Street Beat: Car a must in Gall Hill
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 we believe is the unofficial capital.
RURAL BARBADOS is a peaceful place with gentle breezes and pleasant people and Gall Hill in St John is no exception.
It is paradise within paradise – as long as you have a car.
“I came out just before 9 a.m. and I am still here an hour later. Sometimes you have to leave two and three hours earlier to get to work on time. It is trouble getting to town and trouble getting back,” said Leslyn Belgrave.
Beulah Hinds added: “There is good breeze and it does be quiet. The only problem is transportation, which is very poor. I saw a lady standing at the bus stop waiting for a bus for two hours, if not for vans some people won’t get into the city. You have to have a car when you live in St John.”
Apart from this, the people of Gall Hill appear content for the most part. A small group of men were in Gall Hill #1 watching one of their number work on a vehicle’s transmission system. The said it was peaceful in Gall Hill – perhaps too much so.
“It’s a good environment, a good place to raise a family. You may find one or two fellas that give trouble but that is the norm anywhere. All of we help one another. They got road tennis and basketball on the hard court sometimes where the clinic was and football and cricket at the pavilion sometimes. I know they used to keep parties in the community centre, but not anymore,” said Frank Headley
Teddy Gibson, who was working on the system, said it was borderline boring in Gall Hill but that was part of the charm.
“The only thing is they don’t get much activities. It can be quiet but I like it that way at times. There’s no karaoke or fetes,” he said.
At 85-years-old, Margaret Toppin is one of the older residents of the area. She gave a brief synopsis of life in St John back in her youth.
“It is much different to now; there were so many houses and a lot more cane and people used to grow their own food – but they got too many thieves now [to do that]. Plus, the young people were very nice then, not so nice now – you can’t speak to them,” she said.
There was no doubt who Ena Sealy loves as she refused to take a picture without her portrait of former Prime Minister Errol Barrow.
Ena Sealy also has a long history with Gall Hill. While she said she moved away after her marriage, she never lost her link with home and now she was back where she belonged.
“I born right up top ‘li’l dick’ hill and I have been here all my life. It is a wonderful place to live, we have our freedom and we learn to trust in God. When I was growing up, there was a lot more people here but people move out when they get married. I too move out to Britton’s Hill when I get married but when my husband died I move back but I was always out and in, I was up here three times a week,” she said.
Sealy said the polyclinic and the welfare office was open then but progress had marched on and those offices were now located in the new David Thompson Health and Social Services Complex. She recalled the former welfare office was once a bath.
“At first it was the bath in the 50’s and 60’s there was where you used to go and bathe if you didn’t have a bath at home then it turn into a welfare office and that now gone to the new clinic in Glebe Land,” she said.
The public library is anther institution earmarked to make the move to the complex, yet another one to leave Gall Hill, though it will not be far away. In the meantime, library assistant Cedric St Hill spoke about the library service in Gall Hill.
“We still getting people but not as much as we would like but students make good use of the technology for research projects and adults use it for passport forms and job applications. When I got started in the library service back in the 70’s more people were using the library to read fiction books but people got technology for that now. Hopefully when we move to the new complex we will see an increase in usage,” he said.
The community centre is still a mainstay for dance groups, church groups and senior citizens. When the team passed, a National Assistance Board craft and exercise class was ongoing.
“We have class every Tuesday here in the community centre. We do embroidery, fabric painting, cross stitching, quilting and more and go through some dance exercises. Some of them sell their products but there is no real market for it now; today but people like up-tempo things now, expensive things, they don’t really do it for sales anyway, they do it for exercise and to get out the house,” said warden Judy Harewood. (CA)