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Portland Parish Council objects to removal of old railway carriage

Published:Saturday | May 14, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Mayor of Port Antonio,Councillor Floyd Patterson - Photo by Mark Titus

Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer


THE PORTLAND Parish Council is racing against the clock to prevent the Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC) from removing an old railway coach along with a turntable from a location in Port Antonio.

The JRC, which owns the railway carriage and turntable, informed the council of its intention to remove the items, and have them transferred to Kingston for resale in the lucrative scrap-metal trade.

But mayor of Port Antonio, Floyd Patterson, has hit back, claiming that the JRC should reconsider its decision, as the old railway carriage and the turntable form part of the heritage of Portland, which is considered by many to be priceless.

"They are a part of our history," said Patterson. We value these items, and they can be used as a showpiece to the youngsters, who have not seen a train carriage before and, as a result, they will be educated about the use of the turntable, which was used to turn around the train engine,".

He added: "Those antiques have been here for the better part of 30 years, and with a beautification park and a soon-to-be mini-museum at Boundbrook, the valuables form a part of rich history of this parish."

The JRC coach and turntable are based at the old railway train station property at Boundbrook following ravages to its rails by Hurricane Allen in 1980, which also led to a severe dent in the railway system islandwide.

Since the JRC stated its position on the items, the parish council has been making a valiant effort to get the $250,000 from residents and other interest groups to purchase the remains from the railway company.

The railway service was highly active in Portland before 1980, with the transporting of bananas and commuters to other towns and parishes being part of the daily activity.

And continuing, Patterson said, "To us Portlanders, this is a small price, as we value those items. Our heritage is now at stake, and we will be doing everything possible to secure and preserve these items. We might see another train carriage running through Portland or at least not anytime soon, therefore it is prudent to preserve these for future generations."