As Barbados celebrates Heritage Month for the year 2023, there are a number of activities on island, with a focus on the ‘Season of Emancipation.’
To this end, a project to restore an old building on the current site of the Grantley Adams Memorial School, formerly West St. Joseph Secondary was launched on Thursday June 8, 2023.
Some background to this historic space, according to Professor Sir Woodville Marshall et al, reveals that this plantation was established circa 1645 and the name was derived from the owner John Lucie Blackman, who inherited the plantation in 1708 from his great uncle Jacob Lucie. Prior to being renamed Blackman’s, at different points in time the estate was known as Apter’s Farm and Mount Lucie.
While the exact date of construction for the hospital has not been established, it is suspected that the hospital building was constructed sometime in the 1800s, preceding the 1838 emancipation of the enslaved. During this pre-emancipation period, the British parliament mandated the colonies to put measures in place to ameliorate the social conditions of the enslaved people. Therefore, this structure can be assessed to be approximately over one hundred and eighty-five years old.
Additionally, in a short address to the audience gathered at the launch site, Professor Sir Henry Fraser agreed that this structure at Blackman’s plantation and others like it were very likely constructed during the period of amelioration. Although the local legislature resisted the dictates of the British parliament, measures were eventually implemented.
Although this immensely valuable relic of history still stands stately on the grounds of the now transformed Blackman’s property, it has been abandoned over time, left to disrepair, without its roof, uncovered to the wiles of the elements, however, its strong walls remain in place. I look forward to the commencement of the work of restoration, when with the tender care of architects and builders, this hidden historical gem will be restored for the benefit, use and viewing of Barbadians and visitors to our fair shores.