New Market, Kolkata
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (August 2007)|
New Market is a market in Kolkata situated on Lindsay Street. Technically, it referred to an enclosed market but today in local parlance the entire Lindsay Street shopping area is often known as New Market.
Some of the earliest English quarters of Calcutta were in an area known then as Dalhousie Square. Terretti and Lalbazar nearby were the customary shopping haunts of the British. Later settlements arose in Kashaitola, Dharmatala and Chowringhee.
By the 1850s, British colonists held sway in Calcutta and displayed increasing contempt for the “natives” and an aversion to brushing shoulders with them at the bazaars. In 1871, moved by a well orchestrated outcry from English residents, a committee of the Calcutta Corporation began to contemplate a market which would be the preserve of Calcutta’s British residents. Spurred by the committee’s deliberations, the Corporation purchased Lindsay Street, made plans to raze the old Fenwick’s Bazar located there, and commissioned Richard Roskell Bayne, an architect of the East Indian Railway Company, to design the Victorian Gothic market complex which would take its place. It began to take shape in 1873, and Bayne was honoured for his achievement with a Rs. 1,000 rupee award, a large sum in the 1870s.
The giant shopping arcade was thrown open to the English populace with some fanfare on January 1, 1874. News of Calcutta’s first municipal market spread rapidly. Affluent colonials from all over India shopped at exclusive retailers like Ranken and Company (dressmakers), Cuthbertson and Harper (shoe-merchants) and R.W. Newman or Thacker Spink, the famous stationers and book-dealers.
Sir Stuart Hogg, then the Chairman of Calcutta Corporation, had shown tenacious support for the plans to build the New Market. So, 28 years later, on December 2, 1903, the market was officially named Sir Stuart Hogg Market and later shortened to Hogg Market. Bengali society, in the British era, called it Hogg Shaheber Bajaar, a name that is still in use, just as a painting of Sir Stuart Hogg still hangs in Calcutta Corporation’s portrait gallery. But the earliest provisional nickname, New Market, which remained in use throughout, proved to have the most sticking power.
New Market’s growth kept pace with the city until World War II. The northern portion of the market came up in 1909 at an expense of 6 lakh rupees. Despite the gathering storm of World War II, an extension was engineered on the south flank, and the historic clock tower on the eastern end of the market was shipped over from Huddersfield and installed in the 1930s. Florists were located near the front entrance, and stalls selling fresh and preserved foods were placed towards the rear of the market. Beyond the vegetable stalls, fishmongers and slaughterhouse butchers plied their trade, and, until the mid-1960s, at the very back of the market, exotic animals from all over the British Empire could be bought as pets.
Despite the appearance of new air-conditioned, American-style, shopping malls all over Kolkata, New Market, which has survived two devastating fires and regular flooding, remains at the core of the shopping experience in the city. Over 2000 stalls under its roof sell everything from clothing to wheeled luggage to electronics to a special cheese found nowhere else. Under its apparent chaos lie extraordinary finds as well as remarkable bargains.
There are several renowned confectioners in New Market: Nahoum & Sons (estd. 1902) is truly historic, with its original mahogany cabinetry and marble counters. For over a century, millions of customers have sworn by Nahoum’s Rich Fruit Cake, its brownies, marzipan, macaroons and much more. Imperial Confectioners and D Gama compete for a close second and third place. New Market is also home to a plethora of saree shops, such as Dayaram & Co. (estd. 1908), Bombay Silk House and Ghanashyam. A huge section of New Market is allotted to florists, where customers can choose from a wide seasonal selection of many varieties of carnations, gerbera, gladiolas, orchids, tuberoses, roses and lilies, and other flowers. Among the most renowned are A. Bose Pvt. Ltd. (estd.1874), and Coondoo Florists. Another huge section of the market houses crockery and crystal stores, such as Staffordshire Stores (estd.1938), that sell everything from champagne flutes, wine glasses, and cocktail funnels to dinner and tea sets and flower vases..
Situated on Lindsay Street, Kolkata (Calcutta), just off Chowringhee Road, the market is open 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, until 2.30 p.m. on Saturdays, and closed on Sundays.
Fire of 1985 & 2011
A fire burned down large portions of the original building on December 13, 1985. It has since been rebuilt, and provided with a new wing, which houses a famous kashmiri handicraft shop "PUMPOSH", and other storied retailers. Another fire broke out on July 20, 2011 but was confined to a small area in the Flower Range near the Lindsay Street entrance.