Parliament Buildings, Bridgetown, Barbados Pocket Guide

The Parliament Buildings of Barbados

Located at the top of Broad Street, in the capital city of Bridgetown, Barbados, these historic Parliament Buildings (once known as the Public Buildings) are home to the House of Assembly and Senate. Packing more than 350 years of history, these buildings were built from local limestone and completed in 1874 by a Gothic Architecture.


These buildings were built as a primary source of adequate accommodation for the Houses of Parliament, to consolidate the major public offices and to safely and securely file any of Barbados' Public Records.


East Wing of Parliament Buildings of Barbados

These imposing nineteenthth century Parliament Buildings of Barbados are filled with a great amount of craftsmanship and detail that the whole island can be justly proud of.


In 1873, the East Wing was completed and this housed the Chambers and offices of the Legislative Council (later the Senate), the House of Assembly, the Attorney General, the Solicitor General and the Legal Draftsman (later Chief Parliamentary Counsel) had offices. Also in the East Wing of the Parliament Buildings of Barbados, one can find stained glass windows that ably represent British Sovereigns from James I to Queen Victoria (and include Oliver Cromwell). These stained glass windows were designed by both of Barbados' very own Mr. Thomas Hawkesley, and his brother Charles Hawkesley. The designs were then passed onto Messrs. Clayton Black & White of Parliament Buildings, Barbados Pocket Guide& Bell, a London firm that proceeded with the manufacturing process.


An English firm, B. R. and T. Moore manufactured the clock and bells that were housed in a tower on the East Wing. A Barbadian firm by the name by the name of Messrs. Bayley, Findlay and Chaderton installed the clock and bell system. Due to the sinking of the clock tower as a result of yielding materials beneath it, in 1884 it was removed.


A separate entrance was provided to the Public Gallery of the House of Assembly from the Courtyard by way of an extension to the East Wing. This was made possible in 1970.


On the ground floor of the east wing at various periods were the Public Library, the Public Works Department, the Master-in-Chancery (later the Registrar), the Income Tax Department (the first Act providing for Income Tax in Barbados was passed in 1921), the Post Office, the Government Savings Bank and some offices of the Central Bank.


West Wing of Parliament Buildings of Barbados

During late 1885 into early 1886, the clock and bells were relocated to their present position in the West Wing. The clock is designed to run for eight days. The pendulum is 14 feet long and dials are made of copper and are 7 feet in diameter. The hour bell weighs 20 hundred-weight, which is also the aggregate weight of the four bells which ring the quarter hours. All the wheels are made of very hard gunmetal. The striking and quarter main wheels are 16 inches in diameter and 1.25 inches thick. The going main wheel is 15 inches in diameter and 1.25 inches thick. The clock is constructed in such a manner as to permit it to keep going while it is being wound.


The biblical quotation "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's...." can be found on the main stairways of the West Wing.


In 1872, the West Wing of the Parliament Buildings of Barbados was completed and has served to accommodate quite a few major public offices including those of the Colonial Secretary, the Colonial Treasurer, the Auditor General, the Accountant General, the Postmaster-General, the Comptroller of Customs, the Provost Marshal and the Director of Education. From just about 1954, the offices of some of the first five Ministers were housed there as well. However, on March 26, 1956, the Government Headquarters (located on Bay Street) officially opened and was able to now house these Ministers.


At one point throughout the beginning of the twentieth century, the Barbados Public Library was housed in the West Wing as well.


The courtyard is surrounded by green cast iron railings that were manufactured by a nineteenth century English iron company called Andrew Handyside & Co. Ltd.


May 7, 1986 saw the extensive renovation of the Chamber of the House of Assembly. Throughout the renovation process of the House of Assembly both Houses sat in the Senate Chamber.


In September 1988, renovation of the Senate Chamber began. The ground floor of the East Wing was also renovated to accommodate parliamentary services and offices. It was in this year that the entire building became available for parliamentary purposes.


The West Wing of Parliament underwent refurbishment. This refurbished building now houses the National Heroes Gallery and Museum of Parliament.


Parliament Clock Serviced

Reassurance of the historic 136 year old clock of the Barbados Parliament striking again by the end of July, came from traditional clockmaker and servicer, Andrew Hinks. He, along with his colleague Brian Parry, both from English-based traditional clock company Smith of Derby, flew in to carry out the necessary servicing required. Plans are in place to keep as many of the original parts as possible.


Such a venture came under the auspices of the Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW), whose technical officer Richard Austin, said that restoration work will also be done on the tower. The historic clock has been out of service from October 2010.


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