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National Clean up unveils historical Locomotive line

When the Government’s cleanup crew swept through Cassada Gardens in recent days, a historical line that brought to light memories of Antigua’s rich history was unveiled.  Remnants of the railway or as we say in local terms, the LOCO Line (LOCO short for locomotive) seen above have rekindled those memories when Sugar was King and Antigua & Barbuda played a vital role.

According to one villager, he remembered the days when the “loco” ran freely from the Sugar factory to the Point Community where they dropped off their goods.  “We used to ‘hop’ the loco and pull off cane most times burnt cane,” the villager now in his late fifties told the Antigua Trumpet.  “Seeing this line, although just a partial piece brings back so many memories when I was a child growing up just down there at Wireless road.

According to the man the piece of history should be preserved.

“I wish we had the entire network still intact,” he said. “However, I am going to engage some of the guys I grew up with to see if they are willing to undertake preserving and maintaining this piece of Antigua and Barbuda and Clare Hall’s history.”

Sugar became Antigua’s main crop in about 1674, when Christopher Codrington an English man from Barbados settled at Betty Hope plantation.  Codrington brought the latest sugar technology to Antigua and soon Betty’s Hope, the country’s first full-scale sugar plantation, became very successful.

Sugar was so successful that other planters turned from tobacco to sugar despite the rigorous labor-intensive commodity.  Slaves were then imported to work on the sugar plantations since the early natives were unable to cope with the hard work.

According to the villager who go by the name Wireless Man, the line is a true connection to his African roots. “I am not sure who built this line but I am of the view that this is the work of our African ancestors,” Wireless Man said. 

He continued: “This is not just about a loco line for me, this also take me back to a place where most of our people speak so little about.“Our African heritage is right here with this loco line.“Our forefathers slaved on the sugar plantations many of whom lost their limbs and worst their lives working to build up Mother England.”

Wireless Man went on to say, “it’s a travesty that those in authority did not maintain the entire network like its done in other places like St, Kitts”.  “It’s a sin,” he reflected. “All that work, all that history, torn up and discarded by men who have no vision nor respect for the work of our ancestors.

“It’s a dying shame but hopefully we can keep this small piece as a keep sake so that we can tell the young people what transpired when Sugar was King.

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