Vintage Flour Mills of Karachi


January 20, 2009


Heritage | History

The following is an article by Ghulam Baloch in the Dawn (link to article below)

ACCORDING to a recent media report, there are a total of 77 flour mills in Karachi, out of which 72 are currently functional whereas five are not working. It is interesting to note that until 1947 there were only four flour mills in Karachi. The first-ever flour mills built in Karachi was said to be Rama Flour Mills, situated close to the City Courts. Then came forth the house of Nusserwanjis, who established their Karachi flour mills at the place where now exists the Millwala Apartments opposite the KMC workshop on Lawrence Road. The built-up quality of Nusserwanjis’ Karachi flour mills was stated to be the finest among all the four flour ills. The third mill of Karachi was Sindh Flour Mills in which place now stands Azeem Plaza in the Shoe Market area near Garden.

This mill comprised a complex of two separate buildings. The last flour mill of the British era was Goa Mills whose construction began in 1902 and it started its production in 1908.The mill was located at a place once called Cincinnatus Town, in the Garden West area off Lawrence Road. The street of the mill still bears its name even today, i.e. Mill Street. As it appears from its very name, the original owners of the mill were probably Goan .

In 1936, at the time of purchasing of this factory by business tycoon Seth Fakrudin Tawawala, the mill’s ownership appeared to have changed hands from Goan Christian to well-known Parsi political figure of Dadabhoy Navroji. Because by that time the mill had been already renamed as Dadabhoy Navroji and Sons: The India Flour Mills. The mill was said to have been purchased by Seth Tawawala from Dadabhoy at a sum of Rs3.6 million. It is said that Mr Dadabhoy had forbidden the new owner to further change the name of the factory. For this reason, the mill retained its old name till the last moment.

It is interesting to note that despite hostility towards India during the 1965 and 1971 wars, no one protested or objected to the India Flour Mills’ name and it flourished during those difficult periods of time. The mill was said to be the biggest flour mills of the time. Its production capacity was about 1,285 flour bags of 100 seers in a single shift of eight hours. The mill had been working in two shifts. There was no match of its godowns in terms of capacity.

They were so huge that no other mills had such amount of stocktaking capacity. The mill was spread over 30,000 square yards with an impressive stone-built airy structure. Amid a hue and cry of nationalisation in the air, suddenly on the night of Oct 23, 1973 the mill caught fire and was completely gutted. One half of its land now occupies Prince Avenue, the other half is vacant. Sadly all the above-mentioned vintage flour mills have gone.

Original article here.