Here is an article that appeared in the Advocate in 1901, shortly after the largest landslip on record occurred. The article is written in the language of the time and that in itself provides an interesting window on how things were 106 years ago on this little island. We presume that the article’s author, W.G. Hutchinson – Vicar of St. Philip’s, Boscobel, was a white person of British heritage. (This is neither bad nor good, just a statement of who the author was. If we’re wrong, someone tell us please.)
Boscobel is a bit further north than Greenland – but not by much.
The first lesson of the 1901 landslip is that Barbados is not a stable rock. Even today, and especially in the Greenland area, the land slips and slides considerably as photographs of the paved roads prove. (See here and here)
The second big lesson to be learned from the disaster of 1901, it is that Greenland should not be used for a dump. Those who continue to take Barbados down the path of relying upon the stability of the Greenland substrate must be blind, incompetent or have ulterior motives that cannot be in the best interest of Barbados and it’s citizens.
Thanks to our friend Satellite John for transcribing this article and for providing satellite images of the area. We have published all John’s satellite images and this entire article on a separate page. (link here to be published in a few hours – after dinner!)
The Advocate newspaper, 4th. Oct.,1901…
TERRIBLE LANDSLIP IN BOSCOBEL
* Hundreds of Acres Silently Disappear
* Estate Buildings, Mills and Cottages levelled and submerged
* Work of destruction not yet complete
* Houses still sinking whilst the terror stricken people work
hard to save their effects.
Perhaps a description given by an eye witness of the terrible calamity that has befallen Boscobel district may be of interest to your readers and may serve as I trust it will, the further purpose for which it is written.
To begin then at the beginning. On Friday, the 27th. ulto., the present writer spent a long time looking at the magnificent view to be seen from above the Boscobel Vicarage. It was not that I was not familiar with it but because everything on that day was
SO ASTONISHINGLY DISTINCT,
and distant objects seemed so near. According to the sense of sight it seemed that the voice would scarcely require to be raised to attract attention at St. Andrew’s Rectory, four miles away, and it seemed only natural to expect to see people at Bathsheba. But from my experience in another place, there was one thing that stood out in my mind, as clear as the atmosphere itself, and that was that there would soon be a heavy fall of water.
It was on Saturday that the rain began. One may see when looking south-west from St. Nicholas estate, two others, Adventure on the left and Castle on the right. St. Nicholas buildings are near midway between these places and this house. Rain clouds began to form in the south-west in the morning of saturday and were borne by the wind over Boscobel village. But it was only when they got over this vicinity that they seem to have
EMPTIED THEMSELVES AS “CLOUD BURSTS”.
Adventure had 9.31 inches of rain from Saturday to Tuesday morning, the Castle, 9.50, St,. Nicholas 15.17, while over this place much more fell than on July 5th. when over 20 inches were recorded. Observe the great difference in rainfall at St. Nicholas, and the two nearest estates below it.
On Tuesday morning, a neighbouring manager riding by, stopped for a few minutes. He remarked that he had been riding near the cliff and had heard
A CURIOUS GRATING SOUND
among the rocks.” It would have been interesting to have found the cause”, I observed. “It might have been a landslip to carry me away”, he replied jestingly, “in which case it is far more interesting to my family for me to be away”. Yet neither of us thought that this was really the beginning of the
GREATEST LANDSLIP EVER KNOWN
in this locality, involving hundreds of acres of land and a great many houses. At about 11 a.m. the alarm was raised of a serious subsidence to windward of the cliff, and hurrying up to this, I saw a scene I am not likely to look upon again. A vast extent of land beginning at the foot of the cliff was in motion. Yet, for the most part it was silent motion, save when here and there, huge masses of rock breaking from the hillocks, which used to form a feature of this place, thundered away to the level below, or again when, with less noise they sometimes turned over their ash grey heads and rolled away from sight. Fissures appeared in all directions and now and again
SMALL STONES WENT TINKLING DOWN
their depths. Yet, considering the vast convulsion, the distinguishing mark was silence. In the distance were to be seen a few sheep which could not be saved, and which betrayed great uneasiness, but on the other hand, three goats some further distance on continued to graze with the utmost indifference, merely starting back occasionally when fissures opened before them or a stone rolled by. The writer saw the site of a house of one of the congregation at Boscobel Chapel. There was no house and not so much as one stone of the wall remained standing on another. Just before this place was another house, a wooden one, from which the family had fled carrying
AN INFANT JUST TWO WEEKS OLD.
Nothing could be done to save this house and I watched it as its position varied with the variations of the land beneath. At one time it was level, at another, it was leaning, and again later on, it had twisted somewhat round. Further on, several wooden houses were being removed with all haste, but it was no longer possible to get to this. Yet, like many an abandoned ship, it was not wrecked up to the time when I last saw it. At this time a few people were to be seen in the yard of Boscobel estate, and a little later a great part of the mill wall was observed to fall. At the same time, information was brought that
BOSCOBEL HOUSE WAS FALLING IN.
I set out to get to it, and at the entrance of the village, stopped to give an assurance that the house of a terrified widow was safe. Above it, a fissure had appeared, but it was built on the edge of the solid coral formation, and to my mind was safe, as well as the one opposite. All through the village an endless stream of people was pouring, bearing away furniture and parts of wooden houses which were being removed from danger. But alas, wooden houses are few in this village, and I was called here and there for an opinion as to whether the occupants of some of the many wall houses should begin to trek at once, or bide a wee longer. Up to this time, the road had remained almost intact, and the estate house was reached in time. Here, I found that the removal of furniture had begun, and until daylight began to fail, the work of clearing out was vigourously prosecuted amid the falling plaster, and the more dangerous incoming of stones from the walls. Much valuable furniture was got out, but much also was left, and eventually in the failing light Mr. Skinner’s family left the place, and they passed by daylight over the worst part of the road that meanwhile had become almost impassable.
When early on Tuesday morning I looked out from the cliff it was over a scene from which almost
EVERY FAMILIAR LANDMARK
had disappeared. There in the distance, however, Boscobel House was still standing. Half the boiling house had gone while the remains of the millwall had reached the ground. Again I went down to the house. Large cracks had now appeared in the exterior walls, while within it was found that part of the upper floor and much of the wall had come down. Many damaged articles of furniture were recovered, which had come down from above with the floor. Subsequently, a ladder was fixed against the window of a room from which nothing had been removed and through this all the furniture was removed. Such a feat was done at
and would never have been attempted had not Mr. J. Bovell, manager of Morgan Lewis, been on the scene. He and his book-keeper, Mr. McConney, walked over floors of which part had collapsed already and where no others would venture, and amid falling walls, pulled out furniture, taking with genuine bravery risks that would have made the Directors of the Life Assurance Company stand aghast. While they were clearing this room, the remainder of
THE BOILING HOUSE CAME CRASHING DOWN.
Yet at this moment of writing the house has not collapsed. Possibly, this is due to the varying motions of the land at this place. The general motion from the cliff down to the house sets in one direction and when strong cannot be resisted, but the substratum now exposed about the house shows a decline another way, and the loosened soil obeys this formation when the other motion is not in full force. So between the two
THE HOUSE HAS SUNK
on the whole as much as it has leaned. Early on Tuesday morning, the pond below the buildings was finding an outlet towards the mill; the slope at that time was in that direction, but two hours later the outlet was nearly on the opposite side over the road. The other tendency at that time had asserted itself. This is not the case elsewhere, as over
HUNDREDS OF ACRES
the slide is well defined. Here and there the soil has parted from the substratum, exposing it, and this is found to be dark bluish clay, very smooth and very slippery. The slip is distinct from the subsidence. This latter has been over forty feet in some places and was caused apparently in this way. The heavy rains had reached this clay and rendered it slippery, and the saturated earth, now greatly increased in weight, broke away from its slippery surface.
In closing this article, the writer, on behalf of others must assume the role of beggar. In this village over
FORTY HOUSES ARE HOPELESSLY WRECKED.
My assurance to the widow unfortunately proved wrong. On Tuesday morning her house was broken in half, and the opposite one has crumbled away. About a year ago, two industrious and steady young men completed their houses. For a long time they had been about them. Then they married and so started their wedded life in as
NICE LITTLE HOMES
as an ordinary labourer’s highest ambition would reach to. These houses are ruins now and the patient work of years has gone for nought. Last month I was talking to a young woman about her approaching marriage. It would soon be, she said, for the house (of wall and stone) is finished. But on Tuesday morning the bridegroom elect was removing the wooden parts of it from the shattered wall. Is there a need to say more? Will those who are interested enough to read this extend a helping hand to those who merit aid? I have said forty houses because the
THE FULL EXTENT OF THE DAMAGE IS UNKNOWN
up to the present, but someone familiar with the village points out that the number eighty would probably be no exaggeration. Be it forty or eighty, any contributions entrusted to me would most thankfully be acknowledged on behalf of the sufferers. Postal Orders even for the smallest sums can now be cashed in this parish, while unused postage stamps are easily converted to money.
Vicar of St. Philip’s, Boscobel