A ‘John Morris’ fire engine that was in service, in the erstwhile Nizam State Railway stole the show at the 48th Delhi Vintage and Classic Car Rally in New Delhi recently. Incidentally, the machine is celebrating its centenary year, manufactured as it was, in 1914.
It was originally used by the Nizam’s State Railway in Hyderabad, the city of nawabs and is now a prized exhibit at the renowned National Rail Museum in the national capital.
It was first acquired from fire engineers M/s. John Morris & Sons Limited of Salford, Manchester in 1914 and happens to be one of the two earliest such machines known to exist in the world.
The 500-gallon, water-cooled, four-cylinder motor fire engine with 80 horsepower under its hood was used to douse fires and maintained in the Loco and Carriage Workshops at Lallaguda here.
After 46 years of service on the Railways, John Morris was phased out in 1960. An expert team of mechanics from the Lallaguda Workshop of the South Central Railway, the original owners of ‘John Morris’, undertook a complete restoration of the fire engine in 1981. With four forward and one reverse gear, John Morris has a chain drive from the gear box to each of the rear wheels separately that can propel the machine to a top speed of 40 miles an hour.
The fire-fighting equipment can deliver 500 gallons of water a minute. It is said to be the only vehicle in the world with original Shrewsbury and Challinner solid tyres and still retains all the original parts.
A thorough service and preventive maintenance on the machine was done by a team of experts from the Lallaguda workshop who went to New Delhi to prepare it for the rally. And among those who proudly took it out for a spin were Arunendra Kumar, Chairman of the Railway Board, who rode it in all its glory at the rally.