A proposal has been thrown out to Government to capitalize on the heritage tourism that St Andrew has to offer.
And it has come from some residents of Belleplaine, who say the history of the railroad there could be a point of interest for the island, if it is properly developed.
Residents Christine and Rosemary Toppin noted that while the quiet St Andrew district held its own sway for visitors, there was untapped potential in its heritage.
Christine said having moved to the parish five years ago, she was acutely aware of the fact that the ruins were a prime example of the history that is yet to be told. She also believes that the site could be turned into a museum.
“Where those ruins are can be developed into a site museum of the railways and I think that could help to bring more visitors. Just like what Barbados did with the Arlington Museum and with George Washington House, if those ruins over there are converted and upgraded, they could make the perfect point of interest for this area,” said the resident.
Sitting in the district’s Sand Dune Restaurant and Bar, Rosemary joined in, saying that even where they lived not far away, they had found evidence of pieces of the railway on their property.
“This area has everything you could need when you think about it. It has a hard court, a playing field, church, schools, supermarket, police station . . . . It is a good centre, but I think seeing that this is the end of the railway something can be done with those derelict buildings to make it a focal point for the area,” said Christine.
It was an idea supported by Barbados National Trust president Dr Karl Watson, who said that the main consideration to such a development though would have to be funding.
Watson recalled that Sir Kyffin Simpson had proposed the idea of restoring a section of the railroad and actually having an engine running on it, similar to what had been done in St Kitts. The problem, he told Barbados TODAY, though was that development in the area, namely in the form of squatters had obstructed parts of the line, even though it was the property of Government.
He said too that the second issue was that very little of the train had been left in Barbados, but rather the engine had been exported to Guyana.
“It’s a very good idea [to have a railroad site museum] and I commend them for coming up with it, but it would require a massive capital injection. It really is a great idea.
“The National Trust actually had the idea of doing something with sugar, similar to what was done with Nicholas Abbey, but to work with Morgan Lewis to restore the whole complex. That would be a worthwhile investment as well,” said Watson.
The idea of the site museum in Belleplaine, he said, would require “rolling stock and not just photos”, meaning that film of the train when it was in operation would be key.
“There are three books that have been written about the railroad, so the information is there. In principle, it is a good idea, but things are very difficult right now for raising capital for projects like this at this time. It is not at all a friendly environment for financing and fund-raising,” he added.
Rosemary said too that something also needed to be done with the Ermy Bourne triangle at the Belleplaine/East Coast junction.
“They really need to do up the roundabout. It must have been decent to begin with, but now it is broken and there are these metal things sticking out of it. Instead of those metal beams or whatever there are, there should be a plaque or something telling you who Ermy Bourne was.
“It is most disrespectful to who the woman was that it has been allowed to degrade like that,” she stated, adding that upgrades like that could help to make the area look nicer, along with the proposed museum.