Our Story

 

The story starts with a suggestion from a visitor to Simon the eldest son of the Warren family who relays it many times until everyone had to take notice. The idea was initially conceived to simply have a railway from The Abbey to Cherry Tree Hill via the beautiful mahogany avenue. This however was not to be as the gradient was excessive and well beyond the requirements of a conventional adhesion train.

And so it begins in January of 2017 we started planning the railway with Tony Martin of Cromar White visiting Barbados from the UK, walking the site with the surveyors staking out a possible route. It quickly becomes apparent because of the 22 metre change in elevation that the railway will have to meander its way to the top of the hill and in so doing create a real journey through the fields and wooded areas and an old disused quarry on its way up to Cherry Tree. Not exactly the quick trip up the Hill as we initially thought!

This revelation of a longer journey now made sense, as it projected the visitor experience which until now only exists within the plantation yard, beyond the Great House, the croquet lawn, and factory buildings now to encompass areas of the planation that remained hidden and overgrown. It gives the visitor an exceptional expansive view from Cherry Tree Hill and equally on the return journey the entire North of the island overlooking the beautiful Great House captured in a setting with the Caribbean Sea in the background. A journey to a highland view from one side of the island and back! The real impact of the railway was now becoming very apparent as it would merge with the existing Heritage attraction, Distillery to become a destination attraction for all to experience. A truly unique Caribbean attraction and the impact on the cruise industry and Barbadian culture was starting to materialise. You see Barbadians (like the British and like everyone young and old) are obsessed with trains and more so that we lost our train back in 1937 some 81 years ago and they relive the stories that have been passed down the 3 generations. Not only did this now have to be a real train but it had to be a Steam Train and the story along with the project and investment grows.

By August of 2017 with Tony’s extensive travels throughout Wales and Great Britain we finally found the locomotive that had the muscle and adhesion to do the job. And so began our relationship with Statfold Barn Railway and Engineering who had saved the locomotive from a sugar plantation in Java in 2009. Tjepper No. 5 was built in 1914 by Arnold Jung Lokomotivfabrik in Germany is a powerful articulated locomotive (to manoeuvre tight radii) of the “mallet” design having four steam cylinders driving 8 wheels.

From February to October 2017 a period of design and redesign occurred while the locomotive search was on and over many months the final design and specifications where in hand. Investors were sought through a perspective and finally by October the locomotive was on order with a schedule 12 month restoration, followed by 3 carriages carrying 32 passengers each along with 2 diesel locomotives to help with the construction of the railway.

Earthworks commenced in earnest on the 12th February 2018 and through a very dry (thankfully!) wet season and the project was completed in December 2018.

The SNAHR is now fully operational and you can book tickets online. The St. Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway will initially be powered by Badger, our diesel locomotive, until the steam locomotive is ready to take over later in the year.
© 2019 Abbey Holdings Ltd.