STREET BEAT: Horse Hill full of history
As part of the Nation Publishing Company’s 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations, the WEEKEND NATION is dedicating the Street Beat column to a district in each parish that we believe is the Unofficial Capital.
HORSE HILL, St Joseph, is an area full of history and the modern architecture.
On one hand, there are sites such as the crumbling St Joseph Parish Church and the St Joseph Outpatients Clinic while on the other, there is the Eric Holder Jr Municipal Complex, which is located scant yards away from cart roads and cane fields. Truly an interesting mix of development and country life.
In addition, two schools – St Joseph Primary School and Grantley Adams Memorial – facilitate the youthful energy and enthusiasm of schoolchildren as they make their way to and from their respective learning institutions.
However, vendor Nesta Best told Street Beat the primary school was not always where it stands now and she should know, as she attended the school some years ago.
“The girls’ school was in the middle of Horse Hill and the boys school was by the church but when they amalgamated they moved here. I remember you had to go up more than 30 steps to get to school but now you can’t see anything there to represent a school, only trees,” she said.
Best sells snacks and drinks right next to the primary school, from inside a shack. She said she once had a tent but rain made things uncomfortable so she applied for permission to build the shack. As for Horse Hill, Best remembered when it was considered one of the most dangerous roads in Barbados, a title it appears to be trying to reclaim.
“Horse Hill was real steep back in the day and now it is longer and less steep but the water streams underneath pulling it apart, that’s why the St Joseph Church falling down. It puts a lot of wear and tear on your vehicles too, I don’t know what they will do,” she said.
Speaking of the parish church, it was closed in 2011 and deconsecrated the following year after the structure became unstable. Earlier this year there was talk of plans for the construction of a new church, which were said to be “at a fair stage”. In the meantime, the church remains closed, something residents are none too happy about.
“This is a historical church, I feel Bajans should put together and save it,” one woman said while another added: “I used to go to that church when I was a young girl. I feel bad now, sorry to know it gone down so, but I can’t do nothing about it.”
Court is in session at District F. Along with the post office, police station and public library, it makes up the Eric Holder Jr Municipal Complex.
Gloria Grant once worked at the Grantley Adams Memorial School as a maid, which she did for around 40 years. She recalled the old days.
“I started in 1970. At that time, it was a lot better – we had a headmaster, Ivan Francis, who was very strict and the students were good, they didn’t use to get on like now. Since I was there, a lot of buildings went up – the school really build over now. I used to get $27 a month then it eventually move to $28 a week – it don’t sound like no money but you could have done a lot with it then. I could have left and go town with $10 and bring home a big box of things,” she said.
Grant now lives not far from her old workplace in a large wall house. She said she had been there for three decades.
“I always lived in St Joseph but here in Auburn for the past 30 years. Out here did look lonesome and desolate then; most of the houses were small wood houses and when I first come my house was wood too.
“It is very good. I find no fault in it, very quiet and peaceful – only things give me problems is the monkeys and the bus service very ridiculous. Sometimes you have to wait two hours for a bus, both here and in town,” she said.
McDonald Barrow is Grant’s next door neighbour. He said it was divine providence which allowed him and his wife to find their home.
“I would say this place chose me, I didn’t choose it. My wife doesn’t like developments and I was raised in St James but ended up in Cleavers Hill [St Joseph] so after I transitioned from city life I couldn’t go back. One day we happened to pass here and saw the for sale sign. We had been looking for a property for three years but every time we found a piece of land, it had already been sold to a church so I guess God had a plan,” he said.
Barrow said there was truly no place like home and he would know his anywhere.
“Now, I could be blindfolded and know when I near home; that chill in the breeze around Groves [near the St George/St John border] is all I need to feel,” he said. (CA)