About Cawnpore Station – The Dispatch

  • The book “Indian Railway Buildings” by Vinoo N. Mathur takes the reader on a fascinating journey through some of India’s most iconic railway buildings.

  • Thoroughly researched and filled with historical facts, this book is a treasure trove for anyone who loves to travel or explore building styles and designs from the comfort of their own home.

  • Focusing on structures built between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries, this book sheds light on the historical and architectural features of a significant number of railway buildings that were constructed during the era of the British Raj in India . Presenting historical information and many rare photographs of the construction of these structures, the author reveals interesting and little-known aspects about heritage railway buildings in India.

  • Read an excerpt from the book below.

Cawnpore Station

Cawnpore (now Kanpur) was a major military and civilian station on the East Indian Railway (EIR) route from Calcutta to Delhi. It was on the first railway line designed by Lord Dalhousie when it was decided to build a railway system in India. The road was important both for strategic considerations, for the movement of troops to central and northwestern India, as well as from a commercial point of view as it connected the main commercial and industrial centers of the plains. indo-gangetics. Construction of the line began simultaneously on different sections of the route. The route was divided into sections of Bengal and the northwestern provinces, which were further divided into construction district offices, which, for example, were located at Mirzapur, Allahabad (now Prayagraj), Cawnpore and Etawah. An experimental line from Howrah to Raniganj was opened in 1855 and construction of the main line proceeded rapidly thereafter. However, the 1857 War of Independence brought a halt to building activity. In Cawnpore, in particular, there was violence and bloodshed with heavy loss of life among the resident British population, civilian and military, as well as women and children when Nana Sahib and later Tantia Tope, and their forces besieged the British entrenchment and then attacked them at different points. Despite the interruption of construction activities, the railway line from Allahabad to Cawnpore was opened to traffic in March 1859. The line had been operational earlier to move troops and supplies. The section from Cawnpore to Etawah, to Delhi, was opened in 1861.

The events of 1857 left an indelible mark on the British psyche and a number of memorials have appeared in Cawnpore such as the Memorial Church, a memorial well and memorial gardens to honor Britons who lost their lives . It is perhaps in this context that the East Indian Railway constructed its finest station building on this route with distinct classical revival architectural features. The building symbolized, in a way, the British recovery and restoration of their colonial domination and authority. An engraving of the station building was published in The Illustrated London News in 1867. Among the classical features, in their simplest form, were the Doric columns of the front verandah and porte-cochere, banded rustication on the walls and corner pillars, a projecting cornice and transoms above the entrance doors. On the railway side, the station had a wide platform with a segmental framework in corrugated iron resting on one side on the main building and, on the other, on an arcade surmounted by vertical oblong openings, which provided lighting. and ventilation. The arches on both sides had cowl moldings and the pillars supporting the arches had plain pilasters running the full height of the building and arcade. The platform roof design, covering one line and one platform, was adopted in several East India Railway stations with minor variations.

The station had many accommodations and Murray’s A handbook for travelers to India, Burma and Ceylon (1911) described waiting rooms as “comfortable and practical”.1 On the side wall of the platform, even today, the name of the station is engraved, ‘CAWNPORE’ with distances, ‘FROM CALCUTTA 632 MILES 962 TO BOMBAY’. As Cawnpore became the junction of various company railways – East Indian, Oudh & Rohilkhand, Bombay Baroda & Central India and Indian Midland Railway – operations became progressively complex, and by the late 1920s, a new station was planned. The main EIR route has been diverted from the old station. The building still retains its old character; however, it is now used as a civil engineering training academy.

Excerpted with permission from Indian Railway Buildings: Heritage, History and Beyond, Vinoo N. Mathur, Niyogi Books. Read more about the book here and buy it here.

Marjorie N. McClure