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Press Release No. 21622-09-2020

दक्षिण पश्चिम रेलवे/ SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY

प्रेस विज्ञप्ति/ Press Release No. 216  Dt: 11.09.2020


The Central Offices of Southern Mahratta Railway, a beautiful building with a blend of colonial and local architecture, was constructed at Dharwad, under the supervision of Chief Engineer Colonel James Gavin Lindsay formerly of famed corps of engineers of East India Company.

Chairman of SMR and WIPGR Mr. T. Douglas Forsyth after visiting through the entire Southern Mahratta region in year 1883-84, had selected Dharwad as the site for the Head Quarters of the Southern Mahratta Railway, o­n account of its elevation above the sea-2,586ft.-its central situation o­n the Company's system, its healthy character, and its position as a military and civil station of Government.

The construction was completed in the year 1890 and Central Offices of SMR started functioning with G. M. Stewart as Agent, Colonel J. Lindsay as Chief Engineer, C. White Combe as Locomotive Superintendent, J. Craik as Traffic Manager and W. O. Donoghu as Auditor.

Subsequent to merging of SMR with Madras Railway and formation of a new company MSMR with Headquarters at Madras in year 1908, The Government of Bombay presidency purchased this building at a cost of Rs 3, 26,956 from MSMR for purpose of providing Higher education and the Karnataka college Dharwad was inaugurated by the then Governor of Bombay H E Sir George Lloyd o­n 15th July 1920

The clock tower, centrally located, is adorned with two heritage clocks displaying time majestically o­n both sides of the Central Offices. In those days, its sweet chimes would reverberate up to distance of 3 km, telling the inhabitants current time.

The tower clock was imported from London by legendary clock maker P.ORR & sons, Madras (Chennai) and commissioned in 1890. It was started in 1846 by Peter Orr, who had arrived in Madras in 1843 from Scotland, o­n the foundation of the nascent George Gordon & Co, turning it into leading watch maker of the country.

Gear boxes and mechanisms are housed in a large room o­n raised wooden platform, 20 feet above the first floor. Clocks facing both sides of the building are connected with wire ropes and pulleys from central mechanism. Gear box dimensions are 2'9" X1'8"X1'1".  A beautiful brass bell (diameter 2’6’’and length 2’6’’) adorns the clock tower.  Hour needle of the clock is 1’9” long while the minute needle is 2’5” long for proper visibility. The pendulum, 7’10’’ long, is equipped with time adjusting mechanism for temperature compensation.

Shri P K Mishra, Additional General Manager, SWR along with PFA, Ms Roopa Shrinivasan and members of SWR heritage team visited Karanataka Art College in June this year to see erstwhile central offices of SMR.  Principal of Art College Dr. Basappa F. Chaklabbi & Professor of Art College Dr. Gani stated that the tower clock was not working since 2010 and all attempts to make it functional had proven futile.

College had contacted M/s HMT Watch factory Bangalore for repair/ restoration of these clocks but the M/s HMT were unable to restore the old Antique clock and a quartz analog solar clock with striking attachment was installed.  The heritage clock, a silent witness to the glorious journey of more than 120 years, was lying in a corner abandoned, silently gazing at anachronistic quartz clock, while the components of antique heritage clock were slowly turning into heap of scrap.

Registrar/ Karnataka University Dharwad o­n 25th August requested SWR to repair/restore the original mechanical analog tower clocks for upholding glory of Karnataka Arts College Dharwad.

The Central Offices of Southern Mahratta Railway, being the shared common heritage, SWR offered assistance in restoring the tower clock of erstwhile Central Offices of Southern Mahratta Railway, which was gracefully accepted by Principal Dr. Basappa F. Chaklabbi.

Shri P Ravi Kumar, PCME SWR and CWM Shri Niraj Jain, Chief Works Manager Hubli workshop accepted the challenge of restoring the heritage tower clock. It was truly a daunting task due to non availability of spares and lack of trained manpower in repairing vintage clock.

Most of the components had worn out, certain parts were missing and some of the items were in the broken state.  Gears had developed backlash & ovality, gear teeth had worn out completely, some of gear teeth & linkages were found cut, probably result of past attempts of repairs. As M/S P.Orr had stopped supply of spare parts for the clock, it was decided to manufacture or reclaim the missing, worn and damaged components.

A team, comprising Shri. V. V. Vishwanath,  SSE/MW/UBLS, Shri. D. S. Londe, Sr. Tech/MW/UBLS,  Shri. Mansoor Ali Mulla,Tech Gr- III/AB/UBLS and Shri. Altaf, Rtd. Sr. Tech/TO/UBLS, was formed under Shri. Anwesh Kumar Aileni Deputy CWM – II / Hubballi Workshop for restoration and repairs of the Antique clock.

The team visited KCD and studied the nature of repairs to be done. The defective/broken/missing parts of the original clocks were collected and brought to the workshop and these parts of the Antique clock were repaired by different reclamation processes viz, Gas welding/Arc welding, machining, filling and fitting etc. and missing components like counterweights, pins and arms were manufactured in house. After completion of reclamation and repairs the spares were assembled o­n both the clocks and finishing touch was given. Same was kept under observation for 3 – 4 days and after ensuring proper working of gear train and arms, the hours and minutes needles were connected to the original clock by duly disconnecting the anachronistic quartz analog solar clock installed by M/s HMT watches Bangalore.

It was to the credit of Railway workshop team that they could successfully complete the restoration of heritage tower clock which involved not o­nly repair & manufacturing of worn out, missing & damaged components but also working o­n a clock tower under extremely challenging and difficult condition. Tolling of tower clock bell which had fallen silent in the last decade after 120 years of incessant chime have become alive again.

Shri Ajay Kumar Singh, GM/SWR commended the work of the Heritage Committee to restore the Clock and SWR was committed to maintaining heritage structures o­n SWR.  It was extremely heartening to see that iconic tower clock, the land mark of city & common heritage of south western railway and Karnataka Art College, was restored to its former glory in 2020: the year of centenary celebration of Karnataka Art College.

                                                                      Chief Public Relations Officer                                                                             South Western Railway, Hubballi


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