Queen’s Park History
The history of what is now Queen’s Park, dates back more than two hundred years. The British Government apparently purchased the area in the 1780’s as a residence for the General commanding the British troops who had arrived in Barbados earlier that year. This building was known as King’s House.
On the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, the name King’s House was changed to Queen’s House when the British Soldiers stationed were withdrawn in 1906. The Government of Barbados decided to purchase the complete property. This consist of what is now known as Queen’s Park, The Pavilion’, which was later, turned over to the Agricultural Department and the Retreat, which was handed over to the Education Board as a resident for the Assistant Masters of Harrison College, later becoming the Staff Common Room. The remaining twelve acres or so were leased to the Vestry of St. Michael at a “peppercorn rent”, for the formation of a park.
The legislature provided a grant to assist the Vestry of St. Michael in the construction of the Park, a board known as the “Park Commissioners was formed. Work commenced in November 1907 on the formation of what is now known as Queen’s Park. The Commissioners were extremely fortunate in having the invaluable assistance of the First Lady of the land, Lady Gilbert Carter, wife of the Governor, Sir Thomas Gilbert-Carter.
Lady Carter, an American by birth, came to Barbados in 1904 with her husband, and designed the Empire Theatre, Ilaro Court, formed the Women’s Self Help in Bridgetown, which still functions today, and designed the layout of Queen’s Park including the fountain. In addition, she was as responsible for designing the Bandstand on the Esplanade on Bay Street, the gardens of the Lazaretto at Batts Rock, and the Olive Blossom postage stamp for the Tercentenary celebrations in 1905.
On the 10th June 1909, Lady Gilbert-Carter unlocked the Park gates with a specially made golden key. This key was made and designed by Mr. H. Gale, Jeweller of Bolton Lane and Manager of the Barbados Pawn brokers Company.
In 1959 the Vestry System was abolished, and Queen’s Park was passed on to the Bridgetown Council. It was at this time that Queen’s Park became the venue for the Annual Agriculture Exhibition, the after church Christmas morning Police Band concerts and Promenade.
In 1970, Queen’s Park was entrusted to the newly created Parks and Beaches Commission, the forerunner of the National Conservation Commission, which still maintains these gardens.
Several important visitors to Queen’s Park added to the garden in the numerous tree-planting ceremonies that have taken place over the years. These include His Royal Highness, Prince Albert, Duke of York, later King George VI of England, Her Royal Highness, the Queen Elizabeth the Second and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
A special lawn was constructed for the children’s play ground created around the huge Baobab tree. This playground equipped with swings, sea-saws, a chute and a tree house have provided considerable amusement for the younger children who go to the Park.
Water for the lawns, plants and trees in the Park is obtained from a well on the premises, which taps an underground stream.