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'Ahead of his time': When Jamsetji Tata envisioned fruit, fish, meat cold storage for Mumbai

'Ahead of his time': When Jamsetji Tata envisioned fruit, fish, meat cold storage for Mumbai

Tata group founder wanted to increase food supply and prevent the constant food shortages that were occurring immediately after the devastating bubonic plague of the 1890s.

Tata Group founder Jamsetji Tata - Image source: Tata.com Tata Group founder Jamsetji Tata - Image source: Tata.com

Tata group founder Jamsetji Tata - whose ideas led to the creation of Tata Steel, Tata Power, the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Indian Institute of Science - once planned for installing adequate cold storage in Bombay - one of his most imaginative projects.

Harish Bhat, Brand Custodian at Tata Sons, on his Linkedin page, shared Jamsetji's this dream, which didn’t acquire the scale of his other businesses as it was "ahead of its time". Bhat, in his post, said that Jamsetji’s experiment came at a time when no such facility existed in the city.

Tata group founder wanted to increase food supply and prevent the constant food shortages that were occurring immediately after the devastating bubonic plague of the 1890s.

Therefore, around 1899, Jamsetji began drawing up plans for constructing a huge building in South Mumbai, now occupied by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. Interestingly, this museum was previously known as the Prince of Wales Museum.

This building was supposed to be in a circular shape surrounding an office, where the artificial ice manufacturers would cool the entire structure and house the cold storage facility. The external perimeter would contain offices, suitably "air-conditioned" by the central ice-house, that could be leased out.

Jamsetji, for installing the cold storage, had bought an ice-house from an American Company, to be used for the preservation of fruits, fish and meat. But unfortunately, this project failed for a lack of public support.

Ice-house that Jamsetji Tata bought from an American Company - Image source: Tata.com
Ice-house that Jamsetji Tata bought from an American Company - Image source: Tata.com

Tata group founder was ahead of his time and another 20 years were to elapse before the iconic Crawford market, a wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Mumbai was equipped with adequate refrigerators and cold storage.

Bhat concluded saying that “Setbacks such as this did not deter Jamsetji from pursuing his next dream. Dreams are the visions that help unfold and enrich our lives. Jamsetji Tata never stopped dreaming throughout his life. Why should we?”

Bhat joined the Tata Group in 1987 and currently is the Chairman of Tata Coffee Limited.