Sun | Feb 5, 2023


Published:Sunday | February 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Gleaner's 'Pieces of the Past' tells us that the Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC) opened on November 21, 1845, with a 10-carriage train running from Kingston to Spanish Town, to the sounds of the 1st West India Regiment. Costing £222,250, the railway is one of the first in the world, built soon after the first public railway in England.

The Spanish Town to Old Harbour extension opened, in 1869, followed by Spanish Town to Ewarton (1885), Porus to Montego Bay (1894) and Bog Walk to Port Antonio (1896). The public service was officially closed in 1993, although sections of the line were still used by the bauxite companies.

But with the ongoing recession having hit the aluminum industry especially hard, even that commercial usage has dropped dramatically. Against the background of rumblings about getting the trains rolling again, The Sunday Gleaner has decided to go walk the lines islandwide, looking at sections of the railway system, the towns they ran through, and the people whose lives were intertwined with the train service. We start in Manchester, and next week we go to St Elizabeth.