दक्षिण पश्चिम रेलवे/ SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY प्रेस विज्ञप्ति/ Press Release No. 307 Dt: 01.09.2021
SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY RESTORES THE ICONIC HERITAGE CLOCKS AT KARNATAKA UNIVERSITY DHARWAD
Standing seven storeys tall, the four heritage clocks atop ‘VidyaSoudha’, in Karnataka University Dharwad facing the four directions (North, South, East, West) have been an icon over the years--to which every person of Dharwad would look up to--in a figurative as well as literal sense to pace their daily schedule. Having been heralding each hour with well timed loud gongs: often claimed to have been heard up to 5 kms by the people of Dharwad who are moored to this monument by nostalgic ties, the heritage clock tower has served as a landmark of Karnataka University as well as Dharwad city.
Since the recent years, two of the four of these set of heritage clocks (which otherwise worked synchronously) viz., those facing the North and South had fallen out of pace with their companions facing the East and the Western directions. The familiar hourly gong of the half tonne bell, when struck upon, now seemed to miss a beat and the historic, iconic clock tower witnessed a sullen look in the eyes of Professors, Students and alumni of KUD as well as the discerning conscientious citizens of Dharwad.
Impressed by the restoration work of an antique heritage clock in the premises of Karnataka College, Dharwad (KCD)-which had been defunct for more than decade-, (which had been carried out recently by a team of technicians of Hubballi Railway Workshop), Prof K B Gudasi, Vice Chancellor, Karnataka University approached Shri P K Mishra, Additional General Manager, SWR to seek his cooperation in the restoration of the set of heritage clocks in KUD premises.
The SWR team took up the project immediately in the right earnest: as a gesture of goodwill with a spirit to nurture, protect for posterity and create awareness about the shared heritage. Shri Mishra also advised the team of technicians from Hubballi Railway Workshop, led by Asst Workshop Manager PrabhatJha (comprising of Shri Viswanath, Senior Section Engineer, three technicians who have expertise in Horology viz Shri Mansur Ali Mulla, Shri Devendra .S.Londe, Shri Younis along with Shri YedduVenkatrao, Sr Section Engineer and Shri Vijay Kumar Hebballi, Technician) to carry out this work pro-bono, with the intent of preserving the art of repairing and restoring mechanical clocks, which is a rare skill in the present era of digital time-keeping. Shri Mishra has worked extensively in restoring railway heritage, particularly in the domain of East Indian Railway.
Incidentally, the present building/premises of Karnataka College Dharwad, also housed the first Head Quarters Office of Southern Mahratta Railway almost a 100 years ago, before the building was converted into a College, after shifting the Head Quarters to the then Madras city.
The challenges in carrying out the restoration were manifold:
lThe KUD Tower clock was eight times larger than the size of tower clock of KCD.
lSome of the key parts such as the alarm fan unit key was missing, alarm motor was jammed, alarm counter weight chain was completely broken, in alarm gear box unit all brass body bushes were worn out, many parts were corroded and the main drive gear box unit was defunct.
lSome of the spare parts were not available in the market. Shri Yeddu Venkatrao, Sr Section Engineer and Shri Vijay Kumar Hebballi, Technician fabricated the antique parts, which were not available in the open market, at Hubballi Railway Workshop and transported to Dharwad.
lSome of the other components were sourced locally, with the funding being arranged by KUD. Care was taken to keep expenses to the bare minimum.
lThe technicians also carried out the work at an enormous personal risk, with immense dedication, as the platform to support them was only 15 inches wide, at a height of seven stories (when they had to adjust the giant needles of the clock!) without permanent scaffolding. All in the spirit of preservation of heritage.
The team of experts from Hubballi Railway Workshop worked continuously for a period of over one month and completed the task successfully on 28 Aug 2021. In order to cater to the heavy load of the integrated gear box, the manual key method has been adopted, wherein for every 24 hours, a key has to be wound manually for smooth functioning of all the four clocks. This tower clock, was built in the year 1962 with all its parts from England, got assembled & installed by Time Machine Company, Mumbai.
Shri Sanjeev Kishore, General Manager has praised the efforts of the Hubballi Workshop Team, and has expressed hope that these efforts would create awareness among public as well as enthuse students, researchers and scholars of Dharwad-known to be an education hub- to take up studies and projects on conservation of heritage. He stated that SWR shares a very close historical link with Dharwad and is open to extend further collaboration with NGOs, corporates and interested parties, particularly in the field of heritage conservation and research with a view to preserving tangible icons of historical significance for the sake of posterity.
Chief Public Relations Officer South Western Railway, Hubballi