New Market at Kolkata — The Shopping Mall that Stood the Test of Times

Today’s youngsters might be more attracted to the shiny, glitzy malls that are coming up everywhere, but the New Market at Kolkata, located right at the heart of the city, continues to draw shoppers, the bargain hunters, history-hungry tourists, and nostalgia-struck Calcuttans.

And why not? In a city like Kolkata, where marketplaces serve as a melting pot of communities and cultures, the New Market, with its grand gothic structure, is the oldest and the most vibrant among all. With rows of street-food stalls by its side, the charming market evokes a kind of nostalgia that is loved and cherished by every citizen of Kolkata.

The Glorious History of  the New Market

In the 1850s, as British colonies slowly and gradually became the order of the day, a majority of the Britishers overtly started displaying their disdain to brush shoulders with “natives” at marketplaces. Moved by a choreographed cry by the English residents, the then Calcutta Corporation, in 1871, contemplated developing a market to exclusively serve Calcutta’s British Sahibs.

Impelled by citizen’s deliberations, the Calcutta Corporation hastily purchased a plot in the hub of Calcutta’s elitist British environs, the Chowringhee, Lindsay Street. In the year 1873, the East India Railway Company, headed by renowned architect Richard Roskell Bayne, conceptualized the Gothic-style market-complex.

The New Market was thrown open to the British inhabitants on January 1, 1874, where the blue-blooded and affluent Englishmen shopped at brand stores like Thacker Spink – famed book-dealers and stationers – Cuthbertson and Harper – shoe-merchants – Rankin and Company – exclusive dressmakers – and retailer R.W. Newman.

On December 2, 1903, the New Market was officially christened Sir Stuart Hogg Market. Sir Stuart Hogg was the sitting chairman of Calcutta Corporation during the British Raj era, who tenaciously upheld the plans for developing a market exclusively for the Britishers. Till this day, a portrait painting of Sir Stuart Hogg features in Calcutta Corporation’s picture gallery.

New Market kept pace with Calcutta’s growth and urbanization until the World War 11, which completely anaesthetized Calcutta’s social and business life. With many endeavours, the northern section of the market came up at an expense of 6 lakh rupees in 1909, and finally, underneath the clouds of 2nd World War, an extension on the southern portion was engineered. As a grand finale, New Market’s historic clock-tower was constructed in the 1930s, which still stands today.

Over the years, the city of Kolkata has spawned several privately-owned and corporation-promoted markets, but none could steal the charm that wraps the New Market. For over a century, the Market has stood the test of times, and today, it offers shoppers an ultimate shopping experience.

The New Market Today

The name and fame of the New Market at Kolkata extend beyond geographical boundaries, which brings shoppers to this shopping paradise from neighbouring states, the county, and even abroad. The New Market is a must-watch during the festive season – October to January – when the market sports a delightful festive look. People from different parts of the city folk here to have a merry good time. The Market, encompassed by the warm culture of Kolkata, never misses welcoming people from other communities, places, or religion.

The heritage building, barring restoration of some parts after a fire in 1985, mostly retains its history and grandeur. The new generation of today, will, however, miss the canopies at the main entrance, and the iconic 75-mm cannon, which adorned the market-complex. The canon, used in the Boer War in South Africa, remained at New Market till 2006, before the Kolkata Corporation decided to shift it to Town Hall.

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