10 April 2018
It has been an end of an era. One of the oldest existing station platforms in the Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, formerly Victoria Terminus station precincts -all with cobblestone flooring, cast iron pillars, teak wood doors and interiors, belonging to the time of India’s first railway company — the Great Indian Peninsula Railway—was finally brought down for newer railway projects.
Railway authorities though had promised to salvage whatever they could from this old station and make it a part of the heritage gallery and proposed alley, nothing has found its way there. Good I managed to document it, whatever I could, almost I was arrested for photography by the RPF!
Some bit about the location. Known as Carnac Bunder siding, the station had been virtually untouched by railway authorities for decades but still standing sturdy. The entire station platform building with a steam crane at one end had been almost stuck in a time warp. The railways have now repainted and reviving the steam crane to be a part of a heritage museum, but the old station is being lost. Sources said it was all in active use till the 1950s.
If old and new maps of the area are juxtaposed, these sheds are roughly located on the same site where the goods sheds of the old original Bori Bunder station had been built, before the majestic world heritage Mumbai CSMT building came up. The site of the goods sheds has remained the same though bigger sheds and platforms were built in the 1890s after the construction of the Victoria Terminus.
The sheds that is now being brought down too are old and built in stone, high-pitched roof with antique fittings built with construction techniques commonly used during the later part of the 19th century, including teakwood furnishings, large metal straps used to bind the six-framed huge doors, windows and vents, old tracks with cast iron sleepers. It has two platforms, now completely abandoned. The one adjoining P.D’Mello Road, platform number one, has several bays at right angles for ferrying cargo by road transport vehicles and the second one facing the west resembles a godown. The entire platform is of cobble-stone flooring and once had various scales, sunk in pits, now most of them removed. A rotten wooden board in one corner of the west-facing platform says Ludhina fast or ordinary service and scale number one, platform number two…the rest details are not legible, a legacy of organized cargo transport by rail.
City historian Deepak Rao joined me in lamenting the fact that one by one old relics were being lost but appreciated the railways that they had agreed to save a few older relics. “The docks and rail have a glorious transport history in old Bombay. These were the places which once brought fortune to the city,” he added.