What’s In a Song?
The Last Train to San Fernando
Some people who lived through the 1960s might remember the song “Last Train to San Fernando” popularised by Johnny Duncan and the Bluegrass Boys. This song was released in 1957. At about the same time there was another version of the same song by Jamaica Johnny & His Milagro Boys.
Over the years a popular myth built up as to the origin of this song. It was generally attributed to the closure of the Colonial built railway line in Trinidad and Tobago. The railway line existed between 1876 and 28 December 1968.
It is immediately clear therefore that the song was around long before the railway line was closed. The song had nothing to do with the closure of the line which came many years later.
Glen Beadon, a native of San Fernando, writing in Guyanese Online has analysed the event, the song and the myth.
According to him:
“The very last train, was the service which departed platform 1, Port of Spain railway station on Monday August 30th 1965 at 5:12pm (it was 37 minutes late, scheduled to depart at 4:35pm)
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.”
Toy train: Copyright free clip-art
Johnny Duncan: Author not known
Trinidad and Tobago Railway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinidad_Government_Railway