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

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