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On Jamalpur – Anglo-Indian Railway Officers

Jamalpur is best known as a very large workshop on the East Indian Railway, employing at one time, over 12,000 persons and over 1000 Anglo-Indians. Jamalpur was overnight from Calcutta and was famous for its Anglo-Indian social life. The Railway Institute was huge – it had its own movie theatre, a six-lane swimming pool, four tennis courts, two billiard rooms and a bowling lawn. Its dances were renowned and railway folk came from all over EIR to attend.

Jamalpur was also the premier training center of the EIR and the Indian Railways. There were basically four ways of joining the Railways. First, there were Trade Apprentices, who, after three years of training in a specific skill – machinist, welder, moulder, fitter, boilermaker and so, on became skilled factory workers.  Second, as an entry level on the running side was a cleaner, who after training, became a fireman and then a Shunter, Passenger train Driver and finally a Mail Driver. Some of this category became Officers – Assistant Mechanical Engineers (AME’s) or even a Divisional Mechanical Engineer (DME). Third were the Apprentice Mechanics. These were High School or Senior Cambridge passed lads, who were selected through a Government services commission. They spent four years in training, both theoretical and practical, at the end of which they became chargemen, then foremen and then general foremen. Towards the end of their careers many became Officers – Assistant Works Managers or even Works Managers. Most Anglo-Indians in Jamalpur joined as Apprentice Mechanics.
There was however, a fourth category of apprentices. These were called Special Class Apprentices an All India Railway Service cadre, recruited by a Public Services Commission. The British established this category of Apprentice in 1927, probably for `brown sabibs’ – young Indian gentleman who were very English in upbringing, language and thinking, usually from well known families. They trained for four years at Jamalpur, completed an Engineering degree from London (yes they were sent to London) and on completion were posted as Assistant Mechanical Engineers or Assistant Works Managers. This was a training position, as in two years, they were promoted to Works Manager or Divisional Mechanical Engineer. These gentlemen retired as Chief Mechanical Engineers or General Managers, the highest position on the Railways.

From over 10,000 applicants, through  a series of competitive examinations, only about ten special class apprentices were selected annually. Once selected the apprentices lived a life of class privilege. A beautiful hostel called Jamalpur Gymkhana housed the apprentices. Each apprentice had an individual room with a bearer  allotted to three rooms. The bearer cleaned the room, made the bed, polished the shoes and served the apprentices at meals. There was an exclusive kitchen where meals were prepared according to the apprentices’ instructions. The hostel had its own swimming pool, three tennis courts, a squash court and even its own playing field. It was laid out it on over two acres of land, and `malis’ (gardeners) kept the lawns immaculately green and the beds full of every type of exotic flowers. There were several entertainment rooms for billiards, table tennis and cards. Each apprentice received a stipend, enough to pay for his meals and club dues; all other expenditures were picked up by the Railways. Talk about royalty!.

In the course of the history of Jamalpur Gymkhana, 43 years  from 1927 through to the year 1969 (my records end there), from over 400 apprentices, there were 15 Anglo-Indian Special Class Apprentices. This is a very significant achievement and one that has somehow not been acknowledged in the pages of Anglo-Indian history.  I would like to publish their names, in the hopes that some of their descendants in the UK or Canada or Australia may recognize them and know what their fathers achieved. Most of them migrated and I knew only two – R.D.Kitson who retired as Chairman Railway Board in the 80’s (the equivalent of the Commanding General of the Indian Army) and Norbert DeSouza who retired as Chief Mechancal Engineer on the Central Railway in the 90’s. Both continue to live in India.  I migrated to the USA in 1976 when I was Joint Director of the Railway Board in Calcutta. Here is the role call of these distinguished gentlemen.

1927 – H.V.M.Stewart, C.J.Butler; 1928 – D.B.King; 1930 -H.O.Toomey, J.O.Burns; 1931- W.C.Britter, E.L.T.Jones; 1932 – J.B.Rosair; 1943 – M.A.Plunkett; 1944 – H.G.T. Woodward; 1945 – E.J.Kingham; 1949 – T.M. Fritchley; 1951 – R.D.Kitson; 1956 – B.R.Williams; 1958 – N.DeSouza


Railways to beef up security

The railways would beef up security measures on Kiul-Jamalpur section under Malda division of the Eastern Railway (ER) in the wake of the
Maoist attack on the Bhagalpur-Muzaffarpur Jansewa Express on Thursday evening.

The railways would also hold a meeting with GRP officials to check recurrence of such incidents in future on this particular route, said ER PRO B K Sharma.

According to Sharma, though law and order is a state matter, the railways would co-operate fully with GRP and the state police in launching a joint operation against the banned Naxal outfit. The railways would ensure that each train passing through this route is properly escorted, he said.

He informed that the Maoists had also snatched walkie-talkies of both the driver and guard of the ill-fated train with an aim to disconnect any communication with the control room or the nearest station. The railways have put all security personnel on high alert following this incident, he said.

Railway police jawan killed in Maoist attack

bihar-mapNaxalites gunned down a GRP jawan, injured another and snatched away assault rifles and ammunition in a daring afternoon attack on the Bhagalpur-Muzaffarpur Intercity Express near Jamalpur, Bihar, today.

Police said at least 30 armed members of the CPI(Maoist) swooped on the train between Ghoghal and Jamalpur on the Jamalpur-Keul section of East Central Railway. They cut the vacuum pipe, bringing the Muzaffapur-bound train to a halt, and waited till the GRP jawans, on escort duty, alighted from the coach to find out what was wrong. As soon as they did, the rebels started raining bullets.

Munger superintendent of police Sunil Nayak said that though taken by surprise, the jawans retaliated. “The gunfight last for more than 30 minutes,” he said. More than 20 rounds were fired. While GRP constable Ganesh Singh was killed in the encounter, another jawan was wounded.

Though Nayak claimed that no passenger sustained injuries, an unconfirmed reports said two took bullets. A report also claimed that four GRP men were injured in the incident.

After overpowering the jawans, the Naxalites snatched away at least four assault rifles, a carbine and several rounds of ammunition.

Railway officials said the attack delayed the train for three hours. It resumed its journey at 6pm after senior GRP officers and railway officials inspected the site.

A senior railway official admitted that the CPI(Maoist) had spread its tentacles in large parts of the hilly Jamalpur sub-division in Munger district.

Villagers of Abhaypur and Dharhara said they had spotted unidentified people carrying arms on Tuesday. Naxalites often organise training camps on hillocks, they said, and blamed the police for not paying heed to the rising threat from the rebels.


My father studied at Jamalpur in Munger district: Anand

Viswanathan Anand at the Chess Olympiad

Viswanathan Anand at the Chess Olympiad

Linares Chess Championship is my next target: Anand
Patna, PTI:
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said India had won seven world titles in the year 2008 and the credit should go to the chess maestro, who had popularised and revolutionised the game in the country.

World Champion Vishwanathan Anand said his next target is to win the Linares Chess Championship to be held in February next year.

Addressing the gathering on the occasion of the launch of NIIT MindChampion Academy in Bihar, Anand said after capturing the minds of urban India, the game now needs to be taken to rural areas. Reminding his association with Bihar, he said though it was his first visit, he had an old connection with the state as his father spent a brief stint of his study life here.

“My father studied at Jamalpur in Munger district and it is a great pleasure to be here in Patna,” said the Grandmaster.

Asked whether cricket has overshadowed other sporting disciplines in the country, he said the government has been fair to all sports. “The amount of media attention chess gets now-a-days is quite big compared to 10 years back,” Anand said.

On the MindChampion Academy, he said it was being launched in 400 schools which would help students learn both computer and chess as they help in improving academic performance and analytical power. “The Academy has been introduced in over 5000 schools across the country during the past six years with over 1.75 lakh students participating in it,” Anand said.

On the occasion, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said India had won seven world titles in the year 2008 and the credit should go to the chess maestro, who had popularised and revolutionised the game in the country. Modi also announced that there would be a hall in the upcoming indoor stadium at Kankerbagh in Patna only for chess activities.

Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering (IRIMEE)





Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering (IRIMEE) is located at Jamalpur in the Munger district of Bihar, on the Patna-Bhagalpur rail route, about 8 kilometres from Munger town. During the era of Mahabharata, Munger was the capital of Anga Pradesh ruled by Karna. Munger was also the seat of Mir Kasim, Nawab of Bengal, who fought the East Indian Company here. The place had traditional skills of making firearms, and hence selected by the East Indian Railway for one of its earliest workshops. The location selected was at the foothills of Rajmahal range (a part of Chhota Nagpur plateau), which was high enough to survive any threat of floods from Ganga, and the hills secured it against any organised attack from an army. The location had a tomb of Baba Jamal Saheb, after whom the place was called Jamalpur. Jamalpur Workshop was established on 8th of February 1862.

The Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering, Jamalpur is the Centralised Training Institute of Indian Railways, for the training of officers and supervisors of the Mechanical Engineering department.

IRIMEE had humble beginnings, when it started in 1905 as a technical school attached to the Jamalpur Workshop. It came into national prominence when it started the training of Special Class Railway Apprentices as Mechanical and Electrical engineers, starting from the year 1927. In 1974, the school was made a Centralised Training Institute (CTI), renamed as Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering, and brought under direct control of Railway Board. It is, therefore, the oldest of the CTIs.

In 1988, the training of IRSME probationers was centralised under the control of Director, IRIMEE but with HQ at Kharagpur, where there was an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) co-ordinating the training with the Director. From 1997, HQ of IRSME Probationers was shifted to Jamalpur.

Training activities at IRIMEE comprises of:

Professional courses for serving officers and supervisors of Mechanical Department such as :
Mandatory courses for serving officers viz.
Senior Professional Development Programme of 3 weeks duration for IRSME Officers with 8-12 years of service.
Refresher course of 2 weeks duration for IRSME Officers with 1-3 years of service.
Integrated course of 8 weeks duration for recently promoted group B officers.

Special courses in relevant topics, such as :
Accident management course, Breakdown cranes, New technologies, Diesel loco reliability, Diesel refresher courses etc.

Short duration Interactive workshops/Seminars such as:
Seminar on Information Technology, Incentive scheme, GM loco manufacture and ALCO loco modifications, Maintenance of Wheels and Roller bearings etc.

Training of IRSME probationers and Introductory courses of one week duration for probationers of other Departments.
Training of IRSME probationers during their 1 ½ years of probationary period is centrally controlled by IRIMEE. Their training mainly comprises of
Institutional training at RSC, IRIMEE, IRIEEN, IRICEN and IRISET for about 36 weeks.
Training at major Railway organisations like RDSO, DLW, DMW, RCF, ICF and RWF for about 14 weeks.

Training in various repair workshops for 8 weeks.

Training in various divisional units like Diesel sheds, C&W depots, Control room etc. 16 weeks.

Theoretical and practical training of Special Class Apprentices.

Technical Training of Apprentice Supervisors of all Indian Railways.

Special courses as per requirement for Non-Railway Organisations and Foreign Railways.