MUMBAI: There was a devastating fire in Bombay in 1803 which resulted in expansion of main city out of the walls of the Bombay Fort Area. British Government saw this devastating fire as an opportunity to expand and resettle so that Fort Area, which was the main area of the city, may be de-congested.
The city then was largely confined within a wall and this area of Bombay is still known as Fort. The areas which were extended and developed, after 1803 as a result of that huge fire included Mandvi, Girgaum and Bhindi Bazar.
After more than 200 years, these very areas of Bhindi Bazaar, Girgaum, Mandvi etc have become very congested and the need is being felt to redevelop and decongest them.
The British Government is credited for founding a modern city of Bombay in 19th century. They did it by joining all seven islands of the city using expert British engineers.
It resulted in the turning of seven islands into a grand, big and unified city. The process of completely joining all the seven islands was over by mid of 19th century.
British rulers first formed Fort area as the original town of Bombay. All important buildings, offices, trading centres, residences of influential and rich people were in Fort area, which was fortified by huge walls. There were several gates, which allowed entry into this Bombay town.
In the Fort area, rapid development saw congestion. North portion of Indian part of the town and East portion of Port District was much crowded. This fire of 1803 began in crowded Indian part of the town, which completely devastated it. It completely destroyed and razed many localities.
While the fire gave way for expansion of Bombay to new areas outside Fort, it is to be remembered that Bombay Fire Brigade Department was also formed in 1803, due to this big fire. Initially, it was not so organized. It operated under the authority of Police Chief. Those fire brigades were using Horse – Driven Fire Engines.
On 1 April , 1887 , Bombay Fire Brigade was put into the charge of Bomaby’s Municipal Commissioner .