Holding onto Heritage: UNESCO Site of Historic Bridgetown and Its Garrison

12th October, 2012
Parliament Buildings in the UNESCO Historic Bridgetown Site

That’s right, Bridgetown and its Garrison have recently been granted the title of a UNESCO world heritage site. We are so proud of our island Barbados and all of the individuals who contributed to make this well deserved designation happen. We thought we would take you back in time and walk you through this masterpiece of history until you have a chance to make your own footsteps along this journey.

Chamberlain Bridge in the UNESCO Historic Bridgetown site Barbados


Historic Bridgetown is an outstanding example of British Colonial architecture which consists of well-preserved old town buildings developed during the 17th, 18th & 19th centuries as well as the nearby Military Garrison. As one of the earliest historic towns with a fortified port in the Caribbean and a network of military and maritime-mercantile outposts of the British Atlantic, Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison were the focus of a trade-based English expansion in the Americas. The fact that this town was converted from almost complete isolation to being a lively and intoxicating town buzzing with commercial and social activity is one which greatly interests us.  Britain strived to create a strong presence in the Americas and Bridgetown was ideally located as the Eastern port in the region. Carlisle Bay was a supreme anchorage spot with regards to weather and enemy attack.  Additionally, when it came to British Atlantic trade, Bridgetown had become an entrepôt for goods, especially sugar, and enslaved persons destined for Barbados and the rest of the Americas. This brought great wealth to our city and was a large contributor to its escalating economy. However, Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison participated not only in the international trade of goods and enslaved persons but also in the transmission of ideas and cultures that characterized the developing colonial enterprise in the Atlantic World.

Nelson's Statue in Historic Bridgetown Barbados

Historic Bridgetown’s fortified port spaces were linked along the Bay Street corridor from the Historic Town’s centre to St. Ann’s Garrison. Used as a base for amphibious command and control, the Garrison contained the Eastern Caribbean headquarters of the British Army and Navy, the earliest British Army and Navy base in the Caribbean. The historic town has retained its original footprint, based on its English medieval serpentine street layout, for almost 400 years, which bears exceptional testimony to British town layouts in foreign soil. St. Ann’s Garrison and its fortifications, which protected the town and its port, constitute the most complete complex of an 18th-19th century British garrison ensemble in the Atlantic World. As an integrated semi-planned urban landscape, with a strong brick architectural testimony, and a collection of colonial warehouses and dock facilities, it has remained essentially unchanged for 200 years, and provides an outstanding glimpse into a pivotal period of British imperial rule and culture.

Parliament Building in Bridegtown Barbados

There are many buildings and individual historic sites to visit as you step back in time. Some include:

* The Nidhe Israel Synagogue

* The Parliament Buildings

* James Fort Building

* St. Mary’s Church

* Queens Park

* The Dolphin Fountain

* Nelson’s Statue

* Hero’s Square

* Chamberlain Bridge

* Old Screw Dock

* The Boardwalk

* The Garrison Forts

* The Grand Barrack buildings

* Cockhouses

* Latrines

* Hospitals

* Prisons

* Parade Grounds

* Underground tunnels

Melanie & Kimberly*

We would love to hear what you think.


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