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Steam Engines – The Forgotten Era

If I ask anyone from my or the previous generation about their happiest train memories, it would invariably involve the steam engine. As kids, one of the first sounds we mimicked was the Chuk chuk sound right?

The whole idea of or emotion around traveling by train, or just going to the train station for me & many like me, was to look at the massive, awe-inspiring Steam engine & be caught unawares by its shrill whistle.

Steam engines are a perfect example of sight, sound & smell. And a perfect part of our childhood memories.

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Let’s talk about the classic – the Fairy Queen. First commissioned in 1855 & retired in 1909 it was showcased outside the Howrah station. In 1997, nearly 90 years later, the locomotive hit the tracks again. On 13th Jan 1998, it found its place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest running locomotive.

While shooting for #StationMastersTiffin I visited the Rewari Railway Heritage Museum that houses the famous Akbar, Azaad, Badshaah, Sahib, Sindh and Sultan. Yes, we are still talking locomotives 🙂

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The Rewari loco shed is the only surviving repository of steam locos in our country.

It’s quite moving to reminisce that there were 1000s of these steam engines, that became a part of folklore, more iportantly, our Independence & partition stories. The fact that the engines, that at one time “ran” the nation, now stand de-commissioned is slightly saddening.

Thanks to our movies, however, some of them are still kept alive.

Talking to the old engine drivers too, it was truly moving to hear their accounts & experiences with these machines.

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There’s something so beautifully raw about the engines that it makes sense why the drivers had that connection with them.

It does make one forget the inefficiencies of the steam engine & how electric engines took over as a cleaner, speedier mode of transportation.

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For me, re-visiting these engines brought back a connection that I’ll cherish for life. It made me want to travel back to the time when man and machine were one, heat the fire, boil the water and get the engine going..as simple as that.

Comments

  1. Though steam engines were decommissioned before I was born but my early memories of steam engine remains seeing it in the textbooks during school days and then the infamous Chaiya Chaiya song filmed on a toy train with a steam engine and SRK dancing on it. Then Salman khan in the song Tere naam sitting on a steam engine in the National train museum in Delhi. Actually that was how I came to know of the museum. A few years back visited Ooty and thoroughly enjoyed the toy train with a steam engine! 🤗

  2. Absolutely correct and so right. Even I have experienced the same thing travelling in Khandala Ghat of Maharashtra and in Darjeeling. This feeling is so nostalgic and the noise of the steam engine always reverts back in mind. Our family has that connect with railways, even my house is in front of the railway track😄.

  3. Great write up .It used to be a different experience to travel by train.The whistle of the long distance is so melodious for me . As a child especially when you hear in the night really used to make me happy (Do not know the reason) In this connection to trains ,may I request you to show the recepie for Railway Mutton Curry .I really relish it,and please please with the story behind it. Although read about it but prefer to listen to it in your style

  4. Steam locomotive were classic . Although I never experience but I heard stories like you said from my grandfather . I know about Fairy Queen coz it is situated near prepaid taxi (yellow) stand outside Howrah station. I wish I could ever hop on .

  5. Loved your writing with such a good information my knowledge goes back to the year 1990 when I was a student of visva Bharati Santiniketan there was a small station prantik nearby where we watched trains going through the khoai .

  6. Rare that young men like you still cherish the old school of romance …be it steam locomotives….recipes …or open kitchens with such rare fondness …carry on ranveer …would love to meet you to share my own such cherished memories …..carry on boy …you are preserving memories for lifetimes

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