Darjeeling sprouts in Scotland – British salute shared heritage of hill railway, rename a station after hill town for two days. Fife station marks Scottish contribution to Indian railway line.
Darjeeling (DJ): A railway station in Scotland became Darjeeling for two days, with fluttering prayer flags and Indian food stalls, because British Darjeeling Himalayan Railway fans wanted to promote a shared heritage between the hill locomotive and the island.
North Queensferry Railway Station was decorated like a stop on the famous Toy Train railway which runs through the hills of West Bengal for a visit by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society.
Those who took the train from North Queensferry station on September 19 and 20 may have been amused to see a yellow signboard reading “Darjeeling” on the platform.
The station, near Edinburgh, was transformed by the joint event of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society (DHRS), the UK-based association of hill rail enthusiasts, and the North Queensferry Heritage Trust, to celebrate the connection between Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) and the Scottish railway.
A Fife train halt became an Indian hill station for the weekend in a meeting of two UNESCO world heritage sites
The toy trains that run in the hills and are a tourist draw are operated by the DHR. The iconic Forth Bridge, to which North Queensferry is the northern gateway, and the DHR both have UNESCO World Heritage status.
Inaugurated in 1890 by Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, the Forth Bridge of Scotland was the longest single-cantilever bridge in the world until the Quebec Bridge of Canada was completed in 1917. UNESCO accorded it World Heritage status in July this year.
“This year marks the 125th anniversary of the establishment of Forth Bridge and UNESCO has accorded it World Heritage status. On September 19 and 20, a joint event was organised by the North Queensferry Heritage Trust and the DHRS to celebrate Indo-Scottish railway links, for both the DHR line and the iconic Forth Railway Bridge are UNESCO World Heritage sites,” mentioned Paul Whittle, the vice-president of the DHRS.
The DHR, which turned 134 years on August 23 this year, was accorded the heritage status by Unesco in 1999.
Another connection Whittle mentioned was that the hill railway’s B-Class steam locomotives were built in Glasgow, Scotland.
“There is another connection, and that is almost 20 of the famed B-Class steam locomotives of the DHR were built in Glasgow in Scotland,” Whittle wrote.
This was the first event to promote the hill railway in Scotland. To give the station a feel of Darjeeling, they strung together colourful prayer flags across North Queensferry station and put up the Darjeeling signage.
The railway society’s members put on Indian attire and served Indian snacks to visitors.
An added attraction, Whittle wrote, was a rare opportunity granted by Network Rail, responsible for Britain’s railway infrastructure, to visitors to ascend to the top of the Forth Bridge.
Over a cup of Darjeeling tea and a hot samosa, visitors learned about the construction of Scotland’s famous Victorian crossing and of the Indian railway already carrying passengers by then.
The Himalayan line runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, rising from 328ft to 7,218ft over 48 miles.
It was built between 1879 and 1881 and an exhibition by photographer John Clemmens in North Queensferry looked at Scotland’s engineering contribution to its construction.
His show was part of a series of talks, tours, films and exhibitions over the weekend.
There was also a chance to take a trip to the top of the iconic Forth Bridge, which recently became Scotland’s sixth world heritage site, or a boat trip below.
Society members were welcomed by the North Queensferry Heritage Trust.