The Railways of Jamaica again. ......

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Another visit to the railways of Jamaica, courtesy, this time, of H.G. Forsythe in the September 1963 edition of the Railway Magazine. .....


I have been reading historic copies of the Railway Magazine again. This time it was a bound copy of the magazines from 1963. ........ I came across an article about the Railways of Jamaica in the September 1963 edition which was written by H. G. Forsythe. [1]

My previous article about the Jamaican network can be found at:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2020/10/08/the-railways-of-jamaica
 
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Calthrop

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Thank you for relaying to us, the article on Jamaica's railways from the Sep. 1963 Railway Magazine. Has recalled to memory -- after many decades' total forgetting -- my reading aged 15, said article when first published in the magazine. My first encounter with information in any detail, about that island's railways. It would seem -- as mention of which, came about in the previous Jamaica thread initiated by yourself @rogerfarnworth, some nine months ago -- that I must be an inveterate and instinctive (and I confess, not very just or rational) Jamaica-disliker: I recall my principal reaction on reading that article at the time, as being "this outfit sounds boring".

Trying for fairness's sake, to offer some potential counter-balance: I've recently been on something of a "kick" of reading the travel books of Patrick Leigh Fermor -- to my mind, a wonderful guy: lived 1915 -- 2011, mentally very much all-there to the last -- IMO a superb writer: I'd love to have been him, and to have had the opportunities for far-flung travels which he had during that particular almost-century's lifetime. I being a railway enthusiast, which he wasn't -- though some of his books show brief incidental appreciation of parts of the railway scene -- my travels would have differed considerably from his; but -- enviable chap, anyway...

Fermor's book The Traveller's Tree is his only one which tells of of any venture of his, to the Americas: it concerns many months' extensive travelling by him in the West Indies, shortly after World War II. Includes a shortish chapter about his time in Jamaica: a place which he mostly liked, though he doesn't hesitate to dwell on its various perceived flaws. Short passages about journeys which he made -- strictly to get between his itineraries' A's and B's -- on the railways' Montego Bay to Kingston line; however, he plainly relished some of the train travel. He recounts a fairly short (15 -- 20 miles) journey on this line (maps in the links via the OP, show the routes and places concerned): alighting at Kendal to travel on to his destination by bus; boarding the eastbound train at what from the context, must have been the station called Maggotty -- and on this line, further in the Montego Bay direction, was a station named Anchovy -- crazy country !

Quoting (and cutting out the author's intervening non-rail-related "purple passages"):

"The train from Montego Bay... steamed [three-quarters of a century ago, all loco-hauled trains here would have been steam; though Jamaica had even then, some internal-combustion railmotors for local services] into the station. What pleasure to be in a train again ! to pull the armchair round to the window -- for the seating in the Jamaica Government Railway is sybaritically arranged [he must have been travelling first class !] -- light a cigar, and glance at the news of the island in the Daily Gleaner... but the attractions even of this splendid newspaper failed to hold out for long against the quiet and sylvan landscape that streamed past the windows, the darkly-timbered uplands and sloping fields... Silk-cotton trees, sleeved and bearded with beautiful parasites, sailed past the windows and, beyond their branches, the pale-green mountains uncurled. Prospects of parkland and glade and the deep clearings of the forest unfolded like great flowers drawing the path of the eye deep into regions of almost dream-like beauty... At Appleton a posse of boys climbed in with baskets of oranges, soursops and avocadoes for sale, and the train steamed on... We stopped again at the little towns of Balaclava and Green Vale [line's summit, 1705 feet above sea level], and at Kendal climbed out to catch the bus..."

Fermor travelled on subsequently by train, further east toward the capital -- this stretch not told of in any particular, just, "The train was bowling along through the flat cane-fields and every turn of the wheels bore us closer to [my bolding] the tramlines of Kingston..." Fermor mostly hated Kingston itself, finding it an ugly, noisy, chaotic, and frantically-and-obsessively-modern city. His mention of "tramlines", though, is interesting: Kingston's electric tram system was abandoned in 1948. His book -- published 1950 -- gives no indication via context, of exactly when in the late '40s he was accomplishing his travels; but his seeming thus to have witnessed (and per context, disliked -- silly man !) -- Kingston's trams: would seem to suggest that his journeyings were a very short while after the end of World War II.

So: some folk anyway -- experienced the Jamaica Government Railways while they were functioning, and found the thing good !
 
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nanstallon

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Yes, Railway Magazine for September 1963 was my first acquisition of printed matter relating to railways - apart from tickets! I was 12 and our school library took this magazine regularly. I was an avid reader thereof, but couldn't afford to buy my own copy. The September 1963 issue had a glorious centre spread about the Hemyock (Culm Valley) branch, as well as the article about Jamaican railways. So much so that I asked the English master if I might take this magazine home after it had been duly superseded by the October issue, to which he kindly agreed.
 

Taunton

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I asked the English master if I might take this magazine home after it had been duly superseded by the October issue, to which he kindly agreed.
Our school librarian (part time by the Latin master) was more efficient, and had binders that the monthly magazines were inserted into, which formed a fascinating set going back several years for the Railway Magazine, and comparable ones for aircraft, ornithologists, stamp collectors, etc. He used to send off for the indices at year end as well.
 
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Calthrop, I always enjoy your reflections! This one seems to add very positively to the more clinical notes of my post!

The copy of the magazine that I have been reading, Taunton, was a discarded St. Marylebone Reference Library bound copy in very good condition.
 
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