New museum to house artefacts on SL railways

Published : 12:01 am  May 5, 2018 | No comments so far |  |  (175) reads | 

Untitled-45By Sandun A. Jayasekara   

More than 100 artefacts on the history of Sri Lankan railways are to be housed at a new museum that will be constructed at the Maradana Railway Station. 
Accordingly, the National Railway  Museum will house valuable artefacts that are over 100 years old at the Colombo Railway Terminus Station at Maradana. The Archaeology Department has taken measures to declare the site proposed for the museum as a protected archaeological site. 


The Sri Lanka Railway (SLR) identified hundreds of artefacts ranging from ‘Lock and Block’ instruments to heavy steam and diesel locomotives during a preliminary study of the artefacts collected over the years. Railway experts have been recruited to resurrect and repair these items. 


A committee consisting of members from the SLR, the President’s office, the National Museum Department, the Archaeology Department and the Ceylon Tourist Board will steer the project. They will also be assisted by retired railway officials. 


Once completed, the new museum will be one of the best in South  Asia, with an estimated annual income of Rs.50-60 million. 


The subject ministry said a guarantee limited company had been formed for the sole purpose of raising funds for the project, while the Railway Museum Committee would function as the project manager. 


The museum, currently under construction, has a well-designed structure in conformity with international standards required to display and preserve priceless railway artefacts for future generations. 


The location identified for the museum is the original Colombo Terminus Station in Maradana, which is a historical venue, dating back to 1864 when Colombo – Ambepussa train services were ceremonially inaugurated. It has adequate floor area to place, under one roof, all railway artefacts now being scattered islandwide. 


A museum for the railway was initially declared open in 1989 near the Colombo Fort Railway Station in D.R. Wijewardene Mawatha. The second attempt was recorded in 1995 when the foundation stone for the building was laid at Ratmalana. However, this project was also abandoned due to financial constraints. 


In 2009, another project was launched at the site of the Colombo Terminus Station, displaying few interesting artefacts and one or two steam and diesel broad and narrow gauge locomotives, by utilizing a section of the old station. 
In 2014, the SLR established another railway museum at Kadugannawa, but it did not meet international standards. 


The Railway Service of Sri Lanka was established on December 27, 1864 with the operation of the inaugural train from Colombo to Ambepussa. The commercial operation commenced from Colombo to Ambepussa on October 2, 1865 with the train operation from Colombo Terminus Railway Station at Maradana where the Railway Museum has now been established. 

 

 

The museum, currently under construction, has a well-designed structure in conformity with international standards required to display and preserve priceless railway artefacts