The above photograph, taken in 1925, shows flour mills at the village of ‘Bund Amir’, today known as Band-e Amir in Shiraz County, Fars Province, Iran. The photograph is one of many taken in Fars Province in 1925 by the consulting engineer Edmund George Lazarus and forms part of an extensive report written by him on behalf of the Tata Engineering Company Ltd, Consulting Engineers, Bombay, India. Tata Engineering had been asked by Messrs A Nemazee and Company of Bombay to report on possible hydro-electric developments in Fars Province, Persia, and this resulted in Lazarus making the long trip to Fars via present day Pakistan.
How to Get from Bombay, India, to Fars Province, Persia, in 1925
In the introduction to his report, Lazarus, describes the journey to Fars Province at length, which puts the modern business trip into perspective, and an extract from that introduction is reproduced below;
“The province of Fars is the largest in Persia and practically embraces the whole of the coast line of Persia in the Persian Gulf. The chief seaport is Bushire and the seat of government of the province is Shiraz.
The B.I.S.N. Co’s fast mail boat usually leaves Bombay on Friday after the arrival of the English Mail Steamer. The first port of call is Karachi [today the capital of the Pakistani province of Sindh] which is reached in about 40 hours. A halt of about 6 hours is made here and the boat then proceeds straight for Bushire which is reached on the following Wednesday. On entry into the Gulf on the second day after leaving Karachi during the hot weather a change is noticed in the air which gradually gets more and more moist, till at Bushire the heat gets very oppressive.
There is no harbour at Bushire and owing to large shoals, the boat anchors about 3 miles from town. Usually a steam launch meets the boat and lands passengers in from 45 minutes to 2 hours from time of leaving the boat, depending on tide and winds. The return fare from Bombay to Bushire is Rs 509 [Rupees].
Like all other ports on the Persian Gulf, Bushire suffers from a scarcity of fresh water. Large cisterns are therefore constructed in the basements of buildings which are filled with rain water from the roofs. As the roofs are used for sleeping during the summer months, the water collected is by no means pure. From Bushire to Shiraz is a distance of approximately 179 miles by road. Caravans usually cover the distance in 10 to 14 days. Mails are sent every other day between Bushire and Shiraz on mules and are 5 days in transit. A motor may be engaged for 60 tumans (Rs 180). It is possible for a good high-powered car starting early in the morning to reach Shiraz late in the evening, but the journey is generally covered in two days, a stop being made at either Konar Takhteh or Kazrun. There are no dak bungalows on route, but motorists generally manage to get admission to one of the Indo-European Telegraph Company’s Patrol Stations. These are usually in charge of two armed Persian linesmen, who for say ten Krons (Rs 3) will prepare a meal consisting of rice and roast chicken and supply hard boiled eggs for the rest of the journey. The Persian carpet is usually in evidence and the traveller lays himself to rest if he can ignore the onslaughts of sand flies which are found in countless numbers all over the country.”
The photograph below shows the ‘Camp at Kamarij Plain’, and the Ford car that Lazarus used on his way to Shiraz.
The car features again although in a more precarious position, in the following photographs which are titled, ‘Pushing Car up Pass’ and ‘Kamarij Pass’ respectively!
Lazarus describes the roads as follows;
“To a motorist used to good roads, these roads are very trying as they are absolutely dangerous with high gradients, sharp hair-pin bends and loose stones or six inches deep with dust. The gradients being very severe it often happens that in a Ford car the petrol will not flow from the tank to the carburettor in which case the passengers dismount and with the help of villagers push the car till the road is less steep. Along the greater part of the road there are no parapet walls and one drives along precipitous roads always in danger of side-slipping down the valleys. This is worse at the hair-pin bends which being so sharp necessitate reversing the car. In order to do this the car has to be driven right to the edge of the rock and then backed.”
Today Shiraz is the 5th most-populous city of Iran and is the capital of Fars Province. It has been a regional trade centre for over a thousand years and is one of the oldest cities of ancient Persia. In the 13th century, Shiraz became a leading centre of the arts and letters, due to the encouragement of its ruler and the presence of many Persian scholars and artists. Shiraz is known as the city of poets, literature, wine (despite Iran being an Islamic republic), and flowers. Many Iranians consider it to be the city of gardens, due to the many gardens and fruit trees that can be seen in the city. The two photographs below taken in 1925 show firstly the Shiraz River and residencies in the distance, and secondly Mr Nemazee’s garden in Shiraz.
For anyone wondering about the relationship between the place Shiraz in Persia/Iran and the wine called Shiraz, Shiraz wine refers separately to two different well-known wines. Historically, the name does indeed refer to the wine produced around the city of Shiraz in Persia/Iran. In the current era Shiraz is a marketing term for Syrah produced in Australia and South Africa. The modern “Shiraz” grape is identical to Syrah which originated in southeast France and has no established connection to Persia/Iran.
Edmund George Lazarus
The obituary for E G Lazarus appeared in Electronics & Power, vol.10, issue 6, June 1964 and is reproduced below.
Edmund George Lazarus (AM 1918, M 1926) died on the 29th November 1963 at the age of 81. He was born at Waltair, India, and, after completing his schooling, he came to England for further studies in electrical technology. On his return to India, he joined the Tata Engineering Co., a firm of consulting engineers, where he was responsible for the design and installation of electrical equipment at several firms. In 1925, he was sent to Iran to report on the feasibility of a hydroelectric project near Shiraz. In 1927 he joined the BES and T Co., as their planning engineer. In this capacity, he was responsible for the street-lighting installations in Bombay and for the design and erection of numerous substations and a new office building. He was a member of the Bombay Local Committee of the Institution from 1937 to 1946. He retired in September 1942 and immediately enrolled in the Army as a supervising engineer. On the cessation of hostilities, he settled down at Taunton. He was well known for his kindness, fair dealing and absolute incorruptibility. He leaves a widow and two daughters.
The E G Lazarus collection which includes other reports and material relating to the Tata Engineering Company Ltd and also the Bombay Electric Supply and Tramways Company (BEST), has been given an archive reference NAEST 103 and can be consulted in the IET Archives by appointment.