Barbados Pocket Guide

Speightstown

Speightstown, St. Peter, Barbados Pocket Guide

Speightstown

Barbados' second town is located in the parish of St. Peter. The quaint town of Speightstown got its name from William Speight, a wealthy and influential merchant who owned the land on which the town grew. In 1639, William Speight became a member of Barbados' very first parliament under Governor Henry Hawley.

 

Speightstown derived its name from its location on the land of William Speight, a wealthy and influential merchant who later became a member of the island's first parliament under Governor Henry Hawley in 1639. In a 1640 map drawn by  Captain John Swan, the area was known as "Spykeses Bay" but many Barbadians have pronounced it since then as "Spykestown".

 

Back in the day, Speightstown was a hectic seaport that conducted a blooming trade with Bristol in England. As a result of this blooming trade and connection between Speightstown and Bristol, Speightstown became affectionately known as Little Bristol.

 

Roped in the palms of the little town of Speightstown, is its military history. Once possessing and protected by numerous forts, Speightstown is the site of Barbados' only invasion which took place by Parliamentary forces, led by Admiral Sir George Ayscue. Sir George was dispatched by Oliver Cromwell to crack down on the uprising in Barbados. However, the people of Barbados were unchanging in their devotion and faithfulness towards Charles 1 and this enabled them to keep Sir George away for approximately six (6) months as focused attacks on Speightstown were kept at bay by the small forts along the shore.

 

Barbados was landed only with the help of a defector who led Ayscue and his men to land at Oistins Town where they met with representatives of the island and signed what has become known as the "Charter of Barbados".  Signed in 1652, the agreement gave Barbados rights and privileges unheard of in any other island.  In particular it guaranteed that Barbados could not be taxed without the consent of a Barbados General Assembly.

 

As mentioned earlier, Speightstown was protected by numerous forts. Orange Fort was located in the town centre, site of today's picturesque fish market. Nearby were the citadels of Coconut and Denmark forts. Dover Fort (or Dover Castle) overlooked the town from the cliff to the East, while Heywoods Battery stood a short distance to the North.

 

Improvements in Speightstown

Speightstown is still today filled with signs of colonial architecture as per years gone by but now fused with modern-day architecture. Significant upgrading has taken place that has seen the introduction of restaurants, art galleries and businesses.

 

Arlington House, located in Speightstown was saved from demolition and restored by the Barbados National Trust.

 

The Speightstown Esplanade was completed in May of 2006. and opened up the construction of a breakwater and coastal defense structure and the reconstruction of the fish market.

 

Speightstown has been seen as a mirror image England's Reading.

Last modified on Tuesday, 07 February 2012 18:27
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