Saturday, March 22, 2008

Historian Visits St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Professor Simon D. Smith, Professor of Modern History and Diaspora Studies and a member of the The Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE) at Hull University in the UK, visited St. Vincent in March 2008 to study our examples of industrial archaeology from the 18th and 19th century.

As the Institue says on its web page: "SLAVERY and the social injustices associated with it are as real today as they were 200 years ago, when William Wilberforce led the movement which ended the British slave trade in 1807.The Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE) is located in a listed Victorian building in the historic Old Town in Hull’s city centre. It is next to Wilberforce House, Wilberforce’s birthplace and itself the subject of a forthcoming World Heritage Site application."

The stimulus for the visit was his analysis of inspection reports. The abstract says, in part:
"This article seeks further illumination on the practicalities of employing visiting attorneys by analyzing the Reports prepared by John Johnson for James Adam Gordon: an absentee proprietor of half-a-dozen plantations located on St Kitts, Antigua, and St Vincent" To fully understand the Reports it would be helpful to see the actual site, and study, in local records, the context.

One of the plantations was Fairhall, inland of Caliaqua.

At the map location of the great house and works, we found parts of plantation machinery being used as garden ornaments.

Professor Smith also surveyed other areas looking for remains of estate activity. Here he eats lunch on a bank of the Congo River near Georgetown.

We can hope that Professor Smith's future publications will motivate the SVG Department of Culture to protect the remaining examples of industrial archaeology in situ.