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Thane hosted world's first nudist colony in 1891
Sunday, 25th April 2010
The satellite city of Thane may have been the unlikeliest of places for such a recreation, but the world’s first-ever nudist colony, The Fellowship of the Naked Trust (FNT), was set up there in 1891 by Charles Edward Gordon Crawford, a District and Sessions Judge in British India.

Edward Carpenter, pioneering gay activist from Victorian England, was in touch with the nudist colony's founder, Charles Edward Gordon Crawford. All letters to Carpenter are postmarked ‘Thana’.

This was proved by four letters - copies of which are with Mumbai Mirror - written by the founder to Edward Carpenter, English socialist, philosopher and gay activist, between August 19, 1891 and June 5, 1892.

A close friend of Rabindranath Tagore, Edward Carpenter was also a founding member of the Fabian Society, a leading Socialist think tank of its time. These letters prove that the commune functioned out of Matheran, the neighbourhood hill station, and Tulsi Lake, which supplies parched Mumbai with water even today.

The club boasted of only three members: C.E.G. Crawford, an English widower, and Andrew and Kellogg Calderwood, the sons of a missionary. While one woman did express a desire to belong, she never gathered the gumption to engage with it.

It is the club’s philosophical connect to the sepia-tinted beginnings of the queer movement in Victorian England that makes it even more exotic. Sample this correspondence between Crawford and Carpenter:

“Andrew Calderwood and I were up at Matheran having two days’ holiday to spend naked from breakfast to evening. But that was only by shutting ourselves up tight in our room... Being indoors at our FNT meetings does not of course employ quite the same shutting up as it does in England.
Publication : Mumbai Mirror
TAGS : sexuality  thane  gays  homosexuality  maharashtra  


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