Not our home!

Grandson upset over plans to demolish home of national anthem composer

The Barbados National Trust (BNT) is contending there is an “unholy rush” to tear down this country’s heritage sites, as the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) prepares to demolish the birth home of Roland Edwards, the musical composer of the Barbados National Anthem.

Speaking to Barbados TODAY Wednesday morning at Chapel Street, Speightstown, St Peter where the two-storey derelict structure stands, BNT President Peter Stevens appealed to the authorities to spare the building.

A near ten-year struggle by Edwards’ grandson Randolph Woodroffe to save the 19th century stone building was dealt a significant blow last month when Justice Pamela Beckles discharged an injunction which had prevented the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and its contractors from demolishing the historical building.

Residents of Speightstown have joined forces with the Barbados National Trust to erect a safety barrier around the home of composer of the national anthem, Roland Edwards. They have also removed portions of the structure which posed an immediate danger to the public in the hope of convincing the court not to permit the destruction of the historical building.

Although Woodroffe has secured a seven-day stay of execution, with the way virtually clear for the demolition of the building, Stevens suggested the celebration of Barbados’ 50th Independence anniversary was nothing more than lip service, arguing that scant respect was being paid to those who had contributed to that milestone.

“This is the place where the man who wrote the music to the national anthem lived in Barbados. This is an important part of Barbados’ history. It will be 51 years in November that we will be celebrating independence. Exactly how are we celebrating that milestone by disrespecting the characters that lent to that independence? This is extremely important. I don’t know any Barbadian who doesn’t have a great pride about our independence. So I don’t understand why we would want to eradicate the historical building blocks that brought us to this point,” said Stevens, who warned that future generations would pay dearly for the country’s failure to preserve its heritage.

Randolph Woodroffe was quite emotional over the prospect of his grandfather’s birth home being torn down.

“If things like this are not so important to us today, it is going to be important when we get to our 100th year [of independence] and we would be thanked for preserving such places since people would not have met the people that played a role in our independence. They would have to make do with visiting places they lived and see the things that probably inspired them,” he added.

The building had been earmarked by the EPD for demolition since 2003 and was close to being torn down in May 2008 before it was saved by a last-minute court injunction.

The BNT president argued that an overwhelming majority of the northern community was in support of preserving the structure for posterity, contending that residents had joined forces with engineers from the trust to erect a security barrier and remove 40 per cent of the structure, which the EPD had deemed a risk to society.

“We agree that there are certain elements which have to be removed and rebuilt or restored but there is not a case here that we can see for the total demolition of this building. We have restored buildings which are much worse than this. So it is a little unfortunate that it has gotten to this stage. But it is what it is and we need to get behind Barbados’ cultural heritage, and independence is one of the most important aspects of that,” Stevens stressed.

Meanwhile, Woodroffe said the entire ordeal was taking an emotional toll, but he was hopeful the courts would be convinced to see things in his favour now that efforts were being made to save the structure.

“As the only relative still present on the island I think I could safely say that my grandfather would be rolling in his grave if he knew what was going on . . . . It is okay to talk about pushing it down but when you look at the person who lived in that building there should a much greater sentiment and effort to ensure that the building stands,” said Woodroffe, who was barely able to contain his emotion.

5 Responses to Not our home!

  1. John Everatt August 3, 2017 at 1:03 am

    This is all well and good Peter but can you tell us where the money is going to come from to restore this building? I agree 100% that the heritage buildings should be preserved. The question remains – where does the money come from?

    • leroy August 3, 2017 at 1:41 am

      The $ comes from the tax payers,,so gov should foot the bill.

  2. Sue Donym August 3, 2017 at 7:02 am

    It’s perhaps a little ironic that the family didn’t find the time or desire to maintain the building; in fact their interests are elsewhere, says the only remaining relative on the island!

    What national acknowledgement do we owe and what level of responsibility do we have for those who were somehow connected to our symbols of independence – or does it depend on how vocal the relatives are?

  3. Donild Trimp August 3, 2017 at 8:00 am

    There is a place for Heritage Sites in Barbados but some people become emotional and delusional when it comes to dilapidated rat infested safety hazards which are beyond repair.

    These eyesores should be bulldozed and removed to the garbage dump.

    The same thing should be said for Lower Bay Street and all those dilapidated run down eyesores.

    There is no money in the public purse to even consider a restoration program for all these dilapidated eyesores.

  4. Andy August 3, 2017 at 8:49 am

    There comes a time when any building has to be removed. It may not be a beautiful one to look at anyway. I think that any building erected on the site be named accordingly, on behalf of Roland Edwards. I am sure if the family gets a substantial sum for the property, it will be a blessing to them. Look at the birth place of Errol Barrow in Nestfield St. Lucy. I am not aware of any significant reference to the construction details to consider it a heritage unit anyway. Everyone who was born in a house is then entitled to its heritage reference… QEH will be a heritage site form many anyway… Is this why they will not demolish or refurbish the QEH?.


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