The Heritage Railway tour is located in the lush green countryside in the parish of St. Peter, on the historic grounds of the St. Nicholas Abbey residence and rum distillery.
The railway tour opened on January 21st, 2019 – Errol Barrow Day. Errol Walton Barrow was Barbados first premier, known as the ‘Father of Independence,’ it was fitting that this railway journey through time, shares a birthday with the man who played a huge role in the history of Barbados. Speaking of history, did you know that Barbados had a railway back in 1881?
History of Railway in Barbados.
The Barbados Railway first ran in 1881 and was closed in 1937. It was 24 miles long running from Bridgetown, through St. George, St. Phillip and St. John to Belleplaine in St. Andrew. Initially, the railway was successful, due to large traffic of sugar, freight and passengers moving to and from Bridgetown, the capital. Unfortunately, the owners did not re-invest their earnings into the maintenance of the railway and the track deteriorated due to corrosion and wear and tear. The railway stopped carrying passengers in 1934 due to safety concerns but continued to carry goods until October 1937 when it was closed. Most of the steel tracks were re-used as telephone poles. Some of the tracks remain in their original path and may be seen today along the east coast trails.
Barbados’ New Heritage Railway
Stories have been passed down through three generations about the old Railway in Barbados. Today locals and visitors alike can relive the excitement of travelling through the breathtaking Barbados countryside on a steam train.
The sound of a whistle marks the start of your one-hour tour. Beginning at the railway station the steam train heads towards its first stop at the historic St. Nicholas Abbey Great House. This quick stop is then followed by a journey around the lake where you can spot wild birds amongst the lush landscape. The tour continues through the mahogany woodlands and an abandoned limestone quarry. It is believed that the stone used to build the Great House was quarried from this site back in the 1600s.
Disembark at the most popular and magnificent lookout spot in Barbados, the famous Cherry Tree Hill featured in Rihanna, Avici and Simple Plan music videos. At this stop, you can help participate in the turning of the locomotive on the turntable before heading back to the train station and gift shop. Our favourite souvenir is the St. Nicholas Abbey single cask rums, try it and see for yourself.
The Heritage Railway Tour is $30 USD for adults and $15 USD for children. You can book your tickets online here.
Other things to do at St. Nicholas Abbey
General admission to St. Nicholas Abbey (separate from the railway tour) includes a tour of the Great House, the syrup factory and the bottling plant. Step back in time while you watch a home movie of life on the plantation c.1935. You are also welcome to explore the plantation’s museum, gullies and gardens. Admission also includes a complimentary rum punch or fruit punch.
Guided tours are scheduled every hour from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm. Admission is $23 USD for adults and $10 USD for children ages 5-12.
Rum Tours are held on Tuesday and Thursdays at 1 pm and 2:30 pm at the Abbey. The tour is $63 USD per person and includes a 30-minute tour of the Great House, viewing of the movie of life on the plantation in the 1930s and a personal tour of the factory, steam mill and distillery with the owner and distiller, Mr Larry Warren. Learn all there is to know on the harvesting of sugar cane and production of rum before sampling St. Nicholas Abbey’s white, 5-year, 12-year and 18-year rums along with sugar cane syrup. Take home the gift of a mini 5-year St. Nicholas Abbey Rum to savour the memories of your day at St. Nicholas Abbey.
Enjoy a light lunch and refreshments at the Terrace Café. This tranquil spot overlooks the plantations lush tropical gullies. During the high season (December to May) the café is reserved for tour visitors.
St. Nicholas Abbey is one of our favourite places to visit in Barbados. Add it to your ‘to visit’ list but remember that it is closed on Saturdays. For more information visit www.stnicholasabbey.com.