On 5th April 1859 foundation stone was laid at (Negapatam) Nagappattinam by the “Great Southern Of India Railway Company” (GSIR) for construction of Railway line in BG system from Nagappattinam to Erode via Tiruchchirappalli. On 15th July 1861 the historic first train in BG system ran between Nagappattinam and Thiruvarur a distance of 14.33 miles (24 kms). The line was further extended to Tiruchchirappalli and a train arrived Tiruchchirappalli for the first time on 11th March 1862. Then the railway line was extended upto Erode in 1868 and connected the Madras - Erode - Shoranur - Beypore line.
The "GSIR" Company succeeded to a new Company known as “South Indian Railway Company.” In the initial stages Nagappattinam remained as the Head Quarters for the SIR for about 20 years. In the year 1865 a “General Office Building” was constructed at Tiruchchirappalli and then it shifted its Head Quarters to Tiruchchirappalli. Mr. William Smith Betts was the first ‘Agent’ (General Manager) of the SIR system and he occupied the superior post for 35 years. During his tenure, the SIR system saw astonishing growth and the route kilometers went upto 1040 miles. Sri. K.R.Ramanujam was the last GM of the SIR.
Foundation stone was laid for the construction of a new building for SIR’s Museum on 30.06.2011. As per original plan it is two-Souvenir shopy building. The works of construction of the building’s first phase (Ground Floor) was completed and it was inaugurated on 18.02.2014 by GM/SR. Due to paucity of funds opening of the Museum to visitors could not be undertaken immediately for want of infrastructure facilities. For better display of the indoor exhibits to visitors the preliminary work for improving the infrastructure facilities completed during January 2015 and finally commissioned on 25.02.2015. Now it is the ‘star’ attraction of the passers-by through the route. The Ground floor of the Museum building is 9000 sq.ft. Cost of the Museum Building is 1.35 crores.
Arrangements for display of about 400 small and medium size artefacts, and about 200 photos in different gallaries became the most challenging job. 40 numbers of 7feet long steel tables have been specially manufactured from Central Workshop / Ponmalai for placing the small and medium size exhibits. Out of these 40 tables 15 were provided with glass boxes and small exhibits are kept in them. Other exhibits in iron materials are kept open on tables. Nine numbers of 7 feet height large wooden show-cases with glass doors on both sides have been specially manufactured for placing the articles. Each of the three halls except the ‘Reception Hall’ has three rows.
All the four halls are filled with galleries of exhibits and photographs of all Departments of Railways in a systematic manner i.e., from the origin to the latest material on the field so that the visitor understands the theme behind. The individual exhibits are provided with suitable boards placed nearer to them with its name, history and other details written on them in English language for the easy understanding of the particular object by the visitor. Similarly the photos are written with details.
One MG ‘Inspection Carriage’ RA 9192 - year 1930 built coach- has been placed. One old ‘Fire-Engine’ vehicle (Road vehicle) is kept for display in front of the building. The vehicle is 1931 make “DENNIS BROS” Company Ltd., England. This vehicle is belonging originally to Mysore State Railways. Before it is brought to this Museum it was preserved and maintained by RPSF Training Centre at Tiruchchirappalli.
Two NG system ‘Water Column's which were in use during the Steam Locomotives era have been brought from a Depot near Varanasi, and likely to be erected near the ‘Steam Loco’ exhibit which is expected to arrive here in a couple of months. The work of renovation and erection of a few other exhibits for proper display is in progress.