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Train line to the sea

Heather-Lynn Evanson

Train line to the sea

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IT IS A FAST DISAPPEARING PART of the island’s history and heritage.
And last Saturday, scores of walkers who participated in the Coastal Zone Management Unit’s June Sundown Beach Walk got a look at the remnants of the island’s train line.
It was in 1937 that the last train puffed along the tracks from Bridgetown, making stops through the countryside, before halting at Belleplaine, St Andrew.
From then until now, the tracks have gradually disappeared.
And last Saturday those walking from Bathsheba, St Joseph to Bath, St John, along the path of the old train line, came face to face with the reason for the – line’s disappearance – erosion.
A solitary rusting stake, disappearing and reappearing under the surfing waves, was the first indication that the scores of walkers were indeed following the old train line route.
Then, the empty shells of brick buildings, some sitting mere feet away from the sea, told the tale of various stops along the East Coast.
However, the stark reality of coastal erosion greeted the walkers in the form of a series of rusted stakes in the near-shore water.
Pieces of rock, that one can only imagine were once part of the island, sit close by in the sea.
However, the walkers were treated to more than the island’s disappearing heritage.
They learnt, from coastal planner at the Coastal Zone Management Unit, Allison Wiggins, that development in the Scotland District was limited to three areas – Belleplaine, Boscobel and Bathsheba.
And the reason for this, she said, was that the area consisted of friable rocks [clay-based materials that, when dry, crumble easily], making it unsuitable for building.
She pointed to what was left of a house that had tumbled down the cliff at the foot of Martin’s Bay, St John.
“This is an example of slumping,” she said.
“After [Hurricane] Ivan, we got complaints that this area was going into sea and the whole area had slumped down.
People tried to plant coconut trees to keep it in place but the coconut trees did nothing for it,” she said.
The coastal planner also pointed out the escarpment of Hackleton’s Cliff, which she revealed, marked the boundary between the island’s limestone cap and the Scotland District.