Now onto this month. In India in Victorian times if you wanted to get from Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) up to the tea growing region of Darjeeling, it would have been a two-week journey involving part rail, part boat and two parts in a bullock cart! Darjeeling at the time was an important hill station high up in the foothills of the Himalayas. It was decided to build a narrow-gauge railway up the slopes to connect New Jalpaiguri with Darjeeling - an incredible engineering task in those Victorian Times.
Our speaker, Major Paul Whittle, will be taking us through the construction and the problems experienced. It is known as the ‘Toy Train to the Clouds’ because it is a narrow-gauge railway compared to other rail lines, and the steam trains that hauled the trains up to Darjeeling were so small they looked like toy trains. Nowadays most journeys have diesel engines pulling the carriages but occasionally steam trains are brought out of retirement for special occasions.
What a challenge, and it’s not surprising that this engineering marvel has now been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status. So, on the 31st its all aboard for a fascinating talk on this little gem in India!