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St Helena

Jacob’s Ladder, St Helena
Jacob’s Ladder on St Helena, looking from the summit down towards Jamestown.

St Helena is an island in the Atlantic Ocean and part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

Though technically a plateway rather than a railway, the Ladder Hill incline is of interest. Constructed in 1828/29, Jacob’s Ladder consisted of a steep stairway flanked by plates giving a gauge of 4 ft (1219 mm). Wagons were rope hauled up the incline, power being provided by donkeys or mules working a windlass at the summit. The incline gave access to Ladder Hill Fort and farmland on the hilltop, carrying supplies for the fort up, and farm produce down. However, its principal traffic was the transport of nightsoil (excrement) from the town of Jamestown to the top of the hill, where is was used as fertilizer on the farms. Operation of the incline had ceased by the 1870s, and it was rebuilt as a simple staircase, which remains in use today.

A desalination plant was constructed at Rupert’s Bay in 1901. It had a short railway which would bring coal from the wharf and take away ash. Although completed and tested, the plant was never put into full operation.

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