'Darjeeling comes to Fairbourne' was a logical special event to hold, given that the Fairbourne railway has a (1/2 scale) replica Darjeeling engine. This locomotive, 'Sherpa' was built in 1976 by Milner Engineering of Chester, as a tribute to the famous locos that steam up to Darjeeling each day. In addition, it is both colourful and an attractive engine. It is also very popular.
The DHRS met with the Fairbourne Railway Preservation Society, and both thought it would be a great idea to do this event. It's unique, it's colourful, it's 60 years since India gained independence - and we could all have a lot of fun.
20 DHRS members plus members of the FRPS descended on Fairbourne and transformed the station into India on the Saturday, ready for the event on the following two days. It was a riot of colour. Boards (and prayer flags) had been put in many locations to guide the public to Fairbourne. As visitors approached they were first greeted by a large Hill-Cart Road sign, 'Better be late Mr Motorist - than the late Mr Motorist." The closer they got, so more of these signs appeared. Under the large sign announcing arrival in Fairbourne hung a large banner - 'Hurry burry spoils the curry'. Then they were greeted by the whole affair, with Indian costume, Indian music, bazaar and much else. All the locomotives, not just Sherpa, were dressed in marigold garlands. The locals said they had not seen road traffic like this since the 1960's, before the British took to holidaying abroad.
'The weather will be nice' said the sign in both Hindi and English, and it was. The trains were packed. There was a carnival atmosphere, and on the Sunday evening a packed train took those who'd bought tickets, to the restuarant at the far terminus for a curry and a slide show about the DHR.
The charity sub-committee of the DHRS, the Darjeeling Railway Community Support, (it does worthy work in the villages along the DHR, from buying and gifting a sewing machine to school books,) raised over £200.
Several Indian families were on holiday in the area, from Birmingham and London. They were stunned to find themselves 'Back home in India'. With the British dressed indian, and the Indians dressed British, this was a cause of much amusement, and insisted on photo's being taken with we Indian dressed Brits! In UK we talk about 'Going for a curry'. So it was jokingly suggested they 'Go for an English'.
The iceing on the cake was the arrival of Bollywood star Mayur 'Raj' Verma and his family. Raj has just moved to the area because he loves it. He wants to fit into the community. He was very gracious and spent a couple of hours looking round, answering questions, and taking a train ride. He thought the event a great idea.