Professor Henry FraserArchitecural Historian / Heritage Consultant
Chairman, Sentinel Committee, Barbados National Trust
Writer, TV Presenter, National Orator & Motivational Speaker
Professor Emertius, Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology.
Immediate Past Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences.
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.


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Most of these buildings were shops on the ground floor and the home of the merchant above.  Arlington was a ship chandlery, and belonged for centuries to the Skinners, a family here since the settlement.  One reason for its interest is its resemblance to the single houses of Charleston.  After “discovering” the unique Single House of Charleston, South Carolina, settled by Barbadians in 1670, I read the passage in Ligon (1657) describing single houses (a single room wide) and double houses in Barbados.  These terms have survived only in Charleston, to describe their long, narrow houses!

The Museum

Arlington was the site of the first Public Health Centre in the Caribbean, established by Sir Maurice Byer in 1953.  It was almost demolished when the Barbados National Bank bought the site; in fact the bulldozers went right up to the walls, exposing two feet of foundation of loosely packed stones; only God saved the building!  Paul Altman, then President of the Trust, then moved in, with the gift of a most generous benefactor, and the dedication of restoration architect Bruce Jardine, to accomplish the fine restoration.  And with a Canadian museum development team and the brilliant work of Robbie Davis, producing an enthralling inter-active museum of Speightstown, all master-minded by Paul Altman, the result is another gem in the Treasures of Barbados.  Go and see it for yourself!

The Work to be Done

At the opening, Mr. Arthur revealed that most of his memorabilia will be donated to the Museum, to be displayed in a special room.  Minister Richard Sealy spoke of his vision for Speightstown, and the possible restoration of a ferry service to and from Bridgetown.  Paul Altman spoke of the Arbib trail, a nature and historical walk beginning and ending at Arlington.  But there’s much more to Speightstown – from the restored old warehouse and the Mango Restaurant nearby, to the oldest houses on Sand Street (look at the tiny seventeenth century doors in these ancient, neglected buildings in the unfashionable corner of the town); from St. Peter’s Church “around the town” to the Methodist church, to the old Denmark Fort; there are many splendid, decaying buildings, the loss of which will be a tragedy.  We barely have time to save a few more and justify the key role of Speightstown in our life-blood tourist trade.

Professor Fraser is Dean of the School of Clinical Medicine and Research and Past President of the Barbados National Trust.

Henry Fraser Historic Houses Of Barbados Book CoverHistoric Houses of Barbados
Written by Henry Fraser & Ronnie Huges.
Available at all book leading book stores in Barbados.

Henry Fraser Treasures Of Barbados Book CoverTreasures of Barbados
Written by Sir George Alleyne and edited by Henry Fraser.
Available at the UWI Bookshop the publishers.

Henry Fraser Chattle House Book CoverBarbados Chattel Houses
Written by Henry Fraser and Bob Kiss.
Available at all leading book stores.

Henry Fraser A-Z Barbados Book CoverA-Z of Barbados Heritage
Written by Sean Carrington, Henry Fraser, John Gilmore and Addington Forde.
Available at Days Bookstore Barbados and

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