This being the month when a budget would have normally been passed by the Union Government, let us tour the mercantile district of old Madras – First Line Beach, also known as North Beach Road and now, Rajaji Salai. The walk will look at the histories of the great boxwallah companies of Madras – Parry, Binny, Arbuthnot, Best & Co, Gordon Woodroffe, and the banks that financed them – the Imperial Bank of India, the National Bank, the Mercantile Bank and the Chartered Bank. We will also look at some famous insurance companies, shipping houses and the stock exchange. All once proud names, now mostly non-existent. In their heyday, they had their own newspaper, their Chamber of Commerce, their clubs and, they gave the city its harbour, its railways, its post and telegraph.

The walk will be held on Sunday, 23rd February and will last from 6.00 to 8.30 am, ending with the usual breakfast. Those interested can register by email at