The year 1498, which witnessed the arrival at Calicut if the first Portugese trading expEDItion led by Vasco Da Gama ushered the epoch of European domination in Asia. The earliest recirded visit of the Portugese to Mumbai was in January, 1509 when they briefly landed in Mahim Island enroute to Diu and for the next 25 years, they were prowling about Mumbai islands. In 1532, they seized the city of Bassein, some 45 kms. North of Mumbai from Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and made the Islands of Mumbai and Mahim tributary to protugese suzerainty. In 1534, Sultan Bahadur Shah concluded a treaty with the Portugese under which Bassein and the Mumbai Islands were ceded to the King of Portugal.


The East India Co. by 1615 AD had set its base at Surat. From surat it steadily strengthened its hold on the trade of Western India. Realising the immense naturak advantages of Mumbai Islands, the Surat Council of the East India Company urged upon the London Authorities to purchase the Mumbai Islands from the Portugese. This was achieved in 1661 when under the Marriage Treaty between Charles ii of Great Britain and the Infanta Catherien of Portugal, the Port and the Islands of Mumbai were transferred to the Kind of Great Britain, his heirs and successors. The British sold the Port and the Islands of Mumbai to the East India Co. in 1668 at the annual quit rent of 10 pounds. The East India Company took measures for encouragement of trade like construction of Custom House, Warehouses, Mole Stations, etc. In 1672, the President of the Surat Council and the Governer of Mumbai transferred the company's hearquarters from the Surat to Mumbai. Trade through Mumbai grew rapidly. From 1735, Mumbai was famous as a Ship Building Centre, thanks mainly to the genius of the celebrated Wadia family. Many famous ships were built in Mumbai for the Company's services, notable among them being "Scaleby Castle", "Buckingamshire", etc. Indian exports through Mumbai consisted in those days raw silk, Calicoes, diamond, tea, paper, porcelain, pepper, herbs and drugs etc. Imports from England consisted of woollen garments, lead, quicksilver, harware and bullion. What really started off the Mumbai Port with a bang was the sudden spurt in the cotton trade with China in 1770. The cotton trade with China continued till 1880. With the reduction in custom duty from 6 percent to 2 1/2 percent in 1795 and the continuous immigration of traders from Surat gave firther clip to Mumbai's trade and the growth of Mumbai's external commerce led to the appointment in 1801 of a Reporter of External Commerce for recording details of the Trade. The ending of the East India Comapny's trading monopoly by the British Parliament in 1813 set in a remarkable expansion of trade. The first steam vessel despatched from England to India was the "Enterprise". In 1843, Mumbai had been brought within 30days of London and 2 years later, a fortnightly service was started. Year 1858 saw the end of East India Co. and Mumbai passed under the direct rule of the British Crown.


The Bombay Presidency being a part of British India was working under the Bombay Presidency. The Bombay Custom House was headed by the Collector of Customs reporting to the Commissioner of Customs, Salt, Appeal and Abkari, of the Bombay Presidency. Before 1911 the Custom department at Mumbai was accommodated in two main buildings namely the Fort Custom House and the Brach Custom House at the Princess Docks. The Fort Custom House was an old two storied building in which an imperial opium department, Statistical department, Import, Export, MCD, Drawback, Preventive Services, Cash, Accounts, Correspondence, Record, Port health office and Office of Collector of Customs and Commissioner of Customs, Salt, Appeal and Apkari were located. Similarly, certain departments administered by the Collector of Bombay, like Salt revenue, Coast guard service were located in this building. This building was allotted sometime in 1922 to the District Collector of Bombay and others government offices and was known as Old Custom House. In the Branch Custom House at the Princess Docks were located, the Appraising and Gazing department of Bombay Customs, Cash office, Coastal Trade Establishment dealing with the country crafts and certain steam ship lines etc., and offices of Asstt. Collector. This Custom House was then known as Docks Custom House. The Government of India appointed a committee in 1907 to consider the question of arrangements to be made for the transaction of the Custom business on completion of new Docks under the construction, by Bombay Port Trust. At the relevant time the Customs department was working at the Government of India level under the department of Commerce and Industry. The committee recommended on 16.07.1907 the closing of the Fort Custom House and construction of new Central Custom House on site located by them. Consequent of that decision on general plan and sketch an estimate of cost were prepared for the New Custom House to be constructed on the consolidated site (site of New Custom House, Mumbai ) were taken and submitted for the approval of Government of India. There used to be a King’s warehouse in the Fort Custom House wherein gold, of which custom departmenthas taken charge was stored for safe custody.

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