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Committee Decisions

35 COM 8B.42

Cultural Properties - Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison (Barbados)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-11/35.COM/8B and WHC-11/35.COM/INF.8B1,

2. Inscribes the Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, Barbados, to the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ii), (iii) and (iv);

3. Takes note of the following provisional statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

 

Brief Synthesis

As one of the earliest established towns with a fortified port in the Caribbean network of military and maritime-mercantile outposts of the British Atlantic, Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison was the focus of trade-based English expansion in the Americas. By the 17th century, the fortified port town was able to establish its importance in the British Atlantic trade of a popular tropical staple, sugar. It was an entrepôt for goods and enslaved persons destined for Barbados and the rest of the Americas.

Historic Bridgetown's irregular settlement patterns and 17th century street layout of English medieval type are attributed to its spontaneous development. The organic serpentine street layout supported the development and transformation of creolized forms of tropical architecture, including Caribbean Georgian, which have been built on the unaltered urban plan. 

Historic Bridgetown's fortified port spaces were linked along the Bay Street corridor from the historic town's centre to St. Ann's Garrison. The island's position, being the most windward of the Caribbean territories and first port of call on the trans-Atlantic crossing, gave the colony significant commercial and military advantages at the height of imperial conflict in the 18th century. The property's natural harbour, Carlisle Bay, was perfectly positioned as the launching point for the projection and defense of British imperial power to defend and expand Britain's trade interests in the region and the Atlantic World. Used as a base for amphibious command and control, Historic Bridgetown's Garrison was established as a complex system of Garrison Government by the 1650s, which would later develop into the most structurally complete and functional 18th and 19th century British colonial garrison in the Atlantic World.

Criterion (ii): Historic Bridgetown was built upon a 17th century street layout resembling early English medieval or market towns with its narrow, serpentine configuration of streets and alleys. In its early settlement, the town experienced spontaneous development and quickly became a bustling port in the Atlantic World. The historic town has retained its original footprint for almost four centuries. The preservation of the historic street layout has also continuously supported both the preservation and evolution of functions in the colonial and post-colonial urban space, with administrative, commercial, cultural and residential uses still relatively intact. The communities that inhabited the town, made their mark on the townscape with their urban tropical architecture and monuments. Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison participated in international trade, not only of goods, but also the transmission of ideas and cultures that characterized the developing colonial enterprise in the Atlantic World. By the 17th century, trade relationships were established with England, North America, Africa and the colonial Caribbean, making the port a cosmopolitan centre of commerce, settlement and exploitation.

Criterion (iii):  In the pre-emancipation period, the maritime-mercantile orientation of the town produced a cosmopolitan culture comprising free and enslaved persons living in an urban matrix that supported and supplied the dominant plantation-based economy of the island. The social stratification of Bridgetown is well documented and bears exceptional testimony to several occupational, religious, ethnic, free and enslaved groups who helped to both support and, sometimes, contest the commercial interests of the rural plantation economy and international trade. The meeting of cultures in this environment created a hybridized creole culture in the Anglophone Caribbean, which did not wholly abandon either European or African ways, but found expression in new social relations, language, fashion and architecture that suited the Caribbean environment. These traditions live on in the ways in which the urban space functions today and is used by the people who visit, work and live in it. Historic Bridgetown remains a centre for administration, commerce and culture. The tension between order and resourcefulness lives on in the tangible and intangible heritage of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison.

Criterion (iv): St. Ann's Garrison and its fortifications which protected the town and its port constitute the finest brick Garrison ensemble in the British Atlantic World. The Garrison constitutes an integrated semi-planned urban landscape with a strong brick architectural theme and represents an almost complete 18th-19th century garrison. The remaining landscape and its system of fortifications, which has been essentially unchanged for 200 years, provides an outstanding glimpse into a pivotal period of British imperial rule and the garrison's role as a forward-operating base for amphibious command and control to defend and advance British interests in the Atlantic World, particularly during the American War of Independence.  Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison possesses an outstanding collection of colonial warehouses and dock facilities. Built to withstand hurricanes and to store and protect goods from damage in the tropical environment, the 18th and 19th century warehouses along the Careenage and Hincks Street are some of the best preserved storage facilities that were used for colonial goods in the British Atlantic. Built between 1889 and 1893, the Bridgetown Dry Dock symbolizes the height of maritime technology in the age of sail and steam, when thousands of foreign ships called at Bridgetown to moor in Carlisle Bay for provision and repair.

Integrity

The early 17th century paths and roads still form the basis of Bridgetown's organic street layout. The architectural history of the island, and in particular the buildings found in Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, is well developed and offers a unique expression of vernacular styles in the evolution of Caribbean architecture. The persistence of the irregular urban layout, the presence of administrative, maritime-mercantile, religious and other cultural buildings, especially the Public Buildings, places of worship and of learning, residential and chattel houses within Historic Bridgetown, all add to its character. The Garrison has retained an exceptionally high percentage of its physical attributes, representing a significant era of British colonial military history and heritage. These buildings and spaces, particularly the Garrison, continue today to provide similar functions for the property's inhabitants as they did during the colonial era.

Authenticity

Historic Bridgetown's early English medieval serpentine street and alley configuration provides a tangible authenticity which can be traced back to its early 17th century origins. This layout continues in spite of the town's transformation from a maritime-mercantile fortified port town to a contemporary cosmopolitan tropical city that remains the island's national centre. Bay Street, one of the oldest roads in Barbados and indeed in the Anglophone Caribbean, continues to provide the link between Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison. The preserved historic street layout and its surrounding urban landscape are witnesses to almost four centuries of change and adaptation in a tropical context.

Protection and Management requirements

Management, legal protection and conservation are the three pillars which buttress the Management Plan for the property. This tool will provide the overall protection of the property by ensuring that development is sustainable and harmonious. The Management Plan is complemented by a well-documented and successful planning framework and a supportive integrated system of legislation and policies. All of the relevant structures have been registered and form the core of a management database.

The management of the site will be public sector-led through the Cabinet of the Government of Barbados which holds ultimate responsibility for the management of the property. Authority has been formally conferred on the Barbados World Heritage Committee. Management will be shared and involves the collaborative effort of several non-governmental organizations and civil society including a number of property owners with responsibilities and interests within the property.  The Barbados World Heritage Committee forms the central plank in the administration of the Management Plan and will oversee adherence to the Convention. It will advise on policies and programmes for the conservation and management of the property, evaluate and monitor all matters relating to the protection and management of the property and, most importantly, continue to work assiduously to ensure that the management systems maintain and preserve the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

 

4. Recommends that the State Party:

a) Implement a programme of studies and training in traditional building, crafts, materials and conservation in collaboration with local tertiary institutions,

b) Also implement a programme of measuring and documenting all the listed buildings within the property;

5.  Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre a report on the above recommendations, in particular with regard to the implementation of the new management plan for the conservation of the property, by 1 February 2012, for examination at the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee in 2012.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Barbados
Session: 35COM