Call to relocate public library
Historian reminds us of the significance of our ‘architectural edifice’ and why it needs to be moved to its original location
The Public Library must go back to Coleridge Street!
Historian Trevor Marshall, and several persons who participated in the inaugural Barbados World Heritage 5k Run and Walk on Sunday, made that call, during the event’s prize giving ceremony at Bay Street, St. Michael.
Organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, the Barbados World Heritage Committee and the National Sports Council, the 5k run and walk signalled the start of Heritage Month 2014.
Of equal significance was that the event was held to raise funds and garner support for the restoration of the Carnegie Building at Coleridge Street, Bridgetown, the former home of the Public Library.
Runners and walkers, most outfitted in bright yellow t-shirts with the message, Help Us Restore our Library, each donated $25 to the cause before traversing the serpentine streets of Historic Bridgetown.
Lauding the initiative, Marshall said the walk, race, or stride started appropriately at the library on Coleridge Street. The participants then journeyed along the City’s roads, including Pinfold Street, Tudor Street, Roebuck Street, Constitution Road and Fairchild Street, to end at Bay Street.
He explained that the Carnegie Building and several other structures along the route needed to be preserved if Barbados wished to truly benefit from its UNESCO World Heritage status.
Describing the public library as an “architectural edifice”, he said it was a place where thousands of children and adults once discovered the joys of reading, conducted research or simply met a good friend.
He told the crowd that the main individual responsible for the Free Library in Bridgetown was Andrew Carnegie.
“Born in Scotland, he had no education… he stopped school at eight and started working at 11. He worked at everything legal and became one of the wealthiest men in America. Then, as most wealthy people do, he engaged in philanthropy, that is, giving money to deserving causes. So, he established a number of libraries throughout the region, one of those being ours in 1847,” he said.
The historian asserted that attention also needed to be given to the Montefiore Fountain, opposite the Carnegie Building on Coleridge Street.
“It was donated by a coloured man, John Montefiore, Jr, his father being a Caucasian Jew. It was [originally] down by the Sagicor building on Beckford Place, and was brought up to outside the library. That is also derelict, and must be restored,” Marshall urged.
Insisting Bridgetown needed to become “busy” once more, he said, “I suspect it will never be alive in the city again, but if it can’t be restored as a place to live, it can be restored as a museum city. A place where people can be entertained, where your children can learn their history…”
During the Barbados World Heritage 5k Run and Walk’s prize giving ceremony, winners were presented with heritage tokens made by Barbadian artists. In the male walkers’ category, Rodney Blackman took first place with a time of 27 minutes 46 seconds while Dudley Harewood was second with 28:29. In the women’s category, Charmaine Seale took the first place with a time of 35:23, ahead of Sandra Kellman who clocked 40:35.
Elizabeth Ranandeau was the first female runner to cross the finish line in a time of 21 minutes : 16 seconds; second place went to Carlie Pipe with 21:28; and ten year old Zara Gaskin came third with a time of 24:41.
Twenty-four-year-old, Oein Josiah placed first in the male runners’ category with 17 minutes : 23 seconds. He lauded the cause: “I have a passion for running but I was encouraged because it [the run] was for national heritage. They are trying to get funds to restore the library and that was one of the main reasons why I wanted to participate in the event.”
Pierre Standford came second with 17:31, while Oein Josiah’s father, Orin Josiah, placed third with18:01.
Tevon Cadogan, 5, was awarded a prize for being the youngest participant, while 65-year-old Linda Ward was presented with a prize for being the oldest competitor.
Other activities for Heritage Month include a Movie Night in the City on Saturday, June 21; a Museum and Gallery Crawl on Sunday, June 22; and a Heritage Breakfast and Tour at the Hilton Barbados on Sunday, June 29. (BGIS)