The railway museum at CST, which displays several relics from the long, illustrious journey of the railways in Mumbai, has added new items to its collection, including silver forks and knives used in the first class compartments in the 19th century, antique clocks used on major platforms during the British era, money collection boxes of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR) — as the central railway was then known — and badges used by GIPR employees in the 19th century.
The museum is located on the ground floor of the Central Railway building at CST.
“The silver cutlery now on display was used in the first class compartments of trains in the 19th century,” explains guide Ashfaque Shaikh (23).
Other treasures on display include a letter written in 1844 by the East India Company in India to the British government, giving a list of reasons why railways should be established in India. The main reason listed in the letter is the fact that since cotton was produced in the interior parts of the country, it was inconvenient to transport it to ports for export.
The note accompanying the letter mentions that within two years of it being sent, in 1846, a committee was set up to look into the possibility of starting a railway network in India, and within seven years in 1853, the first train ran from Bori Bunder (present day CST) to Tannah (present day Thane). The prices of the first-class tickets in the first train varied from 6 annas to 2 rupees 10 annas. Shaikh explains that the first train was powered by three locomotives named Sindh, Sultan and Sahin and carried 400 people. The museum also has a scale model of one of the three locomotives that powered the train.
Next up is the first electric locomotive that ran from Sandhurst road in 1925. While earlier steam and then diesel engines were used to run trains, the first locomotive engine was used in 1925, Shaikh explains. The museum also has maps of the Bombay, Baroda and Central Indian (BB & CI) railway, currently the Western Railway line. The map shows that unlike the present, when Churchgate is the first station, in the 19th century, the first railway station on the line was Colaba. The map also shows the Ballard Pier railway station near the harbour line, from where trains going upto Afghanistan and Pakistan would come on two days a week.
The museum also has a scale model of the CST building designed by British architectural engineer Fredrick William Stevens. “In the 19th century, the sculpted animals on the surface of the CST building actually helped drain out water in the rains. There were pipes in the mouth of these animals In the monsoon, they looked like fountains. Now however, since there are parking lots nearby, the animals are no longer is used to drain out water,” Shaikh says..