Wednesday, 26 June 2013

St Clair: Lost in the Wilderness

St Clair

Lost in the Wilderness

St Claire tea plantation and railway halt, Sri Lanka

Gyan C A Fernando

In the very first issue of LRD (Lanka Railway Digest) we ran an article entitled:  “Glenanore: A well preserved plantationrailway siding in Sri Lanka”

 The article opened with the statement “Plantation railway sidings or estate platforms on the Sri Lankan Railway are little used nowadays, some have become stations and some have completely disappeared.”     More......

On a recent visit to the St Clair tea plantation (February 2013), Lahiru Weerasinghe and myself, tracked down this siding and recorded what remained of it for posterity.
St Claire tea plantation and railway halt, Sri Lanka
The St Clare abandoned railway siding

Officially designated as SCP, 114:69, according to David Hyatt, the SCP is the three-letter coding of Sri Lankan railway stations and halts and the figures indicate its situation at a distance of 114 miles and 69 chains from the old Colombo Terminus.

St Claire tea plantation and railway halt, Sri Lanka

In spite of its present state of disuse and misuse, it is relatively easy to find it as it is in very close proximity to the St Clair tea factory in Talawakelle.

The platform and the building itself are intact and the tri-lingual Sinhala-Tamil-English name is also intact as is the train timetable painted next to it.

Unfortunately the walls are covered in ingrained and gouged-out graffiti which is rather sad.
At one time there apparently was a conveyor system to convey produce from the factory to the platform, the pillars of which still remain. A new building has been built between the factory and the platform building which of course has changed the original layout and the appearance. 

Still, it is nice to know that the St Clair plantation halt is still standing. 

Whilst it is fairly obvious that the platform/halt was named after the tea plantation, it is not clear why the plantation, and the nearby waterfall, were named after St Clair.

St Clair (also commonly spelt as “St Clare” and “St. Claire”) was a Catholic saint of Italian origin and the name is ubiquitous.
St Claire tea plantation and railway halt, Sri Lanka
St Claire tea plantation factory and semaphore signal
Copyright Gyan C A Fernando
All photographs are by the author and copyright
First published in the Lanka Railway Digest

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