Colin Bell, the People’s National Party aspirant for Portland Eastern, is calling on the Portland Municipal Corporation to fence the old railway turntable in Port Antonio to preserve the history of the site for future generations.
The turntable or wheelhouse is a device for turning railway rolling stock, usually locomotives, so that they can be moved back in the direction from which they came.
According to Bell, the property at Boundbrook in the parish needs cleaning, fencing, and lighting.
He said that the property has an old tank that was used for either fuel or water storage, a coach, and the structure comprising the turntable.
Speaking with Loop News this week, he also called on the Jamaica National Heritage Trust to get involved.
“About 10 years ago some men wanted to cut up the metal for scrap iron. Councillor Wayne McKenzie, Councillor Roland and then Mayor Floyd Patterson had to march down there and stop it. Right now it seems like the place is being forgotten again, that is why I’m calling out even to the Heritage Trust to come and clean up the area,” he said.
Bell noted that Portland saw its first railway tracks laid in the 1890s. However, due to Hurricane Allen destroying the railway line in Portland in 1980, the railway service to the parish was terminated.
“It’s a big part of our history,” he told Loop News.
In the past, the Portland Municipal Corporation, formerly Portland Parish Council, had been at odds with the Jamaica Railway Corporation, who are owners of the property, to prevent the ironwork from being sold off as scrap metal.