THE EAST INDIA COMPANY

Established as a trading company by Royal Charter in 1600 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I the Company was variously known as 'The Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies', 'The United Company of Merchants of England trading to the East Indies', 'The East India Company', 'The Honourable East India Company' and 'John Company' (possibly derived from 'jehan', or 'powerful' as in Shah Jehan or Jehangir), or simply 'The Company'. It has been described as the largest multinational business that the world has even seen. And indeed at their peak, in comparative terms, they would currently have dwarfed the combined might and activities of Microsoft(, Coca Cola( and a few oil companies put together. The Company was seriously big! The East India Company played a formative role in the development of the world as we know it today. It gradually controlled over half the world's trade and a quarter of its population. In its heyday the Company ran its own army and navy, minted its own currency and traded in every corner of the globe. Their trading and influence were particularly strong in the East - China, Malaysia, Singapore, Burma especially India including what is today Pakistan and extended as far as the United States.

Little did the Company founders suspect that in the course of time the Company would, amongst other historical events, be directly responsible for the Chinese Opium Wars, precipitating the Boston Tea Party and getting saddled with minding Napoleon during his exile on St Helena! And there's much more. The Company was for two centuries primarily concerned with trading but the imperial notions and machinations of Clive (Baron Clive of Plassey 1725 - 74, depending on your view either General and statesman or ambitious and greedy individual) plus a collapse of predicted revenues in 1770 led to a disastrous fall in the value of stock resulted in a request by the Company for a government loan of £1 million and Lord North's Regulating Act in 1773. This marked the beginning of government influence and was a contributing factor to the change in the nature of the Company. Parliament terminated the Company's monopoly on the Indian trade in 1813 and in its opening up to competition recognised that the Company's interests in India were now principally those of a ruler with which trading was considered incompatible. The nature of the Company had thus been transformed. The Company ruled India until 1858 when, following the Indian Mutiny, the India Bill was passed and all the Company's assets were vested in Queen Victoria. This transition to an agent of government was well under way during the period of Addiscombe College, 1809 to 1858. The Indian army held many attractions for European officers. Unlike the Crown army, commissions were not bought but achieved on merit,

which opened it to the ambitious sons of the middle class. Indeed at Addiscombe, the standards of entrance were high and the cadets underwent half yearly public exams with no second chances. Since commissions could not be sold, officers would try to make as much money as possible while on active service; the batta (field allowances) were generous and exploited to the full and backhanders on supply and transport were the norm. Prize money and other bounty further supplemented the regular pay. If you'd like to learn more of the exploits of the East India Company abroad, then Tony Wild's informative and entertaining book The East India Company, Trade and Conquest from 1600 will fully fill you in. Previously the East India cadets had been trained by arrangement between the Crown army and the East India Company at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. As the Company's governing role increased, this was no longer considered sufficient, so the Addiscombe Place estate came onto the market at an opportune time when the Company was considering setting up its own Academy. The original land they bought stretches approximately between what is now Canning Road and Ashburton Road but was expanded later. The estate was purchased in December 1808 and the first entry of cadets were in residence in January 1809, although the business arrangements with Henry Emilius Delme-Radcliffe (note the name) were not completed until January 1810, the military college having been in residence for a year before the estate was formally handed over. In the beginning everyone was crowded into the mansion but work soon started erecting the barrack blocks, classrooms, hospital, laundry, bakehouse, brewhouse and other necessary buildings. All these were eventually completed in 1828 at a cost of £21,397 by one Mr George Harrison! They also established greenhouses, fruit trees and asparagus beds. Part of the grounds contained the parade ground and flagstaff, gun battery and bastion.

In order to become as self sufficient as possible, farmland to the north of the estate was initially rented from Mr Delme Radcliffe in 1826 and used for food growing. It was eventually purchased in 1850. This farmland stretched approximately from what is now Warren Road to Inglis Road. About two thirds of the total land was used as a farm while the remainder, some 30 acres, formed the grounds of the College with the mansion house in the middle. As far as it was possible, the college would appear to be self-contained providing for themselves. Although by the middle of the nineteenth century Croydon was well served by local tradesmen, builders, carpenters, tin and rangesmiths and so forth, there is no proof of any local retailers dealing with the College Steward. It is possible that the East India Company, being London based, would have their own contractors providing for their several establishments. The college authorities did, however, allow certain local individuals, small tradesman, to enter their premises to sell minor items to the cadets who were allowed only a maximum half-a-crown (12 1/2 p) per week. More of these local individuals later.

The estate being on a south to north downward slope, there was no surface water or wells but for time immemorial owners had been permitted to lay pipes and draw water from the large pond to the north of the estate called the Coldstream, in Canal Mead (sometimes called the Conduit Field). This is where the Academy Gardens estate now stands. The engineer cadets used the water for bathing, practising bridge building and pontooning and - at the time all the Chief Engineers in the provinces of India were all ex-Addiscombe men. The last building of note to be erected was the large gymnasium in 1851 which still stands today in Havelock Road. The gymnasium was erected near the Lower Lodge and consisted of a fine large room with boarded floor, which contained apparatus for gymnastics and supplied with foils etc for fencing, single sticks etc. The other remaining buildings that still exist from the East India Company days are the two semi-detached professors houses, called Ashleigh numbers one and two, which stand on the corner of Clyde Road and Addiscombe Road. In 1837 the Court of Directors were worried to learn that the South Eastern Railway Company projected an amendment to their line so as to pass through Addiscombe. The College opposed the project as the property would be materially injured and it would involve discontinuing mortar practice and the comfort of the whole establishment would be much affected. It was not until two years after that that the South Eastern Railway Company abandoned its project. Life at Addiscombe College The instruction given to the cadets was of a scientific nature suitable for future engineers, surveyors and artillerymen but seven years after its inception infantrymen were accepted. The course lasted for two years comprising four terms. Entry was by way of public examination with further public examinations at the end of each term. Failure meant expulsion from the college and there was no second chance! The college was run on full military lines from the Lieut-Governor, always a soldier, to the sergeants who kept discipline and the cadets who obeyed orders. They were 'enjoined to conduct themselves respectfully ...' and were 'further cautioned against quarrelling, fighting and loose or improper language to one another.' The professors in the classrooms were of the highest quality obtainable, the mathematics masters were all wranglers (ie with 1st class Honours Maths degrees from Cambridge) and some professors were recognised in outside civilian life. An example was John Christian Schetky, a Hungarian born in Edinburgh, who joined the staff in 1837 as drawing master. In 1815 he had been appointed Painter in Watercolours to the Duke of Clarence, later William IV, and in 1830 Marine Painter to George IV.

Professor John Frederick Daniell, Lecturer in Chemistry, was a Fellow of the Royal Society and Professor at King's College. In 1845 David Thomas Ansted was appointed at Lecturer on Geology; he was a geologist of considerable reputation, Fellow of the Royal Society and Professor at King's College, London. More significant was William Sturgeon, Lecturer in Science and Philosophy, who during his time at Addiscombe made significant advances in the field of electricity and magnetism. More about him later. As future engineers and surveyors the cadets were well drilled in drawing (design before building) to the highest engineering standards. Practical work included bridge building and pontooning over the Coldstream and fortification in the Sand Modelling Hall.

Other subjects included Classics, French, and Hindustani. Hindustani apparently was not a popular subject. Some cadets dreading the public examination in this subject used to contract 'Hindustani Fever' in order to be hospitalised and escape the exam. Just before seeing the doctor they would put chalk on their tongues or knock their elbows sharply against a wall so their pulse was more rapid. A day at the College was a regimented affair beginning at 6.00 am. They had lessons and parades. The cadets slept in dormitories, each having a 'kennel' 9 feet by 6 feet. Typical meals were: Breakfast Tea and bread and butter; or bread and milk, if preferred Lunch Bread and cheese with good table beer Dinner Beef, mutton and veal alternately of the best kind, with occasional change to pork when in season Tea Bread and butter, or bread and cheese with beer, if preferred. At any one time there were about 150 cadets in residence at the college and during the 52 years of its existence about 3,600 attended and were commissioned for service in India. Good times - fun stuff This does not mean that the cadets did not have fun. The boys also had games, football being the most popular. The Addiscombe College version of football (called 'The Rosh') was in fact a free for all. 'You might kick the ball or hit it, catch it or pick it up and run with it. You might assault an adversary in any way and in any part of the field no matter how far you were from the ball, you might hack him or knock him down, you might handle him with one arm or two, seize him by the throat, throw him in the air, stamp on him when he was down, rub his nose in the ground.' Cricket was not nearly so popular. Athletics were. The cadets practised a little boxing. Billiards and pool were favourite games with the cadets in the 1840's and 1850's making for the King's Arms in Croydon for this. In order to secure a table there, the cadets would despatch their fastest runner after Parade. On occasions this would also entail some dodging of Officers and teachers in the town.

The cadets were not encouraged to stray out of the college grounds but were allowed to do so under certain circumstances. The annual Croydon Fair used to provide a source of distraction for the cadets but, following an incident in which some cadets (uninvited) mounted a stage to take part in a dance and a fight ensued, the fair became out of bounds. At the time it was suggested that the tone of the fair went downhill once better public transport enabled the hoi palloi to come into Croydon! Cadets were discouraged from frequenting pubs but, needless to say, they did. Favourites were The Black Horse, The Beehive, The Far Cricketers and the King's Arms in central Croydon because of its pool table but it was later abandoned for the Leslie Arms. More on pubs later. The cadets would also visit the Crystal Palace. Numerous anecdotes exist of the lads' exploits or, as Vibart - a former cadet who recounts his fond and informative memories in 'Addiscombe, It's Heroes and Men of Note (1894) calls it, 'ebullition of harmless fun'. We'd love to quote them all but there's not room. Here is just one that happened around 1850. The cadets were not allowed out of the grounds without a letter of invitation to prove that they were going somewhere specific rather than roaming the streets and tangling with the local lads. Some cadets used to forge letters in order to escape. For reference the Croydon Station is what we now know as East Croydon Station. 'On one occasion a cadet having gone up to London on a fictitious invitation, chanced to meet his father in the street. The father, addressing his son by his Christian name, said, "Why! ---, what are you doing here?" The cadet's ready reply was, "Well, old gentleman, you have the advantage of me. My name is not ---, and I never had the pleasure of seeing you before." And as he pushed past his father, he added, "You have made a mistake. Good-bye, old gentleman, I am in a hurry." It was early in the afternoon, and the cadet, who knew his father well, thought the latter would probably go to Addiscombe; so he turned and followed his father, who hailed a cab and got into it. The cadet did the same, and instructed the driver to follow the cab his father had entered, and when the latter arrived at the London Bridge Station, the cadet alighted from his cab and followed his father into the station. Hearing him ask for a ticket to Croydon, he also took one and travelled by the same train as his father. One their arrival, the father took a cab to Addiscombe, while the cadet ran by a short cut through the 'Wilderness' and got into his uniform just in time to meet his father's cab as it drove up to the barrack square. The father was not a little amazed to see his son and the latter simulated much surprise at his father's story. The father said he would not stay, and the son made some excuse for not accompanying his father to the station; but no sooner had the father started than the son put on his plain clothes, ran down to the Croydon Station, and again proceeded to London in the same train as his father, who never knew how he had been deceived by his son."

Locals of the College times Mother Rose One local person was much loved by the cadets. This was Mother Rose 'for whom every cadet had a soft corner in his heart'. Her name was Dorcas Rose, married to a farm labourer, John Rose. Vibart, who knew Mother Rose whilst a cadet at the college, reckoned 'To the loss of her infants (twin boys) and sweet nature may be attributed the kindly feelings she always displayed to her youthful guests and patrons'. He describes her as 'in her 48th year, a comely matron of kindly aspect who knew well how to restrain or suppress a too ardent or emphatic flow of speech. Cadets had great respect for her, and invariably supported her when she took steps to maintain discipline in her cottage.' Mother Rose's cottage was just outside the college grounds and stood on the corner of what is now Sundridge Road and Lower Addiscombe Road. At one time the cottage was denounced by the suspicious college authorities and cadets forbidden to frequent it but this order was ignored by the cadets. The Lieut-Governor eventually came to the belief that after all it was not a bad place for cadets and that 'the cottage at the north east corner of the grounds was a better resting place for cadets than the Black Horse or Leslie Arms'. Mother Rose would sell the cadets milk, eggs, bread and butter but no beer or 'spirituous liquors'. She used to pipe-clay the cadets' gloves. The Roses' cottage only had two rooms. Her spare room was used by cadets as a sort of club where they could chat and smoke. It was not a large room and in winter with as many as fifteen to twenty cadets would be thick with smoke. The walls were decorated with pictures and prints, gifts from the cadets many of which they had drawn themselves, an ability to draw well being one of the entry requirements for would be engineers and surveyors of the time. There were much clearer class distinctions in those days which makes the influence Mother Rose had all the more remarkable. Vibart comments 'That a woman of her class should have been able to retain the respect and affection of such a vast number of cadets shows in the clearest light that she was a woman of a fine nature.' When John Rose died, Mother Rose moved to St Mary's Almshouses in Wallington where she was visited by former cadets home on leave. She died there on 21 May 1894 and was buried in Beddington churchyard. Paddy Another well loved local character was Paddy, real name Fitzgibbon, who used to carry oranges, gingerbread and nuts in a tin box which he sold to the cadets. He had a wife, Biddy, who would thrash him. Cadets would occasionally encourage him to stand on a table at the Black Horse and sing songs. Once having 'imbibed too much liquor he became sleepy and insensible'. The cadets stowed him comfortably in a barn with straw as a bed, carried his basket and tin box away so it would not be stolen and gave them to Mother Rose for safe keeping. On recovering, Paddy was beside himself at the loss of his tin box, which was all his livelihood, and went to Mother Rose for comfort where to his great delight his property was restored.

Tarts Tarts, real name Jo Rudge, was another favourite. He ran a small shop in Croydon and was allowed to come daily to Addiscombe to set up stall under the staircase in the Fortification (or 'Slash') Hall. Tarts sold light refreshments and, while the cadets were studying, would entertain himself by playing with a small ball that he threw against the wall. Tarts had only one eye having lost the other, so he said, in a very unfair fight with a man who flung a handful of lime Tarts preferred to do business for cash but often gave credit. He claimed not to be able to read or write but displayed an astounding ability to maintain a running total in his head with many cadets and never hesitated to tell them the state of their score when they picked a tart from his stall. 'That', said he 'makes 3s 5d'. Mother Crust Mother Crust, real name Knight, was an elderly woman who sold bread and butter from a wheelbarrow near Tart's stall. Byron Clark Byron Clark, the barber, had a small room just outside the sub-officers' room. He would cut the cadets' hair and sell cheap pomades and scents. The Addiscombe cadets were allowed to wear their hair much longer than was usual in the army. Beardie Beardie, real name Fraser, was so called on account of his long beard, very unusual at the time. He was well spoken and had the bearing of a gentleman. Beardie was believed to be well connected but lived the life of a sort of king of the beggars and referee in disputes of tramps. He had a remarkably handsome but sinister face and was said to have served as a model for an artist for the head of Christ. Cadets constantly helped him out but eventually grew tired of his scrounging and threatened that, if they found him on the college side of the boundary, they would cut off his beard. The demise of The Company The Indian Mutiny in 1857 saw the beginning of the end for the college. In 1858 the British Government took control of India from the East India Company and appointed Lord Stanley as Secretary of State for India. In 1861 the Royal and Indian Services were amalgamated, the college being then closed as of no further use. Suggestions were made to keep it as an army college but were resisted by the authorities as it was considered that the existing establishments at Woolwich and Sandhurst were sufficient. Following the Indian Mutiny, Lord Stanley addressed the cadets at the Public Examination on 10 December 1858. He spoke warmly of the cadets and the College but drew lessons from recent experience in India pointing out how the new soldiers should conduct themselves abroad in a very accurate speech. 'You cannot live, however you may attempt it, in a state of entire indifference to those who surround you in such multitudes. If you do not bear them good-will, you will bear

them ill-will ... A single officer who forgets that he is an officer and a gentleman, does more harm to the moral influence of his country than the men of blameless life can do good. To you therefore, in more senses than one, the honour of England in the East is committed.'

And just when you thought it was all over ....... The East India Company was reestablished in 1987 as a result of a moment of inspiration from the present Chairman, David Hutton. A branding and marketing man by profession, he dreamt up the idea 'eureka' style while lying in the bath. His beliefs that in a global world of increasing confusion and information overload, recognisable brands are gaining greater significance, value and power. This led him to realise that the first, largest and most prestigious global brand remained dormant, namely The East India Company. Antony Wild now a Director of the company had a similar vision quite independently. His interest and knowledge of The East India Company is now well documented in a series of authoritative books, although it was originally nurtured by his involvement in the tea and coffee trade. As a result of their partnership the East India Company was reborn and is now a United Kingdom based public company which brings its unrivalled heritage to bear on the modern commercial world. The Company trades in a wide range of goods including those historical staples, tea and coffee. In keeping with its entrepreneurial forefathers who first set sail exactly 400 years ago, the East India Company is once again preparing itself to launch into uncharted waters, except this time the waters are virtual - the world wide web. As a company shareholder recently claimed, 'The Internet is like the oceans in the great days of sail' When a company's success on the world wide web is largely determined by brand awareness and strength, the East India Company can launch with the confidence of knowing that it boasts vast global recognition and a trading history as the first and largest multinational the world has ever seen. The latter day East India Company is sensitive to the debt that it owes the East and this has acted as the driving force behind the Company's internet strategy. The theme being to develop and nurture East/West and West/East trade, travel and relations on a business to consumer and latterly a business to business level. The internet venture will be run in harmony with its existing business, although the global advantages that the internet allows will help the business accelerate its long term objectives. In sight of its 4th centenary, the East India Company once again faces adventurous and exciting times ahead.

For further information please visit www.theeastindiacompany.com

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