Road roller lover comes calling from UK ‘Had the machine been in England, it would have been made operational by now’

Derek Rayner with Ferozepur DRMFerozepur (FZP): The Road Roller Association (RRA), UK, has lauded the efforts of the Ferozepur railway division in giving a new lease of life to the historic 105 years old classic steam road roller of British origin which is of immense vintage value being the only one of kind existing in the country today.

A team from the RRA, UK, led by its vice-chairman Derek Rayner came all the way from York to see the majestic steam road roller which has been given a pride of place in front of the sprawling DRM office complex here.

Rayner was visibly fascinated to see the vintage machine which has been recently restored after it was found lying abandoned in one of the old railway yards by Satinder Pal Singh Bhatia, Assistant Traffic Manager (ATM), a few years back.

Rayner had also brought along with him the original logo of the Aveling and Porters Limited (Rochester), the company which had manufactured this roller way back in 1908.

Derek Rayner, vice-chairman of the RRA, UK, along with Ferozepur DRM NC Goyal install the traditional horse logo on the vintage steam road roller of British origin, in Ferozepur
Derek Rayner, vice-chairman of the RRA, UK, along with Ferozepur DRM NC Goyal install the traditional horse logo on the vintage steam road roller of British origin, in Ferozepur

Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) NC Goyal, who had played an instrumental role in the restoration of the roller besides other old locomotives and coaches of immense vintage value, joined Rayner in installing the “traditional horse emblem” on the roller.

Rayner also suggested a few improvements to restore the machine’s original form. “Had this machine been in England, it would have been made operational by now,” said Rayner, adding that the RRA has the expertise to make steam operated machines operational even now.

Rayner also brought the original dispatch challan of the roller from the UK. He said that as per the Lincolnshire archives and other documents available with the RRA, this steam road roller, weighing eight tones, had been dispatched from England on February 28, 1908.

“It first arrived in Karachi and was subsequently brought to this place,” he added.

The DRM said during that period, several steam road rollers of different specifications had been imported from England. However, very few of them still existed across the world now.

“Reminiscent of the times when the dusty railway colonies were asphalted by steam operated machines, this roller of British origin is a rare model known to exist with forward sloping cylinder and fly wheel mounted inside the horn plates,” Goyal said, adding that the roller was last steamed in 1977.

Old-timers in the area still recall that the roads carpeted by this roller were popularly called as “Chikni sadak” (smooth roads).

Two more majestic machines including a vintage rail locomotive (MAK-21 model) besides a narrow gauge coach, both of them imposing and elegant, have also been stationed outside the DRM office here. All of them have become a centre of attraction, not only for the passersby but for the entire railway staff who are thrilled to become the proud owner of these magnificent relics which have added grandeur to the rail complex.

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