Pansodan was originally Phayre Street named after Sir Arthur Purves Phayre, a career British Indian Army officer who became the first Commissioner of British Burma from 1862 to1867. He was related to Lt. General Robert Phayre, who served the British administration in Ireland in the 1600’s and also signed the death warrant of Charles the First .
Starting at the south of the street and heading north we shall pass a number of interesting buildings.
On the left at the corner with Strand Road
Myanmar Port Authority
Formerly the Port Trust. An Italian camponile style tower dominates the Strand and the Pansodan. This building was completed in 1928, the architect was Thomas Oliphant Foster.
Following the end of the second Anglo-Burmese war in 1853 and the seizure of territory up to Magwe and the establishment of the British port of Rangoon, trade increased quickly. In 1880 it was decided to form a Port Trust Authority. When Upper Burma was finally annexed in 1896 Rangoon became third only to Bombay and Calcutta in port traffic in British India. Textiles were a major import, two thirds coming from Lancashire. By the late 1890’s rice exports had trebled over the previous 20 years, and timber shipments quadrupled. This building replaced the original Port Trust offices.
The next main building is
The Myanmar Agricultural Bank
Former Grindlay’s Bank building. Built in 1930, after independence part of it became the office of the Ministry of Information and also the National Museum. It has now reverted back to it’s original function as a bank. During the 1950’s, Lloyds Bank sold their Indian interests to Grindlays Bank. During WW2 the building to the right was the headquarters of the Kempei Tai (Japanese Military Police).
Inland Water Transport Ministry
Formerly the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. Founded by Scottish merchants in 1865, the IFC ‘ grew to become the largest river fleet in the world. In 1942, When the Japanese invaded Burma during the Second World War, the company’s last chief, a redoubtable Scot named John Morton ordered his men to scuttle the entire flotilla.
The captains of the IFC were much respected. Some shops had signs proclaiming they were “Silk Mercers to the Kings and Queens of Burma and the Captains of the Steamers”.
On the opposite side of the street.
Yangon Divisional Court (Civil) formerly the Accountant General’s Office .
The Accountant-General was responsible for the collection of revenue in Burma, principally from opium, salt and teak. In 1909, for instance revenue came from opium, salt, customs, railways, post office charges, telegraph charges, tributes, and required military and irrigation works. In 1909 the largest export was teak, the UK being the largest importer and Germany the second. In total 50,000 cubic tonnes were exported in that year. Much UK bound teak went to the Royal Navy.
On the same side of the road is
Myanmar Economnic Bank No 2.
Formerly the Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China. Granted a Royal Charter in 1853, the bank operated in most parts of the Empire. After the end of the second Anglo- Burmese war Burma a branch was established in Rangoon. The present building replaces a previous premises and was complete in 1941. The architecture is modern with art deco features and a hint of Burmese – the tower is reminiscent of a pagoda.
The architects were the Shanghai-based Palmer & Turner. Next door is
Myanmar Economic Branch and Savings Bank Branch No 1
(formerly Lloyds Bank, and previously Cox’s Bank. (built 1921).Lloyds took this building over from Cox and Co ( official agency to provision military garrisons) in 1924. The bank continued after the war ( the Japanese tried to dynamite the safe unsuccessfully), and due to the increased pressure to nationalise commerical and administrative posts after independence, the bank left Myanmar. It was also for a time the National Museum which contained the Lion Throne of Burma, restored to Myanmar by Lord Mountbatten after World War 2.
Lokanat Gallery Building
Formerly Sofaer & Co’s Bldg (built 1906)
Built by Isaac Sofaer, a rich Baghdadi Jew who emigrated to Burma as a child, he was one of 2,000 Jews in Rangoon before 1942. The building was opened by the Governor General of Burma with a golden key. The floor tiles came from Manchester, England.
Like many Jews in Rangoon, the Sofaer family contributed to the construction and upkeep of the Musmeah Yeshua synogague, and the Sofaer family donated the gates to the Rangoon Zoo, which were opened in 1906 by the Prince and Princess of Wales (later George V).
The premises were also occupied by the China Mutual Life Assurance Co and on the ground floor the Bank of Burma. On the opposite side of the road.
The Internal Revenue Department
Formerly Rander House, built by Indians from Rander, a port in Gujurat district. It became the Embassy of Pakistan but is now government offices and apartments. Just behind this building, facing Merchant Street, in the present Indian Embassy
Crossing Merchant Street and heading north the first building is
Commercial Premises Lower Pansodan
The former Randeria Building, also built by immigrants from Gujurat. It housed the Indian Embassy at one time.
Walking north along the Pansodan you will pass various colonial and post colonial buildings including on the right.
the former offices of Thomas Cook, the first travel agents.
On the left walking north is the
The Yangon Division Court House
Formerly the High Court (1912) built in the Queen Anne architectural style by James Ransome and built by Hayne Fox.
When viewed from the other side fronting Maha Bandoola Gardens on can see a magnificent clock tower
Next door is
Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications.
Built in 1911 and designed by John Begg , a Scots architect. JohnBegg also designed many government buildings in the Raj, such as the Customs House on Strand Road. This office was globally connected via overland and underwater marine cable.
On March 7th 1942, at precisely 2.00pm, this and other government building and installations were “destroyed” to prevent their use by the advancing Japanese forces. The Japanese had the office operating within a month, and this also became the centre for civilians to surrender their wireless sets to prevent them listening to “enemy” broadcasts.
When the Japanese evacuated Rangoon in 1945 members if the Indian National Army took over the defence of this building, and they surrendered it and themselves to the victorious allies. On the opposite side of the road you will see
Commericial premises Upper Pansodan
This handsome commercial premises has always be a subject for photographers since it was built in the late Victorian period.
On the opposite side of the road is
Commercial Premises Upper Pansodan
formerly Watson & Son, Rangoon. This general store sold everything imaginable – from wool to motor cars. The business did not survive the war.