See at Aloyseum, Mangalore’s first car, generator

A. J. Vinayak Mangalore | Updated on March 23, 2013 Published on March 23, 2013

Those were the days: The first car to land in Mangalore was De Dion in 1906. The car, without its engine, at the museum of St Aloysius College in Mangalore. - A.J. Vinayak

The first electricity generator of Mangalore is also seen. - A.J. Vinayak

Mangalore has showrooms of many automobile companies now. Hardly a few would know that the first car to land in Mangalore was a De Dion automobile.

Way back in 1906, the French-made De Dion was imported by P.F.X. Saldanha of Highland Coffee Works in Mangalore. As there was no petrol station in Mangalore then, the fuel had to be brought from Madras in 10-gallon drums and under special licence.

And if you want to have a glimpse of the car now, you have to visit the museum at St Aloysius College in Mangalore.

Speaking on the sidelines of the renovated museum here on Saturday, Fr Leo D’Souza, Director of Lab of Applied Biology, who is closely involved in the activities of the museum, said that when the Governor of Madras, Sir Arthur Lawley, visited Mangalore in 1907, De Dion was lent for the use of his two daughters to travel up to Karkala, 33 miles from Mangalore.

D’Souza told Business Line that a journey in this car to Kudremukh used to take two days then. This single cylinder car had a maximum speed of 19 miles. People then used to flock the residence of Saldanha to have a look at the car.

It had an open top. In 1920, it was fitted with a hood over the front seats. It was gifted to the college in 1956, without its engine, which was given to a planter 10 years earlier, who pressed for it very hard.

Another exhibit at the museum is the first electric generator of Mangalore city. D’Souza said that the first generator was installed in the city at St Aloysius College in 1915 even before the electricity came to the region. In fact, a huge wooden fan in the college was operated with the help of this generator, he said.

Other exhibits include animal and fish bones, skulls, horns and skins, copies of paintings by old European masters, old radios, telegraphic equipment, antique telephone sets, and manuscripts on palm leaves, among others.

Named as ‘Aloyseum’, the museum is situated in a ‘red building’ on the west end of the campus.


Published on March 23, 2013
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