BULLUCK TRAIN – BY KISHOR CHANDAK, SOLAPUR
In 1774, a General Post office was opened at Calcutta. It was having six Sub-Post Offices under a Deputy Postmaster and all under the control of Postmaster General. Similar General Post Offices also started at two other Presidencies of Bombay and Madras. The first Post Office Act was passed in 1837. The primary function of the Post Office is the receipt and delivery of the letters, papers and parcels. In due course following facilities also offered by Post Offices, Registration of letters and parcels, Value-payable Services, Insurance, Money Orders, Indian Postal Notes, Saving Banks, Govt. Deposit Schemes and many others. We are well conversant to these Postal activities. But one old activity is not known to everybody at present and it was about “Bulluck Train”. According to Indian Postal Guide – Govt. Bulluck Train – its object and Management.
The Government Bulluck Train is an agency for the booking and conveyance of passengers and packages. The Agency is under the management of the Post Office Department and the Agency offices are under the charge of the Postmaster or Deputy Postmaster of the places named.
1854 : Receipt No. 1465 dated 10 Oct. 54 for goods weighing 14 mounds 25 seers charged for Rs. 62 as 8 for CALCUTTA to FATEHGARH with a clear round postmark as CALCUTTA GENERAL POST OFFICE along this circumference and BULLOCK TRAIN in the center.
Prior to 1846, Goods were transported by River steamer from Calcutta to Allahabad. The Postmaster of Allahabad arranged the onwards transportation by Cart or Coolies. This arrangement was slow and faulty. Hence, the “Bulluck Train” a Carrying Agency was organized by The Post Office in 1845-46. It worked with Bulluck Carts, in relays at fixed distances on Grant trunk road between Delhi and Allahabad. It was found faster than old arrangement. Bulluck Train used to travel in Caravan and in line, so it looks like a train. The Caravan was well guarded by guards with weapon. The train contains of carts (two wheeled) or wagons (four wheeled). The charge of each cart at the rate payable for 15 mounds and for wagons 30 mounds. The passengers were placed in front side of the carts and parcel and packages on backside.
Due to the satisfactory result, the extensions of services were made. In 1855-56 the Govt. Bulluck Train covered the route between Calcutta and Peshawar with various branch lines throughout the Bengal and other areas. Heavy packages, troops and passengers were carried in safety at a reasonable rate.
These are very unique receipts and covers of the businessman NAMNARAYAN PANNALAL. The party must be dealing a lot with the Bullock Train for his business purpose. He must have accumulated a stock of receipts of Bullock Train thus received. He must have applied his mind to use these receipts in a novel way and he used its blank backside by converting it into envelop. The inverted marks of Type 10 cancellation of CALCUTTA can be seen very clearly on both the receipts. One of the receipts bears a bearing mark which shows, “BENARES BULLOCK TRAIN” along the circumference in two concentric ovals and “BEARING” mark at the centre. The Bulluck Train proved profitable. Many private firms also entered in similar activities by establishing Bulluck Train organization. Govt. also used services of these private Bulluck Train services. The Govt. Bulluck Train work transferred to Indian Carrying Company with effect from 1st May 1864 vide letter No. 2718 dated 14th April 1864 from J.W.S. Wyllie, Esquire, Under Secretary to the Govt. of India to A.M. Monteath, Esquire, In charge of the office of Director General of Post Office of India. However, the work of Indian Carrying Company was not found satisfactory and Post Office again took over the business of Bulluck Train in 1868.
This is the story of Bulluck Train. As the network of Railway expanded, the use of Bulluck Train for conveying stores, packages and parcels, passengers began to decline. The various lines of Bulluck Train were gradually closed in 1872, it was only in existence on Umbala – Simla line and finally closed in October 1904.
A printed notice issued by T.GARRETT, OFFICE OF DY. P.M.G., G.P.O. informing receipt of the goods through Bullock Train. Such notices were either displayed on notice board at G.P.O. or
the recipients were informed about the same and were asked to clear the material from the post within 48 hours, failing, the demurrage would be charged at the rate of 6 pies per mound per day (1 mound = 40 seers) thereafter. GIST OF SOME RULES & REGULATIONS OF BULLUCK TRAIN:
- Packages can be forwarded either paid on unpaid between any of the Agency offices.
- Packages may be booked unpaid at any Railway Station on the East Indian or Punjab Railway for Darjeeling or any office on that line . . . . . . . . . the addressee will be charged the hire paid to the Railway, together with commission of 5% thereon and the ordinary Bulluck Train rates from the Station where the packages may be made over the Bulluck Train.
- Passengers proceeding by Bulluck Train are booked only for the road transit, and are charged at the rate payable for 3 mounds of goods . . . . . . passengers by Bulluck Train are allowed 20 seers of the baggage free of charge.
- No package weighing less than a 1 mound will be received for dispatch over any line composed partly or wholly of Railway transit, except it forms part of a consignment of two or more packages which together weigh upward of a mound.
- The Govt. will not be responsible for any loss of, or damage to, packages sent by Bulluck Train, whether caused by fire, tempest, the state of the road, or any negligent, in proper, or criminal act on the part of the person in charge of the train, or otherwise concerned in the conveyance or delivery of the goods, packages booked at the Bulluck Train office will, whenever convenient, be forwarded by Railway at the risk of sender.
- In order to protect the Bulluck Train dispatches from the chance of Robbery, Officers in charge of Post Offices are prohibited from knowingly receiving coins, bullion, precious stones, or jewelry for the transmission by Bulluck Train.
- Packages addressed to outstation, i.e. Stations off the Bulluck Trains lines, can only be booked to the nearest Bulluck Train office, and forwarded thence at the risk of the owner by country cart or such other opportunity as may offer.
- Packages between stations connected by Railway: The Bulluck Train department does not book packages merely for Railway transit, for which the sender can himself book them at the Railway office. For instance, a package tendered at Calcutta addressed to Cawnpur will not be received, but if addressed to Futtehgurh or any other road stations beyond Cawnpur it will be received.
The Bullock Train was also run by private persons those who have got the permission to do so and the services provided by such firms were also used by Govt., Postal Department & public at large for carrying of goods and passengers. A hand bill from LALLA GORAMUL GOCOOLCHUND, a proprietor of the Benares Bullock Train regarding the services offered by the firm. The services of Bullock Train were popular because its operations were guarded as the goods were transferred and thus a sense of safety was their even with the passengers.
The passengers were allowed only if the space was available after stacking of goods in the cart. The rate for the passengers and goods for the distance travel were pre-determined.
The following is the list of Government Bulluck Train offices and Lines. The rates between any two offices can be ascertained at any Bulluck Train office:
DELHI MEERUT CITY
An acknowledgment receipt page from a “Bahikhata”, for parcels sent through Bullock Train, obtained by a sender with beautiful oblong seals of BENARES BULLOCK TRAIN in two concentric oblongs and “PAID” in the centre in red color.
Receipts are granted by other than Government Bulluck Train only when presented ready return either in books or on separates slips on paper along with parcels. Receipts so presented will be duly stamped with the Paid, Bearing stamps. Traders hence used to maintain a separate book for such receipts. The above page from such book contains a list of numbers given to parcels with paid stamps.
An advertisement of Benares Bullock Train Company of Jan. 1860 which gives details of the route and rates for the services offered by them. The rates were showing amount to be charged for goods & passengers between the destinations. The advertisement reveals the rates to be charged for goods and passengers for the destinations the Bullock Train is traveling. It seems the passengers were not allowed to board Bullock Train from the starting point of it, like CALCUTTA in above case.
It is a interesting thing that use of Bullucks to haul wagons over the Thull Ghat were made for some period in 1863, the illustrated weekly published the above picture of a pair of Bulluck hitched to wagon on rails. There is another example from Baroda State. Shortly after the introduction of B.B. & C.I. Railway in the state, Maharaja Khanderao took the lead and built his first line to connect Dabhoi with B.B. & C.I. main line at Miyagam. In February 1862, Maharaja Khanderao opened 8 miles of narrow gauge railway line of 2 feets 6 inches from Dabhoi towards Miyagam. Oxen were used as a motive power. It was also known as “Bulluck Tram”. In 1873 the line was re-laid with stronger rails to allow locomotives to be used although locomotives were not used regularly on this line until 1880. This latter become part of the Gaiekwar’s Baroda State Railway.
- Postal History and Practice by Ivie G.J. Hamiltan.
- India Post No. 115, Jan.-Mar. 1993.
- Indian Postal Guide 1871.
- Report of the Transaction of Post Office in India – 1855-
- Old Circulars of Government.
- Baroda Post’s Webs.