Digboi Museum

 

 

 

DIGBOI

A young lady, Sabeena Chowdhary is asking for help in communicating to visitors to Digboi and tells us that Indian Oil Corporation Limited now owns and operates Digboi Refinery and the entire brand Assam Oil.
Digboi Centenary Museum has been set up in Digboi  which upholds the contribution and service of the erstwhile oilmen and others, houses old refinery equipments, vintage masterpieces of engineering, exhibits from the social, cultural, sports, official life of the erstwhile people who lived and worked in Digboi.
Many people from different parts of the world visit Digboi every year and each one has their own loving tales of the Digboi Connection.

Several others wish to visit Digboi but do not have any contact here or are in need of information. Sabeena would be pleased to help and says the following:

“Anyone in need of any information related to Digboi can get in touch with Sabeena Chowdhary, at email

sabeenacg@gmail.com

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Digboi Centenary Museum 

A Tribute to the magnificent Oil-men of Digboi

 

Standing close to the historic Discovery Well no.1 at Digboi, in close proximity to the vintage oil producing field of 1001 wells, the Digboi Centenary Museum is the first of its kind in India. Established in the centenary year of Digboi Refinery, it provides tourists, students, researchers, historians and all with a dekko of history of oil, beginning in the dense rain forests of Digboi in the late 1800s. The museum depicts the development of the modern oil industry in India with exhibits, artifacts, rare and amazing photographs, memorabilia, precious letters, tableaux, archived materials, historic machinery, vignettes of World War II touching Digboi and various period knick-knacks. The museum offers an absorbing mixture of entertainment and education for all age groups and indeed one has to visit the museum to be transported in time and re-live the years of hardship experienced by those magnificent oil men.

As the visitors to the museum walk inside, they encounter the giant diorama depicting a life size elephant set amidst a tropical jungle scene, for it was the sight of oil drops on elephant’s feet that set the stage for the search of oil by the British pioneers in true spirit.

The walled panels on the upper floor of the museum present an insight into the past and present of the petroleum industry in Digboi with visually dynamic graphics interspersed with exhibits of machinery, equipment, models of plants and rare relics of an earlier period.

The history of Assam Oil from its foggy past to its present state, the first steps to build the edifice of a modern refinery, the adventurism of oil production, refinery & marketing, the joys and traumas, glimpses of the British Sahib and the Indian bearer in the office scene, a peep into the cultural life of people of another era– all rolled out in a fascinating, seamless journey through time.

Parallel to the growth of the oil industry, a flourishing township grew alongside -developed and built in their own inimitable style by the British owners, complete with European style bungalows, clubs, golf course and a distinctive life style. The exhibits of family, social and recreational and cultural life displayed in the museum tell their own story as to how life was in the days gone by.

The panels with facts and visuals on the ground floor tell the story of how oil industry was born in the wilds of Pennsylvania, USA, and elsewhere; the pioneering and entrepreneurial spirits of George Bissel, “Colonel” Edwin Drake, Rockefeller, D’Arcy, Cargill et al -the rush for the black gold and the scramble for money and power.

The ground floor of the main museum hall also contains the items from collection of machinery of the workshop, refinery, power stations, oil fields and the marketing installations. The fascinating displays from the administrative, welfare and labour offices of the Assam Oil Company bring back the nostalgia of the days gone by.

A superb ambience to soak up the past oil story, one needs to step in to the photo gallery hall, where several rare old photographs of the past are displayed with immaculate care. The visitor sails through 100 years of history of the petroleum industry of Digboi and of the nation, narrated by these historic photographs.

Stepping outside the main museum hall, the display is a variety of vintage equipment and machinery of the refinery. All systematically laid out under pagoda style kiosks, the machines have their own fascinating stories to tell in the first person, the display is set against stunning lush green hillocks, silhouetted by the old abandoned oil derricks adjacent to the ancient Digboi Oil field of 1001 wells. And the red flare of the present day refinery towers above the exciting stage. Displayed with the gigantic 450 bhp single cylinder steam engine of Borsig, Germany, and other sturdy machines of the past, is a replica of the retail outlet of the B.O.C. days complete, a British couple as customers, with a period car and other paraphernalia of a petrol station of that era.

The Digboi Centenary Museum is a tribute to the magnificent oil-men of Digboi, all of whom have contributed immensely to keep this place alive for over 100 years – a tremendous achievement by any standards.  It is a great favourite amongst visitors, who come from various parts of India and abroad.

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