Robert Findlay & Peter Denny (1820 - 1895)
Co-founders of The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company
T D Findlay and Son Ltd, East India Merchants, was set up in 1839, being founded by and named after the current Robert Findlay's great-grandfather. "It was a private family company, the smallest of the five British teak firms in Burma", explains Robert, "but when it was nationalised in 1948, it was Britain's oldest existing trading connection with Burma. The company felled trees in the Shan States and the Pegu Yomas, after ringing them to dry out on stump for a few years. To ensure future supplies, for every tree felled, five saplings were planted.
"A couple of hundred contractors' elephants then dragged the logs to the nearest floating stream to await the rains which would carry them to the main river. Here they were turned into rafts large enough to carry a whole family downstream to a railhead or to the base in Moulmein where the logs were sawn into saleable products, latterly including fine tongue-and-groove parquet flooring.
"But T D Findlay's finest achievement was the creation of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, a fleet of over 600 shallow draught ships, built in Dumbarton by T D Findlay's co-founder Peter Denny, whose statue still stands in that town. The ships were specifically designed to navigate the Irrawaddy and they became the lifeblood of the nation's prosperity, ensuring trade up and down the great rivers, and aiding Burma's transformation into the rice-bowl of Asia.