Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Unknown Unknowns

In 1864 Samuel Davidson of Belfast Ireland travelled to Assam in India to assist in the management of a cousin’s tea plantation. At the time, leaf tea was dried over open charcoal braziers. Davidson patented a cylindrical drying machine in 1869 and in 1877 the ‘Sirocco’ fan-assisted drying machine. Davidson returned to Belfast in 1881 and established the Sirocco Works.

Whether this particular machine, number 6973, at Jun Chiyabari in Nepal bearing his name was made in Ireland is not known. However this machine has probably served many masters before ending up in Nepal where it continues to make excellent teas. Here one of the girls of the factory collects the dried tea from the Davidson's Sirocco dryer. How old is this particular machine? 50? 80? Or even 100 years old? It is not known.

Samuel Davidson’s son, James Davidson was tragically killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916.

Why countries and people go to war instead of resolving their disputes over a cup of tea is also not known.

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