The story of the Assam Company is intricately associated with the beginning and evolution of the tea industry in the Indian sub-continent. Assam Company was the pioneer in the evolution of the tea industry in Assam and has a unique status in the story of tea in India. Today, the Company has established itself as one of the leading producers of Assam tea of the finest quality, grown and manufactured in the group's own gardens.

The tea industry in Assam owes its origins to a river gunboat commander called Charles Alexander Bruce. In 1825 he braved the mighty Brahmaputra to sow the seeds of the tea plant in the wilderness of Assam. After quite a long hiatus of around fourteen years, Bruce managed to get official approval for commercial cultivation and the first consignment of Assam tea left Indian shores for the London market. This consignment had twelve packages of tea which belonged to Assam Company.

Her Majesty
Queen Victoria

Prince Dwarkanath Tagore
Founder Director, ACL, 1839

The warm reception given to this new tea provided the initial impetus to the formation of the first commercial tea Company in the world - The Assam Company. The founders were distinguished British merchants and such Indian luminaries as Prince Dwarkanath Tagore (grandfather of poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore), Babu Motilal Sil and others. Outstanding personalities subsequently served as directors like Richard Twinings, James Warren and William Duncan.

The Assam Company was formed at a meeting of merchants in London on 12th February 1839 with a capital of £500,000 in 10,000 shares of £50 each, of which 8000 were to be allotted to Great Britain and 2000 to India. The name of the Company was decided upon keeping in mind the fact that lime, coal and oil were all

to be found in the region and there was a distinct possibility of trading in any or all of these commodities, besides tea. Hence, The Assam Company rather than The Assam Tea Company was chosen, though tea was to be the main business. The Company acquired two-thirds of the government's Experimental Tea Gardens, together with permission to settle on other lands.
The Assam Company was first formed with the objective of tea cultivation in India. Some people of repute with the requisite capital had met in Calcutta for the same purpose; the Company was to be called The Bengal Tea Association. The two companies merged with the stipulation that 1400 of the 2000 shares would be given to the promoters of the Bengal Tea Association. Charles Alexander Bruce joined the Company's service on 1st March 1840, as he was the only person with any knowledge of tea cultivation and manufacture. From 1844 the Company was on the upswing, with performance and profits enhanced, which was primarily due to two outstanding entrepreneurs of the time, Henry Burkinyoung and William Roberts. In 1845, the Company was granted a Deed of British Parliament and was awarded the Royal Charter by Queen Victoria in recognition of its pioneering excellence.
Royal Charter

ACIL was first to receive Royal Charter
by HM Queen Victoria, in 1845

In 1846, the Company declared its first dividend, but a period of crisis prevailed for some time as resources, lives and energy were strained to the utmost by the prevailing conditions in Assam. In 1852, the silver lining appeared at last with a modest dividend and the tide turned for the Company.

First Share Certificate of ACIL

The Company 's progress was consistent, together with the emphasis on the quality of its product. In 1978, after the momentous years of the post-independence era, the Partition of the country and the World War, the Indian undertakings of The Assam Company along with those of five other sterling companies, were amalgamated to constitute what was known as The Assam Company (India) Limited. The new Company went public one year later, to an enthusiastic response.

Over the years the Company has maintained its close allegiance to tea, specializing in the cultivation, manufacture and marketing of some of the finest Assam teas in the world. Keeping pace with technology and modern management practices, the Company has grown to be a major player in the industry.

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