The History of the Assam Railways & Trading Company (AR&T Company) and Asia’s oldest Plywood Factory ‘The AR&T Plywood Industries’ at Margherita, the State of Assam, Incredible India!

A quaint town located amidst the green hills and the lush tea gardens in the extreme north-eastern corner of the country speaks of a legendary history which in due time has lost its grandeur. In our quest to relive these moments of the past, Jungleideas narrates to you this story of the Assam Railways & Trading Company (AR&T Company) and Asia’s oldest Plywood Factory ‘The AR&T Plywood Industries’ at Margherita, the State of Assam, Incredible India!

The AR&T company was established on 30th July 1881, with a prime focus on harnessing the undiscovered potentials of natural and mineral resources in the blessed lands of Assam.  The credited of establishing this company goes to two prominent people of the erstwhile ‘British Raj’ in India – Dr. John Berry White and Mr. Benjamin Piercy. Dr. John Berry White, a Civil Surgeon, played a very significant role in the early development of the Assam’s mineral resources including the opening of the Makum Coalfields. Mr. Benjamin Piercy, on the other hand was a Civil Engineer from Britain who had to his credit, the establishment of major lengths of Railway Connectivity across the British Empire.

The contribution of the Ar&T company to the initial development of the Indian industries had been immense which had begun by the establishment of the pioneer Tea and Steamer companies in India. It was the first company to establish a full fledged railway route across the State of Assam in the form of the Dibru Sadiya Railway. The coal mines and collieries were later established in Assam in 1884-85. At the same time, five steamers and sixteen flats were brought into service on the rivers. Oil was struck in 1889 and ten years years later the Assam Oil Company was formed. Sawmills were established at Margherita and the Brickworks at Ledo. The Makum (Assam) Tea Company came into being in 1892 and the Namdang Tea Company in 1916, to which, a few years later, was added the Bogapani Tea Estate. This was all achieved under the able founders of the AR&T Company and their  able guidance. But it was in 1924, that the Company built the Margherita Plywood Factory for the manufacture of three-ply chests that made the AR&T Company one of the pioneers of this industry in India!

During the establishment of these industries across the Makum district of Assam a pressing need of quality timber was aroused. Timber also became a prime necessity in the planning of rail routes and building of the Margherita and Doom Doomba bridges. Then again there was also a sufficient need in the coal mines. This demand of Timber led to the establishment of the first Sawmill on the south bank of the Dehing River near Margherita Station, conveniently placed for the Margherita Bridge and the collieries which for sonic years continued to absorb a major part of the output. Public demand at that time was limited mainly to tea box shook made of simul.

Although the art of veneering was practiced from early times, it was not mull the introduction of rotary cutting of veneers that the commercial possibilities of plywood were apparent. Weight for weight, plywood resists the strains of ordinary use to a much greater extent than solid boards. It keeps its size and shape better and is less liable to saturation. For these reasons, it has been widely adopted for use where lightness and strength are required, as in packing cases and especially tea chests. ‘Til this time, tea was packed in boxes of swan timber, known in the trade as shook and each box weighed nearly twice the modern three-ply chest.

This new discovery prompted the Directors of the Company to set up the Plywood factory at Margherita and the necessary machinery was ordered in 1922. Production began in 1924, and plywood boxes marketed under the name “Margherita” achieved a great success. Production continued and gradually lead to a total output of approximately five million square feet a year in the recent years ’til the modern day timber felling norms led to an complete halt of the production in 1996.

Although closing onto almost a hundred years since its inception this plywood factory still has machinery and equipment from Germany and Italy that are operational ’til today.

Jungleideas welcomes you to India’s North East to witness  the History of the Assam Railways and Trading Company (AR and T Company) and Asia’s oldest Plywood Factory ‘The AR and T Plywood Industries’ at Margherita, the State of Assam, Incredible India!

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
The Centenary year celebration of the AR and T Company at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
The Administrative Office of the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
BARN and Co. Limited Tank manufactured in 1922 at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
Splicing Machinery of the Ruckle Company at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
Beckner and Van Hullen machinery at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
Cremone Peeler by CREMONA of Italy at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
Cremona Peeling Equipment by CREMO Italy at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
CREMONA Machinery at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
CREMONA Slicer at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
RUCKLE Machinery at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
Remains of the Shed at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
Plywood Machinery at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
Machinery at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
Wood Preservation Plant at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
Remains of the Shed at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
Remains of the Shed at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
Remains of the Shed at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

Plywood factory Asia History, Tipong Coal Mining, Tirap Coal Mining, The Historic Stilwell Road, Digboi Oil Industry Assam, Makum Coal Fields, Coal Museum India
The AR and T Company’s School established in 1938 at Margherita in Assam

Recommended Itinerary for your visit: Memoirs of the World War II

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