Roll Models

He puts in eight gruelling hours daily at the Parel railway workshop amidst multiple railway engines.

Written by PrashantRangnekar | Published:March 9, 2009 3:24 am

You may think C L Singh takes his work home,but the rail engine models he builds are a passion he can’t ignore 

He puts in eight gruelling hours daily at the Parel railway workshop amidst multiple railway engines. But C L Singh (57),a section engineer with the Central railway,is quite content after work to rush home to his flat in Railway Colony,Mahul,to once again get engrossed in some more railway engines.

Back home,Singh deals with the same engines. But,instead of repairing these engines,he makes them. In railway circles,Singh is known for preparing artistic replicas of different types of engines.

His collection includes 38 models of railway engines including the 1829-made Stephen rocket engine,still kept in an operational condition at the National Rail Museum,steam engine Fairy Queen,electric locomotive Sir Roger Lumely,WDM2 diesel electric engine and the recently-introduced breakdown cranes.

And through his railway engine models,he says,one can travel through the glorious history of the Indian Railways. “It gives me immense pleasure when the younger generation understands history with the help of models made by me,” Singh says.

Interestingly,he does not have any formal education as an artist. It is its sheer ‘hand craft’,as he puts it. He prepares his engines with almost every possible item — pen refills,acrylic sheets,wood,pen-caps and what have you.

“I always had a quest for art. When I joined the railways in 1974,I came across the various types of engines that used to come to our workshop for repairs. It was at that time the idea struck me,of using my art skills for some useful purpose,” he says. Then,as he started exploring his passion through this art,his interest grew deeper and stronger.

His popularity can be understood with the fact that he often gets invitation from the railways and from colleges to hold exhibitions of his engine models. He recently exhibited his models at the National Rail Museum ,New Delhi,at the Lonavala station where the Regional Rail Museum is coming up and at the Taj festival in Agra.

After getting significant exposure to his art through his exhibitions,he started getting offers from senior rail officials to prepare similar replicas for them. But he simply refuses such offers. “The respect I get from people today is because my art is not for sale. The day I start using my art commercially,I won’t be respected the way I am now,” he insists.

But he is grateful for the “immense support” he has received from the Indian Railways who encouraged his art. “Today,if any exhibition is to be arranged,the railways arrange a special coach for transporting these models,” he says.

The railways,too,are happy with the Singh’s act. “C L Singh has continued his hobby over the years without compromising on his official duties,that is truly commendable,” says Shriniwas Mudgerikar,chief spokesperson of Central Railway.

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