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Darjeeling to chug to Launceston in August – loco, souvenirs and more of hill railway in uk

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 28, 2009

File pictures of Loco 19, the oldest surviving DHR locomotive engine

File pictures of Loco 19, the oldest surviving DHR locomotive engine

Siliguri, July 27: To ride a coach drawn by the oldest surviving locomotive of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) past the mist-laden hills is a fantasy cherished by every toy train lover.

Steam enthusiasts in the UK will bring together this rare combination at the Darjeeling at Launceston — a two-day event where the DHR’s Darjeeling station will be recreated at a railway terminus of the Launceston Steam Railway (LSR) in Cornwall in August this year.

All these years during the annual function organised by the UK-based Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society (DHRS), it was Sukna that had been recreated. But this time, the organisers have decided to transform Launceston into Darjeeling.

“It will be held at the Launceston station, which is LSR’s main terminus, on August 19 and 20, during our annual functions this year,” wrote Paul Whittle, the DHRS vice-chairman, in an e-mail sent to The Telegraph.

Sukna station when it was recreated in the UK during an annual function of the UK-based DHRS

Sukna station when it was recreated in the UK during an annual function of the UK-based DHRS

What’s more? Adrian Shooter’s Loco 19 — built in 1889 and the oldest surviving DHR locomotive — bedecked with marigold garlands – will chug its way in and out of the Launceston station with passengers on board.

Shooter, the chairman of the Chiltern Railway, a major railway in the UK, bought the locomotive from Hesston Steam Museum in the US around 10 years ago. The museum had bought the engine from the Indian government in 1960.

The loco was shipped to a steam rail workshop in Birmingham and restored to perfect working condition and now runs in Shooter’s private garden, said Whittle.

“Shooter is a steam enthusiast, who also loves India,” wrote the DHRS vice-chairman.

The locomotive will run for four more weeks at the station after the event gets over, providing opportunities to toy train enthusiasts in the UK to enjoy the “Darjeeling ambience”.

The station crew dressed in Indian costumes, an antiquarian Indian bookstall, an Indian bazaar and a food stall that serves only vegetarian Indian food will complete the ambience. To make it more realistic, piped (shehnai) Indian music will also play in the background.

“We will put up station signs (replicas of those on Darjeeling station, in red, blue, and white) saying Darjeeling, plenty of information sign, (in English and Hindi), a DHRS stand that will sell books and DVDs on the DHR. Our charity arm, the DRCS (Darjeeling Railway Community Support) will have a stand with a display of some of the works we undertake among the people living alongside the DHR,” Whittle wrote.

The DHRS intends to raise funds for its charity works through this event.

“We might be able to raise as much as £500 or even a £1,000 if we are lucky,” he added.

Asked why they had chosen Darjeeling, instead of Sukna, this time, Whittle wrote: “When we started organising this event, the stations and terrain were similar to Sukna. However, we felt that Launceston is in a part of the country that is very green and hilly, and Darjeeling might therefore be more appropriate. Two other reasons are that there’s a chance people have heard of the famous hill station, and probably the railway, and therefore it might be easier for people to make the connection.”

Source:The Telegraph

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