Barbados Pocket Guide

The Garrison

Old Military Baracks, Garrison Historic Area, St. Michael, Barbados Pocket Guide

The Garrison

The Garrison is lauded as one of the major historic sites in the Caribbean and seen as a key element in Barbados' architectural and historic existence. Amidst its history, today it is a place of recreation, private homes, office buildings, horse racing, exercising, parades, kite flying and even a place to spend time with friends and family. However, what we see today is this centrally located St. Michaell place of interest in Barbados, is indeed a far cry from what used to be.


Brief History on the Garrison

What is now known as the Garrison in the parish of St. Michael, was obtained by the British Ordnance during the 18th and 19th centuries as six (6) plots of land.


For nearly 2,000 years, soldiers were based at the Garrison to furnish the needs of the British military around the Eastern Caribbean. During the colonial times, the Savannah was home to an infusion of history as it was considered one of the finest parade grounds in the West Indies. When the British troops were withdrawn in 1905, some buildings and lands were sold and others handed over to the Government of Barbados.


Dark red buildings are scattered throughout the Garrison area and some such as the Barbados Pavilion, which was once the military barracks of the British Regiment, have been beautifully restored. Another beautifully restored aspect of this historic area is the Main Guard which houses a distinctive cupola clock tower and clock that dates back to 1803.


The National Canon Collection is the largest and one of the most outstanding collections of the 17th century English iron guns in the world, which includes one with Cromwell's Republican Arms on it. Approximately twelve (12) guns are on display while the remaining one hundred and fifty (150) are kept at St. Ann's Fort in the National Armoury and Military Museum. The present day activities of drills and duties dates back to 1704. At the top of the tower, there's a look-out tower that was built in the 1830s. This tower was one of many that communicated with other signal towers which were placed at strategic points across Barbados.


In 1751, America's first President and leader of the American Revolution, George Washington, stayed at the district's Bush Hill section for six (6) weeks attending to his ailing brother. This restored property still stands at the Garrison where it is now refered to as the 'George Washington House'. The original house dates back to 1719 and is one of the oldest buildings on the island.


The first British Garrison was posted at St. Ann's around 1780 to fend off a threatened French invasion during the American War of Independence. The invasion never materialised but the unfortunate soldiers died from a variety of tropical diseases such as cholera and yellow fever and consumption. Many of their graves can be seen in the Military Cemetery which is next to the Barbados Hilton Hotel at Needham's Point.


By the middle of the 18th century wealthy prominent Barbadians and regiment troops started the sporting tradition of horse racing at the Garrison racetrack.


Barbados Museum & Historical Society, Garrison Savannah, St. Michael, Barbados Pocket GuideOn November 30, 1966 the Garrison Historic Area became the prime location for the ceremony that saw the lowering of the Union Flag (the flag of the United Kingdom) and the raising of the Barbados flag. This event represented the emergence of Barbados' full Independencefrom the United Kingdom.


A significant amount of buildings at the Garrison are unscathed and ranked worldwide, the Garrison in Barbados is one of the most comprehensive and well preserved colonial garrisons in the world.


The Garrison Historic Area includes Charles Fort, St Ann's Fort, The Main Guard, The National Cannon Collection, The Garrison Savannah, The Barbados Museum and Historical Society.


Further information on the Garrison, St. Michael can be sourced at the following website


Last modified on Monday, 06 February 2012 20:32

1 comment

  • Comment Link patricia Brown Tuesday, 28 February 2012 22:12 posted by patricia Brown

    My great grandfather James Price was Garrison Sgt. Major here between 1863 and when he had finished his 21 years service in 1866/7.He began in the Argylls and transferred to the 21st Foot in 1860. His wife Anne had travelled with him to Malta and other places.They had a number of children in England and then two in Malta, tho' we have traced a grave for a son of about 3 Barbados they had two sets of female twins who survived but may have lost two other children, then she had a further 3 on returning to England.Tho. James died aged 50 Ann lived to be 90, she must have been a tough old bird i think, i doubt that army life was very easy for the wives.Ten of their children survived into adulthood, my grandad was one, Frank Herbert, his dad, James, died when he was 6 and aged 14 he joined the Yorks and Lancs a drummer boy spent 3 months in the uk and the next 12 years abroad all over the empire,he was in Mauritius when he finished his time aged 26.
    I cant find much about the soldiers and their families at the Garrison, if anyone can recommend a book or website i would be very interested.

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