Bank of Bengal - Rangoon - 1914
Cnr Strand Rd & Sule Pagoda Rd, Rangoon.
The Bank of Bengal can trace its history to 1806 when the Bank of Calcutta was established; however by 1809, it was renamed by royal charter and expanded its banking to the whole of Bengal. Partly owned by the Government, partly owned by private individuals, it was one of the Presidency banks (along with the Bank of Bombay and the Bank of Madras) and it frequently lent money to the East India Company and its successor, the Imperial Government of India.
The India and Burma Office List of 1852 lists amongst the Bank's seven proprietary directors, W McA Steuwart, D Mackinlay, JH Ferguson, J Cowie and JJ Mackenzie - good strong Scottish names for the thrifty work of banking! The Calcutta head office of the Bank was similarly on Strand Road near the High Court.
As part of British India, colonial Burma shared many of the same institutions and these impressive premises were built in 1914 to replace an earlier building on the same site. By 1910, the Bank of Bengal played an important part in financing the rice export trade from Burma - which would become the largest rice exporter in the world in the 1920s and 1930s. The Bank of Bengal would later merge with the other two presidency banks, the Bank of Madras and the Bank of Bombay to become the Imperial Bank of India in 1921.