Rajendra B. Aklekar
Mumbai: A rare set of century-old wagons, which were a part of cargo exchange with old British steamships, have been lying abandoned at the Mumbai Port Trust rail yard and could be one of the oldest ones in the city.
Railway officials said the four-wheeled old wagons belong to an era before the port trust lines were commissioned, and could be a part of the old British railway companies that operated in Mumbai then.
According to the book, The Port of Bombay — A Brief History, issued by the trustees of the Port of Bombay to mark the first centenary of Bombay, the port railway was commissioned from January 1, 1915. The port trust lines were not just used for conveying cargo, but also carry passengers and troops during wartime.
“1912 was the time when the docks were not yet completely developed. It was a time when cargo was ferried from and to British steamships and the port rail lines were its sole linkages,” said city historian Deepak Rao.
A scheme for construction of a port railway was first mooted in 1894. However, the project was later referred to a commission of inquiry headed by Sir Arthur Trevor in 1900, who recommended a line from Kurla to a goods depot at Mazgaon, with a connection to Mahim and linkages to the Prince’s and Victoria Docks, with a yard at Wadala. These wagons too were lying at the same yard.“I think they can be preserved as national heritage. These wagons have been a part of history and witnessed the changeover of the city. I shall try to get the attention of the Mumbai Port Trust chairman and see what can be done,” said Prakash Binsale, former trustee, Mumbai Port Trust.