The Point-a-Pierre Railway Station
Built in 1885, the Pointe-a-Pierre Railway Station, during its lifetime, provided a gateway and link to the Pointe-a-Pierre area and to its Refinery, which has been in existence since 1917. The railway served as a popular means of transportation for refinery workers and was instrumental as a major carrier of materials, goods and equipment for the Refinery. The railway station also opened up public access to and from Pointe-a-Pierre and the district became one of exceptional activity, the station being a convenient point for those wanting to catch trains to San Fernando or Port of Spain (Source – Michael Anthony, Towns and Villages of Trinidad, 2001).
In 1964, the new half-mile Pointe-a-Pierre jetty was commissioned and all dry cargo and the huge crates of catalyst for the Cat Cracker at the Refinery came in via this jetty; they were unloaded directly from cargo ship and trucked to the stores. At that time, the need for transportation of imported goods to Pointe-a-Pierre from Port of Spainby the Trinidad Government Railway had virtually disappeared and the main source of railway revenue was gone. Sadly the railway closed down shortly thereafter in 1965. (G.Higgins,1996).
Some Historical Facts about Pointe-a-Pierre:
- The Spanish called the area “Punta de Piedras” or Stony Point
- It was one of the early settlements established by the French after the Cedula in 1783. The French named it Pointe-a-Pierre. (Peter’s Point)
- By 1817, it was a flourishing sugar producing area with estates such as Plaisance, Bon Accord, Plein Palais, La Carriere, Bonne Aventure and Concorde
- After emancipation, 1834, and abolition, 1838, many slaves squatted in the area and thevillageofPointe-a-Pierresprung up.
- By the 1860s the area was famous for its sea bathing resorts and itshot springsin the Plaisance Estate. The Warm Springs Fault derived its name from this natural phenomenon (Iguana gas field and other gas prospects occur along this strike slip fault system)
- In 1882 the railway passed through Pointe-a-Pierre making it more accessible. The Roman Catholic Chapel was also built in 1882 on Bon Accord Hill and the area became exceptionally active after the Railway station was built in 1885.
- In 1886, the Guaracara Railway Line toPrincesTownwas built
- From the 1880s to 1912 the area experienced “green days” as a peaceful flourishing sugar cane quarter.
- The green days suddenly ended in 1913 when Trinidad Leaseholds Limited bought the estate lands to build an oil refinery. From henceforth Pointe-a-Pierre became synonymous with oil and it became one of the bigger refineries of the western world outputting as much as 355,000 barrels/day.
- In 1956 Texaco bought over the refinery and it attained its highest productivity ever in the 1970s and declined in fortunes thereafter as a result of low oil prices.
- In 1985 the Trinidad Government bought over the refinery and named it the Trintoc Refinery
- In 1993 it became the Petrotrin Refinery and it continued to be a major revenue earner for the country even up to today. It is presently in 2009 undergoing a major upgrade to become more competitive and diverse in production.
- Pointe-a-Pierre has always been a hub of activity in our history and moreso now as thePetroleumHistoryMuseum becomes established at the P-a-P Railway Station. Renovation was completed in July 2009.