February 17, 2018

Barbados Sightseeing - Garrison Savannah

The Garrison located on the southern outskirts of Bridgetown just off Bay Street, is a scattering of some 60 to 70 buildings, several of which now house government offices, private residences or businesses.

This was the first Garrison in the West Indies and probably North America. Barbados had some 50 forts and batteries around the island and was well fortified from the 1600s, first by the Barbados militia, then the British Army, who constructed this Garrison in several phases over the period of about a century. The first fortification constructed on the island was Needham's Fort (renamed Charles Fort) at Needham's Point around 1650 to stave off landing by the Commonwealth Expedition under Oliver Cromwell's rule. St. Ann's Fort was built after war with France started in 1688. Originally intended to be a little castle or detached bastion to support Fort Charles, it was ultimately built as a one and one half acre stone wall hexagon to the east of Fort Charles.

In 1785 the British Government elected to establish permanent land forces in the Windwards and Leewards with Barbados as headquarters. Construction of the British Garrison began in earnest in 1789 after the purchase of some 64 acres of land.

With the advent of the French Revolution, Barbados became the springboard for expeditions to nearby territories held by the enemy. Ultimately, the Garrison area consumed more than 150 acres with construction continuing into the 1800s. The Garrison functioned for 126 years, leaving behind a legacy of buildings, artillery, artifacts and the island's lone horse racing track.

Efforts are now underway to bring many buildings back to their original appearance, as well as to open the St. Ann's Fort compound now occupied by the Defense Force to tours and to house collections of artifacts including the National Cannon collection.

Barbados has the world's rarest collection of 17th century English iron cannons. Not too long ago it was decided to create a National Ordnance Collection of all the old guns on the island and to date more than 400 have been unearthed. "The island is littered with old cannons", said Major Michael Hartland, who is the driving force behind this collection's acquisition. "We have found them in gardens, cellars, on beaches, embedded in the sides of buildings, and buried under fortifications."

The Garrison, St. Michael
Tel: (246) 426-8982
Fax: (246) 429-6663