Ewing System Monorail

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Ewing System Monorail

Ewing System Monorail
Illustration from “Ewing System Patent 1894-95”

The ‘Ewing System’ was developed by W J Ewing. The idea was first proposed by William Thorold of Norwich in England in 1868. The idea being that a central load bearing rail would mean that it was easier to move greater loads than with just road carts and cheaper than a 2-rail system [1]. Ewing patented the system in 1895. Then living Barrackpoor, in the Province of Bengal, India [2].

The known applications of the ‘Ewing System’ in India are as follows:-

See individual pages for more information and references


Bengal-Nagpur Railway Kharagpur Construction Monorail
This was the first known application in c.1900. Colonel C W Bowles, an Army Civil engineer, was in charge of the construction of the Bengal Nagpur Railway(BNR) works at Kharagpur, he used a ‘Ewing System’ Monorail during his time as engineer during laying of tracks for the BNR for transportation of construction materials. This experiment allowed him to perfect the monorail based on the Ewing System which he subsequently used to construct the [[Patiala State Monorail Trainways


Jubbulpore Gun Carriage Factory Monorail.
During the construction in 1901-02 of the Gun Factory at Jubbulpore comparative trials were conducted between the ‘Ewing System’ and the ‘Caillet System Monorail’. The ordinance factory at Jubbulpore opened in 1904. The ‘Ewing’ system was from the Great Indian Peninsula Railway(GIPR) goods yard to the factory site, a distance of 2 miles(3.2km). The lines was operated using hand labour.


Kanan Devan Hills Produce Co. Ltd Monorail
From 1902 to 1908 this was the first regular service using the 'Ewing System' and operated between Munnar and Top Station in the Kannan Devan Hills of Kerala . This railway was built to transport tea and other goods. Initially a cart road was cut in 1902, then later replaced by a monorail goods carriage system along the road leading from Munnar to Top Station for the purpose of transporting tea and other products from Munnar and Madupatty to Top Station. This monorail was based on the ‘Ewing System ‘and had a small wheel placed on the track while a larger wheel rested on the road to balance the monorail. The monorail was pulled by bullocks. The report in 1903, only one year into its 6-year use, was not very complementary. The monorail lasted 8 years before being replaced with a narrow-gauge railway.


The British Government War Office was thinking of using a monorail system in its fight in Somaliland and called for a report on the systems in 1903. The India Office replied with 2 reports one regarding the ‘Ewing System’ from the Engineers at the Kanan Devan Hills Produce Co. Ltd Monorail and one from the Royal Engineers concerning the comparative trials at the Jubbulpore Gun Carriage Factory [3].


[[Champaner Manganese Mine Monorail/Railway|Champaner Manganese Mine Monorail]
This line at Champaner, Panchmahal District, Gujarat opened in 1905. The mines, owned by the Shivrajpur Syndicate Limited were managed by the Agent ‘Killick, Nixon & Company’ and were initially linked to the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway(BB&CIR) station at Champaner Road by a 20 mile(32km) Ewing system monorail. This had 60 wagons designed to carry 6 tons that were hauled by buffalo. Marsland, Price & Co built the system. In 1909 it was stated that 'the said many claimed advantages of trhe system did not materialise' and it was decided as 'most unsatisfactory' .


Patiala State Monorail Trainways (PSMT)
ThePSMT operated from 1907 until the mid 1920’s, initially mule powered, later by locomotive. The The total distance covered by PSMT was 50 miles (80 km) run on two unconnected lines. The lines were constructed and operated by the Bombay firm of ‘Marsland, Price & Company’ .
’Sirhind to Morinda Line’, a distance of 15 miles (24 km). At Sirhind there was a connection to the North Western Railway ‘Ambala-Ludiana SectionMainline’ and the line was opened as far as Basi, 5 miles(8km). It was proposed to extend this line to Rupar but since Rupar was connected by a railway line, this idea was abandoned.
’Patiala to Sunam Line’, a distance of 35 miles(56 km) via [[Bhawanigarh, 5 miles(8km) from Sirhind where there was a connection to the North Western Railway.


Champaner Manganese Mine Monorail/Railway
The Champaner Manganese Mines were initially linked to the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway(BB&CIR) station at Champaner Road by a 20 mile(32km) Ewing system monorail. This had 60 wagons designed to carry 6 tons that were hauled by buffalo. Marsland, Price & Co built the system. In 1909 it was stated that 'the said many claimed advantages of the system did not materialise' and it was decided as 'most unsatisfactory'. A conventional 2ft 6in/762mm narrow gauge(NG) opened on 3 Feb 1912 replacing the monorail.


Avardi - Chingleput District Monorail.
In 1902 proposals were sought by the Allapalli, Gadchiroli District, Central Provinces Forest Department Conservator for a more up-to-date form of transport. The 'Indian Forester' in 1909 stated that 4 miles(6.4km) of Caillet System Monorail had been supplied with six special bogie trucks intended for bullock haulage which had been laid in Dec 1902. It had proved impractical and was converted to the Ewing System Monorail by adding a large balance wheel by local officers. Royalties had been paid to Mr Ewing. It then operated for some years but judging from the 1909 paper without great enthusiasm from its operators.


Simla Hydroelectric Scheme Construction Monorail, 1908-12.
A hydroelectic scheme was built by 'Marsland, Price & Company' on the Nauti Khud Stream, 14 miles(22km) from Simla to provide electricity to Simla. It was constructed between 1908 and 1912 A Ewing type monorail system must have been used during the construction. In the 6 Jul 1912 edition of 'Indian Engineering' the company advertised a number of Ewing monorail trucks for sale among the surplus material from the project.


Allapalli Sawmill Monorail was converted from ‘Caillet System’ to ‘Ewing System’ by adding a large balance wheel by local officers. Royalties had been paid to Mr Ewing. It then operated for some years but judging from the 1909 paper without great enthusiasm from its operators.

Further Information

See individual pages for more information and references.

References

  1. Wikipedia “Ewing System) ; Retrieved 14 May 2017
  2. Google.com "Patents - Ewing System Patent 1894-95”; Retrieved 14 May 2017
  3. British Library IOR/ L/MIL/7/14846 Memorandum 11114 1903