Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: The glimpse of the famous Red Bridge over the Southern Main Road, shortly before it was dismantled in 2010, was shared by Angelo Bissessarsingh’s Virtual Museum of Trinidad and Tobago.
Generations of Trinidadians remember the Red Bridge, which spanned the Southern Main Road at Plaisance Park between Pointe-a-Pierre and Claxton Bay, noted Angelo Bissessarsingh.
It was further informed that before the construction of the Solomon Hochoy Highway, this was the main north-south road thoroughfare, and thousands of people passed under this imposing edifice, which ferried the line of the Trinidad Government Railway over the carriage road.
Although it was founded in 1876, it was not until 1879 that a serious attempt began at pushing the railway towards San Fernando. The sugar capital of the Naparimas at that time was mainly accessible by the island steamer. The single road connecting San Fernando with Port-of-Spain ran across the Grand Savannah, or Caroni Plain, with its bridgeless rivers, which were barely passable in the dry season and completely impassable in the wet.
By 1881 the railway had touched Couva and was striking out for San Fernando. The section where the line crossed the Southern Main Road was supported by massive foundation piers made from firebrick and lime mortar, which were needed for the large spans of steel crossing the road. Initially, the bridge was a simple one with rails running over two structured steel box frames, which were later reinforced with riveted steel cantilevers to give it the classic “Bailey bridge” appearance, according to the update by the Virtual Museum.
The line then proceeded to the Pointe-a-Pierre Railway Station at the Bon Accord sugar estate, which is a structure that can still be seen. Both the Bon Accord estate and railway are now memories and sit within the Pointe-a-Pierre oil refinery complex, which began construction in 1913. The red bridge brought many passengers to the little station to visit the thermal springs at Plaisance.
In 1885 they were described as follows: “Leaving Claxton’s Bay, you approach Plaisance estate (Messrs C Tennant and Co) on the left. Here is one of the most interesting curiosities on the island, the thermal spring, or rather springs, for there are at least two distinct ones. A bathhouse has been put up, covering two spacious concrete baths. The clear spring water, apparently like any other till you become cognisant of its warmth, flows directly into the baths from the hillside in just such a stream as might be poured from a bucket.
The temperature of the water is from 100 to 105 degrees Fahr. On the occasion of my visit, by courtesy of the manager, I was allowed to take a bath, which I found particularly pleasant and soothing after the first strangeness of the unusual warmth had subsided.”
It was further informed that the springs silted up and were forgotten, although some local residents can point out the ruins of the concrete baths in some bushes in a very rough neighbourhood. The red bridge served faithfully until the last train left San Fernando on August 30, 1965. The bridge continued to be a landmark until it fell victim to our vicious assault on history. It was dismantled for no good reason in March 2010 and stored in the Ministry of Works yard in Diego Martin.