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Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt Last Updated: May 7, 2015 - 7:57:38 AM
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Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
Peter Barratt: Consequences of the Columbus Landfall - Jun 28, 2014 - 4:13:05 PM

The following is an extract from the book ‘BAHAMA SAGA’, The Epic Story of the Bahama Islands by Peter Barratt, published by Authorhouse, 2003

There are many arguments pro and con concerning the impact of the European conquest of the Americas however a largely positive aspect of the Spanish discovery of the Bahamas and its aftermath was the exchange it allowed between the two worlds. Take for instance, foods:

From Europe came traditional condiments such as clove, ginger, cardamom and almonds. The new world which was deficient in meats and dairy products obtained pork, lamb, goat and beef which yielded milk and cheeses; it also obtained the vegetable seeds, (wheat, oats, rye and barley) as well as chickpeas, onion, watermelon, citrus fruit and sugar cane (the latter of which was brought by Columbus from the Canary Islands but actually originated in New Guinea)...
Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
Peter Barratt: Bahama Rock - Jun 6, 2014 - 11:20:38 AM

It was an excellent idea to get a Bahama Rock, a stateside company, to dredge the harbour so that it can accommodate the new slew of deep-draft ships soon to be traversing the Panama Canal. The problem now, it seems to me, is that Bahama Rock has completed its task and they don’t want to go home. To give you an idea of what I mean, you will see they have pushed their excavations so far north there is virtually no space between the Garnet Levarity Highway and the water of the extended harbour precluding the accommodation of future wharves and dockside facilities of marine industries.

But that is not all. Bahama Rock has now moved west to create a giant lagoon for no better reason than to gain more limerock for export. This first came to light in 2008 when it was announced Bahama Rock had purchased 1000 acres...
Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
An Idea for a Permanent Folklore Show in Freeport - May 30, 2014 - 12:58:52 AM

In 1971 I wrote and co-directed a folklore show that was performed every Monday evening in the ballroom of the old Holiday Inn. The other (and more important) co-director and electronic genius was Shelton Archer, a British expat. The show we put together was mimed to a tape and covered the history of the Bahamas from the Lucayans to the present day. The theme song for the show was ‘Where ya gonna go next year? Come to the Bahamas…’ by Frank Penn. It was not great theatre but the young Bahamian cast threw themselves into it with great gusto. In fact two of the cast went on to act professionally and one, Willie (Love) Lightbourne, is still around as a popular local singer and tourist

guide. The show featured a simultaneous slideshow commentary from screens either side of the stage, There was the Columbus landfall played out to the background sound of Carmina Burana, live gunfire (in the pirate scene)...
Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
Idea of hurricane tornado-proof safe rooms revisited - Apr 25, 2014 - 12:15:32 PM

Hurricanes are an ever-present and deadly nuisance for people who live in the Bahamas. But hurricanes are not the worst problem. Though more localized, tornados are often associated with hurricanes and are several magnitudes worse. The Bahamas Building Code addresses the effects of a Category 3 hurricane but this does little to mitigate the effects of a tornado.

I would like to propose the Bahamas Building Code should, in future, require that all new construction in the Bahamas contain a small ‘safe’ room to mitigate the worst features of a tornado. This would be space something like a closet or bathroom that is constructed with reinforced walls and an internal ‘roof’’ so designed to resist the extreme wind force of a tornado (or an exceptionally severe hurricane) assuming...
Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
Absentis - St Peter, the disputed site of his burial place and the apostolic succession - Apr 17, 2014 - 2:02:16 PM

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Absentis (a Latin word for ‘not there’) is a newly published book that explores the subject of where St Peter died and was buried. It is commonly believed by Catholics and most Protestants that the saint was martyred and buried in Rome.  This enquiry takes a contrarian view and asserts that is highly doubtful St Peter was ever in Rome despite the insistent traditional belief that he died and was buried there. Despite this contention the author points out (on the back cover blurb) that the book is not an attempt to take the ‘Rome’ out of Roman Catholicism. ‘Catholic’ means world-wide and the universal Church certainly does not need to take its name from an Italian city to maintain its pre-eminence in the Christian world.  What is very important however is to research the facts of the matter and see where they lead...
Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
Groves Mausoleum and the Pantheon in Rome‏ - Apr 2, 2014 - 9:49:26 PM

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The Pantheon with its portico and rotunda is the best preserved building dating from the pre-Christian era of the Roman Empire. It was built between 31 and 27 BC as a temple to ‘all the gods’ and its construction was part of an impressive building programme undertaken by the Roman Emperor The inscription on the architrave at the front of the building of today bears the inscription:

M·AGRIPPA·L·F·COS·TERTIUM·FECIT translated in full it means: "Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, constructed this building when consul for the third time."Though largely constructed of stone with very thick walls the original building was almost totally destroyed by fire and had to be re-built by the emperor Hadrian in 126 AD...
Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
Sadly Lost to This World ... The Hermit of Lost Beach - Mar 19, 2014 - 10:15:46 PM

Freeport too has a hermitage and, until late in the 1960’s, it even had a resident hermit! The following is a eulogy I wrote for Gerald Groves (no relation to the founder of Freeport). Father Gerald was one of the best friends I have ever had.

What we today call the ‘hermitage’ on Petersons Cay Beach in Lucaya owes its name to Father Gerald Groves a former Trappist monk who sadly died on the 4th March 2003. Father Gerald was the last inhabitant of the building that was originally built in 1902 as a Baptist Church (one year after Queen Victoria died).
Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
The Remarkable Billy Butlin - Mar 14, 2014 - 12:00:23 PM

Perhaps the most remarkable development ever conceived and built in the Family Islands of the Bahamas was Sir Billy Butlin’s project at West End. For the venture Butlin chose the (almost) nearest point of the Bahamas to the Florida mainland on Grand Bahama. Viewed in retrospect, the audacity of the concept, considering the straightened financial times of Britain and the Bahamas just after World War II, perhaps even surpassed the daring of Wallace Groves’ Freeport project.

The problems of distance from ‘home base’ were compounded by the dearth of building materials and labour on the island and the totally unknown American tourist market. Yet in 1948 Butlin started work on a large hotel complex and holiday village at the western end of the island.  Besides lack of building materials and labour, he even had to solve the problem of creating infra-structure, advertising the project in the US and then transporting materials and later visitors to a totally undeveloped island...
Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
Taino-Maya Parallel Cultures - Feb 27, 2014 - 2:43:33 PM

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This a synopsis of a talk given by Peter Barratt to the Institute of Mayan Studies at the Science Museum in Miami on the 19 February 2014

As you may know the TA-INO and the MAYA have the same origins - both originally having arrived in the ‘New World’ from Asia. To put migrations to the Americas into context we have the Clovis Culture in New Mexico which has been positively identified as being a settlement at the end of the last glacial period… that, in round terms, was roughly 13,000 calendar years ago...
Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
Planning Freeport for the next 40 years - Feb 14, 2014 - 9:50:03 AM


From 1955 to 1975, an interlude of a mere 20 years, Freeport grew out of a virgin pine forest to become the undisputed second city of the Bahamas. A check list of the milestones of these early years is too long to enumerate but suffice it say Wallace Groves and his associates developed a deep water harbour, a major international airport and a thriving fully serviced city of some 30,000 souls. They also made Grand Bahama a major tourist destination. This was achieved by careful planning for the most part initiated by Groves himself. After he retired the Planning Department was dissolved and remains non-existent to today.

If there is to be a resurgent Freeport there is a long list of items, both major and minor, that should be planned and executed by a newly instituted Planning Department. Though some of these matters are already under consideration it might be a good idea to review them again for discussion and action in the public arena...
Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
Republics and Democracies – Are not the same thing! - Jan 29, 2014 - 1:16:29 PM

This article was written several years ago to correct the confusion between republics and democracies. It is a little dated but the general thrust of the article still holds true.

Republics and Democracies - they are often used - especially in the American press - as being almost synonymous.

But are they ?

One dictionary definition of a republic, (taken from the American Heritage Dictionary who you would think would know better), records that a ‘republic is any political order that is not a monarchy (and has) a constitutional form of government, especially a democratic one…’

Really? What an imbecilic definition! The definition may be true about a republic having some form of constitution but it is dead wrong about it is being ‘…especially a democratic one.’ This clearly is not the case.

Indeed most ‘republics’ are not ‘democratic’ in any real sense of the word. Take for example, North Korea, Iran, Libya and many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and quite a few in Asia and elsewhere. All have constitutions it is true, but few are generally
Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
Heritage Tourism on Grand Bahama - Jan 22, 2014 - 11:25:42 PM

By 2020 it has been suggested that more people will visit the Bahamas for heritage tourism than for sea, sand and sun (and even gambling). Since Grand Bahama was settled relatively recently it might be a good question to ask what heritage sites could Grand Bahama Island possibly claim?

Well, actually the answer is that there are a considerable number. The following is a list of just some of the island’s heritage attractions – many of them latent and presently unidentified:

•West End – the heritage settlement par excellence of the bootlegging era and the later associations with the Butlins Holiday Camp venture

•West End Seafood factory (has associations with Wennergren and the Duke of Windsor)

Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
The island awakes… - Jan 8, 2014 - 9:29:22 AM

In 1792 records show that there was a sale of 240 acres of land near the western end of Grand Bahama Island. By 1806 we have evidence that one Joseph Smith had a plantation at West End and by 1836 there was a recorded population of 370 persons on the island. Interesting reports from commissioners from this time onwards talk of the ‘boisterous sea along the south coast’, ‘injurious burning of the land’, and the island had ‘declined in importance…’ In fact even in these early days people had already started emigrating away from the island…

Grand Bahama undoubtedly featured in the story of wrecking. The names Fortune Point, Silver Point, Gold Rock may all be trying to tell us something! For good measure a famous American Roman Catholic bishop was wrecked on the island late in the 19th century...

Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
Blue Holes in The Bahamas - Dec 14, 2013 - 1:48:54 AM

I was pleased to see the Miami Herald carried an interesting article on its front page about ancient crocodiles and other exotic creatures in the early Bahamas. It has long been known that crocodiles existed in the blue holes of the Bahamas but never has evidence of them been found in such numbers.

About thirty years ago, in the caves of Grand Bahama, Spelionectes lucayensis, a previously unknown crustacean, that looks like a swimming centipede was found. The small creature now forms a new class of marine life.

Ponce de Leon took note of the water-filled caverns in the Bahamas when he visited in 1513 and that is probably why he left two men on Grand Bahama Island to look for the Fountain of Youth. However when arrived back in Puerto Rico they were so emaciated that it was clear to...
Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt
Early Freeport personalities - Nov 28, 2013 - 9:01:03 AM

From the earliest days Wallace Groves the founder of Freeport was ably assisted by the redoubtable Keith Gonsalves who was attracted away from a very senior position with Barclays Bank. One of the earliest residents of Freeport was Doug Silvera who yo-yoed between Freeport Construction Company and the Port Authority doing sterling work for both companies. Newly arrived from Nassau and having left a senior position with the Royal Bahamas Police was Albert (later Sir Albert) Miller OSMG who initially did fine service with tourist promotion worked his way up to being appointed as one of three Co-Chairmen of the Port and its associated companies. Sir Albert was recognized for his exceptional organizational abilities and was later made, while still with the Port Authority, president of BEC and Batelco two major Bahamian utilities based in Nassau.

In 1965 Groves employed Martin Dale an economist who was formerly economic advisor to Prince Rainier of Monaco. He did not stay on the island for long. The incorrigible ex-Royal Artillery Major ‘Bernie’ Bernard (who was understandably quite deaf) was Corporate Secretary of the Port Authority in the early days and Ray Tower was the aggressive legal counsel who overstepped the bounds and challenged the new

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