Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tile Factory

The Commonwealth Tile Factory was very much part of the Palghat scene during my school days (in the 1950s)

Dumpers used to bring clay from outside the town. The clay dropping from the dumpers were popular with the school children for making dolls and other artefacts.

The factory itself used to employ several workers. They had uptodate machinery and the products were marketed far an wide.

The factory was owned by Commonwealth Trust which traces its origin to Basel Mission- a Christain Mission started by German missionaries who operated in Karnataka and Kerala. They wanted to have some vocational training and occupation for their converts and potential converts. After a some failed ventures, a Tile factory in S Kanara became their first viable unit. This must have been around 1865 . Two other tile factories were set up in 1877 and 1880 . One of them must have been the Olavakkot factory.

The Basel Mission were perhaps the inventors of the Mangalore tiles as they had a patent for the design.

Does anyone know when exactly the Olavakkot factory was established and who are the current owners of the (residual) property and what they intent doing with it?

What happened to the other Tile factories of Comtrust in Mangalore and Feroke?

The picture below shows the gate of the factory which is not yet demolished. A board mentions floor tiles, a natural diversification in the days of declining market for roofing tiles.

In the photo you will observe some plastic tubes meant for Optical Fibre cables. Is this a case of new technology standing witness to the death of an old technology - albeit in a different field?

Any additionl inputs are welcome.

Other Factories
I can also recall the New Era Brush factory in Muttikulangara where the MSP camp is presently located. There was also a Glass factory nearby.

V.Harihara Subramanian


Blogger mani said...

Dear Hari,

As I mentioned in my email I have some knowledge of the brush factory in that around 1970 my father received a demand from the official liquidator of the New Era Brush factory for payment of Rs. 450=00 being the uncalled amount on the shares of the company. Since we left Palakkad in 1948 it occurs to me that he may have been persuaded to subscribe to the shares of the comapny some time prior to that.

As regards, the Iron & Steel factory I have first hand knowledge as the person who promoted the company along with few others one of whom, I remember, was Mr. S.L.Sethia. The inaugural address delivered by late Mr. V.V.Giri, the then Governor of Kerala was drafted by my father as he was at that time attached to another company, Wm. Powell & Sons Ltd in Calcutta, managed by the person from Nurani, one Mr. N.S.P. Iyer, who was, if I remember right publishing a magazine titled- Manager in Calcutta. A public issue was brought out in the mid sixties which was over subscribed 5 times gathering Rs. 55 lacs. Quite a few youngsters were recruited from Kerala for the iron & steel project and brought to Calcutta for training. These trainees stayed in a flat in Calcutta which was later occupied by us for a year and a half.

2:54 PM  

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