Heritage trekJOHN “BIRD MAN” GIBBONS with spoon in mouth and drum in hand, entertaining the walkers with his bird calls. (Heather-Lynn Evanson)
By Heather-Lynn Evanson | Sun, June 24, 2012 - 12:03 AM
HUNDREDS OF BARBADIANS took to the outdoors yesterday in two different events which showcased the natural and built heritage of the island.
They were part of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society’s Heritage Walk around the Garrison Historic Area, St Michael and an educational/scenic tour of the Harrison Cave’s gully in St Thomas.
The museum’s 7 a.m. walk, with the 100 or so walkers split in two groups, was led by assistant curator of natural history Kerron Hamblin and assistant curator of history Miguel Pena.
They took the groups, which included members of the visually-impaired community, on a circuit starting at the island’s former military prison, now the museum’s home, to the north gate at Chelsea Road, down to Bay Street with its Shot Hall (now the Barbados Yacht Club) and past the former Commissariat’s rum storage building (Island Inn Hotel).
They then moved to the Engineer’s House with the Engineer’s Pier almost parallel to it; Needham’s Fort, later renamed Charles Fort; the island’s military cemetery; St Ann’s Castle with its signal tower and the red-painted ballast brick-constructed Blocks A, B and C, the former barracks of the colonial troops.
Hamblin said the museum was using the walk as a test case to see if there was enough interest among the public for similar tours.
And if there was enough, he said, the tours could see not only more walk-abouts, but an option where people enter the historic buildings, seeing what the inside was like and how the properties had been modified.
Meanwhile, president of the National United Society of the Blind, Roger Vaughan, said the reason behind the participation of 12 visually-impaired people in the walk was the interest members of that community had in what was around them.
“They have been saying it is very interesting because there are lots of things around you that you hear about, that you don’t know the history behind,” Vaughan said.
He added there was no reason why more members of the community should not participate in such heritage walks once they had competent people to lead them.
Two hours later, about 100 more walkers journeyed to the island’s best known cave for a tour of some above-ground natural features.
With thought-provoking entertainment urging them to care and clean the gullies and with the rhythm of a tuk band lending pep to their step, the walkers learnt about the island’s geology, especially that of caves and gullies, from geologist Leslie Barker, and about its flora from University of the West Indies’ plant pathologist Dr Claire Durant.
Stopping by a replica of an Amerindian hut, they were entertained by John “Bird Man” Gibbons with his realistic avian calls, before being educated, by project manager at Solid Waste Project Unit, Ricardo Marshall, about the island’s waste problem and the benefits of composting and recycling.
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