Consulates: Bushire, Isfahan, Meshed, Shiraz and Tabriz

Bushire

Bushire is a port towards the head of the Gulf. The East India Company transferred its headquarters in the Gulf from Bandar Abbas to Bushire around 1770, and established a Political Residency there with responsibility for the maintenance of British interests in the whole Gulf area. The first residency building on the seafront was destroyed by British gunfire during the 1856-7 conflict and was rebuilt in conventional Anglo-Indian style soon afterwards. The first British Post Office was installed in its grounds in 1864. Concurrently, the resident acquired some land at Sabzabad, on higher ground about five miles south of Bushire, and built on it a spacious summer residence. The heat, even here, nevertheless drove residents and their families to Shiraz for much of the summer. In mid-century, Sabzabad became the residents’ permanent home and office, although the town residency, with its own jetty, and the Church and Post Office, remained in some use. In 1878, the resident was granted an exequatur to act additionally as consul-general for the Fars region.

The residency moved from Bushire to Bahrain in 1946. By then it occupied, besides the town and Sabzabad sites, two other sites, both in the district called Naidi on the road south to Sabzabad. One was called the British Government lands, or PWD lands, about 35 acres acquired in 1912, containing the executive engineer’s and his assistant’s houses, garages and PWD workshops. The other, much smaller, originally housed the secretary to the resident and later became the consulate, and was vacated in 1952. The town and Sabzabad sites were sold to the Persian government in the late 1940s, and the other two in 1959 to the governor of Bushire, representing the Imperial Iranian government.

Plan of Bushire, 1923.

Isfahan

In central Iran, about mid-way between Teheran and Shiraz in the south. The consulate was opened in 1891 and premises leased in the parish known as Muhammed Husein Bey [?sp]. This same building was bought in 1896 for about £1,500. The drawing room was extended in 1906 and more work was undertaken in the mid-1920s.  The post closed in 1934 and the building was sold, with difficulty, in 1935 to Mirza Haidar Aliu Khan Imami.

The post was subsequently re-opened in leased premises[?when] but later the Isfahan and Shiraz consular districts were amalgamated and Isfahan was put on a care and maintenance basis for visitors from Shiraz.

Survey drawing of compound, 1920.

Survey drawing of compound, 1920.

View down drive to officers, ? date.

View down drive to officers, ? date.

Entrance to drawing room wing.

Entrance to drawing room wing.

South front of offices.

South front of offices.

The drawing room.

The drawing room.

Sketch plan of Isfahan.

Sketch plan of Isfahan.

Meshed

In the north-east, close to the Turkmenistan border. The consulate was established in 1889. Curzon passed through Meshed a few months later and was disparaging about the leased premises that was all that the consul had managed to obtain. In a despatch to The Times, he called for the consul-general to be treated ‘in a style and in quarters better fitted to represent to the native mind the prestige of a great and wealthy power.’

A site of over eight acres was, accordingly, bought in 1892 by the Government of India: it was laid out as a compound with several houses, full ancillaries and a large garden, and the first set of buildings was completed in 1893. Other buildings followed in 1899 and extra land was obtained in 1905 and 1906 for native quarters. By 1948 the entire compound, whose entrance was on Pah Lavi Road, was the best vegetated area in Meshed and surrounded by a wall fourteen feet high. The post was closed in 1952. The British Council re-opened in part of the compound in 1958 and the [?part of it which it did not need was sold in ?]. The Council had to leave in 1979 and [?what happened to the BC premises?]

Plan of compound, ? date.

Plan of compound, ? date.

Ruined former vice-consul 's house, 1965.

Ruined former vice-consul ‘s house, 1965.

Courtyard surrounded by British Council lecture rooms, 1965.

Courtyard surrounded by British Council lecture rooms, 1965.

Former consul-general residence, 1965.

Former consul-general residence, 1965.

Shiraz

About one hundred miles inland from Bushire. The consulate opened in 1903 and buildings were immediately erected on a five acre leased site (that was bought in 1928]. The one-storey consulate lay at the end of a long straight tree-lined access drive, with orchards on either side. [describe] The political resident used to ‘recess’ at Shiraz during the summer, which required the consulate to move out each time. The British Council took over the site when it returned to Shiraz in 1959 but had to leave in 1979. [present status – never handed back?]

Site plan, c. 1960.

Site plan, c. 1960.

Looking south down drive to main gates.

Looking south down drive to main gates.

 

Residence, main frontage, 1960.

Residence, main frontage, 1960.

In front of the consular building, 1927.

In front of the consular building, 1927.

Tabriz

In the north-west corner of Iran, close to Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. From about 1805, it was the custom of the Shahs to appoint the heir apparent as the provincial governor in Tabriz and from 1811, when the embassy in Tehran was established, it suited the head of mission to spend extended periods at Tabriz in order to be close to the Crown Prince. The Shah assigned a house in Tabriz for the British mission to use in the Armenian quarter of town and ‘a large rambling building of seventeen rooms and innumerable passages built round three courtyards with an attractive garden laid out in the front courtyard’. [Wright p79]

The first consulate was established in this house in 1841. The house had originally been confiscated by the Persian government but was later [?when] restored by royal decree to the family of the original owner, who sold it to a British subject, Dr McCormick, whose family continued to lease it to the British consulate. The lease was renewed for 21 years in 1897 and then annually from 1918. By this time the lessor was Mrs Louisa Hakoumoff of 19 Chatsworth Gardens, Acton Hill, London W. She died in 1920 by  which time the building was by ‘in the midst of unsanitary and undesirable surroundings’ and the intention was to buy a site and build a new vice-consulate. The property was finally surrendered in 1926, when the consulate moved into leased premises.

Photos

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