Monday, 11 February 2019

John Morris Ajax Fire Engine bags “Statesman Challenger” trophy in the Statesman 53rd edition Vintage car rally

The Fire engine preserved at National Rail Museum (Delhi), is the only one of its kind in the world fitted with original Shrewsbury and Challiner solid tyres

Indian Railways, with more than 160 years of rich history, presents a wide spectrum of both tangible and intangible heritage. Over the years, Indian Railways has been endeavoring sustained and focused approach for safeguarding its industrial as well as living heritage and to transmit it to future generations.

John Morris Ajax Fire Engine on Belsize Chassis (1914) of Pre-world war-I vintage among the proud possessions of Indian Railways preserved at National Rail Museum (NRM), New Delhi has participated in the Statesman 53rd edition Vintage car rally and has been awarded with Statesman Challenger Trophy. This fire engine is regularly bagging the trophies across various categories every year. National Rail Museum is participating in this rally since 1981. Till 2013, it has always awarded with the Statesman Challenge trophy and post 2013, it has been honored with Indian Oil Trophy for the oldest vehicle participated in Rally. This elite vehicle has always been a talk of town and centre of attraction among automobile lovers.


This fire engine was built by the famous fire engineers M/s. John Morris and Sons Ltd., of Salford, Manchester, in 1914 and marketed in the collaboration with Belsize motors Ltd., of Clayton, Manchester. One of the earliest lots was sold to the Nizam’s State Railway. This model proved very successful and was in production till 1921 and was sold to many companies throughout the world. Presently only two are known to exist now – one of which is preserved at National Rail Museum, New Delhi. In fact, the Fire engine at National Rail Museum, is the only one of its kind in the world fitted with original Shrewsbury and Challiner solid tyres.

As per the various sources and few documentary evidences, it has been indicated that John Morris Fire engine was often called to help the Municipal Fire Service to fight fires in the city. This fire engine was finally retired in 1960, primarily due to difficulty in obtaining the spares. It has long record of service due to the sturdiness of its manufacture, quality, skill, workmanship of the people who made it as well as the care and devotion with which it was maintained by railway men. Though retired from service, the fire engine was preserved in good condition at Lallguda Workshops until it was chosen as an exhibit by then Rail Transport Museum (National Rail Museum). 

This fire engine was restored to its original position in 1981 at the Lallaguda workshop of South Central Railway. It then participated for the first time at Statesman Vintage Car Rally in 1981 and bagged the Restoration Trophy, presented by the then Raja of Tirwa, for the most faithfully restored vehicle in the year preceding the Rally competition of the road section. 


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