Towards the end of the 18th century, the East India Company planned to set up a Gun Powder Factory of their own. They selected a place where the Dutch Ostend Company had run a Gun Powder Factory from 1712 to 1744. The selected land was in possession of Maharaja Nobkissen Bahadur since 1769. The East India Company made an exchange settlement with the Maharaja to acquire this land.
A Deed dated 28th April, 1778 was made between the Maharaja and the Governor General of United Company, Warren Hastings. In exchange for Noapara and certain other villages belonging to the estate of the Maharaja, the Company awarded him talookdari of several villages situated in Calcutta, containing bazaar Sootaloottee, Subah Bazar, Charles Bazar, Baugh Bazar etc.
It is known from the marble plaque on the main gate of the factory that the work for setting up the Gun Powder factory Ishapore, commenced sometime in 1787 under J. Farquhar, Agent and production started from 1st January 1791 and continued for more than a hundred years till 1st June 1902.
From the editorial note of the Statesman dated 8 July 1901, it is revealed that one Captain Moore of the Indian Ordnance department was assigned the task of creating facilities at Ishapore for turning out 25,000 rifles and carbines annually on the lines of an existing factory at Sparkbrook near Birmingham. The site of gun powder factory was selected for setting up this factory. On completion of the work, production started from 20th September 1904. The factory was renamed as Rifle Factory, Ishapore.
Parallels of this factory can be drawn with Royal Small Arm Factory of Enfield Lock- a suburban township, North of London, where the famous Enfield Rifle was born and which had been the home for the design, development, manufacture and testing of small arms. Ishapore was rightly christened as the 'Enfield of India' in view of the geographical and other similarities between the two locations. RFI thence embarked upon a long journey in the field of small arms and in its march to glory, produced blend of small arms from the kookriees, swords, bayonets, revolvers, pistols, carbines, muskets, bazooka launcher rockets to 7.62 SLR Ishapore Rifles, 9mm Auto Pistols and 5.56 INSAS and made its indelible mark in the history of small arms production in India.
During the World War I & II, the factory produced large quantities of .303 Bolt Action Rifles to meet the war requirements. In addition to this, repair works for Light Machine Guns like MAXIM, LEWIS, HOTCHKISS and VICKERS were also carried out.
The first step towards Indianisation of Ordnance Factories Supervisory Cadre was initiated at RFI when the scheme for training of apprentices started in the year 1920. The Ordnance Technical School a pioneer in Technical Training in Ordnance Factories imparted Training to the young inductees at workmen and supervisory levels.
After Independence, due to shortage of work load from the Military Services, the factory had to diversify its production activities. The factory undertook design & development of Civil weapons to keep the manpower engaged. Manufacture of 12 Bore DBBL & SBBL Shot Guns started in the year 1953. In the year 1956, .315" Sporting Rifle was established. Even today this weapon has a very good demand in the Civil Market.
In 1962, the factory was called upon to establish 7.62mm Semi-Automatic Rifle to meet the Army's emergent operational requirements. The task was carried out with great success and the factory was commended for the extra ordinary feat in the India Parliament by the then Defence Minister.' The design and development of 7.62mm Ishapore Rifle was completed within the shortest possible time and regular production started with effect from 1964-65. In recognition ofthis achievement of the factory, the then General Manager K.C. Banerjee was conferred 'PADMASHREE' by the Govt. of India.
Ranging! Sub-Calibre Guns for 106mm RCL, 105 Tank Gun and 84mm Rocket Launcher were successfully productionised by the factory during the seventies and early eighties. The factory successfully established production of 9mm Pistol Auto in the year 1977 which continues to be in production till date.
In the year 1994, serial production of 5.56mm INSAS Rifle was started. The rifle of contemporary international standard had been developed by the factory in partnership with ARDE. DRDO Technology Assimilation Award was conferred on the factory by the Prime Minister of India in 1997.
In the year 1999, RFI has developed and established production of a .22" Sporting Rifle of international quality for the Civil sector. Through in-house R&D, RFI has also developed 0.22 Revolver in 2001-02 for the civil sector, where it is attracting large demand.
In recent times, the factory has modernized considerably with the induction of latest technology in production areas to maintain high quality standard and improved production .techniques to economize cost of output. CAD/CAM has been provided for product! process design. Today, RFI is an ISO-9000 certified company. Its Chemical & Metallurgical Laboratory is NABL accredited Now, with its 'State-of-the-Art' technology, skilled manpower and best manufacturing practices, it is considered as the Jewel in the Crown of the Ordnance Factories Organisation.
Clock Tower, with a plinth area of 3x3 meter and a height of about 29.6 meter was constructed in 1869 at the Old Metal Store premises of the then Gun Powder Factory (Now, Rifle Factory, Ishapore). The specialty of the Clock Tower was that people could see the time from inside and outside the factory.
The existing Main Gate, constructed in 1907 at a total cost of Rs. 26,898/- only, is of strategic importance With a height of about 10.5 meter (approx), the Building was erected in such a manner that a substantial portion of the inside & outside of the Factory was visible from the top of the Gate.
|ORDNANCE TECHNICAL SCHOOL
First of its kind in an Ordnance Factory. Constructed in 1927 at a cost of Rs. 49,005/-, the School was fully equipped to impart training in precision trades for the manufactur of Small Arms & Equipment to various grades. Ex- trainees of this School rose to occupy eminent position in the OF Organization.
Among few of the old urbane institutions of repute, the Ishapore Club was constructed in 1905 at a total cost of Rs. 4,407/- only to cater for recreation of officers of this factory and allied establishments. It provided for all the amenities required of a modern up-to-date club. The special features of the building is Wooden Badminton Court, supported on springs and a central dome with large size glass panes to provide for natural ambient light.
The Building with a plinth area of 2883 sft and exernal length of 62 2/3" was constructed in 1836 at a cost of Rs. 10,668/- for storing ammunitions of erstwhile Gun Powder Factory. The 'Dome' shape was given to minimize the effect of bombing in case of war. Lime, Surki Mortar along with water proofing compound like Molasses Bael fruit, Methi etc. were used which had excellent heat resistance and water proofing effect.
Surrounded by Barracks, this is a heritage building of historical importance. The Building was constructed between 1722 to 1733. The shape of the building is such that inside environment will have lower temperature. It is interesting to note that the inclination of the wall is roughly between 22" to 23". It was used as a magazine for gun powder.