Thursday, September 23, 2010
Bridgetown Part 3
The Bridges of Bridgetown
The first bridge of Bridgetown was built by the first inhabitants of the Island. the Amerindian bridge was in fact as I have already mentions responsible for the name of the town as it was the town with the bridge. It was a primitive bridge and was replaced in 1628.
Between 1628 & 1675 There was only one bridge and in that time it was destroyed by fire and hurricane several times and then rebuilt. In 1681 a second bridge was erected because of the great inconvenience cause when there damage done to the other bridge. The West bridge was located roughly were the Indian or swing bridge was later located and The East bridge was located roughly where the Duncan O'Neal bridge now stands.
The West bridge was carried away by floods in 1700 and in 1746 a single span stone bridge was erected on completion in 1751. Unfortunately as soon as the wooden structures were removed the bridge collapsed blocking the channel. Those who built the bridge were prosecuted and a wooden bridge for pedestrians was then erected.
The East bridge by this time was was showing signs of age and a new east bridge was built in 1776. Then in 1780 a hurricane destroyed the west bridge and severely damaged the East bridge. the West bridge was replaced and the East bridge repaired. Then disaster struck again on November the 8th 1795 Barbados experienced the worse flooding it had ever faced. Thunderstorms and heavy rain fell unceasingly for almost 48 hours. A great mass of water meet the spring tide, flooding the town to a depth of 5 feet in several areas and demolishing both bridges. Between that time and 1865 the cycle of damage and rebuilding continued until in 1865 after the fire of 1860 and the redevelopment of Trafalgar square. At this time a swing bridge was built to allow fairly large ships to come into the inner basin. The building of the bridge was said to have been the greatest mismanagement and waste age of public funds in 19th century.
Both bridges were damaged in the hurricane on 1898. The swing bridge was closed and reopened in 1900 by Governor Chamberlains wife and so then named the Chamberlain bridge. The West bridge then called the Victoria bridge was replaced by an Iron bridge in 1901-02 and the present structure that now stands in its place was built in 1967 and is named after Dr. Charles Duncan O'Neal "Father of the Democratic Movement"
A arch was erected on the Southern end of the Chamberlin bridge to celebrate the Islands 21st anniversary of Independence. A lift bridge has now replaced the bridge but like its predecessor funds were greatly wasted. It was hoped that the new bridge would once again allow ships to enter the inner basin as the swing bridge had before it ceased working. Unfortunately it was badly installed and only one side of the bridge
Fires of Bridgetown
The first major conflaration occured in 1659 and more than 200 homes and storehouses were destroyed. following that fore a statue was was enacted with a number or regulations designed to reduce the risk of fire in the capital. Houses were not to be thatched and if this was done the persons commiting the offence would be fined 5,000 pounds of sugar. The statue was later proven ineffective and the second major fire broke out in 1688 fires broke out and spead to Magazine lane. This is where armour was stored and a building containing 170 barrels of gunpowder caught fire causeing a explosion that spead the destruction over a greater part of the town. More than 800 houses were destroyed and 80% of Bridgetown was totally destroyed and valuable public records were lost. Another statue was was quickley inacted and this one stipulated what materials were to be used in the construction of the new buildings. the lessons of the past had not been learned and in 1673 another fire broke out. this time only 40 houses were destroyed. The next fire was more than 80 years later it started in a storehouse containing a shipment of cotton and spread to engulfed James Fort and in the end 160 houses were destroyed. Two years later 90 houses were consumed by yet another fire.
In 1766 a gentleman fell asleep left a candel burning soon the house was on fire and with the aid of a strong northeasterly breeze the fire quickley spread. Over 26 arces and 1,140 buildings were destroyed and the land left smoldering
Bridgetowns next big fire occured in 1821 followed by one in 1826. The fire that followed these two in 1845 that started in Tudor street destoyed 10 ares of land and the buildings on them this became known as the "Burt Distict". In 1853 the area of Roebuck street burt and 97 buildings were destroyed this became known as the "New Burt District" and the former the "Old Burt District". The next fire major fire in Bridgetown was not reported until 1910