Vizagapatam Temporary Tramway

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Vizagapatam Temporary Tramway

Vizagapatam Temporary Tramway Port Area Map 1907

In April 1843, Captain Arthur Thomas Cotton of the Madras Engineers returned from sick leave and was placed on light Duties. He was deployed to Vizagapatam. Storms had eroded the beach making landing of goods difficult. The proposal was to build groins out into the sea to control the erosion and consolidate the beach near the Customs House [1].

Using the experience gained on the Red Hill Railroad he built a tram line to move the rocks and stones to construct them. The tram lines were of wooden construction and the wheels of the trucks also wooden. He used a 2 ton Crane to lift the material into place [2]

The Report of 1843 [3] states
“The wooden (dammerwood ?) tramway was laid over 1100 yards from the quarry to the breakwater Part of the wooden railroad was worked with wagons on wooden wheels, bearing a load of 21/2 tons and under, for more than two months, and it has thus far answered admirably, but it takes a long time here to collect any quantity of materials, and to construct the wagons. The quantity of stone deposited, or ready for deposition, was about 9000 cubic yards, which gives an average of 10 annas per cubic yard, including everything, and deducting the cost of preparatory work, about 7 annas per cubic yard, including native superintendence.”
“The third groin has begun 250 yards south of the first, and a railroad is under construction from the end of the hill south of the town to it a distance of only 300 yards. On this line, the waggon works with perfect on a curve having radius of only 19 yards. When completed, there will therefore be three groins 70 yards in length, including between them 4180 yards, and protecting. I should hope, 800 yards of beach, a long which also there will be a road with a facing of stone. They will require about 9000 cubic yards of stones, of which 1000 are ready. We have on the spot and in the quarries, about 800 or 1000 cubic yards of the largest stones, which I think will be sufficient to complete the groin. The outer stone will be from 8 to 15 cwt., but by continuing the rails to the we could easily convey stones of two tons.”
“The first and most northerly groin whilst rails etc were sufficient to but 2 more wagons were required. Time was short as the 1843 monsoon season was approaching. The tramway was moving over 200 cu yards a day. Although this effort helped completion was not possible and the rails on top of the groin had to be removed in case they were lost. “
“In the end 6 groins were built and over a mile of track was left and kept the cranes and some wagons were put in store”.


  1. "Sir Arthur Cotton R E KCSI His Life and Work" by His Daughter Lady Hope; published by Hodder and Stoughton London CXC; Page 72; Retrieved 4 Feb 2018
  2. British Library BL/X8/8264 Reports, correspondence and original papers on various professional subjects: Connected with the duties of the Corps of Engineers, Madras Presidency by J. T. Smith. Vol 3. Page 23 British Library
  3. British Library BL/X8/8264 “Letter to the Secretary to the Military Board October 1843” from Arthur Cotton as published in “Reports, correspondence and original papers on various professional subjects .”.. Vol 1 Page 181-190 by John Thomas Smith