Nick Jones & Nav Anand
Spending my formative years growing up in England, I was always aware of a family connection with India and its tea gardens. However, it wasn’t until much later, and after I had been living in Australia for 50 years that the stories of various relatives travelling from the UK to Calcutta by ship and then heading north by train to Assam began to really resonate with me. Read our story below to understand our connection with Dibrugarh.
Where it all started
My great-great-grandfather Henry Eric Sutherland Hannay originally travelled to Assam at the time of the East India company, which was then building its tea industry. He, along with others established several tea estates in the Dibrugarh area including Panitola and Limbuguri in the mid 1800s. He later built a school and a hospital nearby at Panitola.
Some years later, my great grandfather who was a bank teller in Pembrookshire in Wales who was employed by the East India Company married into the family in 1897 and took over running the estates until the 1920s where most family connection with India was lost. My own interest was sparked fifteen years ago that led to a trip to Assam and the city of Dibrugarh with my brother Simon, in November 2018.
The main motivation for the trip was to try and find my great grandmother's grave. She was buried at the Dibrugarh Christian cemetery (which is today in the main street) in 1902 aged only 26. Unfortunately, she died giving birth to my aunt who survived and carried on the name alongside my grandfather, who played an integral role in my own life up until he passed in 1990. We had an unbelievable time in Dibrugarh, we found the grave and to my absolute delight we also found the grave of my great-great-grandmother who died at age 41 in 1887.
This is the story of how I came in touch with the people, the traditions and finally the tea.
Shillong Church (before the earthquake)
Panitola Tea Estate
W. P. Griffith's Bungalow