Iconic Allahabad building built by Finlay Muir & Co of Kolkata, a fine heritage structure

Allahabad bank, now a nationalized Indian bank (since 1969)  was   founded by Europeans in Allahabad on 24 April 1865. It was the oldest joint-stock bank and has been providing  banking and financial services for more than155 years. In 1989 it celebrated its 125th anniversary. The Bank's head office is functioning in a heritage building in Kolkata's prime commercial area once owned by John Finlay Muir and company founded by James Finlay, a Scott from Glasgow..

That Calcutta was the capital of early colonial India and later the Raj (until 1912)  was the main reason why  so  many English  and other European  companies had moved in there to engage in business. This is the reason why Calcutta  (kolkata) has the largest number of colonial buildings built both by the  government  to house their various departments and also by  private  enterprises like engineering companies, banking, etc to run their offices.  A large number of  heritage buildings once owned by the government are in the  Dalhousie Square area and along with them were  offices of mercantile houses of the colonial era.  A surprising fact is many Scottish companies  were operating  in Kolkata  and had their mercantile  houses there. The added advantage  was the  proximity of the near-by government offices and it  helped the companies a lot to get things done by the  powers that be.  Among the private companies the  Scottish company John Finlay Muir & Co., was a  famous one and had their office here in Kolkata. 

Finlay Muir & Co.dolphin.blogspot.com

This Glasgow based company  established in 1790  was run by the  Finlay family to trade in cotton, muslin, etc after the founder's death his second son Kirkman Finlay expanded the company. He was keen to do business in India to cut loose EIC monopoly and domination.   In 1813, demand for  Finlay's cotton fabrics, etc was way high beyond expectation. Their trading operation in one market generated  more profits than their many outlets in Europe and America. In 1862  the first agency was set up in Bombay. Finlay, Clerk & Co.  After Finlay's death in 1842   John Muir who became a junior partner in 1861 was able to become a sole proprietor after buying out other partners. 

Allahabad bank. Indian postage stamp 125th anniversary. alamy.com

Above  image: Building pictured in the stamp is a different one. 125 anniversary. Stamp issued by the Indian Postal Department in 1989........

The end of American civil war (1861 to 1865) between the Union and Confederates (Slave states of southern USA) had had a squeeze on the cotton supply from North America.   Muir and company turned to India to source cotton.   In 1870  James Finlay Muir and Co was established. Being a shrewd man well versed in  nuances of corporate business after his arrival in India he diversified his operations and got into Jute and tea. They developed many tea estates (in the 1980s Tata bought the tea company from them) in Assam, Darjeeling, Ceylon, etc.. Out of more than 270000 acres roughly 70000 acres were set aside for tea plantation.  Finlay’s, continues to exist, with interests in tea, rubber, etc.  

Finlay Muin & Co (presently Allahabad bank.puronokolkata.com

Built in 1912, this used the be the Head Office of James Finlay and Co. One of the better maintained old offices in India Exchange Place, Calcutta.  Originally at 15, Clive Row (now Dr. Rajendra Prasad Sarani), it moved over to   21, Canning Street (now Biplabi Rashbehari Basu Road), and from there   the Scottish company in 1912 moved over to their own building (on Royal Exchange Place ) erected on the land of  “Thieves’ Bazaar” Chor Bazaar)..

There is a mix-up of Calcutta Theater and  Finlay Muir and co and it was due to their office in the same place at  15 Clive Row (Previously known as Theater Street). Here  James Finlay Muir & Co stayed for a long time.  

The building currently serves as the Head office  of Allahabad Bank, and is  being well maintained. With  two floors above the ground floor, this typical European styled building appears to have followed Palladian architectural style  with fa├žade showing no typical ornamentation in the cornice and pediment  resting  on the ornamented  entablature  that is supported by 6 tall  partially fluted (from the base to the middle) cylindrical columns whose pedestal is resting on the top of ground floor. The iconic columns are similar to those of  classical  ancient Greek  temple.    Provision of  small ventilation openings close to the 2nd floor top in the front  and the tall ceiling  was meant to keep the indoors cool and to allow air circulation.