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The old to new Licorish Village

HEATHER-LYNN EVANSON, [email protected]

The old to new Licorish Village

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IF KEITH THOMPSON HAD HIS WAY, he would have his own Time Tunnel, with one foot planted in today’s Licorish Village and the other in that of yesteryear.

For while he appreciates the modern conveniences that a technological era has brought, he misses the camaraderie and neighbourliness that was the highlight of a bygone Barbados.

“I would like the Time Tunnel to go back but still come forward again because those primitive days weren’t easy. So I would like the Time Tunnel to go and come,” Thompson said with a laugh.

“There was more love and harmony at that time. The younger folks don’t congregate and talk about things. The love don’t exist like before,” he said.

Thompson cut a lonely figure sitting in the area that was the spot for the men of Licorish Village in 1978. The junction, shaded by a mature tamarind tree, was their basketball court, their road tennis court, their cricket pitch, their domino table, their general liming spot.

“Now you come and surprisingly no one is here. On a norm you would find a lot of older folks,” said Thompson.

It’s hard to believe that the busy T-junction could have doubled as the unofficial playing field in Licorish Village.

But, explained Thompson, it was different in 1978.

“Years ago there wasn’t so much traffic traversing like before. It’s like a highway now,” he noted.

“Years ago we didn’t have all the cars and things existing in Barbados. You would find a one car passing, so it was easy to play tennis in the road, it was easy to play basketball. We played cricket in the road, so it was like a playing field in the road.”

Thompson is proud of the fact that little Licorish Village of yore produced its fair share of football greats – he named at least five members of the White family and Ralph Farnum, retired Chief Agricultural Officer, as those who made the Barbados football team.

“It’s a beautiful village,” Thompson said with pride in his voice.

While Cecil White agrees with him, he prefers Licorish Village of today.

He is of the footballing White fame and a lifelong resident of the village. His shop is the popular establishment at the heart of Licorish Village.

“We develop a lot since then because since Don Blackman came in, Don Blackman [former Minister of Transport and Works] is who put in most of these roads. Most of them was cart roads. Then they got, we call them Castries and Vieux Fort, ’cause the Lucians tek over down there [near the gully]. All there used to be bare cane ground,” he explained, as his friend Gline Branch noted: “We come a long way.”

Describing himself as a “come-ya” despite the fact he was “around from the time I was nine years old”, Branch remembered when most of Licorish Village was canefield. 

“You could see the infrastructure. The roads wasn’t like before. It change up a lot since then, and it get bigger too. All in the gully got houses. Down in the gully on both sides. Once before we run about down there, but now down in there is a village,” he said.

The village also carries a piece of the island’s history in its midst.

Through it ran the original path of the train line. The tracks have long since been removed, since the railway closed in 1937, and all that remains is a canal-like structure to the west and a track to the east. (HLE)