The International Steam Pages


The Railways of Martinique 2014

Thomas Kautzor has been to several Caribbean islands to check out what is left of their railways and industrial heritage.

For the full general index, see Railway Relics (and more) in the Caribbean, Other report for the eastern islands in this series comprise:


This page updates the Railways of Martinique 2013 report, if you are not familiar with that it would be sensible to read it first.

North 

Le Train des Plantations, Les Rails de la Canne à Sucre (RCS), Sainte-Marie:

The Train des Plantations was operating Tu-Sa 09.30-13.30 & Sa 14.30-16.30 with hourly departures (Eur. 5/3 under 12 years old), with six-wheel diesel No. 10 “Moïse” (Davenport 1946) pushing the two open cars to Fourniols nonstop and then hauling them back with a live commentary on the surrounding plants and trees. The society operates the railway with four permanent employees and 11 volunteers.

Four-wheel Whitcomb diesel 5DM 26A No. 40475 has been fitted with an engine, but it still in need of minor adjustments before it will be able to support No. 10 out on the line.

An 850 mm gauge replica of Tramways de la Sarthe skirt-tank 0-6-0T No. 115 (made of plastic) is stored inside the rum cellar opposite the railway yard. It has been donated to RCS by a resident of the island who grew up in Sarthe and used to keep it in his garden.

The Cité-Etoile bus stop in Sainte-Marie (on the N1) features a painting of preserved Corpet-Louvet 0-6-0T No. 1701/1925 “Trinité”.

South:

Habitation Clément, Le François:

Whitcomb 5DM66 No. 40565 is said to have come from Usine de Rivière Salée.

Maison de la Canne, Les Trois Ilets:

Both locos have been repainted in black and wooden buildings built around them.

Poterie des Trois Ilets

The pottery at Trois-Ilets (Poterie des Trois Ilets - PTS, http://www.poterie-3ilets.com/index.htm), across the bay from Fort-de-France, was founded in 1783 on the grounds of a 17th century Jesuit convent. Today it still produces bricks, floor tiles and roof tiles, one of the oldest potteries still in operation in France. The numerous historic buildings surrounding the grounds are nowadays used by artisans, potters and souvenir traders.

In the past a 600 mm gauge railway was used to transport clay between the pits and the factory. After it was abandoned, the locomotives and skips were dumped into one of the pits, from where they were recovered by the present owner a year ago. There are two Jung four-wheel diesel-mechanical locos and the remains of 16 skips.

The right one is a now very rare type MS 131 (10/11 hp Jung 1-cylinder water-cooled engine) of which circa 430 were built between 1929 and 1933 and which only 7 other units are known to survive in the World (two in Switzerland and one each in the Netherlands, Austria, Argentina, France and Sweden). The Dutch National Narrow Gauge Railway Museum (NSS) at Valkenburg is currently restoring a loco of the same type to operating condition, there is a builder’s photo of the Dutch model (No. 4517/1929) with rounded ends at http://www.smalspoormuseum.nl/Materieel/Motorlocs/mloc19.htm link dead by 25th August 2015, the one in Martinique however had square ends.

The other one (on the right) is a more common type EL 110 (11/12 h.p. Jung 1-cylinder water-cooled engine), of which circa 900 were built between 1934 and 1963, and of which there are at least 75 known preserved units.

The present owner hopes to restore the locos and rebuild two skips for display.

 

The brickworks also have an extensive 550-560 mm gauge internal network with numerous transporters and small turntables, a large part of which is still in daily use. The over 100 cars on which the bricks and tiles are transported between different production units and dried in ovens are pushed around by hand. In the grounds are also the remains of some larger gauge railway track which I measured at 870 mm.


Rob Dickinson

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