Jamalpur Locomotive Workshop was established on the 8th day of February, 1862. Jamalpur Workshop was the first full-fledged railway workshop facilities in India, set up by the East Indian Railway. The Railway age in Eastern India started on August 15, 1854, exactly ninety-three years before Independence. A locomotive, carriage and wagon workshop was set up in Howrah to put to commission imported rolling stock of EIR and also to render economic repairs to them but it proved unsuccessful because of problems with procuring supplies and getting skilled labor. The railways spread very fast, perhaps faster than the anticipation of EIR. Within a short span of eight years it became necessary to shift the site of workshop, as there was hardly any scope for expansion at Howrah. And then Jamalpur Workshop was established at Jamalpur.
Jamalpur Workshop has enjoyed the distinction of being the largest and the oldest locomotive repair workshop with the most diversified manufacturing activities on the Indian Railways. At first the Jamalpur shops were merely repairing locomotives and also assembling locomotives from parts salvaged from other or damaged locomotives. By the turn of the century they had progressed to producing their own locomotives. In year 1899, CA 764 Lady Curzon was produced by the Jamalpur Workshop. In 1893, the first railway foundry in India was set up at Jamalpur Workshop. It also had a boiler workshop for repairing and building boilers. A captive power plant of 5MVA was also developed in the Jamalpur Workshop. In 1870 it was equipped with a rolling mill of its own; unfortunately it’s not working at present. In addition to various repairs of wagons, coaches, cranes and tower cars, and locomotives, Jamalpur also undertakes repair and production of permanent-way fixtures. It also manufactures some tower cars such as Mark II, Mark III and break-down cranes of 10, 20, and 140 tone capacities, besides various kinds of heavy-duty lifting jacks. Finally, it also manufactures wheel sets for coaches and wagons. Jamalpur workshop was a significant supplier of cast-iron sleepers as well. Starting in 1961 it produced several rail cranes. It has also produced electric arc furnaces, ticket printers. The high-capacity synchronized lifting jacks known as Jamalpur Jacks were also produced by this workshop. The school attached to the Jamalpur workshops eventually became the IR Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.
Jamalpur as a site for ER's Locomotive Workshops
The place was adjacent to Munghyr (now Munger), which was that time considered as Birmingham of the East. There was a plentiful supply of skilled mechanics from Munghyr, because inhabitants of Munghyr had been the mechanics by trade for centuries, famous for manufacturing of iron wares, guns, pistols, spears and other works. When the selection was made it was probably thought that Jamalpur would be on the proposed mainline of EIR which was subsequently changed and was directed to Delhi via Ranigunj, Gaya, Mughalsarai, Allahabad and Kanpur. Initially, Jamalpur was only an engine changing station and light repairs were done in the running shed there. The original headquarters of the locomotive department of EIR was located at Howrah had a great draw back because it was too confined for extensions as and when needed. At Howrah, the original workshop was supposed to handle building of locomotives, carriage and wagons.