Volume No. 2 Issue No. 7 - Monday July 16, 2007|
Fort Shirley - From Ruins to Restoration
Dominica’s most important historic site reached a significant stage of its restoration program, when the President, Prime Minister, Speaker and other dignitaries witnessed a ceremony at Fort Shirley on the Cabrits Garrison to mark the end of the European Union funded restoration project there.
The project included the complete restoration of the Officer’s Quarters, which is the centerpiece of Fort Shirley, as well as the remounting of twelve cast iron cannons along the ramparts of the fort.
The ramparts, which had fallen apart over the years, have also been restored by digging up, cleaning and replacing the cobble stone platform. The guns which have been cleaned and painted and placed on gun carriages, now point over the entrance to Prince Rupert Bay as they did two centuries ago.
Many of the old military roads within the garrison have been opened up to provide a “loop trail” so that visitors can view several of the main buildings that are scattered across the 100 acre site.
The project was administered by the Project Management Unit of the European Union Eco-Tourism Development Program attached to the Ministry of Tourism and the contractor was Island Heritage Initiatives directed by Lennox Honychurch.
Inspection of works was carried out by the firm of Sorrell Ltd. and the architect for internal renovations to the Officers Quarters was Maurice Agar.
Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit praised restoration director Lennox Honychurch for his dedication and passion for the project, pointing out that while so many other people in his position were just philosophising about what should or should not be done in Dominica, Honychurch was providing the country with tangible things to help both education, heritage and tourism.
The PM said that he was also committed to providing further funding for the project so that the long term goals of creating a heritage and ecology education centre for young people at Fort Shirley could be achieved.
The Minister of Tourism, Yvor Nassief, Minister of Agriculture and Environment, Dr. Colin McIntyre and Minister of Foreign Affairs Charles Savarin also expressed their admiration and support for the project and Savarin presented a plaque to the EU Regional Representative, Amos Tincani, in gratitude for the EU’s assistance to Dominica.
In his presentation, Lennox Honychurch made it clear that nothing could have been achieved without the dedication and support of his team of carpenters, masons and general workers who went beyond the call of duty in many instances to make the project a success.
He outlined his vision for the Cabrits Heritage and Ecology Centre, CHEC, where local youth groups, community groups, schools and visiting university field students from the region and abroad could stay at Fort Shirley and learn about the natural and cultural heritage of Dominica.
A plaque was unveiled by Mrs. Liverpool, wife of President Dr. Nicholas Liverpool, to commemorate the event, while a memorial to the 8th West India Regiment, one of the “black regiments” that was stationed at the Cabrits, was unveiled by Prime Minister Skerrit.