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Tourism and the Bermuda Railway

A presentation for Bermuda Heritage Month, 2012

Simon Horn

on 2 March 2017

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Transcript of Tourism and the Bermuda Railway

But why was there a tourist trade anyway?
Without the tourist trade there would have been no railway
Tourists needed to get around the country
Carriage rides were fun...
but taking two hours to get to the golf course was not!
Bermuda had to do something about transportation anyway...
It took the whole morning to get from one end to the middle...
Hamilton was over developed and the extremities under developed...
It's a rock!
Privateering had gone out of style
So, tourists or no tourists, many Bermudians wanted a solution!
Tourists wanted better transportation, and Bermudians wanted better transportation, so...
Why didn't they use cars?
Or at least motor buses?
Because they frightened the horses!
It was Mark Twain's fault (and Woodrow Wilson's)
You see, in those days Bermuda was...
"The Isles of Rest"
The 40 Thieves and the hotel owners liked tourists...
and they were afraid that "motors" might drive them away.
So a lot of the resistance to motors was about tourism
But that was not the only reason!
Motors would require good roads... and good roads would cost $$$.
[The Bermuda government] [the 40 Thieves] — choose either one —
did not like spending money!
But the railway would be FREE!
Who wanted the railway...
and who didn't?

Some of the 40 Thieves wanted it
H.W. Watlington
F. C. Gosling
and some didn't
Stanley Spurling
and some were in the middle
J. P. Hand
The Spurlings came from St. George's
They ran a livery stable, and horse buses (and had operated the "Scarlet Runner") ...
so they didn't like the railway!
Watlington and Gosling supported the railway from the start
Tourists came by ship
and that meant Furness Withy
Furness wanted to fill its ships, so it created the Bermuda Development Company to run hotels and golf courses
Bermuda farmers had long supplied New York with fresh vegetables, but tariffs were pricing them out of the market.
In 1883 Princess Louise visited Bermuda, and really liked it.
Now look at these four gentlemen, fully paid up members of the 40 Thieves:
all four are members of the House of Assembly
three are members of the Executive Council
All four are on the Board of Directors of the Bermuda Development Company, which brings us back to...
Furness Withy
Furness Withy liked tourists... and they needed to move them around the island.
Furness received an annual subsidy to run steamships to Bermuda
They didn't particularly like like the railway...
Especially when it took seven years to build!
Somerset and St. George's wanted modern transportation right away!
They thought the railway would never happen:
it was too expensive
it would never get built
a few motor buses would do the trick
So they didn't particularly like the railway either...
The Bermuda Railway Act, 1924 said Bermuda could have a railway, but...
the railway company had trouble raising the money
it kept missing deadline after deadline
it kept asking the House of Assembly for more concessions
Bermudians didn't want to sell it the land
Each time the Bermuda Railway Company came to the House of Assembly asking for more, the entire railway debate would happen all over again.
They didn't actually start building until 1928, and it would still take another three years before they finally reached...
Opening Day
Tourism and the Bermuda Railway
and there were only so many ways to do it!
(It was even worse during "crop season".)
Crop season wasn't as busy as it used to be!
and boatbuilding...
and gunrunning
(The House of Assembly didn't like spending money)
St. George Hotel
The Mid-Ocean Club
Bermudiana Hotel
Castle Harbour Hotel
The "Scarlet Runner"
Motor buses would have done the trick.
Cutting the ribbon in Somerset
Crowds in Hamilton for the first run
October 31, 1931
E. O. Williams
Governor Asser
Lord Lamington
J. J. Arnold
Colonial Secretary Henniker-Heaton
J.P. Hand
Stanley Spurling
J. H. Watlington
Hamilton Rotary Club founding, 1925
Hamilton Rotary Club transportation meeting, 1926
London Transport Museum
(This is what they feared.)
The Bermuda Railway wasted no time in appealing to the tourists
Tourists alighting at Bailey's Bay, on their way to the Caves, or Tuckers Town...
...at Aquarium Station
The trains added to Front Street traffic.
Even in the 1930s the liners dwarfed the town.
Furness and the Railway learned to get along
A Furness ad on the back of the Railway brochure
A Railway ad from a Furness passenger list
Furness kept bringing in the tourists, and the Railway kept moving them around the island.
Boat trains would meet steamers at St. George's Station on Penno's wharf.
So in 1908 Bermuda banned motor vehicles
R. A. Cummings
F. C. Gosling
E. O. Williams
Governor Asser
Lord Lamington
J. J.Arnold
For a while a speedboat service carried tourists from the railway at Ferry Point to the Castle Harbour hotel.
This was actually a joint venture with some influential Bermudians, who all belonged to what was colloquially known as "The 40 Thieves", the elite of Front Street merchants that had run Bermuda as long as anyone could remember.
Front Street at Queen
"The Land that is different"
...and arriving for the racing at Shelly Bay
Bermuda had its modern transportation
Tourists could see the sights
Bermudians could get to Hamilton in an hour or so, and
The dreaded motor car had been avoided... at least for a while.
The Bermuda Railway had arrived
But that is another story
And they would have to pay for the roads.
No motors!
Harley Spurling imported a touring car in 1907.
It frightened the residents, and probably the other livery stables as well.
Full transcript