BHOPAL: More than a century ago, a Made in Britain brass bell sounded the arrival and departure of Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR) trains at the Betul railway station of Central India.
Decades later the same bell which was gathering dust at the railway station’s store-house is now back in the reckoning, not for operational purpose – but instead as a relic of the bygone British era.
The big brass bell has now been preserved as a heritage bill at the office of Station Manager at central Madhya Pradesh’s Betul railway station, which comes under Central Railway’s Nagpur Zone.
The brass bell has been preserved now in a teakwood frame painted in rosewood colour to give the entire structure a heritage look, just like a similar bell stands preserved as a heritage property at the Central Railways General Manager’s office in Mumbai.
“The Betul railway station was a part of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR), which had it’s early headquarters at Boree Bunder in Mumbai. The GIPR was the predecessor of present day era’s Central Railway. This brass bell of British Era sounded the arrival and departure of trains at Betul railway station right since the first train arrived at the station in 1912. The acronym GIPR which is engraved on the Made in Britain bell speaks volumes about it’s more than a century old past,” Betul railway station manager VK Paliwal told The New Indian Express on Saturday.
As the size of trains started becoming long, the brass bell’s sound wasn’t audible to passengers at the central MP station, owing to which it was replaced with an iron bell, whose sound was more strong and audible up to comparatively larger distance compared to the British brass bell.
Subsequently, the bell based passenger alert system was replaced with present day era’s Public Address System making the bell redundant. “It could be almost seven to eight decades or even more since when the British era brass bell was gathering dust at the store. But if a similar brass bell can have heritage value at the Lords Cricket Ground of England, why can’t another bell made in the same country have antique value for our railway station,” said Paliwal.
While the brass bell is now preserved at the Betul station manager’s office, another unique possession of the British Era – a movable and foldable bench having space for British era chowkidars to keep their spears during duty hours at the railway station could be the next one to be preserved as a relic in the days to come.