103-yr-old Steamroller rusting in junkyard gets a new lease of life

Firozpur (FZP): The 103-year-old rare steamroller that stood in a junkyard close to the railway station at Ferozepur, has finally got its due.

The heritage steamroller has now been shifted to the lawns of the Division Railway Manager (DRM) office for public viewing. Restoration work with a new coat of painting is underway to give a splendid look to this roller which is an important link with the Railway’s historical past.

The heavy and slow-moving vehicle that flattened the surface of many under-construction roads in pre-independence years in the Ferozepur railway division was in a state of neglect, surrounded by wild grass, in a junkyard close to the railway station in Ferozepur.

In the last one year, it was not only Derek A. Rayner, a mechanical and electrical engineer with the British Railway and vice-chairman of the Road Rollers Association in the UK who raised the issue with the Indian Railways but also Satinder Pal Singh, an assistant traffic manager in Northern Railway, who took up the matter.

In a letter to the DRM, Ferozepur Division, Derek Rayner wrote that the rare steamroller deserves better than its present location. “This venerable steamroller needs to be moved to a better position, possibly to be installed on a suitable fenced concrete plinth outside the railway station,” said Derek, also a steam archivist.

Derek wrote that this machine was dispatched from Rochester on February 29, 1908. This six tonne and four HP single-speed machine was made in 1908 by Aveling & Porter, a UK-based firm. The archive records indicate that it went originally to Karachi.

Fascinated with this vintage machine, Satinder Pal Singh Bhatia, had approached the Road Rollers Association (RRA) in the UK and collected information about it. He urged the higher authorities to make it look presentable and suitable for display in the railway office complex.

NC Goyal, DRM, Ferozepur, said the steam roller has high heritage value for the Indian Railways.