Friday 26 November 2021

139 - Golra Railway Station and Museum, Islamabad.

The industrial revolution that started in England in the late eighteenth century is a fascinating episode in human history. Within a few decades, it caused more changes in the world than that were witnessed in the previous many centuries or perhaps even in millennia. Many new machines were invented during the next half a century. Among the most revolutionary was definitely the steam engine. It was applied widely from coal mines to huge textiles mills. George Stephenson, a famous inventor, applied this new technology to improve means of transportation and after many prototypes and trials, finally built the first successful railway engine in 1829 that literally revolutionized transportation all over the world within a few decades.

By the mid-nineteenth century the British had completed the conquest of India and to boost economic activity they introduced rails to India. The first railway line from Mumbai to Thane was opened on 16 April, 1853. It ran for just 34 kilometers. However, the subsequent progress was astonishingly fast. By the end of the nineteenth century, the vast Indian peninsula was connected from the extremities of East to West and North to South with a huge network of railways. No surprise, establishing railways is counted among the biggest achievements of British rule in India.

In 1855, several companies started laying railway tracks in Punjab and Sindh. These all companies were merged and took the shape of NWR, North Western Railways, in 1886. How fast the gigantic projects of the railways were completed can be gauged from the fact that by the 1890s, all the major cities of Pakistan from Karachi to Lahore to Peshawar were connected through railways. Even far flung Quetta was connected with the network by laying railway tracks over a formidable terrain.

At the time of independence, most of the infrastructure of NWR fell into Pakistan and was renamed Pakistan Western Railway, as at the time present-day Pakistan was called West Pakistan. Subsequently, after the separation of East Pakistan this became simply Pakistan Railways. This was the historical background of Pakistan Railways. I shall not make you read the history of railways anymore and without further delay, I shall take you to Golra Railway station, where we have so much history to see, learn and enjoy too. 

Golra railway station was established in 1886 and is located in the western suburbs of Islamabad, in my opinion, can easily be counted among the most interesting tourist spots in Islamabad. It is located at 33°40'13.6"N 72°56'52.2"E. A visit to this place was on my mind for a long time. Finally on 14 November 2021, I reached there and found the place, as interesting and pleasant, as I had expected. There is so much to see that I think there is no need to describe it in words.

An old steam engine, one of many attractions at the Railway Station. Built in 1930.

The railway station has many attractions. Three beautifully restored steam engines are placed in the open for everyone to see and appreciate them. These are marvellous machines and you can see them in almost their original condition.  The small beautiful building of the railway itself is a good example of nineteenth-century architecture. The railway station is still functional and as it lies on the main Lahore - Peshawar line, so quite regularly receives trains. 

Building of the Golra Railway Station, constructed in 1886. 

A view of the platform. 

Railway tracks. 

Cambell Johnstone, London, 1872. Contractors.


Big lush green trees add to the beauty of the railway station and the serenity of the surroundings. 

A view of the Gallery 1 of the museum. 

A passenger waiting for his train. 

At the platform. 

Golra Sharif Junction. The mausoleum of Pir Mehr Ali Shah is located in a nearby village Golra. Hence the village is called Sharif (noble, honourable).

A train approaching from the direction of Attock.

Another beautiful view of the Golra Railway Station. 

At the railway station three locomotives and a number of carriages are on display. These brightly painted locomotives and carriages are the main attraction of this museum. You can truly appreciate these marvels of old mechanical engineering in their natural settings. In addition to that, there are two light cranes and some other tools like, an electric generator, levers to change tracks, etc. 

Freshly painted locomotives look even more beautiful in this beautiful setting. 

A locomotive, probably built in 1937. 

In front of the locomotive. The Gallery 2 of the museum can be seen on the right side.

The second locomotive, parked under the trees. 

Another view of the above locomotive. 

Control room of the locomotive. 

A Sleeper of PR, Pakistan Railways. 

Perhaps guard's room. 

A handpump for water. 

A cargo carriage. (14.11.2021.)

Inspection Car, Pakistan Railways. 

Postal Van, NWR. 

Levers to change the tracks. 

Railway signals. 

The third locomotive on display. 

Front view of the locomotive. 

A man waiting for his train. 

A model of a diesel engine locomotive. 

Electric power generator. 

Weight machine.

A carriage to transport horses and ponies.  

A carriage. 

A crane. 

Another light crane. (14.11.2021.)

Engine driver's room. 

There are two galleries of this museum. In Gallery 1, mostly heavy mechanical devices and communication equipment is on diplay. A good opporunity for people having interst in mechinical engineering, espedially the old technologies. 

Entrance of the Gallery 1. 

The Gallery 1. 

A lamp. 

Probably and counting machine. 

Station Master's Hat and two gadgets.

Rifles of the railway guards. 

The C.S Bell Co.    22   Hillsboro.O.

Used for monitoring energy consumption in a range of environments.
Manufactured by: Ferranti, England

Different kinds of meters used in Railway System

Kerosene oil heater, also used as a stove. Was used by Viceroy Lord Mountbatten during travel. 

A few tools. 


A scale model of a locomotive. 

Tool Boxes. 

Surgery tools. 

Electric tubes. 

DC Fans. 


Wireless communication system. 

Manufactured By: Western Electric Co. USA

            MORSE CODE

Different types of lamps. 

A searchlight, run with kerosene oil, was used during the repair or tracks. 1930

A model of a railway tunnel. 

Tariq Amir 

A telephone set. 

Kerosene Lights

Perhaps a combination machine was used at the Khem Karan railway station to communicate with Gharyala railway station. Now both in Indian Punjab. 

Galley 2 of the museum is actually larger than the Gallery 1. It mostly displys ligher items and focuses more on the cultural and social aspects of the travelling by train in the pre independence days. Dozens of intersting items are aesthetically arranged in a big well lit hall. 

Gallery 2.

Inside view of Gallery 2.

Many interesting and valuable articles are very nicely displayed. 

Some historic pictures are also part of the collection. 

A tea stall. 

Rates and even benefits of drinking tea are on display in Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi and Bengali. 

A porter

A model of Khojak Pass, Balochistan. 

A Waiting Room at a railway station. 

A railway guard in uniform. 

A model of the historic Lahore Railway Station. 

History of Wheel

Scale model of a railway carriage. 

A light, used for signalling. 

Kerosene Pole Signal Light

Feuerhand Hurricane Lantern. Made in Germany. 

Kerosene Office Table Lamp


Brass Table Lamp
Made by Noor, brand 570 King, North Western Railway

Tail Lamp

Hand Signal Lamp

Lantern - Made By:Dietz, Fitzall, New York, USA.

Gate Lamp

Stamps and Stamp Pads

Letter Cover (1962)

Postal Stamps (1930) and postal weighing scale and weights. 

Postal Bag

Badges of Railway Staff

Official Documents of North Western Railway

Gang Man Tools

Rail Tongue: Used in relief trains to lift the track

Pakistan Railway Crockery, used in 1970s

Brass Tea Kettle and Rolling Ping & Board


Brass Jug & Brass Water Ladle

Drinking Vessels

Diesel Engine

Screw Guage

Carpenter's Set

Theodolite: Theodolite is a precision instrument used for measuring angles both horizontally and vertically. Made by: Wottway and Co. Ltd. London.

Engineering Tools

Date Punching Machine

Eagle Engine Model 1869 - Earliest steam locomotive of this region

The comptometer was invented by American Dorr Eugene Felt and was patented in 1887. Manufactured by the Felt and Tarrant manufacturing company of Chicago, USA. It was the first truly practical and commercially successful adding machine. This comptometer was used in Lahore station. 

Lee Enfield Gun

Quaid -e- Azam adressing railway officials in Karachi, 1947.

A bridge at Sohawa, 1860.

Lahore Railway Station 1886.

A view of the river Indus. 

Rawalpindi Railway Station, before independence. 

Rawalpindi Railway Station 1895.

Railway Institute Quetta 1890.

Burt Railway Institute, Lahore, 1914.

Amritsar Railway Station. People migrating through railways in 1947.

Migration by railways, 

Abida Tusi. First civvilian causualty of 1965 war. She was travelling by train, when the train came under Indian Airforce attack at Dhaunkal Railway Station, near Wazirabad, on 6 September, 1965. 

A poster published by British India's North Western Railway in 1930.

Eagle Engine. At display in front of the office of Divisional Suprintendant (wokrshop), Lahore. 

A train moving towards Queeta, before independence. 

Testing Attock Bridge, 30th August, 1929.

Boat bridge on river Indus, at Attock, 1885.

Indus Flotilla Paddle-Steamer, opposite Kotri 1927.

Lahore Railway Station, 1880.

Arrival of the Governor General of India at Lahore Railway Station. 

Narrow Guage Train before the creation of Pakistan. 

Viceroy's train passing through Khojak Pass

This place has all the ingredients to make a place worth visiting. It is an interesting place with pleasant and peaceful surroundings. There are many things to see and a lot to learn. An additioinal advantage of this place is its location. Being just a few kilometers away from the city centre it is easily accessible. It is simply a full package of enjoyment and learning. 

Tariq Amir
November 26, 2021.