Insider’s guide to... Todi Mill

  • As told to Poorva Joshi, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 24, 2015 13:26 IST
Mahesh Mathai co-founder of Blue Frog reveals a few interesting facts (Photo: Kunal Patil / HT)

In the heart of Mumbai’s corporate hub — Lower Parel — one can easily miss the entrance to Todi Mill. Off Senapati Bapat Road, this mill structure is an erstwhile storage unit, overshadowed by towering buildings characterised by reflective glass exteriors. What then, makes Todi Mill so prominent? It stands testament to the golden age of Mumbai — the early 1900s, when the textile industry made Bombay the financial capital of the country — and now, houses the best of eateries within its premises. “It is one of the few original mill constructions left in Lower Parel. It fuses old-school Bombay with the upbeat new-age Mumbai,” says Mahesh Mathai, co-founder, Blue Frog. He reveals a few interesting facts.

Did you know?

* Todi Mill is located in the Mathuradas Mill Compound. It was one of the largest mill compounds in Parel, the others being Sun Mills and Kamala Mills, both of which are corporate hubs today.

Breaking barriers: During the construction of the independent offices/shops/eateries, the different owners threw a ‘wall breaking party’ to break down the existing walls inside the storage house while retaining the original structure from the outside

* Todi Mill was oddly located inside the compound and hidden to passers-by. The roads leading to the space were muddy and waterlogged, courtesy the residual waste from the surrounding mills.

Under a common roof: The traditional mill structure (slanting tiled roof, wooden beams and a cast iron skeleton) has been retained and affords a vintage look. The tiled roof was untouched and stretches from (present-day) Blue Frog to Cafe Zoe, housing smaller offices that fall in between. Moreover, the tiles on the roof make the structure noise absorbent — a feature that helped Blue Frog immensely (Photo: Kulan Patil / HT )

* Established in the late 1800s, Mathuradas Textile Mill specialised in manufacturing cotton textile goods such as saris, sheets, shirt material, dhotis, tablecloth and towels.

Age no bar: Like a majority of mills in Mumbai, Todi Mill’s structure, too, is made of cast iron bars. The bars were imported from a company called Dorman & Co in Middlesbrough, an industrial town in northern England. These have been retained during the renovation. (Photo: Kunal Patil / HT)

* By the mid 1950s, the Todi Mill structure was converted into a warehouse where textile machinery, such as automatic looms, dyeing machines and construction equipment from the surrounding mills, was stored.

Northern light: The glass windows atop the roof were built to ensure that natural light streamed into the warehouse. The windows were built facing the north to light up the interiors with the maximum amount of sunlight pouring in. The panes are from the original construction as are the wooden beams supporting the roof. The wood is Burma teak, shipped from Myanmar. (Photo: Kunal Patil / HT)

* After the mill workers’ strike in 1982, the entire stretch of Todi Mill was sold off to various people, as a result of which independent firms set up shop within the premises. The prominent ones are Blue Frog, Zeba, Idealake (a technology firm), WLCI (a college of vocational studies) and Café Zoe.

Standing tall: The height of the warehouse is enough to fit three storeys of 7ft each. However, Zeba Centre, the interior design and decor store, is the only section with three fully constructed floors (Photo: Kunal Patil / HT)

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