City Landmark – Steam Engine, Copernicus Marg

City Landmark – Steam Engine, Copernicus Marg

Made in London.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

This little steam engine looks like a toy, but it is real and has a name – MTR No. 1.

The maroon locomotive in central Delhi’s India Gate circle has a silver grey star painted on the front; the coupling rods, too, are painted the same shade. The black chimney is disproportionately large. With no leading wheels, the engine has four powered and coupled driving wheels on two axles, and two trailing wheels on one axle.

Installed outside the gates of the butterfly-shaped Baroda House on Copernicus Marg, MTR No. 1 guards the headquarters of the Northern Railway; a tiny landscaped garden is built around it.

A notice board features a badly-written biography. Made in 1910 by London-based Dick, Kerr & Co, the narrow-gauge engine was commissioned for Karachi Port Trust. In 1917, it was acquired by the North Western Railways for use at Marala Timber Railway in what is now the Pakistani side of Punjab. In 1922, the engine was transferred to the Dhilwan Creosoting Plant in what is now the Indian side of Punjab. It was renovated at the Northern Railway’s workshop in Amritsar in 1990. Elevated to the status of ‘preserved pedestal’, it was finally brought to its present home in the capital and turned into a roadside curiosity.

Every weekday at 5 pm, the retired locomotive turns its driving wheels through a motor and blows a horn, adding to the rush-hour noise.

Nearest Metro Station Central Secretariat/Mandi House

Off-steam, now