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Irrawaddy Flotilla Co - Rangoon - 1933 | by DBHKer
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Irrawaddy Flotilla Co - Rangoon - 1933

Phayre Street, Rangoon.

Founded by Scottish merchants in 1865, the IFC or 'Flotilla' grew to become the greatest river fleet in the world, transporting everything from people to raw materials in its paddle steamers and teak transporters. The following is an extract from Thomas Cook & Co's publication "India, Burma and Ceylon: Information for travellers and residents(1912) ":-


"This important Company has contributed in no small measure to the prosperity of the Province. It was formed about 1860, and at first its operations were confined to Lower Burma, but in a very short time its steamer services were extended to Mandalay and Bhamo. At the present day there is not a navigable river or creek in Burma which is not served by the steamers of this deservedly prosperous company. Special care has been taken in the construction of the passenger accommodation on these steamers. The cabins are large and roomy, fitted with electric light and fans, and most comfortably furnished. During the season from November to March, the downward steamers, from Mandalay and Bhamo, are often very full ; we therefore strongly advise travellers who can spare the time to travel up the river, as by so doing they will probably obtain better accommodation.


The fleet was scuttled just before the Japanese invasion in WWII to prevent those assets falling into enemy hands.


The excellent book 'Scots in Burma' by Alister McCrae gives the personal account of a Flotilla assistant in the 1930s.


The IFC was made famous in Kipling's verse:-


"Come you back to Mandalay,

Where the old Flotilla lay;

Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin'

From Rangoon to Mandalay"

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Taken on February 18, 2006