19 May 2012

Oldest-ever relics of Indian Rlys found in Mumbai?

By Rajendra Aklekar, Mumbai: Officials of the Central Railway, the country's oldest railway line, have found treasure in their junkyard. 
A team of Matunga workshop officials, while going through the junk at Currey Road yard, stumbled upon old Manglorean tiles which date back to 1853, making them the oldest rail relic ever of Indian Railways. The first train in India had run in 1853.
"We have also found a 1930s diesel-fired Morris fire engine and rail bogies of the old era. We have set up a small heritage gallery of all these items inside the Matunga workshop," Jogendra Yadvendu, deputy chief materials manager, carriage and repair workshop at Matunga, told DNA.
Manu Goel, executive director (heritage) railway board, in New Delhi said, "This is an interesting piece of news. We will surely check them out."
The oldest surviving relics on Indian Railways as of today include a steam locomotive called Fairy Queen dated 1855.
These tiles have inscriptions of Alvares and Company, Mangalore. The company was named after Simon Alvares who had bought it in 1878. The Manglorean tile industry dates back to that era and was first set up at Jeppo, Mangalore, in mid 1850. The raw material for the tiles, namely clay or feldspar, was abundantly available on the banks of Netravati river.
Companies back then were known to manufacture tiles with special features, during their preparation in gas-fired kilns and with salt glazes, that would make them last longer. Tiles were transported throughout India, British East Africa, Aden, Basra, Sumatra, Borneo and Australia.
The earliest buildings of the railways had tiled roofs, and Manglorean tiles were a common part of rail infrastructure back then. Recently, during the restoration of Mumbai CST, officials had found similar Manglorean clay tiles, dated as early as 1865 and manufactured by Basel Mission Tile Works with its stamp on them.
"The fire engine was to be scrapped, as were the other bogies, but we took them over and restored them. Another interesting feature on display is the signal lamps that were used in the olden times," Yadvendu said.
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