Page images
PDF
EPUB

a moiety of the expense attending its erection, was derived from the continuance of one year of the tonnage-duty, of ninepence sterling per ton, which had been levied by virtue of an Act of the 23rd of October 1834; the proceeds of this duty, amounting to nearly £3000 sterling, were deposited in the Colonial Bank for that purpose.

The House of Assembly subsequently passed a Bill to provide for the maintenance of the lighthouse out of the revenue of the island, which was rejected by the Council, on the plea that the expense ought not to fall exclusively on this community. This did not deter the Governor from alluding to the subject anew in a subsequent speech on opening the legislative session, and representing that the interests of humanity ought to induce the Legislature to make provision for the erection and maintenance of a lighthouse. As in the former instance, the House of Assembly, as the representatives of the people, passed a Bill to that effect, which on being presented to the Council was again rejected; and in spite of the addresses and special messages of the Governor, Barbados, the most important of her Majesty's Caribbean Islands, is to this day without any lighthouse. The thought is distressing, if through such opposition a single life should be lost,—at a period moreover when humanity is doing so much for the prevention and mitigation of misery. One of the reasons of refusal to pass a bill for the maintenance of a lighthouse is grounded by the Council upon their disapprobation that the charge for its maintenance should fall upon the community. On this point it may be mentioned that the majority of those who are interested in trade and navigation in England, look forward confidently to the day when both light-dues and harbour-dues shall be taken off the shipowner, and borne by the public. And it would certainly have been an honour to Barbados if its Legislature had preceded England in the adoption of such a measure.

The Market-place.-A great inconvenience was felt at the commencement of this century in consequence of the inadequate size of the marketplace; and the public streets were occupied with sellers, much to the disturbance of the inhabitants, who petitioned the Legislature to have a proper market-place erected. An Act for this purpose was passed in 1809, and the new market was opened on the 5th of November 1810. It was constructed in the form of a cross, commodious and airy, and well-adapted to the climate; its contiguity to the sea afforded every facility to keep it clean. These buildings were destroyed during the hurricane in 1831, and great changes have since taken place in the structure, which has been rendered more commodious, to meet the growing requirements. A row of stately trees affords shade and freshness and is a great acquisition. The market-dues are collected under authority of the market acts of 4th of July 1809 and 16th of November 1835, and are by no means high or oppressive.

The market is well-supplied with butcher's meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables, at prices which in comparison with other colonies are moderate. The mutton is fair, but the beef is seldom good, which is no doubt partly owing to the circumstance of its being consumed within twenty-four hours after it has been slaughtered'.

The following table exhibits the average prices for five years, and will convey some idea of the expense connected with housekeeping in Barbados. Average Prices of various Produce and Merchandise in £ sterling.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

lb.

Mutton, per
Pork, per lb.
Rice, per cwt...
Coffee, per cwt.
Tea, per lb.....
Sugar, refined, per lb.
Muscovado, per cwt.
Salt, per bushel
Wine (Madeira and

Sherry), per doz... 2 10 0

1842.

1 10

0

0 1 8

0 12 6

0 12 6 10 0 0

[ocr errors]

005 0034
20 0 0 20 0 0 16 0 0
35 0 035 0 0 30 0 0
300 300 250
210 0 2 10 0 1 5 0
2 10 0
1 15 0
0 1 8
0 1 0
016
013
0 2 0
01 0
013
0 0 10
0 1 0
0.0
0 16 8
368
0 7 0
006
1 5 0
020
250

0 2 0
0 1 0
013
0 0 10

2 10 0
0 18
0 1 6
020
0 20
0 1 0
013
0 0 10
0 18 9
500
068

0 18 9
500
068

1 10 0 1

2 10

0 12

0 12

10 0

0

8

0

6

6

0

Wages for labour.

Domestic, male, per month 1 13 4 1 13 4

Domestic, female, p. month
Predial, per day..

Trades, per day

1

0 1 3 01 3
026

026

1843.

s. d.

1 10 0

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

4

5 0

1 0 0 1 0
026

1 13

1845.

£ s. d. 150

0 034 11 0 0 30 0 0 250

1 5 0

1 15 0

0 1 01

0 1 3

0 101 013 0 0 10

1 01 0064 0 16 368 050

006

1 5 0

020

200

084 084

300

6 14 4

1 13 4

1 50

0 1 01 026

There are two market days in the week, Monday and Saturday.

Public Roads.-The account which Ligon gives of the primitive state of the roads in 1650, shows that the planters were obliged to send their

The stock slaughtered in the market-place from February 2nd to the 1st of March 1835 amounted to 49 oxen, 63 calves, 105 sheep, 108 goats, and 312 pigs: a great number of cattle and stock are slaughtered out of the market, and the meat sold by hucksters in the streets.

produce to the port of embarkation on the backs of donkeys and camels'. The weight which the donkeys were able to carry amounted only to from one hundred and fifty to two hundred pounds. We may presume therefore that the roads were in a very rude state, and the means of intercourse at that period very limited. Nevertheless some attention must have been paid about that period to the highways, as on the 22nd of September 1649 an Act for clearing public roads passed the Legislature, by which a former one was repealed. In 1654 a similar Act for clearing the highways of the streets and lanes in and about the Indian Bridgetown, and Speightsbay, alias Little Bristol, passed in March of that year. Another Act passed the Legislature in 1661 for the better amending, repairing and keeping clean the common highways "and known broad paths" leading to church and market. The main roads now in existence date most probably from that period; they were kept in repair by legislative enactnents and individual enterprise.

In 1787 the state of the public roads, which under the existing law had become almost impassable, became the subject of general complaint. After some futile attempts to reject a bill for the repair of the roads and the establishment of turnpikes for their maintenance, the measure was approved of by the Legislature. "But the spirit which animated the measure soon evaporated; it was neglected and forgotten?."

Until recently the roads were repaired by the different parishes under certain Commissioners. It was however found that this system did not answer well; certain parts of the public roads remained in a state which rendered them scarcely passable, and the communication with the distant parishes was in consequence sometimes entirely checked. The Legislature came therefore to the resolution of charging the public revenue with the repairs of the roads, and an Act was passed in 1845 which granted 25,000 dollars for the repairs of roads, &c. for one year, and nominated a number of effective persons as district surveyors under the superintendence of a Surveyor-General, under whose direction the public roads of the whole island were gradually to undergo repair. The island was divided into five districts for that purpose; and a board of Commissioners, consisting partly of members of H.M. Council, partly of members of the House of Assembly, was appointed to watch over the interests of the public and to see that the Act was carried into execu

tion.

According to a statement of the Commissioners, the following sums had

1

Ligon's History of Barbados, p. 58. It appears the camels were introduced by Captain Higgenbotham; they were able to carry sixteen hundred pound weight and proved very useful, but they died soon after their importation, in consequence, as Ligon thinks, of being improperly fed.

2 Poyer's History, p. 574.

[ocr errors]

District.

been expended from the 25th of September 1845 to the 8th of January 1846, for the repair of roads in the following parishes:

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

To this sum, of $13,260 474 cents. expended for labour, was added for salaries, expenses for tools, blasting, powder, &c. 8772 83 cents. So that the expenses for repair amounted in three months and a half to $22,033 31 cents. The House of Assembly passed a Bill, on the 27th of January 1846, granting a further sum of $25,000 for this purpose.

These repairs are still in progress and entail a heavy annual expense upon the island; for it is clear that, as long as waggons with such heavy burdens as two and three hogsheads of sugar are driven over it, a discontinuance of repairing would soon reduce them to their former state. It must be confessed however that towards the close of 1846, when about $60,000, or £12,500 sterling, were spent, the work was done so effectually that most of the main roads would have done credit to any part of England.

Projected Railway.-The author may be allowed, in speaking of the public roads and the heavy expenses connected with their repair, to allude to a project in which he took great interest, from the persuasion that its execution would confer incalculable benefit upon the island. The circumstance of his having been interested in this project, prevents his dwelling

fully upon it as in a historical point he might otherwise have done. The project of connecting the different parishes by a system of railroads which were to centre in the principal port, Bridgetown, was agitated by Mr. P. L. Simmonds, editor of the Colonial Magazine,' in 1845, and was based upon a consideration of the importance of Barbados as an agricultural and commercial station, but principally upon its dense population, which amounted to more than seven hundred persons upon a square mile.

The preceding statistical details, taken from official reports, exhibit

the imports and exports, which are incontrovertible facts; and a careful enumeration of the persons who daily visited Bridgetown, proved that the projectors had not miscalculated when they expected the chief revenue to arise from the passenger traffic1.

1 The author does not hesitate to subjoin the data upon which the legitimate nature of the project for the establishment of railways has been based. The following report was prepared by a sub-committee in May 1846.

"Report of the Sub-Committee appointed to ascertain the traffic of Vehicles and Passengers between the City and the Country.

"Your Committee having been instructed to devise means for ascertaining the daily traffic of vehicles and passengers between the City and the Country, report that, having selected respectable persons, they stationed them at seven different avenues to the town through one or other of which they believed that all persons coming in and going out must necessarily pass. These stations were as follows:1 Roebuck, Moore's Smith Shop; 2 White Park Road, Hermitage Corner; 3 Baxter's Road, Passage Corner; 4 Fontabelle Road, Corner of New Road; 5 Constitution Road, Belmont Corner; 6 Collymore Rock, Enmore Corner; 7 Bay Street, Coalston's Corner.

"These persons took their stations at 4 A.M., and remained until 10 P.M. each day, from Monday the 20th to Saturday the 25th of April, and were instructed by your Committee to enter in books furnished to them for the purpose, all the traffic which might pass them either going or coming, under the different heads of—carriages of pleasure, passengers therein; carriages of burden, passengers in and attendant thereon; persons riding, persons walking: to obviate any objections which may be made to the accuracy of calculations deduced from the returns of these enumerators, they were strictly enjoined not to take down a second time any carriage or any person whom they recognised as having passed in and out more than once. For the gross returns as given in by the enumerators and declared by them in writing to be to the best of their judgement correct, your Committee beg to refer to schedules marked A and B.

“Being anxious to arrive if possible at some tolerably accurate estimate of the proportion of carriages of burden which came into and returned from town loaded, and to distinguish the equestrian and foot passengers who came from the country, from those who reside in the town and its suburbs, your Committee submitted five questions to their enumerators, for which with their respective answers, also declared by them to be to the best of their judgement correct, they refer to schedule marked C; and for an abstract of the per-centage calculated from the answers, to schedule D.

"It only remains for your Committee to refer the Board to schedule E for a table of calculations of the probable revenue which will accrue to the company from passenger traffic.

"Your Committee would state, that being deeply impressed with the necessity of carefully avoiding the possibility of deceiving the shareholders or speculators by exaggerated estimates of this most important source of profit, they have in every one taken what they believe to be a minimum calculation; and they would observe, that the returns referred to were taken during a week after the Easter holidays, and the week after the grand sessions, and that there was otherwise no cause whatever for excitement or attraction in the way of public exhibition or amusement, religious or other meeting.

"It must be remembered too, that a long and severe drought had rendered ground provisions and green fodder very scarce, from which it may be readily inferred that

« PreviousContinue »