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The Bolivar Railway and the Aroa Copper Mines
Industrial Railway Society

The Bolivar Railway and the Aroa Copper Mines

Regular price £45.00 £0.00 Unit price per

The Bolivar Railway, the first public railway in Venezuela, which dates from 1877, was originally built to connect the copper mines at Aroa, with the Caribbean port of Tucacas, although there had been several earlier, unsuccessful and incomplete schemes with the same objective. The story however, insofar as British interests in the copper mines is concerned, goes back much earlier, to 1824. The two-foot gauge railway, which was around 56 miles long, took its name from the famous liberator from Spanish rule of several South American countries, Simon Bolivar, whose family had for many years, owned the mines. In 1891, another company extended the line for a further 56 miles to Barquisimeto, which was, outside the capital of Caracas, one of the largest towns in the country. A branch was later built to serve the town of San Felipe and after the company joined forces with the Puerto Cabello & Valencia Railway, a further line was constructed to connect the two systems. Very little has been written in the English language on the railways of Venzeuela, which is surprising, as most of them were built with British capital and remained in British hands until after the Second World War. The author has undertaken his research with enormous diligence, leaving no stones unturned in his quest for completeness, covering not only the railways, but also the copper mines at Aroa as commercially, they are inseparable and during some periods they were in common ownership. The original locomotives were built at the Canada Works in Birkenhead, followed by others from Black, Hawthorn, R&W Hawthorn Leslie, Kitson, Dubs, Falcon and the Hunslet Engine Company, all of which are discussed in some detail. The book also touches on two other railways, the Puerto Cabello & Valencia and the La Guaira & Caracas, in view of business connections between them all. This is an absorbing story of British enterprise and entrepreneurship in railways, mining and maritime activities, as the companies operated their own costal steamers. Beset by a largely unstable political landscape, with almost continuous government interference, including not a few revolutions, combined with some of the most inhospitable and disease infested places, this book should appeal not just to readers interested in British owned railways overseas and the mining of copper, but to anyone interested in more general terms, in the management structure, operations and finance of British companies operating in South America.

Hardback with dust jacket, 258 pages, black & white and colour illustrations, drawings

ISBN: 9781901556728

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Updated: 29 December 2022