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The Railways of Guyana comprised two public railways and several industrial railways, including the first in South America.

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Demerara-Berbice railway

The Demerara-Berbice Railway, built in then British Guiana (now Guyana), was the first railway system on the South American continent.[1] It was first operated by the Demerara Railway Company, a private concern, but sold to the Colonial Transport Department of the Government, which assumed control from 1 January 1922.[1]

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Route

The railway ran for 60.5 miles (97.4 km) along the coast from the capital and main port Georgetown in Demerara to Rosignol in Berbice,[2] whence it was connected by ferry steamer across the Berbice River to New Amsterdam.

History

The bill proposing the construction of the railway was passed in July 1846.[1] The railway was designed, surveyed and built by the British-American architect and artist Frederick Catherwood. All the railway stations, bridges, stores and other facilities were constructed by John Bradshaw Sharples.[3] Financing was provided by the Demerera Sugar company who wished to transport their product to the dock of Georgetown. Construction was in sections with the first, from Georgetown to Plaisance, opening on 3 November 1848. The opening day's festivities featured the death of one of the railway's directors by being run over by the locomotive.

An extension to Belfield was completed in 1854, to Mahaica in 1864 and finally to Rosignol during 1897-1900.

The public railway system was dismantled in stages in the early 1970s,

The Lamaha Street terminus of the Demerara-Berbice Railway was converted into a bus terminal subsequent to the closing of the railway.

Service

Following the opening in 1848, there were two return trains per day between Georgetown and Plaisance.[4]

In 1922 there was one train each week day, departing Georgetown at 08:00 and returning in the evening.[2]

Locomotives

Acquired Disposed Name Cost Use Notes
1847 Mosquito [4]
1847 Sandfly [4]
1847 Firefly [4]
1863 Alexandra £1,593 Relief engine [5]
1863 1921 Victoria £1,593 [5]

Infrastructure

There were three major bridges on the line, all constructed of iron, across the Mahaica, Mahaicony and Abary Rivers.[4]

Stations included:

  • Georgetown
  • Plaisance
  • Buxton 12 miles (19 km)
  • Rosignol 60.5 miles (97.4 km)

Demerara-Essequibo railway

Route

Gyana's second railway, the Demerara-Essequibo Railway ran for 18.5 miles (29.8 km)[2] along the West Coast of Demerara from Vreed en Hoop on the left bank of the Demerara River to Parika on the Essequibo River.

History

Its first section was laid to Greenwich Park c1899 and it was extended to Parika in 1914.

Service

In 1922 there were three return trains each day, timed to interconnect with arriving and departing steam ferries.[2]

Infrastructure

Stations included:

  • Vreed en Hoop
  • Leonora
  • Parika

Industrial railways

The industrial railway systems continued to operate following the closure of the public system and included several at bauxite mining sites and another linking Port Kaituma and Matthew's Ridge in the Northwest District.

In 1922, one of these was described as an 18.5 miles (29.8 km) metre gauge railway running from Wismar to Rockstone across the watershed between the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers.[6]

References

General
Inline

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