The development of a train station in tropical Africa: the S. Sebastião Maritime Station in São Tomé Town, São Tomé and Príncipe – cocoa production as catalyst for change
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This work, The development of a train station in tropical Africa: the S. Sebastião Maritime Station in São Tome Town, São Tomé and Príncipe – cocoa production as catalyst for change, is the result of a research project on the history of the S. Sebastião station yard, and the architectural merits of its buildings. The different construction phases of its individual structures are taken into consideration. The functions of the buildings and the architectural influences are assessed within these arguments. The current architectural legacy in existence at the station yard lies within the orbit of this research project, and is duly investigated. The architecture of these railway buildings is not seen in isolation; the buildings are explained in the context of the specific social, political and economic conditions. Hence this study strives to understand how the state railway came about, with the S. Sebastião Maritime Station as its main hub. This invited me to investigate the roça agricultural estates, which provided cocoa in such great quantities that eventually a state rail infrastructure was needed to service them. My focus too is on how these roças functioned and on their formal architectural quality. A few of the most remarkable roças are singled out for discussion in detail.