Travelling by rail meant settling in to a wicker chair. *Photo courtesy of The National Museum of Bermuda
Travelling by rail meant settling in to a wicker chair. *Photo courtesy of The National Museum of Bermuda

The railway artifacts found on Par-la-Ville Road are evidence of a bygone era when trains rumbled from one end of the island to the other.

Little remains today of the route the railway line took through the city of Hamilton due to mass development.

And only a handful of the men and women that stroll around this part of the capital know that there was once a train tunnel underneath Par-la-Ville Park.

But this latest discovery is a historic reminder of how trains heading west along Front Street would snake up through the tunnel under Par-la-Ville Gardens before trundling out towards Serpentine Road and then the North Shore.

Colin Pomeroy, who wrote “The Bermuda Railway – Gone But Not Forgotten” told the Sun: “I was excited to hear about the railway artifacts found in Hamilton during recent trenching on Par-La-Ville Road in Hamilton. These remains have been in situ for almost 75 years.

“It was on May 1, 1948 that the railway stopped running out to St George’s — having ceased to run to Somerset on January 1 that same year — and soon thereafter the rails were lifted and the roadway paved over.

“The line had only operated from October 1931 with the introduction of the buses in April 1946 and the lack of maintenance during the war years bringing about its downfall.

“What an asset it would be to crowded Bermuda today. The old ‘Rattle and Shake’ can still surprise us.”

Experts believe that the old railway line through Hamilton would have been built between 1929 and 1930.

And the trains continued to operate across the island for nearly 17 years.

But the railings as well as the trains were sold “lock, stock and barrel” to the government of Guyana in 1948 and continued to operate until 1972.

Simon Horn, who is currently writing a history of the Bermuda Railway, added: “Par-la -Ville Road did not exist at the time. It was built over the railway right of way sometime after the line closed.

“The rails were spiked to wooden cross ties or sleepers as they are known in Britain, hence the remnant of ties and spike found on Par la Ville Road.

“You are unlikely to find any actual rail, since this was all pulled up in 1948.

“It is not actually surprising that digging up the road might reveal remnants of the railway; I am sure that when they paved over that part of the route they were not too particular about getting rid of the ties and everything else. You do not see much in the way of leftovers of the railway inside the City of Hamilton. Sixty years of building have obscured the old route.

“Bermudians tended to be a bit ambiguous about the railway, and especially in Hamilton the presence of the train running down the main street could be an annoyance for other traffic — in those days essentially horse carts and bicycles.”