British Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber on board to restore Carnegie Library: LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL RESTORATION PROGRAMME AND PRESERVATION (BARBADOS) FOUNDATION TRUST
This evening’s Launch of the National Restoration Programme and the Preservation (Barbados) Foundation Trust marks the start of an exciting and significant programme, one that has the potential to transform Barbados and the way we as Barbadians feel about our built heritage.
Across Barbados, evidence of our very rich heritage can be seen in the array of residential and commercial properties that bear significant historical and architectural interest, often dating as far back as the 1700s. The plantations houses, bay mansions, churches, shops, bungalows and chattel houses all, in one way or another, bear evidence of our island’s growth from the early dark days of slavery and colonization to the modern progressive nation which we are today.
We are extremely proud of the fact that on June 25, 2011, “Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison” was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List – our country’s first World Heritage Property. The Government, through the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, is fully committed to ensuring that the structures within this Property are properly maintained and preserved for future Barbadian generations and indeed, for the world.
This inscription has brought the issue of the preservation of Barbados’ built heritage into sharp focus. In fact, the issue of conservation is an area that the UNESCO World Heritage Centre has signalled as one of the critical issues that Barbados must address as a matter of urgency. If left unattended, this could have a negative impact on Barbados’ prestigious UNESCO World Heritage status.
The Carnegie Library
The Guard Hut at the Aquatic Gap
The facilities at Queen’s Park House – the Daphne Joseph Hackett Theatre and the Queen’s Park Gallery
The former Eye and Tercentenary Wards of the old General Hospital
Blocks A and B of the Garrison, and
The Screw Dock
Across the island, there are a number of residential and commercial buildings of historic significance also in need of restoration. Apart from the plantation Great Houses and Chattel Houses, we also have the former Glendairy Prison, Culloden Farm, former official residence of our first Prime Mimister, and now National Hero, the Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, and his birth place, “The Garden” in St. Lucy.
The cost of restoring these buildings and structures is daunting, particularly given the competing demands for our limited resources. But let us not forget that ours is a shared heritage. Indeed our heritage, as acknowledged by the inscription of our World Heritage Property, is of value to all mankind. It is therefore imperative that we understand that we have a collective responsibility for ensuring their preservation so that they can be passed on to future generations.
This cannot be the responsibility of the Government alone. We must develop partnerships with corporate Barbados, with private individuals and non-governmental organizations if we are to achieve our goals. Simply speaking, all hands must be on deck.
Indeed, I would even take the liberty here of going even further, and pointing out that as a former colony, and a very strategic one at that, our heritage undoubtedly has an intimate relationship to the heritage of our former colonial masters as it does with our African roots. Our heritage cannot be seen in isolation, but as mosaic which blends in a most fascinating way, other global cultures. This is something that must be borne in mind in our fund-raising efforts.
This National Restoration Programme that we launch this evening has these very issues at its core. It will focus not only on restoring historic buildings, but it will seek to build capacity in conservation maintenance through on-going training and public education and awareness. It will also sensitize Barbadians to the importance of preserving our heritage and in so doing, contribute to the strengthening of our national identity.
the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic
the Ministry of Transport and Works
the Urban Development Commission
the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Rural Development
the Barbados Vocational Training Board
the Barbados Community College
the Barbados National Trust
the Barbados World Heritage Committee and
the Task Force on the Preservation of Barbados’ Built Heritage.
the implementation of a 6-month Trainer of Trainers course in Conservation Maintenance for teachers of tertiary institutions;
the development of a conservation maintenance programme for Government and privately -owned buildings, and
the restoration of at least 3 historic properties in the period 2015 to 2018.
Now, the big question – where should we start? After much deliberation, the Barbados World Heritage Committee has developed a priority list of buildings to be the focus of restoration and conservation works. The first two buildings on the list are the Carnegie Building on Coleridge Street and a 100 year old Chattel House at Mahogany Lane, in Historic Bridgetown.
Chattel Houses are such an important aspect of our architectural heritage, that they must be accorded priority in our restoration drive. We recognise that as Barbados has progressed over the years, it is critical that we implement a strong public education and awareness campaign to sensitise the public to the importance of preserving, wherever possible, these iconic and indeed unique houses.
This evening we have with us the Trustees of the Foundation Trust. We are also extremely honoured to have with us its two patrons – His Excellency Sir Elliott Belgrave, Governor General of Barbados, and Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Baron of Sydmonton, world renowned musical composer and theatrical producer. Their presence here this evening, along with that of our Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet, is indicative of the importance of this programme to Barbados.
Contributions to ‘The Preservation (Barbados) Foundation Trust” can be made directly to the Foundation’s bank account at the Royal Bank of Canada, Chelston Park, St. Michael, Barbados in cash, by cheque, by bank draft or by wire transfer. Very shortly, donation boxes will be placed at key locations to facilitate donations. There are significant incentives to be had under the Income Tax Act and the soon-to-be proclaimed Cultural Industries Development Act for persons who contribute their monies to this worthwhile cause.
I am heartened as I see several new restoration projects being proposed. One such project involves the completion of the restoration of the area surrounding the Jewish Synagogue and Museum in Bridgetown. For this we must thank a generous benefactor and the vision of Mr. Paul Altman. The restoration of our Carnegie Library will be a fitting finishing touch to the restoration and re-development of that entire Coleridge Street area.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in closing, I would like to thank every one of you for sharing this occasion with us. I am extremely grateful to the Patrons of the Foundation Trust and to our Prime Minister for taking the time to be here this evening.
I would also like to take this opportunity to urge every Barbadian and friends of Barbados to help us in this National Restoration Programme. Help us restore and preserve our heritage for future generations and indeed, for the world.
Remember, it is OUR heritage. Let us cherish it. Let us preserve it.