EIR Carriage and Wagon Workshop

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East Indian Railways - Carriage and Wagon Workshops part of East Indian Railway page


"The East Indian Railway(EIR) 'experimental line' from Howrah to Ranigani was authorised in 1849, and construction and started in 1851. The opening of the first section from Howrah to Hooghly in August 1854 was delayed due to unexpected impediments - one these was the ship 'HMS Goodwin' carrying the coaches (from Britain) sank at the Sandheads near Diamond Harbour (in the Hoogly River estuary near Calcutta). John Hodgson, the Locomotive Engineer of EIR, got the carriages locally built with the help of two Calcutta coach building firms - Steward & Co and Seton & Co." [1].

From thereon the Carriages and Wagons were constructed in India, presumably initially by local Calcutta firms and very soon after by establishing the Carriage & Wagon Workshops at Howrah.

Robert Webb Pearce was offered and accepted the post of Carriage and Wagon Superintendent of the East Indian Railway, and left England in December 1855; but finding his position not what he expected, he would have left the railway and started a wagon-building works in India. He was persuaded however to remain.....[2].

Carriage & Wagon Workshops - Howrah

The first workshops to repair Locomotives and build Carriages and Wagons were established in Howrah and operational in the mid 1850’s.

  • In 1855 John Hodgson was appointed the first Locomotive Superintendent and Robert Webb Pearce the first Carriage and Wagon Superintendent [3].
  • By the late 1850's it was apparant that the "head-quarters of the Locomotive Department were at Howrah, but was too confined to admit extensions... there was ... no room in Howrah for the workshops of the Locomotive Department, as well as for the Company's Carriage and Wagon Building works, and after long and mature consideration it was decided to remove the former to Jamalpur"[4].
  • In 1862, the EIR Locomotive Workshops at Jamalpur were completed leaving the EIR Carriage and Wagon Workshop at Howrah.
  • By 1864 "the traffic of the East Indian Railway had fast outgrown the facilities for dealing with it ; stock could not be constructed fast enough to carry the traffic but, as the Board explained, 'there was no blame for deficiency in rolling stock or other matters that could be laid to the Board. They had sent out a large quantity of material, including ironwork for carriages and wagons ; but the workshops and factories had been unable to supply the carriages fast enough'." [5].
  • 1867 Richard Pearce was appointed Assistant Superintendent Carriages and Wagons Dept at Howrah
  • "The large works at Howrah were designed and built under Robert Webb Pearce's superintendence, employing at the busiest time from three to four thousand local workmen, all trained under him. The whole of the East Indian Railway stock has been built or erected at the Howrah works, together with a great portion of the stock in use by the metre-gauge railways."[2]
  • 1888 Robert Webb Pearce was sent on furlough to England where he died; his deputy, and brother, Richard Pearce became Superintendent.
  • Late 1890's. It was decided to move the workshops from Howrah owing to the great increase in rolling stock during the past few years, and the want of accomodation at Howrah for the extension of the shops. [6]. Lillooah, some 7km up the tracks was the site selected.
  • 1898 Richard Pearce was invalided home and died when on leave; Tomyns Reginald Browne became Superintendent who planned and equipped the new Carriage and Wagon Works at Lillooah, introducing electric drive.
  • "In 1900 the work of removing the carriage and wagon building shops of the undertaking from Howrah to Lillooah was commenced. The move became necessary because of the cramped accommodation at Howrah, and because of the entry of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway into that terminus[7].

Carriage & Wagon Workshops - Lillooah

  • "In 1900 the work of removing the carriage and wagon building shops of the undertaking from Howrah to Lillooah was commenced. While the move was being effected the work of the Department naturally fell into arrears and when this happened it tooks time to make up for lost way"[7].
  • By 1908 Lillooah workshops covered an area of 95 acres(38Ha) of which 15 acres(6Ha) are roofed. Upwards of 5000 men are employed on the construction, mainenance and repair of rolling stock of the line, these men are supervised by European and Easqt Indian formen, assistants and mechanics [6].