold drinks and well-preserved meat. In Bombay, for example, the club Byculla Club ordered 40 tons of ice, which were to be delivered by May 1840.

 

Dining inside the club Byculla Club

Ice also acted as a palliative for fever, indigestion, kidney disease, and so on. During the "ice famine" (when supplies were delayed) ice could only be bought in limited quantities. Those who wanted to get more, had to present a note from the doctor.The easy accessibility of ice is so ingrained that a “famine” in 1850 caused an uproar in Bombay.

But while the ice from New England was a boon to the British colonialists, it was another burden for the people of India.

Most of the inhabitants of India were too poor to spend money on such frivolity as American frozen water. In addition to the fact that they were already burdened with high taxes, taxation related to the construction (and later expansion) of ice storage facilities also fell on their shoulders.

 

Vivekananda House, built to store ice, in Chennai (India)

By 1860, the ice ceased to be considered a delicacy. “Like most comforts that you quickly get used to, the ice has practically ceased to be a luxury,” wrote British artist Colesforti Grant from Calcutta in a letter to his mother, “and although young children still continue to search and suck him like a candy, for them he is more It is not a novelty, which once caused numbness in the fingers and made them shout in surprise that they had been burned! ”

Tudor operated until the 1860s, until he was weak from old age.The lakes of Massachusetts affected by pollution from the new steam railways have lost their former appeal. At the same time, there were enterprises that began to produce artificial ice (the first of them was the Bengal Ice Company), and the laying of new railway lines facilitated the transportation of goods across India.

Today, the idea of ​​selling ice is considered ridiculous. Today in Indian homes there are freezers that store kulfi, while the shelves of the refrigerator are filled with Thums Up cola, Sosyo drinks and other goodies. However, there is still a lone ice storage facility near the Presidential College in Chennai. Once there were blocks of ice stored here, and later it was chaired by a judge of the Supreme Court, a group of poor students were huddled together and the Indian sage Swami Vivekananda lived. As for Tudor, there was not a trace of him left.

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  • The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India

    The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India

    The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India

    The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India

    The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India

    The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India

    The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India

    The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India

    The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India

    The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India

    The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India The story of how the British imported ice from New England into hot India