Thursday, September 30, 2010

Barbados, Tramway, Water, Street Lighting and Telephone

The Tramway

In an earlier blog I wrote about the wonderful Barbados Railway that was. As you may have read it was the scenery that was in fact wonderful but the running of the railway itself was very poor.

Following on the heels of the Railway The Barbados Tramway Company went into operation on Monday February 9th 1885  when the route from Bridgetown to Hastings Rocks was opened. on March the 1st an additional route to Fontabelle was opened. The company was later sold to American interest who had announced plans to extend the tramway company as far North as St James. Sadly these plans never materialized and the Tramway was eventually closed in 1925. The tramway gave way to more modern transportation such as the omnibuses.


In 1857 the Barbados Water Company was formed and was granted a Government Subsidy of 

£5000 to supply Bridgetown with a half million gallons of water daily. Later that same year an Act was passed that gave the government the right to purchase the company in 20 years. The first supply of water for the water works came from springs at Newcastle St John. In 1860 the laying of pipework began and  in 1861 tap water was introduced into Bridgetown. A fountain was later built in Bridgetown to celebrate this event and has been written about in an earlier blog.

Street Lighting

Prior to 1976 the only places that enjoyed street lighting in Bridgetown were the Wharf, Peirhead and the new Bridge. These were light with kerosene lamps but elsewhere would be left in darkness except for the light provided from taverns and homes within the town.

Inn 1876 The Barbados Gas Company was established with the task of lighting Bridgetown by the use of coal gas. For this they were to be paid $30 per lamp. The progress was sadly slow and within a few years modernization won out and in 1891 a meeting was held to discuss the use of electrical lighting. The first demonstration did not take place until 1896. It took a further 15 years for it to be introduced into Bridgetown with the introduction of the Barbados Light & Power Company in 1910.

The Telephone

The telephone was introduced into Barbados in 1882 this was accidentally just 6 years after the invention of the telephone and only 3 years after its introduction to London and Paris.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bridgetown Part 5 Buildings and Monuments

The Parliament Buildings

In 1668 the State House where the Barbados Legislature met was destroyed by fire and the convening of the  "house" was shifted to a tavern.  As one may well imagine many saw it as quite indecent for the legislature to convene the house in a tavern. Along with the concern of having the legislature meet in a tavern there was the concern of properly housing public records. For decades the public records of Barbados had been poorly stored in government offices.

The first State house to be erected after this time was within the precincts of James Fort but this soon had to be given over to be a prison as there was a greater and more pressing need in this area, the building of itself was erected in 1701.  It was not until well over a century later that the Parliament Buildings would be erected. In 1871 The West Building was completed followed by the East building in 1874.
There was a slight set back in 1884 when the tower that had been built on the east building to accommodate the clock  and  a peal of bells began to sink.  The Tower was then constructed on the west building and the clock relocated. The Clock details are made of copper and is 7 feet in diameter. The pendulum is 14 feet long and the bell weighs 20 hundred weight. The clock is constructed in a manner that it can continue going while being wound  and is designed to run for 8 days.

The stained glass windows in the east building depict British Sovereigns from James I to Queen Victoria and include Oliver Cromwell. These were made by the London Firm Messers Clayton and Bell. The windows of the Senate Chamber  depict the armorial bearings of past Presidents of Council and Speakers of the Assembly. On the main stairway of the West building there  were to stained glass windows that bore the biblical quotation "Render to Cesar the things that are Cesar's". These were originally situated in the East Building appropriately over the customs department which was originally housed there.

It is also notable to mention that the house of Assembly in Barbados was started in 1639 and is in fact the third oldest in the world. It was started by Governor Hawley. Hawley himself was known the scheming and relentless and later became known as one of the most notorious figures in Barbados History. He was the successor of Governor Tufton who had in fact done much good for the Island, despite this Hawley had him arrested and tried on trumped up charges. Sadly Tufton was later executed for treason due to Hawleys charges. It was after the First Earl of Carlisle died that the Second Earl of Carlisle  realizing the blight that Hawley was tried to remove him and the frequently absent Governor Hawley then tried to win favour with Barbadian land owners by starting the House of Assembly. In 1840 after giving much opposition he was removed as Governor of Barbados.

The Mutual Building

The Mutual Building in lower Broad Street is a magnificent Victorian that boasts 3 stories was built between 1894 and 1895. The original name was The Barbados Insurance Society Building. Large domes and a second story veranda that surrounds the entire building are some of the buildings’ characteristics.
This wonderful old structure once housed The Mutual Bank of the Caribbean. It was sold to the Bank of Butterfield in December 2003 and is still located within The Mutual Building.
The Nelson Statue

You may find the story of Admiral Nelson and the monument here

The Fountain

Piped water was introduced into Barbados in 1861 and it recommended that to celebrate this occasion. it was not until In the April of 1865 a fountain was completed. It weights 1 and 3/4 tons and requires 2,000 gallons of water to run from 8 o'clock in the morning to dusk.

The Montefiore Fountain

The Montrfiore Fountain  which was a Drinking Fountain was presented to Bridgetown in 1864  by H John Montefiore in memory of his father. On each side is a marble allegorical figure representing fortitude, temperance, patience and justice: with the following inscriptions: "Look to the end; Be sober minded: To bear is to conquer; Do wrong to no one. It was originally located in Beackwith Place but is now located in Coleridge Street.

The Cenotaph

The Cenotaph is located in what was once the "Fountain Garden" and now "National Hero's Square". It was erected in 1925 in memory of those who died in the First World War and in 1953 the names of those who died in the Second World War were also added.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bridgetown Part 4 Early Hotels and their owners

Today Barbados number one source of foreign income is the tourism industry. It is known across the world as a ideal holiday spot. Hotels can no longer be found in Bridgetown today but spread up and down the Islands South and West Coast. The accommodation and hotels of today are much different to their predecessors that once existed in Bridgetown.

One of the most talked about hotels of its time in Barbados was owned by Rachel Lauder. Rachel was the daughter of an African Slave and Lauder a Scotsman who had left England in disgrace.  Lauder was the Latin teacher and Harrison's College. As his daughter Rachel grew into maturity her physical charms attracted her father and that when she refused her fathers advances he handed over to the whipper who was usually employed to punish unruly slaves. Rumor has it that Rachel was saved by the intervention of Mr Thomas Pringle an officer of the Royal Navy who then purchased her freedom at a high price. Rachel then took on the name of her protector. the relationship is said to have ended when Rachel trying to hold on to Pringels affections presented a child to Pringle on one of his visits  claiming that the child was their child together. Her plan was spoiled when the child's mother came forward and demanded its return. Pringle saw the light and left Rachel forever.

Rachel quickly found another protector and adopted his name in 1780 Rachel Pringle Polgreen opened a hotel in Canary Street. The American Revolutionary War being in full swing and France fighting on the side of the United States meant that there was considerable military and naval presence in the Caribbean. In 1786 Prince William Henry Duke of Clarence and Later King William visited Barbados while serving as a naval captain. The Price took rooms at Rachel's hotel and it is said that one night after wining and dining with a party of officers that the prince and his companions proceeded to wreck the establishment. They even knocked Rachel who was heavy set and well endowed off her chair. Rachel took it all quiet well and gave only a mild protest but the next day before the Price sailed she presented him a bill for 700 sterling which he paid without question. Rachel took the money and maid grand repairs to the hotel and renamed it the Royal Naval Hotel in honour of her Royal guest.

On Rachel's death the hotel passed into the hands of Nancy Clarke. Nancy was however a person of very different character from her predecessor. Purely out of jealousy she once destroyed the beauty of an attractive rival by throwing nitric acid in her face. the tragic accident inspired a song
"If you go to Nancy Clarke,
She will take you in the dark
When she get you in the dark
She will give you aqua forits (Acid)"

Nancy's principal rival in business at the time would have been Betsy (or Susy) Austin another free coloured woman. Betsy was a massively built woman who had a taste for alcoholic beverages and a colourful vocabulary. She nevertheless was said to have kept an orderly house. She sold a variety of jellies and drip stones (cut from limestone and used for filtering water) which she sold for 50% above their value. It is said that when questioned about her prices that her disposition would quickly change and one wold then become acquainted with her colourful vocabulary.

There were many other hoteliers that followed some of them being: Sabrina Bade, Betsy Austin, Hannah Lewis, Hannah Massiah, Rebbecca Phillips, Caroline Lee, Mrs Roach, Miss McAlpine & Mrs Forte.

It was recorded by a visiting Dr. Dr Pinkard that the female slaved who formed the domestic staff at these establishments were permitted to engage in prostitution as this offered their only hope of raising money to purchase manumission. "freedom".

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bridgetown Part 3

The Bridges of Bridgetown

The first bridge of Bridgetown was built by the first inhabitants of the Island. the Amerindian bridge was in fact as I have already mentions responsible for the name of the town as it was the town with the bridge. It was a primitive bridge and was replaced in 1628.

Between 1628 & 1675 There was only one bridge and in that time it was destroyed by fire and hurricane several times and then rebuilt. In 1681 a second bridge was erected because of the great inconvenience cause when there damage done to the other bridge. The West bridge was located roughly were the Indian or swing bridge was later located and The East bridge was located roughly where the Duncan O'Neal bridge now stands.

The West bridge was carried away by floods in 1700 and in 1746 a single span stone bridge was erected  on completion in 1751. Unfortunately as soon as the wooden structures were removed the bridge collapsed blocking the channel. Those who built the bridge were prosecuted and a wooden bridge for pedestrians was then erected.

The East bridge by this time was was showing signs of age and a new east bridge was built in 1776. Then in 1780 a hurricane destroyed the west bridge and severely damaged the East bridge. the West bridge was replaced and the East bridge repaired. Then disaster struck again on November the 8th 1795 Barbados experienced the worse flooding it had ever faced. Thunderstorms and heavy rain fell unceasingly for almost 48 hours. A great mass of water meet the spring tide, flooding the town to a depth of 5 feet in several areas and demolishing both bridges.  Between that time and 1865 the cycle of damage and rebuilding continued until in 1865 after the fire of 1860 and the redevelopment of Trafalgar square. At this time a swing bridge was built to allow fairly large ships to come into the inner basin. The building of the bridge was said to have been the greatest mismanagement and waste age of public funds in 19th century.

Both bridges were damaged in the hurricane on 1898. The swing bridge was closed and reopened in 1900 by Governor Chamberlains wife and so then named the Chamberlain bridge. The West bridge then called the Victoria bridge was replaced by an Iron bridge in 1901-02 and the present structure that now stands in its place was built in 1967  and is named after Dr. Charles Duncan O'Neal "Father of the Democratic Movement"

A arch was erected on the Southern end of the Chamberlin bridge to celebrate the Islands 21st anniversary of Independence. A lift bridge has now replaced the bridge but like its predecessor funds were greatly wasted. It was hoped that the new bridge would once again allow ships to enter the inner basin as the swing bridge had before it ceased working. Unfortunately it was badly installed and only one side of the bridge

Fires of Bridgetown

The first major conflaration occured in 1659 and more than 200 homes and storehouses were destroyed. following that fore a statue was was enacted with a number or regulations designed to reduce the risk of fire in the capital. Houses were not to be thatched and if this was done the persons commiting the offence would be fined 5,000 pounds of sugar. The statue was later proven ineffective and the second major fire broke out in 1688 fires broke out and spead to Magazine lane. This is where armour was stored and a building containing 170 barrels of gunpowder caught fire causeing a explosion that spead the destruction over a greater part of the town. More than 800 houses were destroyed and 80% of Bridgetown was totally destroyed and valuable public records were lost. Another statue was was quickley inacted and this one stipulated what materials were to be used in the construction of the new buildings. the lessons of the past had not been learned and in 1673 another fire broke out. this time only 40 houses were destroyed. The next fire was more than 80 years later it started in a storehouse containing a shipment of cotton and spread to engulfed James Fort and in the end 160 houses were destroyed.  Two years later 90 houses were consumed by yet another fire.

In 1766 a gentleman fell asleep left a candel burning soon the house was on fire and with the aid of a strong northeasterly breeze the fire quickley spread. Over 26 arces and 1,140 buildings were destroyed and the land left smoldering

Bridgetowns next big fire occured in 1821 followed by one in 1826. The fire that followed these two in 1845 that started in Tudor street destoyed 10 ares of land and the buildings on them this became known as the "Burt Distict". In 1853 the area of Roebuck street burt and 97 buildings were destroyed  this became known as the "New Burt District" and the former the "Old Burt District". The next fire major fire in Bridgetown was not reported until 1910

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bridgetown Part 2

Bridgetown's Former Swamp and the Constitution River were constantly  a putrid topic. The ground was somewhat lower within the land and the spring tide flowed over making the land become a kind of bog than not only produces a unholy sent but was said to cause many illnesses. As recent as 1908 there was a decree made a Public heath Act that prohibited people from disturbing the waters of the constitution river, for once the waters were stirred a stench so horrid arose that some might say would raise the dead from their graves. Finally after many years in 1962 the swamp was filled in and replaced with a canal.

The lower part of the Constitution is called the Careenage. The presence of this arm out into the sea was undoubtedly one of the principal factors that influenced settlers in electing Bridgetown as its chosen town. Its banks particularly those adjacent to the town were originally beach like and were dotted with loading places suitable for loading merchandise. It was named the Careenage because it was there years ago that the ships were careened on to a side to be repaired

At some early date stepping stones were placed along some part of the shore for the convenience of foot passengers. The waterfront here subsequently came to be called "the Stepping Stones" Later on in the mid 19th century when a wharf was built, it became known as "The Stepping Stones Wharf" . This is the area that is located adjacent to the Nelson statue.

The Bridgetown dry dock was built in 1887. The dock of itself was constructed between 1889and 1893. After the dock yard changed hands several times and being used during the second world war by the British navy to salvage and repair vessels the dock yard went into receivership and closed in 1985. The screw lifting dock in Barbados reportedly was the last of its kind in the world. The Screw Lifting Dock was a masterful piece of engineering. Measuring 240 feet long by 46 feet wide, it was capable of lifting 1,200 tons dead weight.

It is not generally known  that the upper end of the Pierhead was originally a small Island known as "Little Island. It was first owned by a Dutchman but was later sold to a tenant for a certain sum of cotton.

Following a raid on the coat of Barbados by pirates in 1650 coastal areas of Barbados were Fortified and in 1656 Willoughby Fort was constructed. The construction was carried out by William Withington who was paid 80,000 pounds of sugar.

Nelson street contrary to popular belief was not named after Admiral nelson but after a resident in the neighbourhood. A will listing the name of the street was written 2 years before Admiral Nelson was born. Nelson street itself was a residential area since the 18th century.

James Fort one of the Islands oldest fortifications  being built in 1650 was equipped with 20 pieces of ordinance. For many years after the fire of 1668 the Legislature used to meet in taverns however in 1699 the Government decided to have a building erected in the vicinity of James Fort as a meeting place. The building was receded in 1701 but was turned into a prison in 1704 because of the urgent need of one but prisoners often escaped as the building was not designed as a prison. One day in 1714 every prisoner but one escaped. It was not until 1729 that a more secure prison was built.

In upper Broad Street approximately on what is now Chamberlain Place there stood one of Bridgetown's most controversial institutions- the Common Cage. The Cage was established as a place of minor offenders. The cage was introduced by Governor Bell but was abolished after Belles departure.  A new cage was built in 1654 and in 1688 there was an act passed that when runaway slaves were captured they were to be detained in the Common Cage. The Cage was usually equipped with a pillory and whipping post. After many appeals to remove the cage it was finally moved in 1818 to pierhead and was finally abolished in 1838

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bridgetown Part 1

I have already mentioned Bridgetown and its origins in an earlier blog but as the capital of Barbados it is only fitting that I post at least one blog dedicated to this city that dates back to over 380 years

For it was on the 5th of July 1628 that 64 settlers headed by Charles Wolverstone arrived. The location of Bridgetown was one of convenience as this was found to be the most suitable place for a port. Its swampy lands however made it a place many considered ill for ones health by many visitors. in spite of these opinions building after building was erected and the town spread itself out on the land around it.

The name Bridgetown of coarse came from what came to be known as the "Indian Bridge:" this was a bridge that had been constructed by the early inhabitants of the island, the Amerindians. In very early deeds the town is referred to as "The Indian Bridge", "The Indian Bridgetown" or simply just "The Bridge".

Around 1660 the town came to be called "St Michaels Town"  and also "Doncaster". The name Doncaster was after the Earl of Carlisle

The principle streets in Bridgetown were originally laid out by John Swan and in keeping with tradition Swan street was named after him. For those of you who know Swan Street today you will know Swan Street is full of local color. The street runs parallel to Broad Street which is the main street (see its description bellow)
The streets are now made of brick and lined with large plant pots.
The street is also line the streets and can be often heard with shouting the sales pitches such as "Oranges two for one get your oranges 2 for one" Or T-Shirts sold here every colour, buy 2 and get one free". Fruit, clothes, shoes, perfumes, CD's & DVD's  its all there and that is just on the street. The stores of themselves Cary many of the same items and if you take your time visiting each store you can save yourself a few bucks.

Broad Street was original named Broad Street as it was the broadest street in the town. In fact it still is the broadest street in Bridgetown. The street was once part of Cheapside because it was part of the Market and later in the 17th century referred to as "The Exchange Street"  because the merchants exchange was there.

Broad Street is also the main street which passes right through the centre of the city. It passes by The Parliament buildings and is the definite centre of the capital's shopping area.

Today Broad Street is where you will not only find the island's largest department stores, shopping malls and duty free shops but also banks and business offices. This is where you will do most of your duty free shopping in Barbados
In the early years the streets in town were ill kept and in 1656 legislature passed and act where persons not keeping the space in front of their property clean could be fined 100 pounds of sugar for each day of noncompliance.

In 1657 many of the streets that had before gone unnamed were finally given names. Many of these streets have since disappeared often due to fire but there are a few left.

In 1654 Bridgetown's population was roughly 2,000 and it contained more than 100 drinking houses. This meant the ration was one drinking house to 20 citizens. This was seen to constitute a moral or social danger and so steps were taken to suppress all unlicensed drinking houses and to confiscate licences held by persons considered unfit to hold them. Thomas Walduck who lived in Barbados in the earlier 18th century was probably not  far off from the truth when he jokingly asserted that the first institution the English established in a new colony was a drinking house. The Spaniards and Church and the Dutch a fort.

The Bridgetown settlers erected a Church in 1630 It was a small wooden building and could accomodate no more than 100 persons In 1660 this building was found inadequate and in 1665 a larger one that was built of stone was completed. By the 19th century the population of Bridgetown had risen to 20,000 and the first Bishop of Barbados Bishop Coleridge recognized the need for an additional church in the town. in 1827 the St Marys Church was completed.first Bishop

Lakes Folly
At the rear of St Marys church lies the district of  Lakes Folly. On the5th of March 1773 a gang called the "True Blue Gang"  12 armed men in number marched forth from this area and went on a rampage through town assaulting everyone they met. They killed two people and seriously wounded a third.seriously
On the night before their escapade they gathered together and formed an association and took an oath to stand by one another to death. To seal this unholy bond they punctured their arms with a  shoemaker awl letting 3 drops of blood each fall into a bowl of gun powder, brimstone and rum. they then each drank dome of this evil ridden potion
The Town Constable was given a special warrant and a posse went after the gang in their lair. One was shot and badley injured while the other 11 were arrested and sent to trial.

Barbados Military History Part 10 operation "Urgent Fury" Rescue Mission to Grenada

Grenada was lead to Independence from the United Kingdom by Sir Eric Gairy in 1974. His term in office coincided with much civil strife. The political environment was highly charged and though Gairy claimed victory in the 1976 election the opposition did not accept the results as legitimate. In the late 1970's a new movement called the New Jewel Movement began planning to overthrow the government and began military training outside of Grenada. On March 12 1979 while Gairy was out of the country Maurice Bishop and his deputy was Bernard Conrad launched an armed revolution and overthrew the government, establishing the People's Revolutionary Government.

Soon after seizing power they established diplomatic relations with Libya and Cuba and an assortment of Communist Eastern European  nations.

 Grenada began construction of a 10,000 foot international airport with the help of Cuba. There was speculation that this airfield could be used to land military fighters and transports, threatening South America and the southern United States. There was also worry about the large number of weapons flowing into Grenada. One shipment in 1979 contained 3400 rifles and 3 million rounds of ammunition. In 1983 Maurice Bishop began to realize Cuba and the other Communist countries were going to use and had in fact began to use Grenada as a launching pad to subvert the rest of the Caribbean Islands.  His deputy realizing that he was wavering had him placed under house arrest.

On hearing this a crowd marched to Bishops house had him released and took him into the town to speak to the people. Coard seeing this sent some armoured cars to disperse the crowds and dispose of Bishop. Bishop was killed and many of his supporters slaughtered.

A curfew was imposed and the Grenadines not knowing what was going on feared for their lives.Meanwhile on the 21st of October 1983 there was a meeting of the OECS Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. the meeting was held in Barbados and the decision was taken to ask the United States of America to take military action. it was also agreed that Caribbean forces would accompany the Americans. These Forces included the Barbados Defence Force

President Regan agreed and the 7th fleet was diverted from the Atlantic to take action. Early in the morning of the 25th of October 198 the attack on Grenada was launched from Barbados. History repeated itself as Barbados was always the launching pad for attacks on other islands. With such a massive force the assault was over in a few days, much to the relief of the Grenadians. A great threat was removed from the Caribbean and Grenada returned to a democratic government.

October 25 is a national holiday in Grenada, called Thanksgiving Day, to commemorate this event. Additionally, on 29 May 2009, the Point Salines International Airport was officially renamed in honour of the slain revolutionary leader Maurice Bishop by the Government of Grenada

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Barbados Military History Part 9 The Barbados Defence Force, The Barbados Coat Guard and the Barbados Regiment

In 1947 the Governor of Barbados called for a Regiment be formed in Barbados this task was given to Lt. Colonel J. O. Connell who became the commanding officer. The regiment grew to number 250 and in 1974 the first female officer was added.

On the 15th of August 1979 the Barbados Defence Force was formed and the officers of the Barbados Regiment were given the option of joining full time or remaining on the reserve. Many of them took up the offer while some of the Regiment chose to remain the reserve element of the Regular Force. There were also several officers who ad once served with the British forces and were now retired who joined the Barbados Defence Force and their experience was invaluable.

The first ceremonial parades that the Barbados Defence Force took part in were the Remembrance Day and Independence day parades in 1979 and they have continued to do so to this day.

In October 198 the Barbados Defence Force was part of the U.S military rescue mission to Grenada and they have been involved with disaster relief throughout the Caribbean. 

Today they can be seen exercising around the Garrison Savannah, providing security patrols around the Island and patrolling the beaches at night. They are also the only people who are allowed to wear camouflage in the island. This was made law by Tom Addams a former Prime Minister of Barbados who thought it best to do this in hopes that Barbados would never have camouflage wearing rebels as are seen in such places as Columbia.

In 1977 the original Coast Guard Base was moved from Oistins to Willoughby Fort in Bridgetown. The Coast guard is an integral part of the Barbados Defence Force.  They too have been involved with disaster relief in many islands and supplied help to flood victims in Barbados on many occasions.

The Coast Guard has been fully engaged in patrolling the maritime borders in search and rescue operations as well as running drug patrols. the work closely with the US Coast Guard to help prevent the trafficking of drugs.

The base at Willoughby Fort proved vulnerable to high seas and so a new more protected base has been built next to the Barbados Flour Mill to the North of Bridgetown.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Barbados Military History Part 8 World War 2 Part 3

This particular story of the 2nd World War is one that I have been told about on numerous occasions from numerous people.

It was first recounted to me by my Grandmother who remembers hearing the explosions from her home just outside of Bridgetown.

The second time it was recounted was by a elderly gentleman who at that time was a young boy. I seem to remember He said he was about 12 at the time.

According to him he was in Bat Street courting a girl. (he is usually courting a girl in many of his stories) Suddenly he heard a loud explosion and took off running. When I asked him what about the girl he replied "I aint had no time for her then, I was out of there"  According to His story his father worked in a pub in Bridgetown and the German sailors would frequent the bar and give goods that where hard to come by in war times to his father who would then bring these items home. He said it was in the pub the sailors were told that there was an ammunition ship in the Careenage and so they then made plans to torpedo and destroy the ship and the ammunition. Had this as they planed it would have destroyed most of Bridgetown. This was however not to be as the ammunition ship left 1 day early.

Bellow is what the History Books teach us about the event

A U-Boat Attacks Carlisle Bay

Soon after the U-Boat campaign got underway in the Caribbean  in early August three fast motor torpedo boats (miscalled submarine chasers) arrived in Barbados. These vessels were often seen far out in Carlisle Bay, seemingly on patrol, most people were under the impression that that they had been sent to protect the port from U-Boat intrusion. This belief was not correct because though there were patrols they were done nightly and by a local speed-boat called the "Hazel Y" It was armed by a machine gun and double depth charges and maned by a volunteer crew.

In the first week of September the Royal navy came and laid down anti torpedo nets which extended North West from needham's point for 1.5 miles long to provide safe anchorage for ships inside of Carlisle Bay.

In the second week of September there were two ships in the protected zone. one of them a Norwegian ship the Betancuria and the second a Canadian ship the Cornwallis who had completed her business in Barbados and was awaiting escourt to Trinidad.

Suddenly on September the 11th shortly after 4:30pm explosions rang out across Carlisle Bay with the sound of them travelling inland driveing fear into the hearts of many Barbadians. The target was the Norwegian ship but after several torpedo's were launched and failed to penetrate the torpedo nets the U-boat which remained under water broke off its attack.

Ten minutes later a tremendous blast rang out to the south of the bay. This time the Cornwallis was the target and this time the nets gave way to the oncoming weapons of destruction.  a survey of the damage sustained by the Cornwallis reported that a hole some 44 feet long and 14 feet deep had been blown in her side and that considerable internal damage was also done. Sufficient repairs were made to enable her sea worthy. She then  was escorted to Mobile Alabama where complete repairs were made.  The Cornwallis was later sunk in 1944 off of Portland Main she was full of Sugar and molasses having just sailed from Barbados.

The U-Boat that attacked her in Carlisle Bay  was identified as U-514 was attacked and sunk in 1943 in the bay of Biscayne.

During the attack in Barbados it is reported that Norwegian ship and the Canadian ship did fire at the U-boat but the sparkling waters in Carlisle Bay made it difficult to see the submarine. the people of Barbados were also quite flabbergasted to discover the three so called submarine chasers  believed to have been sent to protect the bay were all in the dock.

This story is perhaps the one that is the most memorable to me. Perhaps it is because I have been told it so many times.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Barbados Military History Part 8 World War 2 Part 2

In 1942 the Axis of Powers particularly Germany and Italy were all aware that the Caribbean territories were heavily dependant upon imported food and with this in mind they decided to take advantage of this weak spot. They sent U boats to attack ships carrying both food and oil.

Prior to mid 1942 a shortage of escort vessels made it impossible for convoys to be formed in the Caribbean and the unprotected merchant ships continued suffering heavy losses. These attacks led to a food crisis to develop and famine threatened many places . Enemy propagandist fought to destroy morale in the area by radio broadcast giving details of sinking's and the hardships these were causing. In June 1942 the United States Navy began convoying ships in the Caribbean to ensure that ships carrying goods successfully arrived at their destinations.  Barbados was supplied via Convoys that went to Trinidad.

The first survivors from a U-Boat strike arrived in Barbados on the 27th of February via a life boat being towed by a fishing boat. Their ship the Scottish Star  had bee torpedoed 8 days earlier 650 miles east of Barbados. This was the first of many more instances that would bring survivors to Barbados. Between 15-21st of May more than 202 survivors came ashore at various places around the island. There were even occasions when smoke from burning ships could be seen from Barbados. A division of the St Johns Ambulance brigade was detailed for duty every week  and on notification of arrival of survivors they would be dispatched to the location to provide first aid. Accommodation for the officers was then supplied by the YMCA.

The horrors of war at sea came home to many Barbadians when the S.S Traveller was long overdue in its arrival and so presumed lost. There were 28 Barbadians among her crew. In the Caribbean the U-Boats continued to inflict heavy losses on shipping including inter-island schooners. One particularly  interesting incidents involved a inter island Schooner the "Mona Marie" the ship was en-route to Trinidad with empty oil drums when it was struck. most of the life boats were damaged and its crew including Captain Hassel were questioned by and English speaking the submarine officer. It seemed the submarine was running short of flour and coffee to which the Captain stated only enough for his crew. Captain Hassel was then released with his crew and reported the incident 2 days later when he reached the Grenadines. the Mona Marie of itself would not sink because of the buoyancy of the empty drums and was for a time considered a navigational hazard until it finally sank into the sea.

In 1942 President Rooservelt called for the utilization of the schooners in the Caribbean to transport cargo. The ships were pooled together with operations being controlled in Barbados. Merchandise would be assembled at each port but not sorted according to consignees. Schooners would be speedily loaded and as soon as one left it would be replaced with another. Under this arrangement a consignee might recieve his shipment in several installments but will minimal delay.

1942 also saw the issuing of an order dated 30th of January wich imposed a control on the disposal of tyres of motor vehicles and even bicycles. It now became illegal for anyone to dispose of tires without written authority from the Competent Authority.

Later in the same year came an order for controlled lighting As from March 23rd no persons were to drive, ride or conduct any vehicle in the parishes of St Michael or Christ Church between 6:30pm and 6:30am unless the upper halves of its headlights were obscured with black paint.  It was also ordered that not more than one light should be displayed in any window and it should not exceed 25 candle power. This is one of the things I can remember my grandmother telling me about.

Great concern arose when France fell in June 1940 a pro German administration  headed by Marshal Philippe Pertain was established in France. Shortly prior to this three powerful units of the French navy had sailed to the French West Indies. The cruiser "Jeanne d' Arc" to Guadeloupe and the aircraft carrier  "Bearn" and another cruiser "Emily Bertin" to Martinique.

The Bearn was in mid-ocean travelling from Halifax, Nova Scotia with 100 American war planes when France fell. Quickly following this she received orders to change direction and head to Martinique to prevent Frances conquer from getting their hands on the aircraft. Unfortunately even from the Caribbean Islands the ships soon came under control of a Anti-British Admiral Georges Robert who was High Commissioner of all of Frances possessions in the Caribbean.  He took his orders directly from Vichy, some believed from Berlin indirectly.

It is because of this pressence in the Caribbean that British colonies in the Caribbean took such precautions as lighting control and civil defence measures. One of the civil defence measures was the formation of the Barbados Volunteer Brigade. In response to the Governor's call nearly 2,000 men volunteer and were duly enrolled. The purpose of this body was to serve as an auxilary fire fighting service in collaboration with the regular fire brigade. Units of the brigade were soon formed all over the Island. In conjunction with the Volunteer Brigade The Emergency Medical Service was also formed to provide the transportation of severely wounded persons to the emergency and medical centers and hospitals. Some 19 First Aid post were also established on the Island. Most were located in St Michael and Christ Church with the exception of one in Speightstown. A list giving their locations was included in the official notice instructing the people what to do in case of an enemy attack.

Provided with the compliments of your friends at Glory Tours. The #1 Provider of Sightseeing Tours in Barbados

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Barbados Military History Part 8 World War 2 Part 1

On the 23rd January 1934 Adolf Hitler. Leader of Germany's Nazi Party became the president of Germany and proclaimed himself "Fuhrer, leader of the German Reich"

He quickly made it clear that he intended to restore Germany's influence and prestige which had been shattered in World War 1.

Hitler continued to grow in strength with the support of most of Germany behind him he marched on Austria in 1938 wich agreed to unite with the German Reich.

Next Hitler claimed Czechoslovaki but neither Britan or France where prepared for war and lacked the forces that they would need.  A meeting was held in Munich and the outcome was that Britan and France recognized Germany's claims to Czechoslovaki. This bought them 11 month to prepare for a conflict that seemed inevitable.

On the 1st of September 1939 Hitler launched an attack on Poland. Two days later in fulfilment of her guarantee to defend that country against foreign attackers Britan declared war on Germany.

Like other territories of the British empires Barbados already had a contingency plan.

Bellow is a list of several events that were recorded during the war

 1.     In October 1939 one month after war was declared the Barbados Government gave the Imperial Government a free gift of £25,000  Following by £100,00 in June 1940 and then  interest free loans of £110,000. there was also a personal appeal fund "Win the War"  fund that raised over £43,000. A group of ladies called the Voluntary War Workers Association raised  over £50,000. The ladies also provided thousands of knitted comforts for the Armed Forces as well as refugees and prisoners of war.

2       Measures were taken to control food prices, food distribution and imports and exports and to ensure local food production.
The Director of Agriculture along with the assistance of two committees was put in charge of ensuring the supply of food and the control of food prices. This was the first order of business in protection the people of Barbados. The Authority was given the power to decide what acreages should be planted in food crops and what those crops should be. Fortunately the officers in charge were well respected and the plantations gave them their full cooperation.

3.     Restrictions were placed on people travelling in and out of the island .  No one was allowed to leave or arrive except for Seawell airport (now Grantley Addams) or the Baggage Warehouse in Bridgetown now (The Coast Guard Station)

4.     On the 1st September 1939 2  officers and 45 ranks of the volunteer force were called out followed by an additional 3 officers and 45 additional men on the 4th of September

4.     Postal censorship was introduced

5.     On the 3rd of September 1939 an experimental broadcast station was introduced originally called the Barbados Radio Distribution Ltd. Later The Rediffusion Ltd and now StarCom Network inc. The radio was launched to enable the broadcast of daily review of events especially for those who could not afford a luxury radio. Loud speakers were also placed in Queens Park, Oistins, Holetown and Speightstown

6.   On the 5th of September the Legislative Council wrote the King declareing  its loyalty  and promise of its support with its utmost resolve of the colony. On the 6th of September the Government proclaimed the state of War also applied to Barbados

7.    On the 9th of September another proclamation was made declareing a large variety of materials and commodities as contraband of war.

8.     The first Practice Black out when no lights were to be displayed on the Island was on October the 12th. This was only a practice and took place from 9-9:30pm.

9.     In Jun 1940 every person of the age of 16+ who was not a British Subject was required to furnish the Commissioner of Police with a variety of personal particulars and a photo. and by August of the same year Hoteliers were also required to keep records of their lodgers

10.    In February 1941 the Government made and order for the conservation of wrapping paper. People were prohibited from wrapping bottles, jars, cans, furniture and books. The public were also encourage to reuse envelopes.

11.   Also in February 1941 an appeal was made in the British Press for Binoculars within six weeks an initiative led my Mr Harold Wright Barbados donated 81 binoculars

12.    In the latter part of 1944 some 3,605 Barbadian workers went to the USA where they were employed by the War Manpower Commission on agricultural and industrial work.

13.    In 1942 the rationing of petrol became necessary and a similar system was adopted as that of Britan. Class A Government, Foreign Consulars, Engineers, Overseer, Police, Volunteers, Doctors, and Public Utility. Class B Legislature, Judiciary, Inspectors of the poor, schools, roads and sanitation as well as Cable operators and essential business persons. Class C owners of motor bikes, agricultural  lorries, public vehicles, vans, road rollers and taxis

14. Also in 1942 certain places were designated protected places:
The Cable Station (St Lawrence)
The Barbados Electric Supply Corporation (The Garrison)
The Barbados Gas Company (Bay Street)
The British Union Oil Company (Greaves End)
The Shell Installation (Spring Garden)
The Central Foundry Workshop and Dock (Pierhead Road)
The Baggage Warehouse (Pierhead Road)

15. In effort to save on fuel in April 1943 Daylight Savings Time was Introduced by Governor Bushe. This became known as Bushe time and was not popular with most people. This was only utilized in 1943 and 1944 when the order was rescinded.

16. In 1942 another blow came to Barbados when a ship named the  "C.N.S Drake" was torpedoed 90 miles south of Bermuda . The ship was carrying a group of artisans forming the "Barbados Engineering Trade Unit" selected for employment by Britans War industries. Several of the men lost their lives and while some continued onto Britan some returned home to Barbados.

The realities of war first struck home in Barbados when a Dutch Liner "Simon Bolivar" was sunk in the English Channel. three of 11 passengers bound for Barbados lost their lives.

Two days after the declaration of was a veteran of the First World War Mr Harold Wright started a fund to assist with the expenses for the young men volunteering for service. By June of 1940 14 young men were assisted and in July they left Barbados to serve with the British Military. Sadly four members of the group did not survive.

In November 1941 12 men were recruited specifically for Errol Walton Barrow who became the first Prim Minister of Barbados in 1966. Sadly 6 of the members of the force did not emerge alive.

In August 1941 the Barbados Canadian Active Enlistment Fund was opened to enable passages to be paid for those volunteering for Canada's Armed Forces. The fist contingent left Barbados on the 16th of September and numbered 27 men. Two additional contingents left in October of the same year.
During the War Britan turned to USA to buy weapons and destroyers but by the end of 1940 Britan had run short of US currency and Prime Minister Winston Churchill began pressing President Roosevelt for more substantial aid. Roosevelt then came up with the idea that the USA would provide Britan with Destroyers if Britan would allow them to build naval bases in Britain's Caribbean Territories. An agreement was reached and 50 destroyers were supplied and the United States built bases in Antigua , Guyana, Jamacia, St Lucia and Trinidad. Barbados was not chosen as a base sight but Seawell airport was made available to the Americans to enable them to extend their zone of air coverage activities against enemy submarines. US Army engineers extended the runway from 3,000 to 5,000 feet and laid down a hard surface.

Provided with the compliments of your friends at Glory Tours. The #1 Provider of Sightseeing Tours in Barbados

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Andromeda Botanical Gardens In Barbados

Andromeda Botanic Gardens is a six acre tropical garden in the Parish of St Joseph, overlooking the scenic east coast of Barbados. Iris Bannochie founded the garden in 1954 on land owned by her family since 1740, and showed plants from Andromeda with the Barbados Horticultural Society many times at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London.

Andromeda was first open to the public during a fund raising event hosted by the Barbados Horticultural Society in the seventies. Andromeda was well received, and has remained open to the public by paid admission since then. Andromeda currently boast over six hundred different species of plants adapted to a range of tropical environments.

The name Andromeda is derived from the mythical Greek goddess who was chained to a rock.

The Andromeda Botanic Gardens Educational Program is run in co-ordination with the Department of Biological & Chemical Sciences of the University of the West Indies.

Mrs. Iris Bannochie, a local horticulturist. At her death, Mrs. Bannochie bequeathed Andromeda to the Barbados National Trust.

Notable in the gardens is the large talipot palm tree, one of the largest palms in the world.

At the centre of the upper garden, near a grotto-like lily pond is a majestic native banyan. When Queen Ingrid of Denmark visited the garden in 1971, she was served refreshments in a recently built gazebo overlooking the sea.  There is a library, classroom, cafeteria and gift shop. In 1991, the palm garden contained over 60 different species of palm.

On a more personal note Iris Bannochie was in fact related to me as was known to be quite a unique person in many ways. She is buried in St Johns Parish Church Cemetery.

We at Glory Tours are happy to provide you with several tour options including the Andromeda Botanical Gardens and we would be delighted if you would join us in paying a visit to The Andromeda Botanical Gardens one day soon :o)

Provided with the compliments of your friends at Glory Tours. The #1 Provider of Sightseeing Tours in Barbados

The Barbados Wildlife Reserve

In the words of the Barbados Wildlife Reserve "Once you enter the gates of the Barbados Wildlife Reserve you are in the animal's world.  Except for a few cages animals like the snakes, birds, iguanas and cayman the rest are left to travel as they please through the reserve.

No two visits to the reserve are ever the same lol except for yes the turtles are always mating. I have heard many visitors to Barbados say it was the highlight of their trip to watch the monkey swinging through the trees while they play. They are such precocious animals. I have seen them take piggy back rides on a tortoise, play catch with a live frog and tag with a fawn. They are truly an endless source of entertainment.

The Reserve is located in the parish of St Peter opposite Farley Hill National Park it comprises  4 acres of land some of which is planted with banana plants and other vegetable to feed the animals. The visitor section of the reserve  lies in an enclosed area under a canopy of mahogany trees with winding red brick pathways beneath. If you look closely at the bricks, you can still see the stamps of the manufacturing companies. the bricks were brought to Barbados by ships, which used them as ballast. During the 17th and 18th centuries, these red bricks were used to construct boiler furnaces in Barbados sugar factories.

Canadian parasitologist Jean Baulu, and his wife Suzanne, moved to Barbados from Montreal and founded the Barbados Primate Research Centre in 1982. Baulu later opened Barbados Wildlife Reserve, in 1985  with seed money from the Canadian International Development Agency. All buildings at the reserve are constructed our of natural coral stone. The large wheel in front of the snack bar was acquired from a old sugar factory and was once used to drive rollers for crushing the sugar cane. The small concrete and iron wheels at the entrance were used by tractors when rubber was available (e.g during the war)

Opening hours for the Barbados Wildlife Reserve are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Entrance fees are US$12 per adult and half price for children under 12

For most the biggest attraction at the wildlife reserve is the Barbados Green Monkey, Green monkeys are the only species of monkey in Barbados. They are called "green" because their coats are brown and gray, with olive green highlights, which have a green sheen in the sunlight. Barbados green monkeys can grow to 2 feet  tall. They live in troops of about 15 and have a life span of about 30 years.
The monkeys originally came from Senegal and Gambia, West Africa. Historians believe that they were brought to Barbados, on slave ships, as gifts for the early settlers about 350 years ago.

From as early as 1684 a bounty was temporarily imposed on green monkeys. In 1975, the population  of monkeys skyrocketed to over 8,000, causing millions of dollars damage to fruit and vegetable crops. On some farms, crop destruction amounted to 40 per cent of the harvest.

The Barbados government reinstated a bounty of $5B for every tail brought into the Ministry of Agriculture. To rescue the monkeys, the primate center offered to pay a bounty of $25B for each monkey captured alive and unharmed in cage-traps provided by the centre.

Data from the Barbados Primate Research Centre and blood bank are used for genetic, immunologic, epidemiological and virology research and teaching.

The isolation of Barbadian monkeys from their African cousins has resulted in a disease-free population. (Barbados green monkeys do not carry the AIDS virus, which afflicts many of their species in Africa, for example. The former agricultural pests have saved human lives. Their kidney tissue culture was used to manufacture polio vaccines that have successfully controlled and prevented this once-frightening and crippling disease.

Other animals that can be found in the reserve include tortoises, mallards, peacocks, guinea foul, caiman, iguana, rabbits and a sizable collection of various birds. There is also a large python that was a gift from the Ravensden Zoo in the United Kingdom. the deer found in the reserve are Brocket deer and were a gift from the Emperor Valley Zoo in Trinidad

We at Glory Tours are happy to provide you with several tour options including the Barbados Wildlife Reserve and we would be delighted if you would join us in paying a visit to The Barbados Wildlife Reserve one day soon :o)

Provided with the compliments of your friends at Glory Tours. The #1 Provider of Sightseeing Tours in Barbados