Sam Lord’s Castle burns to the ground thanks to Barbados DLP, BLP, CLICO, Leroy Parris

No water for fire fighters at scene

In April 2009, Barbados Free Press predicted Sam Lord’s would burn. We said in our article How CLICO Ruined A Barbados Heritage Site: Sam Lord’s Castle

“Five years ago CLICO Barbados said they would restore Sam Lords Castle as part of a major tourist development.  Surprise, surprise… as they did in the past and have done since about other things — CLICO lied.

You see folks, this is the way it works with these irresponsible corporate beggars…

First, they spot a piece of land that they want. If, like Sam Lords Castle, it is a heritage site in need of some work the corporation promises to restore the heritage site to its former splendor — all in exchange of course for permission to develop the land. Next comes the “the condition was worse than we thought” speech. After a few years of additional neglect, the heritage site becomes nothing more than a candidate for demolition. And if that doesn’t work, well, the Corporation just leaves the place unguarded and unlocked so the paros can look after business for them. When the place finally burns down the way is clear for the development they really wanted to build.”

A strategy of neglect

That’s how it happened my friends, and it did not happen without the complicity of those in power. In this case the strategic neglect started under the BLP Owen Arthur government and continued to the present day under the DLP Thompson government.

Somebody will make a bundle on that fire, but the poor suckers who keep paying and paying and paying are we taxpayers and our children.

Coming your way soon to where Sam Lord’s Castle used to stand: some concrete condo or row housing that looks like everything else.

Crocodile Tears from Leroy Parris

Leroy Parris: Never hired a watchman for Sam Lord’s. Never put plastic on the roof to stop the water. Did nothing at all to preserve or prevent the deterioration of Sam Lord’s Castle during the years it was in his care. Now that it burned, Parris says this…

Former chairman and director CLICO, Leroy Parris, told this newspaper he was “disappointed” at the news of the fire. He also commented that it was a shame for such a historic building to have been lost in such a manner.

… from the Barbados Advocate article Island’s only ‘castle’ gutted by fire

From Barbados Free Press contributor Colin L. Beadon…

“Once, our major tourist attraction.

The car park at Sam Lords used to be full of busses and taxis, and the little restaurants outside did a bustling trade with thirsty camera- swinging tourists who came to look over the Castle, taking photos at every step, inside and out. Sam Lords, used to be the proud, shining delight of Barbados. Now it is a burnt ruin.

We spend 84 million dollars, US$, to work over our caves, yet we can’t find the wages of day and night watchmen to guard against the vandalism of our world famous National Icon, a Castle.

Shame, sick shame, shame, deep dreadful shame on us, that we have allowed such a travesty, such a tragedy; and here we had been hoping for world heritage status. How much more stupid can we become?”

Further Reading

Nation News (thanks for the photo guys!): Fire at Sam Lord’s Castle

The Bajan Reporter: Breaking News – Sam Lord’s Castle burning. Where is the hidden treasure?

BFP, September 1, 2009: Leroy Parris and CLICO – The NEW Pirates of the Caribbean and the rape of Sam Lord’s Castle

BFP, July 27, 2009: Mottley Barbados Labour Party Demands Answers About CLICO & Sam Lord’s – Too Bad The BLP Weren’t So Committed To Transparency When They Formed The Government!

David Ross website, July 16, 2009: A Visit to Sam Lord’s Castle

BFP: April 11, 2009: How CLICO Ruined A Barbados Heritage Site: Sam Lord’s Castle

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62 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Corruption, History, Political Corruption, Slavery

62 responses to “Sam Lord’s Castle burns to the ground thanks to Barbados DLP, BLP, CLICO, Leroy Parris

  1. latest pirates

    ashes to ashes

    Clico and Sam Lords both up in smoke!

    They both stood solid for many years.

    How much will they both cost the taxpayers?

  2. Fishy Business

    The main issue here is that this is due to pure inaction, lack of priorities at the top and carelessness with regard to protecting a national historical treasure, and now? GONE.
    My hopes of sharing the beauty, history and some of my earliest childhood memories of this landmark with my young son are destroyed – as are everyone’s.
    This is a prime example of where this country is heading fast – all for the almighty (executive’s) dollar.
    Shame on everyone involved! You’re pathetic!

  3. Micah

    Sam Lords Castle. A Barbadian treasure and piece of history previously neglected, and now damaged by fire. Very sad.

  4. Politically Tired

    This is so sad, such a stunning landmark and piece of local history damaged like this. This building should never have been left to deteriorate, where has the ‘pride’ gone from this country? Historical buildings all over the Island are allowed to fall into disrepair & then knocked down to be replaced with unsightly condo’s or other hideous buildings.

  5. ellebee

    A damn shame.

  6. Peltdownman

    A complete and utter disgrace, and a big black mark against Barbados as a tourist destination.

  7. St George's Dragon

    It’s always possible to restore a fire damaged building. The sad thing is that developers are too shortsighted.
    As an example, at Port Ferdinand, they bulldozed a 17th century fort, presumably to make room for more development. Their target market must be the Brits and the Americans and they would surely have been delighted if the fort had been restored and a few canons placed on it. Imagine having a beer overlooking the sea on the West coast while sitting on the ramparts of Fort Ferdinand. The marketing people could do something with that and it should have enhanced the value of the properties.
    Britain uses its history as the foundation of its tourist industry. We make noises about it but ultimately knock old buildings down because they are suffering from minor easily repairable problems.
    So shortsighted – you can build a new building – you can’t build an old one!

  8. John

    Oh my heavens.

    I forgot about that hill fort on the cliff at Six Mens. It is on the 1722 Mayo map.

    I keep away from the West Coast now.

    The so called development is too depressing. All the mystery of our past is gone.

    I remember the inscription about the restoration by a lady I think back in the 1940’s.

    A wonderful peaceful location to peer out over the Caribbean with a piece of real history beside you.

    If they don’t put back the guns and restore the area they need to be publicly humiliated.

    It is true that the site of the old Dover Fort by Coleridge and Parry, used to be closer to the Police Station, perhaps it was the Police Station.

    Man …. what a mess this island has come to.

    Horrible, horrible horrible.

    How low will we sink.

  9. Patricia Borns

    I’m surpised Barbadians and BFP haven’t inquired about an investigation into the cause of the fire. Wouldn’t a fire of this magnitude, with such transparent financial gain, be reviewed as a matter of course? I’m not Bajan but visit often and share your pain. Hoepfully some brave soul will press for a closer look.

  10. JC

    I agree, thought that the fire sounded suspicious too. Hope there will be an investigation. This is a disgrace.

  11. CanuckBajan

    I’m so disgusted I could just spit! Yet another unique part of Barbados lost due to criminal neglect and stupid short-sightedness by government officials and private-sector interests. They’re so busy cow-towing to condo developers, selling off the West and South coasts of the island – caring not a whit for the long-term well being of people or environment. Colonialism isn’t dead, it’s just called multinationalism now! I hope to god that enough people have the guts to stand up force a *thorough* investigation into CLICO, the fire, etc. Enough already!

  12. Anonymous

    No doubt the paros living inside is who ketch it afire.
    One look at the Utube video would show you evidence of paros been in dey, how everything skinout all how!

  13. what will they think of next

    I certainly will not be shedding any crocodile tears over sam lords castle. Sam lord was a criminal.

    I don’t know why anyone would be glorifing sam lord or anything he owned.

    Justice has been served even if it was a long time in coming. Sam Lord’s ill gotten gains destroyed.

    Wonderful!

  14. Anonymous

    ^ The Eagle has spoken! ^ LOL!

  15. lockstep

    yes lets get rid of all structures on this island built by the plantation class. is that what WWTTON wants? Year zero in cambodia? Mugabe in Africa? stupes!

  16. Green Monkey

    I hear the tale being told in St. Philip is that somebody (bodies?) was trying to catch the castle on fire since Monday, and on Wednesday they finally succeeded. Note I have no way of confirming whether or not this is true, just saying this is the word going around.

  17. Victor E. Stewart

    As a member of the family that owned Sam Lord’s Castle in its glory days before we sold the hotel to the Marriotts, I can say unequivocally that this is a complete and utter disgrace. Now, at best, the Castle can become a burned out shell, much like Farley Hill, where visitors to the grounds can only speculate as to what former grandeur once existed therein. I well remember as a small boy roaming around inside that wonderful mansion before it too was burned to the ground “under mysterious circumstances.”

    From a cynical point of view, I will observe that since everything possible had already been stolen out of the Castle, including the very balustrade going up the staircase to the first floor bedrooms, few if any of the precious heirlooms belonging to the Castle were destroyed by this fire. Perhaps those that have stolen all of the valuables out of the Castle in past years will now think that they are safe, and will try to claim that such items were destroyed by the fire, but luckily there are sufficient intrepid photographers who have photographed the interiors of the Castle in the last few years who have the necessary evidence that everything of value was long gone before the ravages of this fire.

    Perhaps now, if the government of Barbados has any sense of remorse over the mishandling of this priceless and unique national treasure, it will finally launch an investigation into where all of the stolen paintings, furniture and other items belonging to Sam Lord’s Castle and thus rightfully to the people of Barbados might now be secreted on the island. I will be happy to bear witness to the fact that when my family sold the Castle to the Marriott’s, it was with the strict condition that the contents of the Castle, including the paintings, furniture, Sam Lord’s bed and dining table and many other valuables were never to leave the Castle, and were to remain in perpetuity there in trust for the people of Barbados. Pehaps in some small way now the government of Barbados might attempt to redeem my father’s legacy and recover some of those valuables, many of which I believe are still on the island hidden away in private homes.

    With great sorrow on this mournful day, I extend my sincere condolences to the people of Barbados on the tragic loss of part of their heritage.

    Victor Edwin Stewart
    Castle Close
    St. Philip

  18. bajandave

    “She said that I does plan carefully, cause when I want insurance money, I does use fire to assist me” – Red Plastic Bag, “Not Me”, 1985. Is there a connection between this fire and all the drama at CLICO these days? I am saddened that we let such a beautiful property go to waste and I pray that common sense will prevail and instead of knocking it down in favour of condos whoever takes it over from here restores the old house to its full glory and brings the hotel back on stream.

  19. Mathilde

    BFP, how right you were, when I saw the headlines in the paper I thought “Well well, BFP called it!”

  20. What it boils down to is this..

    WAS the bldg. covered for fire insurance -or not.

    Does anyone know??

  21. Nonsense

    Wunna doan see how dis fire bug does follow me evry place I go?

  22. Gooding

    How much insurance will be paid for this atrocity, while policy holders are still waiting for their money.

  23. yatinkiteasy

    Next one to go..the Empire Theatre and the Old Eye Hospital on Bay Street. No one in Government understands or cares abut Heritage buildings, and indeed, Heritage Tourism. Get rid of all vestiges of Colonial days..its ok, the Brazilians, are coming. Or maybe, tourists from Africa?

  24. St George's Dragon

    If the building was insured against fire, presumably CLICO would have insured it with themselves.

  25. Pingback: Sam Lord’s Castle as an over-valued asset in the CLICO – CL Financial pyramid fraud « Barbados Free Press

  26. Pingback: How CLICO Ruined A Barbados Heritage Site: Sam Lord’s Castle « Barbados Free Press

  27. Johnny Postle

    Man I gine tell you now that if this fire was not staged I gine completely disowned my mother. This is too obvious and because it is so obvious, I would call in the FBI.

  28. not to worry

    If any of the previous stories are accurate in this and the previous blog article, not to worry

    Just like the Clico policyholders and investors, Barbadians are in good hands with a Clico fire insurance policy. I wonder if the insurance policy was paid up to date, how much the building was insured for and if any reinsurer was crazy enough to take the risk?

  29. BFP

    To not to worry…

    Don’t worry! The land is actually far more valuable now that the “heritage” building is burned down. Before, the building was a liability because anyone who wanted to do anything had to contend with the public and the historical significance of the structure.

    Now?

    Bring in de condos! Fire up the suburban row housing! We gin mek some cash so fine fine fine!

    Oh, sorry. Back to the party line… “What a tragedy to see a heritage building destroyed by a fire. Who could have foreseen such an act of God?”

  30. Green Monkey

    Patricia Borns wrote:

    I’m surprised Barbadians and BFP haven’t inquired about an investigation into the cause of the fire.

    You can take it to the bank, such an investigation would not find one sh1te to report.

  31. Anonymous

    BFP’s take on it (just a post or two above this)
    is bang on da money!

    Not one thing cud be done as long as the castle stood relatively intact.
    Public sentiment and emotion, outcry prevented anything being done. Situation frozen.

    ……………..

    But oh dear, look!
    um gone en burn down, structure is now a danger, must be condemned etc.
    in come the bulldozers and…
    -progress at last.

    Money and jobs pouring into Sin Philip. *wink*

    There’s always a silver lining to every cloud..of smoke.

    Life goes on.>/i>
    _______________________

    Developers would do well to accurately re-create the castle
    in addition to whatever else they do
    and all will be well in about 5-10 yrs. time.

  32. what will they think of next

    Many of you seem to have too much time on your hands.
    Sam Lords castle existed because of the criminal activities of Sam Lord. Its destruction by fire was the result of a bush fire which got out of control. Only a couple of days before that the fire service had to put out another bush fire surrounding the same Sam Lords castle.
    Plain and simple. God is not sleeping. Divne Justice has been served.
    Move along people, there is nothing to see here!

  33. Donald Duck Esq

    Wasn’t it amazing that there was no mention of the fire on the cbc news last night. On the night of the fire there was coverage. One would have expected that with a fire of the significance of a national treasure that there would be follow up on the day after. Did the chairman of cbc give any instructions that there would be no coverage???

  34. Green Monkey

    Move along people, there is nothing to see here!

    Leroy, dah is you?

  35. Anonymous

    Sam Lord was as much a “criminal”
    as any one of you Bridgetown businessmen
    currently “avoiding” personal income tax,
    massaging annual figures, etc.

    He did what he had to do, to get what he wanted!
    He was “ambitious” -just like you money-worshipping lot today.
    If Sam Lord was criminal, then so too are 90% of us living in today’s ripoff Barbados

  36. Mathilde

    I don’t care if Sam Lord was a ‘criminal’. What stupidity, to forget the past because it was something unpleasant, I suppose we should forget about Hitler too, and not to mention the Slave Trade… you are so full of it.

  37. whistling frog

    I understand that Barbados is seeking to have Bridgetown and its environs become listed as some sort of heritage site,,,,,,,, with most of these so called sites in a govermental state of neglect,I hardly think along with the serious neglect of Sam Lords Castle etc that we will ever get such recognition.But then thats Politricks.

  38. SuthernAccents

    Forget the fire. Nothing of any significance remained. Insurance? What was there to insure? The land remains intact.
    The issue is the failure to preserve a significant historical building, regardless of our personal view of the sources of funds used to construct it.
    It is common for residential develoments to be built around a historical building, and frequently that building is used as the ‘condo office’ while also providing rooms and facilities which are shared by the members of the community.
    Regardless of our political stripes, it is time for all Barbadians to join together and insist on an official policy to preserve designated historical buildings, which will force the owners to maintain them to certain standards.
    In the case of the massive Sam Lord’s property, all that required preservation was the main building, or Castle as it was called.
    We cannot allow businesses to purchase certain historical properties without a legally binding contract to maintain them, or one after the other, they will disappear.

  39. I was emailed this story. What a waste.

    I’m one (not the only one) who snuck in to take pics of the grounds. I didn’t see much of the interior but what I saw of the exterior was distressing enough; the undergrowth was clearly out of control and yes, everyone could see this coming.

    I read people here who say, who cares, Sam Lord was a robber. This is true. But where I live, on the Gulf Coast in the US, we have our own sites which were built by bandits and pirates. We do not condone their acts but we recognise them as part of our history; alongside our heroes.

    To lose this, to lose any such centuries old site, hurts us all, not just Bajans – and not just tourists. The Caribbean is part of the story of the entire New World. Its pirates, too.

    Well, it looks like CLICO now has its own monument in the Caribbean to its own work there. The monument of Gaiseric and of Alaric.

  40. Pingback: Will Barbados save St. Michael’s and All Angels Cathedral? | Barbados Free Press

  41. Richard Costa

    Notice should be filed to vacant owners and if needed the government should step in and secure these properties and pass the costs onto the absentee landlords. At some point there should be a process where ownership reverts to Barbados if landlords abandon their property and/or fail to secure it. At the very least this should be done with historical landmarks and buildings designated as a national treasure. Sam Lords was a national treasure and the government failed to take control of the situation. If the current law doesn’t allow the government to take control then the law needs to be written or changed. This should never happen again.

  42. Cindy Martell

    So saddened to read of this senseless loss. My husband and I took our honeymoon in Barbados @ Sam Lords Castle when it was a Marriott property 19 years ago. We treasured every moment and the tales of Sam Lord, evil as he may have been. Sam Lords dinner was a highlight of our trip and history of the castle. I learned of its tragic fate while researching for a return to trip to Barbados for our 20th Anniversary. I’m quite certain we will find a new special place as the history and riches that took us to Barbados originally appear to no longer be relevant. Tourist come for history and beauty, riches you can’t build with concrete.

  43. Pingback: Tourist writes: “History, beauty… no longer relevant in Barbados” | Barbados Free Press

  44. Pingback: Victor Stewart on Sam Lord’s Castle and how CLICO pillaged our island | Barbados Free Press

  45. Kay hart

    I am a bit late in learning of the fate of Sam Lord’s Castle and I must say I am greatly saddened and disturbed to learn of the suspicious fire. My husband and I were there 24 years ago and wanted to return for our 25th wedding anniversary. Thus I began my quest to obtain hotel information to plan our return trip to The Castle and I couldn’t believe what I was reading and seeing. I was shocked to see how poorly maintained the property had become before the fire. How could this possibly happen to a place of such beauty and grace? My only guess is it must have been caused by the greed of the dispicable “developers”. I am so thankful for all the photos and video footage I still have of the Castle both inside and out. I also have many photos of the beautiful grounds as they were in 1987. We send love and prayers to the many wonderful people of Barbados. Dave and Kay Hart

  46. BFP

    Hello Kay,

    If you could take the trouble to scan and send us the photos we’d appreciate it. We’ll publish them online.

    Thanks

    Cliverton for the BFP crew.
    barbadosfreepress@yahoo.com

  47. Kayleigh

    Ive lost my love for barbados. The building of high rise condos and the demise of such beautiful landmarks has prevented me from returning. It’s doing an 8 hour flight and doing a u turn to Spain. So upsetting and unfortunate for what once was the heart of the Caribbean

  48. Anonymous

    As a corporate travel agent all my life I first visited SLC in the early 90’s using a Marriott famtastic rate for agents. I could not believe the beauty of the location, the castle and the resort. I return once again while still under the Marriott brand. Then, in ’03, I returned for my final visit and noticed much had changed after Marriott gave up on it. It made me sad, but I still tried to enjoy the vacation. The resort, at that point, was on a serious downhill slide but I was determined to enjoy my stay. Barbardos was always my favorite island in the Carribean, and Sam Lord’s my favorite hotel. I’m so glad I have the pictures of the good old days and the memories my wonderful times there. RIP my old friend.

  49. Pingback: Barbados removes assets from CLICO victims: Sam Lord’s Castle to be expropriated by government | Barbados Free Press

  50. KG

    I had the pleasure of visiting Sam Lord’s castle. The stories and grounds were mystifying, I was hoping to return someday to a renovated castle. Barbados drew me in with the heritage and colorful past. I fell in love with the residents. One night at Oistens and how can you not! They are the sweetest people. We sat and talked to several and now have made friends. No where else makes sweet bread so well. We weren’t interested in caves. Have those at home. We enjoyed the people and learning about Barbados history. So sad to know that this is another island that is going to end up a over priced tourist trap where the Bajans can’ft afford to live. With that dies all the makes this island so special. Very saddened to learn about Sam Lord’s Castle. It wasn’t about the man himself but the story it told.

  51. 17timetouristtoBdos

    Just saw a photo of the burned out shell on Instagram and searched out this article. What a shame! Maybe over the years the theaves who possess the stolen “good bits” of the building will have to fess up and at least put some of it in a museum for the citizens’s to view and appreicate. It hurts my stomach just looking at that article…..

  52. Marjorie cookland

    I went to Sam lords castle 20 year ago loved the place the grounds so fresh and rugged the people so so friendly the story’s spellbinding I travelled all over Barbados loved the people and places I returned 5 year ago and have just returned this year to be shocked that Sam lords is no longer there Memory’s YES MarjxxxLuv U Barbados

  53. 137

    We had a wonderful holiday at Sam Lords Castle resort in 2000.
    I have only just discovered the very sad news that it burnt to the ground.
    We have happy memories of our time there and the lovely Bajan people.

  54. 91

    Sad news of the demise of this piece of Bajan history. We stayed at the resort in September 1997 & had a really relaxing holiday. It was great to walk in the grounds & on the beach in the company of those small very inquisitive monkeys. Also a popular place for people to hold their wedding ceremonies in the grounds of Sam Lords Castle. I’ll forever remember some of the local characters I was fortunate enough to meet especially our taxi driver called “Husbands” a man in his 70’s (at least) who used to drive the school bus from St. Philip in his earlier years. I loved his accent when calling me “H’inglish” – reminded me of Lenny Henry’s character Deakus. A warm & friendly place with lovely people – a place I would definately return to, lets hope they restore/rebuild the building else it’s a sad cultural loss to the island & its residents..!

  55. Good blog! I really love how it is simple to read.
    I’m wondering how I could be notified whenever a new write-up has been created. I have subscribed to your RSS feed which should do! Have a great day and plz excuse my poor english!

  56. The McLaren's

    Really upset about what happened. Feel sick to the stomach and I have cried lots of tears. We got married at Sam Lord’s Castle in October 1998 by Rev. Ricky Kirkton and we always intended to return one day to show our children. But it won’t be for our fifteenth wedding anniversary this year. It is such a shame and I hope that this wasn’t intentional as they haven’t only destroyed a beautiful piece of history but also our chance/dreams that one day we would share more happy memories at the castle with our family. We thank all the wonderful staff who did make our day special all those years ago.

  57. So sad to hear about this, I used to work at the restaurant outside Sam Lords Castle called Sams Lantern from 1993-95. I loved the remoteness of this part of the island and the castle was the jewel of St Philip.

  58. Angela D Thompson

    June 9, 2013
    I have lived in St. Philip all my life and I grew up with one of my parents working in the (castle). Today I took my kids to see the (castle) and it broke my heart. Gone is the elegance and splendor. It’s hard to believe that three years could do so much damage.

  59. Christy Randall Minard

    i went to sam lord’s castle for my honeymoon in 1994. i am devastated by the news of this fire. so so sad and horrific.

  60. I too am now just learning of this tragedy. I feel as though I have lost yet another loved one. My husband and I stayed at Sam Lords five times, the last being our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Many wonderful memories were made as well as hundreds of photos throughout the years we visited. The History alone was magical and the people , never a stranger, but friends. Since our last visit my husband has passed away and now I hear news of yet another love is gone. It truly makes me sick to even think of the possibility of high rise condos built two feet apart ,and commercialism of the Island only for financial gain with no thought of preservation, and no regard’s for the people who live there and die there . I pray it can be stopped somehow for the only thing that comes out of it is damage to a once beautiful island and home.

  61. Maria

    My father in law brought me here ten years ago, I was visiting from the US (Texas). I’m back now to show my 9yr old daughter what her late grandfather showed me. To my disappointment the castle is gone, gutted. My heart is very sad.

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