History of the Bermuda Railway

In 1920, Bermuda had no railway and, for all intents and purposes, no automobiles, buses or trucks, either. Bermuda had boats. It had horses. It had carts and carriages. It had got along very well like this for a long time, but now times were changing...

Front Street before the railway
For many years Bermuda had supplied fresh vegetables, especially onions, to the New York market, thanks to the colony's year-round growing season and relative proximity. A cargo of Bermuda vegetables could leave Hamilton Docks on a Tuesday and be in New York, unloading, by Thursday. But by the turn of the century, Bermuda's agricultural trade had begun a slow decline because of competition and American tariffs.

Front Street, Hamilton, Bermuda
before the railway.

Over the same period, however, Bermuda had slowly built up a tourist trade, catering to rich, east-coast Americans in search of peace, quiet and winter warmth. By 1910 more than 20,000 visitors a year were already making a significant contribution to Bermuda's economy. World War I quickly brought this trade to a halt — wealthy Easterners were not keen on becoming the targets of German U-boats — but once the war was over, Bermudians faced the task of rebuilding the tourist trade as quickly as they could, before newer resorts took up the slack.

A perennial and growing problem facing tourist and Bermudian alike was the question of internal transportation, but since 1908 motorized vehicles had been banned in Bermuda. The Bermuda Railway would be the means finally chosen to resolve the transport problem without opening the doors to the dreaded automobile.

Find out why Bermudians were determined to keep out automobiles in No Motors, Thank You!

Front Street, Hamilton, mid-1930s

Front Street, Hamilton, mid-1930s