20 June 2023
BACSA members and friends spent a very enjoyable evening at the East India Club, in London, where Dr Rosie Llewellyn-Jones gave an illustrated lecture on her latest book Empire Building: The Construction of British India 1690-1860.
Established in 1849 for the ‘servants of the East India Company and Commissioned Officers of Her Majesty’s Army and Navy’, the ‘dynamic, sociable and hardworking gentlemen’ for whom it provided a home from home, the Club’s London premises are in St James’s Square, near Piccadilly. We assembled in the large ground floor East India Room, where, surrounded by the Club’s famous collection of portraits, we sipped our pre-dinner drinks under the watchful eyes of several 19th century notables – including General Outram, John Lawrence, the King of Oudh, and Queen Victoria herself.
We then moved to the Clive Room for Dr Llewellyn-Jones’s lecture. Already familiar to BACSA members as the Editor of Chowkidar and the author of several books on the history of Oudh, and Lucknow in particular – from The Nawabs, the British and the City of Lucknow (1986) to Lucknow 1857 (2022), Rosie explained how, in Empire Building: The Construction of British India 1690-1860, she decided to look at British India pre 1860, and examine the practical aspects of the East India Company’s work: the motives and methods underlying the physical construction of ‘post offices, schools, universities, orphanages, hospitals, asylums, roads, canals, steamships and railways’ and their associated infrastructures.
After the lecture we returned to the East India Room (where we were served a delicious 3-course meal with a carefully chosen Asian theme), following which BACSA member Brigadier David Chaundler made a speech thanking Dr Rosie Llewellyn-Jones for a most interesting lecture; Rosemary Raza, BACSA Events Organiser, for arranging such a memorable evening, and the staff of the East India Club for their assistance.
The evening closed with many BACSA members taking the opportunity of purchasing a signed copy of Rosie’s book.
(Empire Building: The Construction of British India 1690-1860, by Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, is published by C Hurst & Co, ISBN 9781787388048. It is available through bookshops and online).