Barrouallie: Tales of different eras
March 8, 2013

Around and about the community of Barrouallie

I had just taken “my children” from the confines of their hot classroom to sit under the shady almond tree for an afternoon session when a foreign couple crossed our path. They looked perplexed, apologized and disclosed that apparently they were at the wrong location. They then enquired where the marked stone (petroglyph) was. I pointed to the compound of the deserted “Barrouallie Secondary School”.{{more}} They thanked me then left. As they turned, it struck me more and more how “free” our country is in terms of access to these sites. I want to advocate that a fee be charged for entry to all these lovely places, not only here in Barrouallie, but around St Vincent and the Grenadines … ah, I can just about hear the grumbles, but read on for a second and let’s “see” how it can be done.

A friend of mine visited Brimstone Hills in St Kitts one year. He noted that at that time, the entry fee for visitors to the site varied. The locals paid one fee, Caricom nationals another and international tourists a different fee…..couldn’t we try that here? Don’t tell me that you’re still grumbling …

Anyway, let’s get down to business and visit some of the things which define us, our Barrouallie things. Barrouallie has a rich history which needs to be explored for the benefit of the community. Let us start with the marked stone in question. That particular stone was located at Glebe Hill in Obed’s yard and is a “gift” from our ancestors. We shall get back to Obed’s story at a later date. Well, the stone was moved and now stands “alone” in the “school” yard. From time to time I have seen one or two boatmen taking tourists to the site and making a “change”. Let us not forget that a petroglyph is here; it needs to be maintained and preserved for the future generation; let us not lose a tangible part of our history.

Okay, now “don” your hiking boots and take a few steps with me away from that petroglyph. Let us follow the path which leads into the valley at Pere Hughes. How many of us know that the current rectory of the Anglican Church here in Barrouallie was not the first of its kind. Before this era, a rectory was located two miles from the “village” (as Barrouallie was referred to long ago) in the valley at Pere Hughes. For the adventurous at heart, who wish to explore, maybe you can take a hike up to that area and search around for the relics of the rectory, which we can then try to preserve as part of our heritage. Anyway, the rectory was home to the priest who was resident here at the time. However, back in 1898, there was a terrible hurricane. Many in that era probably didn’t know what “hit” them, but there is a graphic account by a youngster (one of the sons of the priest who lived there in 1898) of what took place back then. During the passage of that hurricane, the rectory was destroyed. That youngster remembered how it took great pains to get his father out of the section of the house into which he had found refuge. He recounted that it took all the effort of their butler to remove his father’s hands from their clenched position in order to rescue him.

He went on to describe how the tiny brook had become a river in 1898, due to the volume of water caused by the heavy rains of that hurricane. Today that “brook” is just a shadow of itself. Each day I pass a section of what must be that brook which flows out of Pere Hughes, just a trickle at best at the lower end and only increases in volume when the rainy season arrives to these parts. The upper section of that brook continues to be a water source for us.

The youngster who lived in the rectory at Pere Hughes also recounted how the distance into Kingstown was not measured in miles, rather, it was measured in hours. Therefore, in his era, it took two hours to get to Kingstown from Barrouallie and, if the means of transport was by the big wooden row boats (lighters) then it took more than two hours…Of course, Sam Slater’s launches Eric, Veda and Marcelle also accommodated those who wished to travel by boat…fast forward to present day and you will be in Kingstown in the twinkling of an eye!! Really, these days Barrouallie doesn’t seem that far away from the “city”.

I shall share more of that youngster’s story in different themes of our eras and, we shall move around the community in upcoming articles. For now, let us conclude here until next week, by God’s will…