All in the family, all aboard East End train
The Olde Towne Railway is back!
It began providing tours again on Thursday, highlighting the historic St George and surrounding areas.
Eugene and Sharon Minors used to operate the trolley cars and the tour through their company Pier-Vu until several years ago. Now, Mr Minors’ brother, Ralph Smith, and his wife, Allana Iris-Smith, have taken over the business.
The trolley cars have been on a bit of an expedition of their own in the interim – going through a period at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute and later laid up undergoing renovations.
Mr Smith spent many months on their repair and renovation and they have returned to the business of touring the Olde Towne last week, to the benefit of visitors and Bermudians.
The 45-minute tours are being run twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, with a pick-up and drop-off at Ordnance Island.
Ms Iris-Smith said they were concentrating on limited-seating tours at present: “We do a historical tour up through the neighbourhoods, across Tobacco Bay and past RAA. We actually provide a narrative.
“It is licensed to take 36 but we have been taken 28 because it has been so hot.
“We expect to be shut down November to March, but will do the tours, weddings, birthdays trough special requests.”
She felt her business would greatly benefit if there were actually cruise ships in the East End port.
She said: “All the business had been from the hotel (St Regis) and from locals, although today (Wednesday), the tender brought people in from the ship and we have a tour now that actually includes cruise ship passengers.
“So, things are improving. We’ve had schoolchildren tours, where we change the schedule somewhat to cater more to their age group. It’s not so much a tour, for them, but a train ride. You know how much children love a train ride.”
At $25 for adults and $15 for seniors and children, the three days of tours each week match the reduced activity in the Olde Towne.
“Tuesdays and Fridays are dead in St George’s. I mean dead. We came here Friday and there was nothing. The stores, restaurants and everything else was dead.
“So it would have to pick up before we can change the schedule.
“But the feedback from those taking the tours has been very positive, so far, from both locals and visitors.”
The brochure tells it all: “The best way to see the oldest town in Bermuda is via the Olde Towne Railway on our 45-minute tour. This tour allows you to sit back and relax as we explore the narrow streets of ye Olde Towne and view the historic sites, forts, beaches and much more. Let our tour guide take you back 400 years and reveal the amazing stories of St. George’s.”