A Stroll Around the Garrison Savannah

Where: Bridgetown, Barbados

Trip Dates: 10/21-11/11/17

I’m back this week with more sketches from Barbados! If all goes as planned I will have another two weeks of tropical goodness for you. So stick around and we can all pretend that it isn’t quite so cold here in North Georgia (or wherever you may be that probably isn’t a tropical island).

Barbados Map

For those of you unfamiliar with the island of Barbados.

The Barbados Garrison

During the times I was not gallivanting around the island in search of lighthouses, I was exploring other areas of the island’s history. One of those areas was the Barbados Garrison. This Garrison served as the headquarters for the British West India Regiment during the 18th and 19th Centuries, and was actually the largest Garrison in the British Colonies at that time. This is not entirely surprising as Barbados was the most fortified island in the British West Indies, with some 20 forts and 26 batteries existing on the island beginning in the 1600s. In fact, the Barbados Defence Force is still based in several of the old buildings here.

The Barbados Garrison was formally established around 1780, although Saint Ann’s Fort existed on the site as early as 1705.

Signal Tower

The signal tower at Saint Ann’s Fort, one in a series of signal towers across the island used for military communication in the days before radio.

The Garrison Historic Area encompasses some 151 acres and nearly 100 historic buildings dating from the 1660s to the 1800s. And at the center of this all is the Garrison Savannah, a 30-acre parade ground lined with historic sites. Sadly, this time around I was not able to explore the entire 151 acres and 100 buildings, but I suppose I have to leave something for my next trip. I was, however, able to take a nice walk around the Garrison Savannah and take in some of the sights.

I can think of no perfect way to arrange the following images, so I will just present them to you in the order I came across them on my stroll.

The Garrison Savannah

Let’s start with the centerpiece of the afternoon’s walk. This area served as the Barbados Garrison’s parade grounds. Sometime in the mid 18th Century a horse racing-track was added, and this remains a popular pastime at the Garrison even today.

Garrison Photo

A quick sketch I drew looking across the field.

On the 30th of November 1966, this site hosted the ceremony celebrating Barbados’ full independence from Britain. The Union Flag of the United Kingdom was lowered, and the Barbadian Flag was raised in its place.

Garrison Flag

A Barbadian flag still flies here, and incidentally is the largest flag on the island.


And for reference, here is what the Barbadian flag looks like when it is not waving majestically in the breeze.

The Barracks


Block A Barracks building.

This is one of several barracks around the Barbados Garrison. This particular building was built in 1808 and housed around 400 men. After the British Garrison withdrew in 1905/6 it was repurposed as apartments, and then later used as government offices.

The Main Guard

Clock Tower

The Main Guard building of the Barbados Garrison, and supposedly the geographical center of the Barbados Garrison Historic site.

This clock tower, built around 1803, served as the Main Guard for the garrison. It was from this location that all sentries and guards were dispatched. The building is now the headquarters for the Barbados Legion, but as a reminder of its original function, the Sentries and Corps of Drums of Barbados present a Changing of the Guard ceremony every Thursday at the foot of the tower.


Members of the Drum Corps during the ceremony.


An officer leading the procession.

The colorful dress worn during the ceremony is actually the Zouave Uniform of the West India Regiment, personally selected by Queen Victoria in 1856.

The area in front of the clock tower displays several historic cannons, and the National Cannon Collection at the nearby Armory boasts the largest collection of 17th Century English Cannons in the world.


A cannon.

The Prison


The old prison.

This building, built from 1817-1820, served as the Barbados Garrison’s prison. Since 1933 however, it has been the Barbados Museum and Historical Society. As Barbados’ national museum, it displays a comprehensive history of the island going back to its geologic formation. When I finally get tired of wondering about the history of Barbados’ lighthouses, this is where I will go for some in-depth research.


The Barbados Garrison served as the headquarters for the British West India Regiment for 126 years until—after the creation of the Barbados Regiment in 1902—the British Garrison withdrew in 1905-1906. After this, many of the buildings were re-purposed as private homes or businesses. I mentioned in my last article a bit about how Barbados has not been overly diligent in preserving much of its architectural history. But in this case, re-purposing has helped to save much of the historic garrison. As many as 80% of the original structures still exist, and it is, in fact, one of the most comprehensive and well preserved garrisons in the world. Only a few years ago, the Barbados Garrison—along with other sections of Bridgetown—became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As with the lighthouses, the growing popularity of heritage tourism has led to even more restoration work in the Garrison Historic Area. So the next time I am in Barbados I definitely plan to explore more of the historic Barbados Garrison. I didn’t even scratch the surface this time.

And Once Again

Not to beat a dead horse—because this one isn’t quite dead yet—but the vote to end Net Neutrality takes place next week, so I have re-included this section from last week’s post as a reminder.

In just a few days the FCC is voting to do away with Net Neutrality. If you are like I was and have no idea what that means, here is the short version: Net Neutrality is what ensures that everyone has open and equal access to information on the Internet. Without this, your service providers—like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast (*shudder*)—can slow down or outright block your access to websites with opposing political opinions or that offer competing services, or create “fast lanes” for the big sites that can afford to pay for higher internet speeds. All in all, this favors companies with lots of money and spells disaster for small, independent sites and artists trying to promote themselves online (hi there).

To make this as personal as I can, if this happens it is entirely likely that I will no longer be able to continue this blog. So, let’s try to prevent that from happening.

Here are a couple of resources that have more complete information about what is happening:

Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know

What Actually Happens the Day Net Neutrality is Repealed

And here are some places where you can join others in appealing against the dismantling of Net Neutrality:

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Battle For the Net

(These first two will actually locate the contact information for your local representative and give you a pre-drafted email to send.)


So please, let’s do something about this, we are running out of time.

By | 2017-12-08T12:26:42+00:00 December 8th, 2017|Barbados, Caribbean, History|0 Comments

About the Author:

James is an artist and illustrator currently working in Georgia.

Leave A Comment