BAHAWALPUR, April 5: Passing through the busy Library Road one comes across the fascinating sight of a black steam engine standing on its track within the premises of a museum. Fascinating it is for the present day to see a locomotive stationed at a rail track inside a building instead of a track beside a platform or a loco shed somewhere around a railway workshop.
The engine, marked No 1834/1902 with insignia “The Vulcan Foundry Ltd, Newton-Le-Willows, Lancashire”, is about a century old. It has been shifted to the museum from the Head Panjnad Colony where it had been lying for the past several years.
History shows that the engine, along with its two passenger coaches and a back cart, was used to transport material from Ahmedpur East to Panjnad Colony for the construction of Head Panjnad in 1935. For this purpose, a 35-kilometre rail track was set up between Ahmadpur East and Head Panjnad site via Uch Sharif. The engine continued to roll between Ahmedpur East and Head Panjnad till the completion of the project in 1938. Later, it was dumped at an abandoned place in Panjnad Colony.
Museum director Hafiz Husain Ahmad Madni told Dawn that after his posting here, he planned to bring this old engine from Panjnad Colony to the museum to preserve it for the future. He said he needed the chief minister’s approval to take the engine, which was in the custody of the irrigation department, to the museum.
He said the engine’s transport to the museum was a major task as it was more than 80 ton in weight and there was no machinery available to lift it. Tenders were invited through newspapers and finally the engine was shifted to the museum in parts. A track was also set up at the museum to park the engine, he added.
Mr Madni said he also wanted to bring engine’s coaches to the museum, but irrigation department officials had already sold them. He said the officials also refused to give him the engine’s logbook which could have provided the visitors with its complete work history. Once open to the public, it would attract people in large numbers, he added.