The Bengal Club epitomizes elegance. It also stands for finely matured tradition
and epicurean excellence. Time slows down somewhat when people go through the portals
of this magnificent white edifice in the heart of bustling Calcutta. Here, the unchanged
stately splendour of another era is all pervasive. Even the most hurried high-flying
corporate chiefs and business people fall in with its adagio pace.
It is that kind of club – where the flavours of fine life are to be savoured
as in a brandy snifter. You dine and relax and read and relax some more. And entertain
in serene splendour. No lurching ahead, but capturing the essence of leisure in
the city centre.
The Bengal Club has a special place in history – a respectable antiquity.
Founded in 1827, its ancestry is at par with the clubs around the world like Athanaeum
(1824), the Oxford and Cambridge (1830), the Carlton (1832) and The Reform (1837),
clubs which were the highlight of nineteenth century Britain. Another great club
directly connected with India is the East India United Service Club, founded in
1849. In India, the Clubs that rival the Bengal Club in age are the Madras Club
(1831), the Byculla Club (1833) and the Western India Turf Club (1837).
When the Bengal Club was first conceived in the winter of 1826-7, it was christened
the Calcutta United Service Club, at a meeting held in the Calcutta Town Hall. It
was presided over by Lt Col the Hon J. Finch, who was later to become the first
President of the Club. The Club was housed in a building in Esplanade West, erected
in 1813. Fund raising was through the then popular method of lottery.