Records of Kanan Devan Hills Produce Co Ltd

Scope and Content


  • Shareholding records;
  • Accounting records;
  • Staff records;
  • Property records;
  • The minutes of the Board of Directors' meetings 1897-1995;
  • Annual General Meeting minutes 1964-1995;
  • Corporate Records 1906-1977;
  • Balance sheets 1956-1969;
  • Trout of Travancore by WSS MacKay 1944;
  • High Range Angling Association information booklets 1941-1951.

Administrative / Biographical History

Kanan Devan Hills Produce Co Ltd, tea planters,  Glasgow, Scotland, was formed in  1897  as a subsidiary of  James Finlay & Co Ltd, textile manufacturers, tea planters, and merchants,  Glasgow. It had been  Sir John Muir, senior partner in  James Finlay & Co Ltd, who had seen the possibilities for investment in the tea industry, which led to the formation of the four companies known as the Finlay Group:  Amalgamated Tea Estates Co Ltd, tea planters,  Glasgow,  1896 ; The  Consolidated Tea & Lands Co Ltd, tea planters,  1896 Edinburgh, Scotland; The  Kanan Devan Hills Produce Co Ltd,  1897 ; and  The Anglo-American Direct Tea Trading Co Ltd, tea planters,  Edinburgh,  1898 . This radically altered the basis of  James Finlay & Co Ltd from a firm with its principal interest in cotton in  Scotland to a firm with its principal interests in tea and jute in  India.  Kanan Devan Hills Produce Co Ltd s tea estates were in  North Travancore, India, and had originally been the property of the  North Travancore Land Planting & Agricultural Society, which had passed to  Consolidated Tea & Lands Co Ltd.  Consolidated Tea & Lands Co Ltd continued to hold a large interest in  Kanan Devan Hills Produce Co Ltd up to the  1950s , although  Finlay, Muir & Co Ltd, agents, and merchants,  Calcutta, India, acted as managing agents. While a major portion of the produce was exported, in  1916  the surplus Tea from the Kanan Devan hills started being distributed in  South India and  Central India through the local Tea Sales Department.  Finlay, Muir & Co Ltd held control over most of the estates till  1964 , when  James Finlay & Co Ltd entered into collaboration with  Tata Tea Ltd, tea producers,  Calcutta, India, for setting up an instant tea factory in the Kanan Devan hills. In  1976 ,  Tata Tea Ltd took over the tea production and marketing operations of  James Finlay & Co Ltd and a new company,  Tata Finlay Ltd, was born. In  1983 ,  James Finlay & Co Ltd sold their shareholdings in  Tata Tea Ltd. The company was dissolved in  2001 .

'The Finlay-Muir Tea Companies of any public importance number five - the  Consolidated Tea and Lands Company, the  Amalgamated Tea Estates, the  Kanan Devan Hills Produce Company, the  Hopewell Tea Company, and the  Anglo-American Direct Tea Trading Company. Of these, the two first-named are public companies in the ordinary sense of the word, and their last reports were dealt with in recent numbers of The Review, while the other three may be considered offshoots of these, which certainly control them in every way. The shares of the Kanan Devan Produce Hills Company are largely held by the Consolidated Tea and Lands and Amalgamated Tea Estates Companies, but apparently some of its shares are held by outsiders, and reports are issued annually. As to the other two concerns, we believe, they are little better than book-keeping productions, and we have not even seen a report issued by them. No doubt, their shares are held almost entirely by the two mother-companies, and so any report issued would be almost tantamount to a confidential statement. The Kanan Devan Hills Produce Company's chief object has been to develop tea estates in Travancore, but it also bought up some gardens in Assam at an extravagant price, and has a fair acreage under coffee and cinchona. Certain estates were held in Ceylon and South India, outside Travancore, but these were turned over in 1898  to the Anglo-American Direct Tea Trading Company at a big profit, which we believe, was almost wholly represented by paper. Expansion has been the motto all along, and it is difficult to see how the Company is to finance the huge area of immature tea and coffee now on its hands. During 1888  and 1889  it planted 5,567 acres, chiefly tea and coffee, and proposes to plant 3,066 acres in the current year. Meantime, it is paying dividends by means of extraneous resources, which, to say the least, are of a somewhat curious character. ... ... In the first two years, the amount of paid-up ordinary capital was very small, and the directors declared for the year ended November 30, 1897 , a dividend and bonus of 38 per cent., and for the year ended November 30, 1898 , a dividend of 13 per cent. For the last year the dividend shrunk to 5 per cent., and we should imagine that will be the last dividend paid for a long time to come. ... ... Since the last balance-sheet was drawn up a call of £1 per share has been made upon the ordinary shares, and we should imagine that the remaining £5 per share will soon be wasted. Meantime, it is a mystery to us how the funds required to cultivate and finance the huge extent of immature acreage will be found. Every source of revenue appears to be anticipated, and the Company, like all in this group, is simply living on its bankers and other creditors. There can be only one termination to this financial policy, and this can merely be delayed so long as the inhabitants of Glasgow and other shareholders retain their superstitious belief in the miraculous powers possessed by Sir John Muir and his Boards of directors. Such relief has faded out of City circles, but it still appears to be alive and active in many households, which will, we are afraid, pay dearly for their allegiance.' - Investors' Review, 1900 .


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Related Material

Material in other repositories: GB 059 Finlay Campbell & Co and Finlay Muir & Co (British Library: Oriental and India Office Collections). More historical information can be obtained from India Office Library, 125 Blackfriars Road, London SE1, Ref: Eur. MSS D.1063.


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Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999and National Council on Archives, Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Collection catalogued by members of Glasgow University Archive Services staff. Catalogue converted to Encoded Archival Description by Michelle Kaye, Archives Assistant (Cataloguing), May 2012. Additional material catalogued and converted into Encoded Archival Description by Peter Morphew, Cataloguing Archivist, January 2016.