Jacob's Ladder and Downhill
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Fri 14 Feb 2020 23:47
Jacob's Ladder and Downhill
Jacob’s Ladder from the top and later from the bottom.
The first route from the valley floor direct to Signal House was a rope ladder, which soldiers would climb to travel to and fro the barracks at the top. The rope ladder was replaced in 1829 by steps leading to the top. The ‘inclined plane’ followed – for hauling initially manure and later goods on rails using pulleys. The “Ladder Hill Railway” commissioned by Governor Dallas, and built by George W. Melliss, was in service from 1831/2 and was particularly useful for carrying the large quantities of manure which accumulated in stables, stockyards, etc. out of Jamestown for the use of inland farmers. This was the main objective in having it constructed.
When the next Governor arrived, he changed all this, ordered manure to be dumped in the sea and the inclined Plane was abandoned. In 1863 an attempt was made by another Governor to get the tramway working again. He strongly recommended the immediate restoration of this tramway by the War Department. This does not seem to have happened and much of it was destroyed by fire in 1867. By 1871 it had further deteriorated. J.C Melliss, son of the G.W. Melliss who built the Ladder writes: It is very greatly regretted that the whole construction had fallen into disuse and bad repair, the woodwork being eaten by white ants, indeed it is said that these insects visited Ladder Hill through the medium of its longitudinal wooden sleepers. Having fallen into disuse the railway was dismantled by the Royal Engineers in 1871
When the Inclined Plane was broken up, the steps remained and today it is either a short way up or down the valley, an exhilarating climb, or 699 steps of torment, depending on your point of view and level of fitness. We met a chap who was born here but now lives and works in Swindon who remembers sliding down the Ladder as a youth. Somehow he never got injured doing it.
Bear several steps down. Let go and wave with both hands. Oooooo no, this is very vertiginous feeling......
The swimming pool.
The views going from the sea to the end of the valley.
The first plaque reads: The Inclined Plane constructed for the St Helena Railway Company in 1829 under the supervision of Lt. G.W.Melliss, St Helena Artillery Regiment. Rebuilt by the Royal Engineers in 1871. Length 924 feet. Rise of steps – 11 inches average. Height above sea level – 602 feet. Number of steps - 699. The second plaque is of an awesome achievement. We chatted to some workmen, one of whom was leaving to work at Dartmouth come April. A very small world as we have met several who either came from Plymouth or are returning.
We bimbled over to the viewing platform to the right of Jacob’s Ladder and read the information board.
The Wreck of SS Papanui: The Papanui was en route from London bound for Freemantle in Western Australia, carrying 376 passengers and 108 crew. The ship had already passed St Helena before turning back to arrive on the 11th of September with coal in her bunkers on fire. There was a series of explosions in the coal bunkers and the vessel was beached, gutted and abandoned with all cargo reported as being lost. The fire burned for another five days before the ship sank in James Bay. The passengers were landed and the men were housed at Ladder Hill Barracks while the women were taken to the military hospital. You can see the mast protruding through the surface in James Bay.
We have indeed seen what is left of the top of the mast from the water taxi at low tide.
A zoomed in shot of Main Street. The information boards reads: Jamestown, the capital of St Helena, was founded in 1659, when the English East India Company built a fort and established a garrison at the site on James Bay, naming it after James II. This Georgian seaport consisted of little more than a single street stretching for a mile inland nestling in a deep-sided volcanic valley and rising to a height of 500 feet (150m). It retains a remarkable heritage: the town’s streets echo richly with impressions recalling the past – Napoleon walked this way, as did the Duke of Wellington, Captain Bligh, Edmund Halley, Charles Darwin and Captain Cook.
Visitors to the island land at the wharf (nowadays by plane on to the runway, the passenger ship no longer runs), pass the 17th century ‘glacis’ (defence ramparts) and through the town gate to the Grand Parade in Main Street. Along the entire route almost every building is listed because of its historic importance. Main Street is described as one of the best examples of unspoilt Georgian architecture anywhere in the world.
Way over to our right we could see the new safety nets in place. First thing this morning, as we sat and waited for our hire car to be delivered, we met five French workmen. They work on the cliffs from nine until three when the road up and down is closed and will be for another five weeks. Locals have to drive an extra ten kilometres if they need to nip down to Jamestown using the next road over. We could also see the current rock fall nets. The last time there was a serious fall twelve people were sadly killed.
Workmen still at it and a closer look at the rock fall nets.
Indeed, the road from here looks like an impressive zig-zag.
Next, we bimbled over to the main gate of Ladder Hill Fort. As the gate arch says 1873.
To our left the barracks, to our right the Emergency Services vehicles.
We bimbled down to the cliff edge to look down on Beez Neez, as I began to zoom in........
........I was photo-bombed by a fairy tern.
We about faced and to our left, the signal gun, now in a private garden. We began to bimble back toward the main gate.
Ladder Hill Fort seen from the car. Too early to use the hill back to Jamestown, we went in search of a snack and a cup of tea at Joshie’s.
We realised we could see more of the fort from Beez, so the following day I added these pictures.
The Signal Post.
Ladder Hill Fort with lookout posts.
Perhaps an officer’s house ???
A pair of the dozens of tropicbirds who soar and screech during the day.
Just after three we began the drive down.
We only had to stop a couple of times and everyone was very tolerant.
Such incredibly barren scenery, reminds us of Saba Island in the Caribbean.
Nearly down, we could now see the cave that furnished the rocks to build The Run drainage system in the town.
We headed to Immigration, behind the tree, up the hill from town. There we handed over twenty pounds each because we have stayed longer than seventy-two hours. From there to Customs and Port Authority who needed thirty-five pounds fee and two pounds a day for the mooring buoy. All three offices done and dusted in fifteen minutes flat. We put the petrol needed into the hire car, picked up Beez alternator from Lionel who always go to the pub in town every Friday from four until six. Bought some sliced brown bread, carrots and a couple more tins of baked beans. Bear dropped me and all our ‘stuff’ off at Anne’s Place and went to park the car as arranged down by the sea front. Keys tucked up by the sunshade. Then he met me for our Valentine’s date night.
ALL IN ALL CERTAINLY STEEP
MOST VERTIGINOUS STEPS I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE