Monthly Archives: August 2013
UNESCO World Heritage Site #254: Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison
From the World Heritage inscription:
As one of the earliest established towns with a fortified port in the Caribbean network of military and maritime-mercantile outposts of the British Atlantic, Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison was the focus of trade-based English expansion in the Americas. By the 17th century, the fortified port town was able to establish its importance in the British Atlantic trade and became an entrepôt for goods, especially sugar, and enslaved persons destined for Barbados and the rest of the Americas.
Historic Bridgetown’s irregular settlement patterns and 17th Century street layout of an English medieval type, in particular the organic serpentine streets, supported the development and transformation of creolized forms of architecture, including Caribbean Georgian.
Historic Bridgetown’s fortified port spaces were linked along the Bay Street corridor from the historic town’s centre to St. Ann’s Garrison. The property’s natural harbour, Carlisle Bay, was the first port of call on the trans-Atlantic crossing and was perfectly positioned as the launching point for the projection of British imperial power, to defend and expand Britain’s trade interests in the region and the Atlantic World. Used as a base for amphibious command and control, the garrison housed the Eastern Caribbean headquarters of the British Army and Navy. 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.
My visit to Barbados was far shorter than I had hoped and my visit to this World Heritage site was also not all it could have been. My time in Barbados happened to overlap the Crop Over festival which is the biggest celebration of the year in the country. Normally, that would be a great thing, except that it screwed up my flights in and out of Barbados. I had a very tight deadline and several islands I had to visit, so my stay in Barbados ended up only being 36 hours.
Most of Bridgetown was shut down so there wasn’t much to see in the city. I ended up visiting the garrison, which is a major part of the site, and wasn’t really that impressed. Today the garrison is horse track and the buildings surrounding it weren’t that impressive.
I think Bridgetown is worthy of a return visit at some point in the future. There is a big chunk of the site that I didn’t get to see because of the circumstances of my visit.