Tag Archives: Hornby Road

‘Every Pen, A Pleasure.’

30 May, 2018
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Facades: Bombay Pen Corner

Hornby Road, Fort, presently Dadabhai Naoroji {D.N.} Road.

By the 20th century, fountain pens in Bombay were edging out ‘fickle’ steel pens, promising greater satisfaction, velvet smooth points of solid gold and the best hard rubber holders.

The Crown Fountain Pen appealed to the preacher and teacher. The Blackbird Fountain Pen was for boys. The Swan when the boys got older. And the stylish Parker Vacumatic, when they joined the jet set.

Indeed, it was pens that made boys into men, teaching them about ‘satisfaction’ and ‘safety’, ‘performance’ and ‘pleasure’.

Finding that D. N. Road is now dominated by women, the Bombay Pen Corner has moved on from pens to making name plates and rubber stamps.

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Waterproofs & Whiteaway

29 March, 2018
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Signage: Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co. (1895)

Department Store, 32 Hornby Road, Fort. (1954 onwards, the Khadi and Village Industries Emporium, 286 Dadabhai Naoroji {D.N.} Road).

Waterproofs were Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co.’s capital range of clothing.

When the firm operated from a small, cramped premises at the Esplanade, they marketed their waterproof coats and capes as the ‘Cheapest Waterproofs in Bombay’. Thoroughly serviceable, excellent and durable, their waterproofs were so well priced that ladies were encouraged to visit their store before making a trip to the bazaar.

When Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co. moved into their handsome and commodious premises on Hornby Road in 1895, built especially as a department store for the firm, their waterproofs got even more attention- a special display for ladies’ and gentleman’s waterproofs and a fine show of waterproof carriage aprons, that prepared Bombay’s buggy drivers and passengers for the impending monsoons.

The monogram WL&Co. at the entrance of the premises reminds us of a time when the department store was in capital demand.

Photo by Hersh Acharya.

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Zara Zara missing our maritime history

9 May, 2017
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Motifs: Ismail Buildings (1906)

Hornby Road, Fort (presently Zara Department Store, Dadabhai Naoroji {D.N.} Road).

Nautical motifs were important symbols for the Yusufs, a prominent Memon family invested in the shipping trade. The signboard of their office at Abdul Rehman Street had a representation of a boat which was ‘a singular attraction for seafarers for a long time’ reported The Times of India in 1914. The name ‘Agboatwalla’ was often added to the family name.

In the 1890s, the Yusufs purchased all the rights and titles of the firm Messrs. Shepherd and Company, progressing from vendors to owners of the firm well known for its coasting ships. A few years later, Haji Ismail Hassam, one of the three partners, bought the other family members out.

**Seafarers will now have to spot the nautical stripes on Zara’s clothing and turn to the Flora Fountain for the singular attraction in the vicinity.

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