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How the First Locomotive Reached Lahore: By Sea, By River, By Bullocks, By Elephants

Posted on July 6, 2008
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, History, Science and Technology
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Owais Mughal

The citizens of Lahore saw a Railway Locomotive for the first time in their city in March 1862. Lahore at that time was connected via Railways to Amritsar and rest of the India but not to the port city of Karachi. The Lahore-Amritsar line though complete, was not inaugurated yet. It was to be inaugurated later on April 10, 1862. Therefore, Karachi being the closest port to Lahore, was used to import the first locomotive that was to drive down in Lahore.


The photo above is not the locomotive which first made its appearence in Lahore; This is however, now the oldest surviving locomotive in Pakistan. It is named as ‘Eagle’ and it was built in 1876 in England. It is now placed outside Moghalpura Workshops, Lahore. Photo is courtesy of Mr. Thomas Kautzor

From Karachi port, this locomotive was shipped to Lahore via river transportation system. It was a long and slow journey. The locomotive was shipped from Karachi port at Kimari to Kotri (located at western bank of Indus) by train. At Kotri it was tranferred to a steam boat of Indus Steam Flotilla company.

To get an idea of how slow the transportation sytem was as compared to present day; it usually took 34 days for the steam boats to bring freight from Kotri to Multan (~700km) via River Indus and Chenab. Since this locomotive had to be transported further north, it must’ve taken even longer time. I am not able to find the exact time it took this locomotive to reach from Kimari to Lahore. The steam boat finally brought the locomotive up through Indus and Ravi. At Lahore it was received at the banks of River Ravi.

From the banks of Ravi the locomotive was brought into the city where a gathering of city notables and awam was arranged near present day chauburji. As there were no railway tracks laid out from the banks of Ravi to chauburji, the locomotive was pulled on Lahore streets by 102 bullocks and pushed from the back 2 elephants. This event of the first locomotive appearence in Lahore was captured by the Lahore chronicle of March 1862 in following words:

"Wednesday last was a great day in Lahore, and one that will be long remembered as the commencement of a new era in the Punjab. On the afternoon of that day, the bulk of the European residents and a large portionof the native inhabitants of the city assembled near the beautiful, but partially ruined gateway, known as the ‘Char Burj’ of the Multan Road, where tents had been erected for the accomodation of the ladies and a band of music in attendance for their amusement.

"Chouborji" The photo to the left is ‘char burj’ monument’s photo, circa 1910.

After the lapse of about half an hour, a roar of many voices proclaimed the approach of some strange creature that was to astonish the natives, and immediately afterwards, a monster made its appearence in the shape of a steam locomotive. But humiliating to say, instead of bounding along with the speed of lightning by its own power, it was being ignominiously dragged at a foot pace by one hundred and two bullocks, and stowed by two elephants.

The tender (of the locomotive) followed, dragged and propelled by about the same number of animals. The excitement exhibited by the crowds of Seikhs, Hindoos, Mussalmans, Afghans and other races, was great while their expressions of wonder on beholding the machine, the curiosity they displayed regarding its use, and the observations they made to each other on the subject, were as interesting as they were singular.

If you think above account was interesting, wait till we bring how Karachiites treated their first sighting of a locomotive. There it was declared as a ‘monster’ and people threw ‘shoes’ at it. We’ll bring that interesting story on these very pages very soon.

Reference: Hundred Years of Pakistan Railway by M.B.K Mallick, 1962

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Aston Martin DB9 turns heads at the Falkirk Wheel

The Scotsman May 21, 2004 | Jim Dunn, Motoring Editor MURRAY Motor company’s choice of the Falkirk Wheel to launch the new Aston Martin DB9 sports car a few days ago could hardly been more appropriate given that the wheel represents the ultimate in civil engineering while the DB9 is, by all accounts, just about the best grand touring car ever built.

I could not make the launch of the car in Monte Carlo recently so it will be a couple of weeks before I can confirm on Scottish roads what most of my colleagues on the car magazines are telling me, that it is a better car than you really have a right to expect even in a model which can trace its lineage back to immediately after the war.

When tractor magnate David Brown took over the company in 1947, it seemed logical to lend his initials to new models , a logic whose only flaw was that there was no official DB1, though there was DBR1 which cleaned up in international sports car racing in 1959 including the Le Mans 24 hour.

By that time, however, the factory was already producing the DB4 and planning the DB5. The first official DB was the DB2, seen in prototype form in 1949 and on sale from 1950 but this was more of a racer than the high-performance grand tourer for which the company has become famous.

The DB2/4 of 1953 helped bridge that gap and though there was a relatively short-lived DB Mark III produced in 1957 it was the DB4 the following year which really defined Aston Martin’s market niche and the overall lines and detail touches of that car can be traced all the way through to the latest mode. web site aston martin db9

Even though built for comfort the DB4 could be tweaked for performance so successfully that Roy Salvadori won at Monza in a DB4 GT in 1963.

But events on track were soon to be overshadowed by those on celluloid because shortly after the launch of the DB5, two guys from Hollywood, Messrs Broccoli and Salzman decided that, suitably modified, it would make the perfect transport for a former Edinburgh milkman now known as Bond, James Bond. here aston martin db9

Far from making the company, the tidal wave of publicity almost broke it as demand for the hand-built cars soared beyond even its wildest dreams.

Two years later the DB6, a fatter, more bloated version went into production but the real news came two years after that when the DBS was launched and took the company back into the world of 007 with George Lazenby at the wheel.

Though a good enough car, especially when the V8 engine became available a couple of years later, Aston Martin might have gradually faded away had not Henry Ford II enquired of his pal and former employee Walter Hayes what they could get up to one particularly dull afternoon in 1987.

Ford took a 75 per cent interest in the company but it wasn’t until they gained full control of the company seven years later that it was decided to throw the whole might of the blue oval behind this smallest of British sports-car manufacturers.

The result, two years later, was the Ian Callum-designed DB7 which many purists acclaim as one of the most beautiful cars ever made, reason, perhaps, why it went on to become far and away the most successful Aston ever.

The logical successor to this would have been the DB8 but officially Aston Martin wanted to emphasise the fact that technically, the new car is two generations removed from the DB7.

The DB8 badge might well appear, however, as the company is well advanced with plans to introduce a new baby Aston next summer to tackle the Porsche 911 head on. And that one has a V8 engine.

Jim Dunn, Motoring Editor

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