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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Heritage:  something inherited from the past; property inherited; valued objects and qualities such as historic buildings and cultural traditions passed down from previous generations.

Bajans have become much more sensitive to the value of our history, heroes, historic buildings and historic events in recent times.  The definition of Heritage above, with my emphasis on the word value, expresses this sense of recognition of the value of heritage, because until recently much of our history was unknown, untold, unrecognised or unappreciated.  Much of our new awareness is due to the teaching of West Indian and Barbadian history, much to the excellent efforts of CBC-TV, especially the splendid programmes presented by Sherwood McCaskie, and much to the recognition of our ten national heroes, from Bussa to Sir Garfield Sobers, and the events associated with them.  Recognition of our two greatest martyrs after Bussa – the newspaper editor and writer Clennell Wickham and the union leader “white rebel” T.T.Lewis  -  would bring into even sharper focus the history of pre-Independence and the fantastic strides we’ve made from a-shilling-a-day-wage before 1937 to the affluence of today.

On June 25th this year, the important role of Barbados in the history of the Caribbean and the Americas, British colonisation and the European theatre of war in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the sugar industry, was recognised by the inscription of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison as a World Heritage site.  

The World Heritage Committee has inscribed Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison along with 25 other new sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.  The sites vary widely – from the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany to the ancient Japanese town of Hiraizumi: the temples, gardens and archaeological sites of the Buddhist Pure Land; from Leon Cathedral in Nicaragua to the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Columbia. And the inscription summarises the importance of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison:

“Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison is an outstanding example of British colonial architecture consisting of a well-preserved old town built in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, which testifies to the spread of Great Britain’s Atlantic colonial empire.  The property also includes a nearby military garrison which consists of numerous historic buildings.  With its serpentine urban lay-out the property testifies to a different approach to colonial town-planning compared to the Spanish and Dutch colonial cities of the region which were built along a grid plan.”

Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has emphasised the key role heritage tourism can play for Barbados: As he has said: “The days of someone coming to Barbados and simply leaving with a tan earned from being on the sand and having had a dip in the sea to feel good – those days are over.”

The economic value of World Heritage sites is impressive, with many of the nearly 1,000 sites recording visitor increases of up to ten-fold.  As Ralf Buckley, Director of the International Centre for Ecotourism Research at Griffith University in Australia writes:

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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