The International Steam Pages


Railway Relics on St. Lucia 2013

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:


Four sugar mills are known to have used railways on the island of St. Lucia : the Central Factory (Cul de Sac Co. Ltd.) in the Cul de Sac Valley south of Castries (13 miles with three diesel locos and over 130 steel cane cars in the mid-1950s), the Roseau Factory in the Roseau Valley further south seven miles from Castries (16 miles with three diesel locos and 145 cane cars in the mid-1950s), Dennery Factory at La Caye in the Mabouya Valley on the island’s Windward coast, and Vieux Fort factory at the southern tip of the island near the international airport built by the U.S. military during WWII. In the early 1960s sugar cane cultivation was replaced by that of bananas, an industry which collapsed a few years ago.

Central Factory:

Nothing appears to remain of the factory.

Roseau Factory, near Jacmel:

The Roseau factory was formerly owned by Geest Industries and later used as the center for an extensive banana operation. The former 2’8”-gauge sugar cane railway was then used to transport bananas from the fields to a central packing shed near the factory, which is now used as a mechanical workshop. The railway used two Motor Rail, one Ruston & Hornsby and one Hibberd diesel locos and was reportedly still in operation in 1988. The factory was taken over by St. Lucia Distillers Ltd. (http://saintluciarums.com/) in 1972, a joint venture between Geest Industries and the Barnard family. Today it is owned by CLICO and is the island’s only distillery, using molasses imported from Guyana to produce rum. The distillery runs short guided tours and rum tastings (tel. 758-451-4528, Mo-Fr 09.00-15.00, EC$15). One of the Motor Rail locos is on display next to the rum tasting shed, which incorporates the pillars from the old gantry crane, while the Ruston was reported stored in a shed a few years ago.

Dennery Estate, La Caye (Dennery)::

The estate belongs to the Barnard family. The distillery here closed in 1972 and the equipment was moved to Roseau Factory. The estate was abandoned in c.1998. No remains of the former 3’9”-gauge railway could be found.

Pigeon Island National Landmark, Rodney Bay: :

Pigeon Island, overlooking Rodney Bay on the island’s northern Leeward side, was in use as a fortified military outpost by the British Navy from 1780 to 1861, when it was abandoned. From 1941 to 1947 it was leased to the U.S. Navy as a signal post and communications station. Fort Rodney was used as a foundation for the huge wireless tower erected on top of it, while the old foundation of No. 2 battery just below the fort was used as a base for the prefabricated building housing two generators, the communications centre and quarters for the men on duty. Running from this building down to the sea on the east side, was an inclined cable railway used for hauling up drums of fuel to power the generators. The building burned down in 1968, but the concrete pillars on which the railway track used to lay are still present to this day.

Rainforest Adventures St. Lucia, Castries Waterworks Reserve, Chassin, Babonneau:

Rainforest Adventures (http://www.rainforestadventure.com/welcome_to_rainforest_adventures_st_lucia/ link dead by 25th October 2016) operates a Rainforest Aerial Tram (16 Doppelmayr CTEC open-air gondolas), two zip line courses and walking trails at this location.

Sources 

W. Rodney Long, “Railways of Central America and the West Indies”, Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, 1925;

Robert R. Darsley, “Caribbean Cane Tramways – (1) The Lesser Antilles”, in Industrial Railway Record No. 93, June 1982;

David Rollinson, “Railways of the Caribbean”, Oxford: MacMillan Caribbean, 2001;

Robert Devaux, “Pigeon Island National Landmark – A Brief History & Guide”, The Saint Lucia National Trust.


Roseau Factory:

Dennery Estate

Pigeon Island


Rob Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk