East Indian Railway, 1855
Extracts from Australian newspapers
Made available by the National Library of Australia.
Edited by R Sivaramakrishnan. Posted to IRFCA on: January 15, 2010.
The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 25 May 1855, p. 5
On the inauguration of the East Indian Railway
We take the following extracts from the Calcutta papers of 6th and 8th February.
Says the English Mail:
OPENING OF THE RAILWAY
Saturday, the 3rd of February, being the day appointed for the official opening of our rail as far Raneegunge, a distance of one hundred and twenty miles; the vicinity of the terminus at Howrah was at an early hour thronged with an immense concourse of spectators. At the Calcutta side of the river also, the throng was dense, and on very few occasions have the native population displayed greater interest in any spectacle, not immediately connected with the religions they profess, than they did on this occasion. A Horse Light Field Battery, from Dum-Dum, was in attendance at the Calcutta side, at an early hour, and the salutes it thundered forth, added not a little to the eclat of the proceedings. About 8 a.m. numbers of those invited to proceed to Burdwan, arrived at the ghaut and were ushered through a long arcade, bowered over with flowers and evergreens, to the water's edge, where two steam-ferrys, engaged by the Railway Company for the occasion, and very tastefully decorated with evergreens, flowers, streamers and banners, conveyed them to the opposite bank of the Hooghly, where another bowered arcade led them to the interior of the railway station. The terminus itself was also very tastefully decorated, I and as well as the houses at the Ghauts at either side of the river, was in the evening very brilliantly illuminated. Shortly after 9 o'clock, Lord Dalhousie, ac- companied by his staff, arrived at the station, receiving from the battery at the Calcutta side, a salute of nine- teen guns. His Lordship looked pale, and in evidently delicate health. He excused himself from proceeding with the trains; but inspected the arrangements, and remained present until the first train started. The Bishop of Calcutta arrived previous to its departure. The entire company assembled amounted to nearly 700 individuals, including the leading Members of Calcutta Society, the Bishop, and a large number of the clergy ; the Judges of the Supreme Court, the Judges of the Suddur, and a great many notabilities connected with the civil service, the bar, army and navy. The first train left Howrah, at twenty minutes to 10 a.m., and arrived at Burdwan at half-past 12. The various stations along the line were very neatly decorated, and large masses of the native population poured out from the various villages to obtain a glimpse of the largest trains that have as yet passed along the rail in India, each of them on this occasion numbering fifteen carriages. At Burdwan another decorated passage led from the station to where breakfast was set, in the Governor-General's tents; and the entire party without the slightest delay, all evidently in the best possible appetite, partook of the repast, scarcely waiting till the Bishop, had breathed a prayer over it. As to the viands, they were of the best description, and with the wines, &c., refilled very great credit upon the purveyors: covers were laid for 700. This repast was followed by toasts and speeches, which took up a considerable time; nevertheless, all seemed to enjoy the occasion as one full of promise to India. The party having broken up, left the banqueting tents and moved towards the trains, the first of which left Burdwan at 20 minutes to 4, and arrived at Howrah at 20 minutes to 7, stopping at several of the intermediate stations. The second train arrived about half an hour afterwards. On the whole the day was as pleasant a one as perhaps Anglo-Indiana have ever experienced in this country. The arrangements were all of the most excellent character, and reflected the highest credit upon every person connected with the Railway.