Barbados Apartment Collapse: Looking At The History Of The Area

BFP Reader Satellite John sent in his memories of the area. The objective is to get people to remember earlier land uses and see what comes out of the exercise. Maybe it will help in understanding what happened at Brittons Hill.

Does anyone remember when……?

I was looking at some old maps of the Brittons Hill area and was struck by the natural drainage of an area uphill from the site of the sad occurrence of Sunday.

What also struck me was the appearance of what looked like a quarry just under the cliff in the Babco area. Closeby was a kiln, (lime kiln) which must have operated perhaps at the time or before. What was also apparent is the path taken by the natural drainage of the area uphill of Sunday’s tragedy. It terminated in a suck hole just under the cliff.

My memory is foggy about what went on under the cliff in my boy days and nonexistent about what went on top of it. But people do remember what went on years ago and I thought that by providing the old map it might jog memories.

Here is an extract from a map made in 1951 of the Brittons Hill area. (Click on the maps to see them full size)


Bishops Court is over in the top left corner and from that you can get your bearings. I have superimposed it on the Google Earth satellite picture and tried to match it as best I can.

The Brittons Hill turn off is just past Bishops Court.

I have outlined an area in red which encloses a water course which terminates in a suck hole which appears to be just under the cliff . There is natural drainage of an area stretching back up to Valery and Villa Road.

Here is the same picture but with the map of 1951 turned off and the outlined area remaining with some labels. (Click on the maps to see them full size)


I have put together these images to show what the land use was like in 1951 compared with now.

I think that the memory of the oldtimers from the area will be of great help to the authorities in trying to understand what may have happened.

I have highlighted a quarry and kiln which appeared under the cliff back then.

The quarry may have been filled, possibly used for garbage and then finished off with marl. Anyone remember?

Perhaps the quarry supplied the lime kiln?

Perhaps there was dynamiting to get the material for the kiln?

Does anyone remember the sinkhole shown on the map?

Did the area under the cliff flood in heavy rain?

There are probably plenty other questions to ask but I will stop here and see what response the above gets.

I hope the maps are clear enough. Below are the same maps with a larger magnification on the area outlined in red. (Click on the maps to see them full size)



The objective is to get people to remember earlier land uses and see what comes out of the exercise. Maybe it will help in understanding what happened there last Sunday.


Filed under Barbados, Disaster

6 responses to “Barbados Apartment Collapse: Looking At The History Of The Area

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Barbados: History of A Collapse?

  2. Pogo

    This is a good beginning. Thanks SatelliteJ and BFP for doing this service for your country.

    There are two important issues here:

    1. Are buildings being built now that should be stopped because of worrisome foundations or inadequate building methods?

    2. Which existing buildings are most at risk and should be looked at?

    We ask whether a project should start right now to answer these questions so we hopefully learn from what has happened and maybe avoid it in the future.

  3. Yes there was indeed a lime kiln in the area to the south of the cave-in, near to where the Ishmael’s live. I traversed that area as a boy in the 1960’s on my way to Bay Primary School. I can’t remember any activity back then so it was probably abandoned even at that time. There was also as I remember a dump probably as a result of the quarrying. I can remember the area smoldering for years(off and on) because of the dump. That is why I was surprised to see so many buildings go up on the site which sits below the cliff along the Chelston Rd section. It is interesting to note also that only one building was on that site of the cave-in up until some time in the 1970’s. It is the same building(the older one) that is part of the St.Cyprian’s School. Maybe those persons knew about the cave and how far it extended. The persons who bought the land possibly did not.


  4. John


    I am thinking the same thing about the edge of the cliff and local knowledge.

    I looked at a map from 1976 and the edge still seemed unused.

    It is like the edge of the cliff at Mount Stepney which broke away in the 1901 landslip of 1901. Noone built there.

    I haven’t found anyone yet who can tell me about how lime kilns worked and what went in. I believe the end product was for the sugar industry. If this is so, then the kilns operated for centuries.

    I looked again at the maps and found four lime kilns including that one.

    It looks like quarrying also took place along the cliff edge as you enter Villa Road from Collymore Rock and extended around to Flagstaff.

    There was a kiln under Flagstaff hill.

    I remember a quarry there which used as a garbage dump and constantly burnt.

    I am guessing that the marl in that region, given the number of kilns, was suited for use in the kiln. Perhaps it was easy to access or it was of the right consistency.

  5. Yardbroom

    I can remember three large quarries in the area, there was one behind the Brittons Hill Police Station – now The Post Office – houses in that area were mainly chattel houses and stood some distance back from the edge of the quarry. The distance from the edge of the quarry to the houses was about twenty metres, the houses because of a lack of foundation made no significant impact on the rock formation there.

    I also remember the area behind the Police Station well, because a young man committed suicide there – he shot himself one night on the open ground – over fifty years ago.

    You are right there was a quarry near the end of villa road, I remember it being worked, it later became overgrown with vegetation.

    The area opposite Brittons Hill Girls school – now St Pauls- was devoid of houses just a gully and thick vegetation, this went up as far as the public stand pipe that was there, also on the right, before the brow of the hill at Britton’s Hill.

    I have not been to that area recently so I am just speaking from memory.

    The third quarry was opposite Club Morgan gap, but that was over grown with vegetation more than fifty years ago.

    If you let your eyes follow the contour of the land even before Dayrells Road, back some distance from the road as it curves up along Deighton’s Road, past the now Post Office and going back to Collymore Rock, some of the rock formations are very hard others not so. A lot of the area is now built up, so one has not got the advantage of a cliff view out to sea and being able to see what is beneath you.

    I remember the Kiln in operation near the top of Laynes Road and Villa Road, it was up a road off Villa Road, going towards Collymore Rock on the right, about fifty metres up the road.

  6. E.lloyd

    I can remember that the quarries began from the corner of villa road, Collymore Rock side, there was Evans, Philips, Rollins, Evans Reid, Blackmans, Lloyds, Rullops, Beales, Warners Quarries, to Flagstaff,Highgate.