John Morris back on the streets

The ‘John Morris’ fire engine belonging to the erstwhile Nizam State Railway stole the show at the 48th Delhi Vintage and Classic Car Rally organised recently in New Delhi this March. The vintage fire engine manufactured in 1914 and celebrating its centenary year, was the biggest attraction at the show, catching attention of the sizeable crowd of vintage car enthusiasts. The fire engine, which was originally used by the H. E. H. Nizam's State Railway in the city of Nawabs, Hyderabad, is now the most prized exhibit at the internationally renowned National Rail Museum in New Delhi.

Nizam's State Railway acquired the fire engine from the famous fire engineers M/s John Morris & Sons Limited, Salford, Manchester in the year 1914 and is one of the two earliest fire engines known to exist in the world. This prestigious fire engine was used for dousing fires and was maintained in the Loco and Carriage Workshops at Lallaguda in Hyderabad. After 46 years of meritorious service on the railways, John Morris retired in the year 1960. A team of mechanics from the Lallaguda Workshop of South Central Railway, the original owners of John Morris, undertook a complete restoration of the fire engine in 1981.

John Morris is a 500 gallon, water cooled 4-cylinder motor fire engine of 80 HP. The vehicle bears a gear box of 4 forward speeds and 1 reverse speed and the transmission consists of chain drive from gear box to each of the rear wheels separately. It can attain a top speed of 40 miles per hour and holds fire fighting equipment which can deliver 500 gallons of water per minute. John Morris is the only vehicle in the world fitted with the original Shrewsbury and Challinner solid tyres and still retains all the original parts. The fire engine needs regular maintenance and the team of mechanics from S.C. Railway are experts in handling the same.

When the fire engine is readied for a rally, behind the scene preparation involves a thorough service and maintenance including the checking of each single part of the vehicle. A team of technical personnel from the railway workshop of Lallaguda went over to New Delhi to undertake servicing of John Morris and make it whir on the road the royal way.

Shri Arunendra Kumar, Chairman, Railway Board was present in the vintage car rally and rode John Morris in all its glory.

Report courtesy of Indian Railways magazine, May 2014.
Picture courtesy of Rajiv Suri.