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EDITORIAL: Make use of Glendairy opportunity


EDITORIAL: Make use of Glendairy opportunity

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GLENDAIRY PRISON was officially decommissioned last Saturday.

The jailhouse, steeped in rich history but also dogged by controversy over the years, closed its doors formally for the last time, but not before the Barbadian public got the opportunity to tour the historic building. Built in 1855, it has housed some notorious criminals, including Winston Hall, Alfred Harding, Mark Young and Buddy Brathwaite.

Given the mystery of what lies behind the walls, Barbadians seized the opportunity to tour Glendairy, a large portion of which was burnt on March 29 and 30, 2005, during a disturbance by inmates. Thousands stood in long queues awaiting guided tours, hoping to gaze inside the cells and experience life behind bars for a couple of hours. Sadly, this was the only tour scheduled.

Indeed, it is unfortunate that in this year and month, when Barbados is celebrating its 50th anniversary of Independence, officials could not see it fit to conduct more tours to give others an opportunity to see inside Glendairy.

During this month, there will no doubt be heightened activities as Barbadians celebrate this 50-year milestone. Thousands are expected to descend on these shores very soon, especially Barbadians returning to be part of the festivities. It would be a mistake if those in charge do not recognise and capitalise on this opportunity.

There is no doubt that Glendairy Prison can easily become Barbados’ next tourist attraction. Sun, sea and sand are not features unique to Barbados, and can no longer be used as the only selling points to market the island.

Instead, we need to be looking to those things that are uniquely Barbadian. Glendairy, for example, can be properly marketed by tour operators, travel agents and on cruises. There is no reason why it cannot be used to earn much-needed money for the country.

It was therefore heartening to hear Sir Henry Fraser, speaking at the decommissioning ceremony, saying that Glendairy, which sits on 14 acres, could be turned into a profitable prison museum. To substantiate his point, the historian pointed to the fact that similar museums are found all over the world as major attractions.

It should have been music to the ears of Government to hear that the proposal from the National Trust for developing the facility would not be an added cost to Government.

While there is no cost, there must still be the political will to make this happen.

We appeal to our leaders to ensure that Glendairy does not fall into a state of disrepair and ruin like so many other Government buildings that have been left by the wayside. Let us claim Glendairy Prison as our very own historical gem.