A trip down memory lane

by Harsh Vardhan

This article was originally published by the Indian Steam Railway Society (ISRS) in its newsletter, and is reproduced here by permission, which is gratefully acknowledged. Copyright for the material here rests with the ISRS and the author(s) of the article. The ISRS is the premier organization in India engaged in preservation and efforts to promote awareness of the country's railway heritage.

This article originally appeared in the FNRM Newsletter No. 2, Summer 1998.

FNRM organised a tour for its members on 17th February 1998 to visit the railway establishments at Ajmer. A report:

Western Railway Workshop: This is amongst the oldest railway workshop that came up in India, second only to Jamalpur and was the first one to assemble, manufacture, overhaul and repair meter gauge locomotives. On the entrance to the workshop ISR No. 421, 0-4-0 is plinthed. This is the first meter gauge locomotive that was imported to India in 1873. It was built by M/s. Black Hawthorn & Co. Engineers, England (No. 263) and was a shunting locomotive at Ajmer workshop for over 50 years. It is suggested that this gem of a locomotive be kept in working order and made to run on special occasions.

Till about two years back the workshop was doing the POH for all WR meter gauge steam locomotives. But now they are limited to only major repair work and condemnation. The following locomotives were seen - YP 2233 Mhow, YP 2151 Mhow (ready and returning in a week's time), YP 2805 Sabarmati, YP 2102 Mhow (reserved for public display by Rajasthan Govt.), YP 2681 Jetalsar, YP 2622 Mhow (reserved for public display by Tamilnadu Govt.), YP 2323 Jetalsar, YP 2803 Sabarmati (without tender and condemned). Also spotted a boiler of YL locomotive which is planned to be used as a stationary boiler.

The workshop also overhauls and repairs all meter gauge diesel locomoties working on the WR. YDM 6716/6247 of Sabarmati loco shed were spotted.

The workshop has a rich archive collection of some very rare photographs. FNRM suggests that an exhibition of these and other rare articles be organised by the workshop for the public in near future.

Carriage and Wagon Works: This work- shop does the repair and modification work on the carriage and wagons of both HG & MG. It also maintains the coaches of 'The Palace on Wheels' and 'The Royal Orient'. One coach of the old rake of the MG 'Palace on Wheels' is parked here for visitors to see.

In the backyard a condemned Rail Motor inspection Car of 12 seat capacity was spotted in good condition. On closer examination it was seen as marked 'EZZRA 1009', 1971 Ajmer Division. It had the makers plate on both side on the undercarriage. The markings were '1939 Baroda State Railway Builders, Loco Carriage Works, Goyagate, Tare 10.31 T'. FNRM strongly recommends that this rare and beautiful piece should be brought back to working order and be moved to the NRM at the earliest.

Also spotted a condemned and accidental shunting loco (engine missing) made by John Fowler & Co. (Leeds) Ltd., No.4200029 which had both the brass cabside plates intact. We recommend that the plates be removed and sent to the NRM for display. Also spotted two OBO type shunting locomotives in good condition. These were No. 1007 & 1009. An accidental WR Rail Motor inspection car 'No. 1196 R' was spotted. Although a rare one it was not found suitable for preservation.

Antique Room in DRM Office: The DRM (Divisional Railway Manager), Ajmer office is a beautiful and spacious building made way back in 1884. Aravali ranges form a formidable backdrop to the building and a W class 2'6' locomotive No. 573 of Billimoria shed is plinthed in front of it. The building may easily qualify for some of the widest staircases in the world! The building has an antique room which has a rich collection of rare pieces like Silver cutlery, Clocks, Furniture, Weighing platforms and books. A huge brass bell was seen and it is suggested by FNRM that it be moved to NRM to adorn the entrance to the indoor gallery.