Karachi before independence

Those of you with Karachi links might take interest in the following video, featuring scenes of Karachi just before Partition and independence.
Some observations:
– Trolleys/trams in the video have the BEST logo on them — which I assume must be the same Bombay Electrical Supply and Tramways Co. that still, now under state control, plies the streets of Mumbai today.
– Signs in the park are in English and Gujarati.
It gives us an idea of what western India was like before it was so radically changed by a new border in 1947.

Dinyar Patel
Ph.D. Candidate, Modern South Asia
Department of History
Harvard University
+91 87672 03572


  • The original Karachi trams as you see in earlier footage of the movie were motor driven running on embeded rails in the the road. They did not have overhead traction. May be the double decker tram with over head power traction seen later in the movie, were introduced during the 1940’s. But I did not see any like them in the late 1950;s or early 1960’s when tramway systems were removed. Do not remember seeing the double deckers in the Main Tram Garage on Bunder Road also.
    Prior to Partition, Karachi used to be under the Province of Bombay. It seems that at some point of time the Karachi Tramway system was taken over by the Bombay Electric Supply & Transport Company, hence the logo BEST. In Delhi the tramways & electric trolley busses had DEST painted on them. The Movie appears to have been shot in WW2 & pre-partition period. The Millitary truck, the Austin car model and the dress of the people in the street suggest that..

    • From the age of 19 I was with the RAF in Karachi from 1953-55 and being a tram enthusiast I took many monochrome photogrphs of the cars and depot in Bunder Road as it was called then. The Mohammed Ali Tramway Company only had single deck cars driven by petrol or diesel engines and the electric double decker shown in the film is a Bombay car. I rode all the routes including Keamari which at the time was generally out of use due to bus competition. I also made a detailed drawing of the tram lines themselves which was used by F. Merton Atkins to update his map seen elsewhere and my name appears in the credits. I still have the model tram that I made whilst at the RAF station at Mauripur and my tram photographs have appeared in several publications in the UK. Terry Russell. December 2012.

      • Thanks for your services Terry! unfortunately we Pakistanis don’t appreciate great people and assets like you.

  • such a beautiful city this used to be

  • I born in 78 and raised in Karachi but never realised how important was it before partition. Ram Jethmalani (Top Indian Lawyer) explained it in a interview it was a hub for best lawyers. LK Advani bacame so emotional after visiting Karachi. It looks like this partitiion really impacted Karachi alot. Rulers after partition ruined this city.

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