IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: Oh, for a modern City guide
OH HOW my beautiful island has changed.
In many ways its transformation over the last half century has been nothing short of astounding; but at the same time we have taken some decisions [or failed to take decisions] that have driven us in directions that are not worthy of praise.
Last week I expressed concern about the number of cruise ship passengers who can be seen wandering around Bridgetown on Sundays and holidays in a manner that suggests we are not taking aspects of our tourist industry as seriously as we should.
I questioned why we have not organised tours or at least provided a tourist map so our guests can discover the places of interest in The City for themselves. Since the publication, however, I set out on a quest to see if there are any published aids, paper or digital, designed to assist tourists in Bridgetown.
Well, folks, the great sleuth that I am, I have found such a guide and I recommend it to authorities and guests of our island.
It includes a very easy to read map of The City with 21 places of interest, information on duty-free shopping, restaurants in the capital, where to secure a taxi and banks where our guests can exchange their foreign notes for a “Sir Grantley” or two.
The leading duty-free shops on the guide are: Louis L. Bayley & Son, Correia’s Jewellery, J. Baldini Ltd, Da Costa & Musson, Y. De Lima and India House.
Tourists can have their fill of local and international fare from The Coal Pot, Dolly’s, The Flying Fish Club, The Net & Trident, The Pebbles, Taj Mahal or Wilson’s Roof Garden.
The choice of banking institutions is even wider. Again our guests may visit Bank of America, Barclays International, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Chase Manhattan Bank, First National Bank of Chicago or First National City Bank.
Having had their palates satisfied and their money changed for shopping, our tourists can start their tour of Bridgetown in earnest.
According to the guide, after exiting the Bridgetown Port they can stop at the Sugar Bond to see what 80 000 tonnes of sugar looks like in one place, before moving on to Marshall’s Hall at the corner of Cowell and Hincks streets, described as “once the leading place of entertainment in Barbados”. Apparently local entertainers were so enthused by the response of King William IV to their performance when he visited, that nearby Prince William Henry Street was named after him.
The guide also directs tourists to the Public Library on Coleridge Street, where they can experience the grandeur of an historic building constructed with funds from Andrew Carnegie.
If our guests are not too tired by then, they can make their way over to the Waterworks Department. The guide says of this building beside Central Police Station: “This old building was leased by the Government in March 1837 from Mr T. Todd for the Judiciary and Legislature as they had been crowded out by the number of prisoners then located at the Town Hall. It was referred to as the New Town Hall.”
When they leave there, our visitors can make their way over to Queen’s College on Constitution Road.
“This is the leading public school for girls and was opened in 1880,” the guide says.
From there they can cross the street to Queen’s Park and admire the intricacies of the designs of Lady Gilbert Carter, the governor’s wife who led the transformation of the complex from the headquarters of the Imperial Forces of the Windward and Leeward Islands into a public park. The guide also points tourists to places such as Trafalgar Square, The Jewish Synagogue and St Mary’s Church.
The guide’s helpfulness does not end there, because if by this time our guests are too tired to walk back to the Bridgetown Harbour, they can call Barbados Taxicabs Limited at 62087, Broadway Taxi Car Service at 62499, among a few others, for a ride back to their ship.
I hope this information is of value to our guests and that the officials on the ships and elsewhere will share it to make their short trips more rewarding.
I’m sorry about the fact that it needs a little updating – we can’t find 8 000 tonnes of sugar to put in the bond, far less 80 000 tonnes; the Carnegie Library has been closed for almost a decade; Queen’s College has moved so long, many Bajans don’t even remember it used to be in The City; the fancy architecture of Queen’s Park has been long hidden behind construction scaffolding, but construction is yet to start; most Barbadians under 50 don’t have a clue about the Waterworks building and Marshall Hall exists only in photographs – but it was the most recent I could find.
According to my source, the guide was first published in the early 1970s, but don’t let that deter you from using it.
If, however, there is someone in Barbados with a more recent map, I would welcome receiving a copy. In the interim, maybe the business people of Bridgetown who benefit most from the presence of these tourists will see the value of footing the cost of a guide to Bridgetown and Its Historic Garrison.