Rowland Macdonald Stephenson

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Rowland Macdonald Stephenson Sir; (1808-1895)

Railway Achievements

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  • In the "Englishman of Calcutta" dated January 1, 1844, Stephenson outlined six major lines:-
    • a) A line from Calcutta through the coalfields to Mirzapur and Delhi, with an extension onwards to Firozpur.
    • b) This line to be bisected at Mirzapur by a line coming from Bombay.
    • c) Another line from Bombay to Hyderabad and onwards to Calcutta.
    • d) A line from Hyderabad down to Madras.
    • e) A line from Madras to Bangalore, Mysore and Calicut.
    • f) A line from Madras to southernmost tip of India via Arcot, Tiruchirapally and Tirunevli.
  • 1844, July; he asked for Government support and the reply was encouraging. With Government support the main purpose of his stay in India was achieved and retrurned to London after reinforcing his position with the merchants of Bengal. Back in England, Stephenson proposed formation of a company with the title East Indian Railway Company(EIR).
  • 1845; East Indian Railway Company was formed established in May 1845 with a power to raise a capital of 4 million pound sterling and Stephenson was the first Agent and Chief Engineer.
  • Stephenson visualised that railways would need a large number of technical personnel for survey, track-laying, and maintenance and operation of its system. England could send only the higher echelon of technical staff, while the on-line supervisors and artisans will have to come from the natives. In 1850, there was not a single institution in the Bengal Presidency to train technicians, surveyors etc. Stephenson started free classes at Calcutta to train local people as technical personnel for EIR. Mr. Thomason of Roorkee fame and Mr. Stephenson's efforts in starting technical education in India have few parallels.
  • 1855; 3rd February, 1855, the first portion of the line, 121 miles from Calcutta towards Delhi, was opened by Lord Dalhousie,
  • 1856; His health gave way under excessive mental and physical strain, and he left India for a few months, but was prohibited, under medical advice, from returning, and thenceforward remained in London. On taking leave he received a valuable testimonial in India, with a strong expression of the obligation the country. H.M. Government recommended him to the Queen for a knighthood, which was bestowed upon him.