Breach Candy Club

  • The Breach Candy Club, restricted to “Europeans”, was a favourite spot for the exiled financial elite with its saltwater pool shaped like the map of British India and sea view.
  • Breach Candy Club
  • Breach Candy Swimming Bath Trust

  • Club
  • The Breach Candy Club, restricted to “Europeans”, was a favourite spot for the exiled financial elite with its saltwater pool shaped like the map of British India and sea view.

    Word Count: 30

  • The “Breach Candy Swimming Club, where pink people could swim in a pool the shape of British India without fear of rubbing up against a black skin” (Rushdie 1981, 94) was the product of a colonialist mindset. As the British Empire spread, so too did the culture of exclusive clubs, first as “gentlemen's clubs”, then later as “private members’ clubs”.
    With the money from the sale of the Aden Hostel for European travellers after the opening of the Suez Canal, the Europeans in Bombay decided to build a new seawater pool in 1875. The Secretary of State for India donated five acres on the Bombay shore for the swimming pool. At that time, the Breach Candy area was still largely wild and a shed was used as a bathhouse. After the turn of the century, established upper-class families built the first bungalows and mansions in the area. Over the following years, Breach Candy developed into an upscale residential area with villas and apartment buildings with sea-views. In 1927, an indoor swimming pool was installed and, in 1928, work began on the British India-shaped outdoor pool at a cost of 13 500 rupees. In 1936, the Bombay municipality lost custody while a lawsuit was settled. The newly-formed Breach Candy Swimming Bath Trust took over.
    After the Byculla Club in 1833 and the Bombay Gymkhana in 1875, the Breach Candy Club was founded in 1878 as an institution of the Raj, pursuing the policy of separation between the British colonialists and the colonised Indians. “Breach Candy” was an anglicised version of the local name, but local Indians were not allowed. The British left India in 1947, but the color bar they had introduced for the Breach Candy Club remained in place until 1960. The first Indian members were only allowed 13 years after India’s independence, and to this day they are not allowed to become trust members or to vote in trustee meetings.
    The history of access to sports and especially swimming facilities in the hot and humid climate of Bombay can be seen through a prism of class, race and nationality. Even clubs like the Willingdon Club (founded in 1918) and the Cricket Club of India, founded in Bombay in 1933 with the aim of overcoming racial segregation, reflect class and sectarian divisions in Bombay society. Hindus swam in the Pransukhlal Mehta Mafatlal Hindu Swimming Pool and Boat Club in Chowpatty, Parsis at Golwala Bath in Back Bay, and Europeans at the Breach Candy Swimming Bath Trust on Warden Road. All of these clubs had swimming pools, but only for the privileged, financial, and hereditary elites of Bombay.
    In this colonial and segregated environment, the exile foreign social elite joined the Breach Candy Club. Members included the Weingartens (Dr. Richard Weingarten was principal medical officer of Bikaner state, while Ludwig Weingarten was the manager of a celluloid factory owned by Larson and Turbo), the Schimmels and the Thenens (Josef Schimmel was manager of Kores India Ltd., where Julius Thenen was also employed), the Klimts (Fritz Klimt was co-owner of a very successful import business) and the Langhammers (Walter Langhammer was art director of the Times of India).
    The Breach Candy Club offered an indoor and an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, other sports facilities such as volleyball, a restaurant, a bar and a large seaside garden where members could relax, making it a popular venue also for an older generation of exiles, where they could gather for drinks, a coffee and a chat. At family celebrations, coffee parties and afternoon gatherings, the exiles got together with others from their own culture and spoke German.
    The financially potent exiles also spent most of their vacations, weekends and public holidays in this segregated social space. The club became a second “living room” for like-minded and “socially equal people”. It was also used for business matters, networking, lobbying, socialising with potential business partners, eating and drinking with future colleagues, employers, clients or co-owners of new business, art and advertising initiatives. Even today, the Breach Candy Club, the Willingdon Club and the Bombay Gymkhana form the “Big 3”, the top private clubs of Mumbai.

    Word Count: 673

  • 66, Warden Road, Breach Candy, Malabar Hill, Bombay
    (now 66, Bhulabhai Desai Marg, Breach Candy, Malabar Hill, Mumbai).

  • Historic aerial postcard view of Breach Candy Club with pool shaped like the map of British India, n.d. (© Private Archive Margit Franz, Sinabelkirchen).
  • Friends in exile gather at the Breach Candy Club. Edith Brett (2nd left, with her back to the camera), Kamilla Thenen (3rd right), Lutz Weingarten (2nd right, with his back to the camera), Käthe Langhammer (far right), 1940s (© Private Archive Noemi Cohen-Weingarten, London).
    Page from a Bombay travel guide during World War II lists the various swimming facilities (© Governor of Bombay. Welcome to Bombay. V… for victory. Government House, n.d., p. 9).
    The Breach Candy swimming pool with a sea view, n.d. (© Private Archive Noemi Cohen-Weingarten, London).
    The famous saltwater pool shaped like the map of British India; Clubhouse with restaurant and garden in the background, n.d. (© Private Archive Noemi Cohen-Weingarten, London).
  • Anonymous. “Byculla.” Mumbai Pages, n.d., Accessed 8 March 2021.

    Anonymous. “Pran Sukhlal Mafatlal Hindu Swimming Bath and Boat Club (Mumbai).” Wikimapia, Accessed 8 March 2021.

    Cohen, Noemi. “E-mails.” Received by Margit Franz, 10 March 2021.

    The Cricket Club of India. “History.” The Cricket Club of India, Accessed 8 March 2021.

    Dwivedi, Sharada, and Rahul Mehrotra. Bombay: The Cities Within. Eminence Designs PVT, 2001.

    Franz, Margit. Gateway India: Deutschsprachiges Exil in Indien zwischen britischer Kolonialherrschaft, Maharadschas und Gandhi. CLIO 2015.

    Governor of Bombay. “Welcome to Bombay. V… for Victory.” (Government House, n.d.).

    Memon, Ayaz. “Twenty million people, just a handful of pools.” Hindustan Times, 6 May 2012, Accessed 8 March 2021.

    Rushdie, Salman. Midnight's Children. Cape, 1981.

    Sathyanarayanan, Divya, and Vijaya Rathore. “Pay 1.12 crore to join Mumbai's oldest club, the Breach Candy Club.” The Economic Times of India, 2 July 2013, Accessed 8 March 2021.

    Subramanian, Samanth. “Breach Candy.” India. Another Way of Seeing, special issue of Granta, vol. 130, Winter 2015, pp. 147–168, Accessed 29 March 2021.

    Word Count: 180

  • Archival records from a series of personal interviews between the author and Carol Ross, Nere (France), 20–24 August 2010.
    Archival records from a personal interview between the author and Noemi Cohen-Weingarten, Brighton (UK), 1 December 2007.
    Private Archive Joe Schimmel, Cape Town.
    Private Archive Margit Franz, Sinabelkirchen.
    Private Archive Noemi Cohen-Weingarten, London.

    Word Count: 48

  • Margit Franz
  • 1878
  • Bombay
  • No
  • Margit Franz. "Breach Candy Club." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 14-09-2021.
  • Schimmel’s Wedding Film 1948

    The film shows Schimmel’s Jewish wedding ceremony at the prestigious Glamis Villa, followed by lunch at the Taj Mahal Hotel. Among the guests were Käthe and Walter Langhammer.

    Word Count: 30

    Baumgartner’s Bombay

    The novel Baumgartner’s Bombay provides an opposite picture to that of the successful refugee in Bombay. Anita Desai’s fiction depicts poverty and failure in Indian exile.

    Word Count: 28

    Open Studio Evenings by Käthe and Walter Langhammer

    The painter Walter Langhammer and his wife Käthe built an informal infrastructure to promote local avant-garde artists and regularly invited them to Open Studio Evenings at their studio.

    Word Count: 29