Until very, very recently I thought that this song told the story of the last train to San Fernando:
For the first time in my life this ghastly pandemic has enabled me to sit at home and cruise the ‘net. In the course thereof I have found a LOT of interesting stuff (to me that is) about the geometry of the pyramids, the geniuses who built the pyramids and the orientation of ancient monuments to the night sky. In the midst of my self-education(?) I have watched NUMEROUS train related videos.
To cut to the chase – the story in the above song is NOT about the last train to San Fernando.
Most people will tell you that San Fernando’s last service train was hauled by engine TGR No11 which today is on display at Harris Promenade, San Fernando. This is incorrect.
The very last train, as the video below reveals, was the service which departed platform 1, Port of Spain railway station on Monday August 30th 1965 at 5:12 pm (it was 37 minutes late, scheduled to depart at 4:35 pm). The Locomotive which hauled the last service train was TGR (Trinidad Government Railway) Engine No27, which was a member of the 21 Class 4-6-0 locomotives.
This train really was the very last passenger train to San Fernando.
Here she is:
Over the years both the event and the song – “The Last Train to San Fernando” – have become a part of Trinidad folklore, although largely through myth rather than fact.
“Last Train” was composed by MIGHTY SPITFIRE (local Trinidad Calypsonian, whose real name was Carlton Joseph Gumbs) in the 1940s as — “a celebration of a late night stay in Port of Spain rather than the allusion to the closing of the San Fernando line”. A listing of the Trinidad Calypso Monarch competition winners over the years lists thr song as the 1950 winner, composed by the MIGHTY DICTATOR (his Real name was Kenny St Bernard). The closure of the line to San Fernando occurred in 1965, a full 15 years after the song won the 1950 Monarch Competition.
Listen carefully to the lyric on the following vid (which really shows the last train to San Fernando) you’ll hear that the song has nothing to do with the closure of the San Fernando line at all.
Nevertheless, over the years it has certainly taken on a symbolic significance almost becoming the remembrance anthem for the closure of the Railway to San Fernando. Perhaps, justifiably so because it is fabled to have been played by guitarist as the “Last Train to San Fernando” pulled out of Port of Spain in 1965.