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Telegraph man has up and down memories

Published:Sunday | March 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Donald Barrett (standing) and Oswald Green, two former workers of the defunct Jamaica Railway Station, remember the days when the train brought glory to the community of Catadupa. - Ian Allen/Photographer
Residents of Catadupa blame the economic hardships of the town on the cessation of the train service in the 1980s.
Pauline King (left) and Gerda Chambers at the old railway station in Catadupa.
Catadupa Railway Station -Photos by Janet Silvera
John Williams, former vice-president of the Catadupa Craft Vendors Association, still sews at his home in the district. - Photos by Janet Silvera

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

About A mile from the Catadupa station,
The Sunday Gleaner
meets Donald Barrett and Oswald Green, the latter resting the metal of his current occupation - farming - on the ground as he sits on the metal of a key factor in his former occupation, the train line.

It was the rusting metal frames at regular intervals beside the line that he worked on, going up and down telegraph poles from Anchovy to Maggotty as he made sure that the messages got through in what was then the most widely available, quickest form of communication.

Green used to go up and down the train line as well to do his job, armed with a pass from the Jamaica Railway Corporation.

Both ended in 1988, as, he says: "from (hurricane) Gilbert the telegraph go down and they don't put it back. The telegraph used to run beside the line. The stationmasters used to use it to communicate and the postmasters used to use it."

Green was employed by then state-owned Jamaica Telephone Company.

Barrett has close family ties with the railway. His father used to make the trolleys for the line repairmen, his brother was stationmaster at various stations, and his mother was one of the famed Catadupa station seamstresses.

His last train ride was to Montego Bay and back, $130 one way.

"You used to have a lot of people work the railway," Barrett said. "You would always have a vast amount of people commuting between Catadupa and where they wanted to go. It (Catadupa) would not be looking like it is now."

Green chips in: "From the train stop run, business gone right down. People used to sell them pine, guinepe"

Barrett expands on the commercial activity which revolved around the railway service. "People used to come out. Young people used to do carving, plait mats, make baskets. The livelihood was good. From the train stop, everything stop," he said.

tour companies

Barrett noted that there were two tour companies, Regos Tour and Governor's Coach Tour, the former going to Appleton estate and the latter to the Ipswich Cave.

The tourists would come off the train and the guide would give them the history of the community as they walked through the village.

"We loved it and we are waiting with bated breath to see it come back. It would bring back some liveliness to the community," Barrett said.

Green has his theory about why the passenger railway service ceased: "They had their big truck to put on the road so they wasn't interested in the train anymore."

Added Green: "It was bright, doing well, the people made their living from it. They mash it up."

And he groaned: "Whoever mash up railway shoulda get a (prison) sentence."