Aug 15: In 1854, India’s 1st Locomotive Ran From Howrah To Hooghly; Here’s More About It

by Shreya Rathod
Aug 15: In 1854, India’s 1st Locomotive Ran From Howrah To Hooghly; Here’s More About It

August 15th is Independence Day, but did you know that it is the same day when India’s first locomotive ran from Howrah to Hooghly? India has a long history of kings, empires and the infamous East India Company! Here’s the story of India’s first locomotive that was introduced in India during the EIC!

India’s First Locomotive That Ran From Howrah To Hooghly

first locomotive india
Credits: Wikimedia (Rep Img)

The East Indian Railway (EIR) Company was established in London in June 1845. This company’s goal was to build a railway link between Delhi and Calcutta, which was the capital of the British Indian colonies. Rowland MacDonald Stephenson served as the principal proponent of this endeavour.

He served as the company’s founder, initial managing director, and main Indian agent. Being the nephew of the renowned George Stephenson, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Stephenson was born with a passion for the railway industry.

Rowland Stephenson travelled to India in the years that followed to conduct a thorough assessment of the suggested route from Calcutta to Delhi. Finally, in 1850, a provisional permit to operate trains between Calcutta and Runeegunje (Raniganj) was granted.

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Rowland Stephenson’s Hard Work For Building The Railway Track

first locomotive india
Credits: Wikimedia (Rep Img)

The next year, Stephenson went to India with renewed zeal and personally oversaw the track laying over the following three years. Before the end of 1853, tracks were laid out for a trip from Calcutta to Pundooah (Pandua). Finally, on June 28, 1854, the engine made it from Howrah to Pundooah (Pandua) without incident.

On August 11, 1854, a second, lengthy trial from Howrah to Hooghly was concluded. The train departed Howrah at 8:30 am and arrived in Hooghly at 11:01 am, according to their reports submitted the following day.

On August 15, 1854, 93 years before our Independence, the first locomotive from Howrah departed 90 minutes early and arrived in Hooghly at 10.01 am. Of course, the first locomotive in India had already travelled by then, from Bori Bunder to Thane on April 16, 1853.

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This honour may have been the property of the East Indian Railway Co., Rowland MacDonald Stephenson, and Calcutta had it not been for the delays caused by permissions, shipping problems and the French disagreement.

Cover Image Courtesy: Wikimedia (Engine types. First Commercial Railway Line from Howrah to Hooghly ran in 1854)