Railway Board Building, Simla, colonial fire-resistant structure!!

The old Railway Board Building, Shimla,victorianweb.org

It is quite interesting to note that in the by-gone era, the British were quite conscious  about the safety of the buildings in which they worked and also the houses where they lived. One reason was buildings were mostly made of wood in certain parts of the empire. As oil lamps and fire-places were widely used, the structures were prone to fire accidents. So, safety was a primary consideration for important buildings throughout the British Empire. Consequently, the railway Board Building in Simla, now in Himachal Pradesh was designed to be structurally fire-resistant,  

The Railway Board Building  was built in 1896-97 and its engineer was one  W. MacDonald who had worked on the iron-framed buildings. The unusual feature about this building is it was built with  prefabricated cast-iron from the Bombay foundry of Richardson & Cruddas.

Railway Board Building,Simla  Flickr

Originally built as offices for the Public Works Department of the Government of India, this building housed the PWD's Secretary and Accountant-General. In the later years, the Railway Board was the main occupant in 1923. Since then, it has been known as Railway Board Building

 Simla has many colonial buildings made of wood and were prone to fire accident. Iron-framed structures were  fire proof and much cheaper than wooden structures. Ellerslie, yet another structure in Simla uses similar technique. The building has four levels, one is visible above the road level with one side exposed, going  down  hill, it has three basements. A fire mishap took place on 10 Feb,2001 on the top floor. Thanks to  the sturdy original construction. The blaze did not affect the structure; its facade is as imposing as ever. The 2001 blaze proved the fire-resisting capacity of this colonial building. Presently, it houses many of the Central Government Offices.