Latest News from Antigua and Barbuda
AHOY! NELSON’S DOCKYARD IS WHERE ANTIGUA HARBORS HISTORY
ANTIGUA, West Indies – As an annual gathering spot for competitive sailing enthusiasts, English Harbour is the hub during Sailing Week, an annual springtime regatta that draws the attention of modern sailors worldwide. However, it is also a notable location for its place in British naval history too. Nestled along the 15-square-mile Harbour, Nelson's Dockyard National Park was named on behalf of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who in 1784 developed the British naval facilities at English Harbour, as a hiding place for their ships. Today, the Dockyard is the only remaining example in the world of a Georgian naval dockyard, where seafarers and landlubbers alike can explore the charming boutiques and art galleries, lunch on the terrace of the old Admiral’s Inn, or, simply take in the history and local color.
Originally established as a base for the British Royal Navy, the Dockyard served as a repair station where ships could have sails made, masts rebuilt, bottoms scraped and more. Constructed from solid local stone, and brick imported from England, British ships also used the protected port to take shelter from enemies and hurricanes.
Due to the Dockyard’s excellent security and hillside fortifications, Antigua was never conquered by another European power. The Dockyard was also closely protected by Fort Berkeley, which sits on a narrow bit of land at the entrance of the harbor. The Fort worked effectively during sieges, locking out the enemies with a strong chain and a timber beam barricade. The Fort continued to build its military defense system over the years, eventually housing 29 spectacular cannons which are still positioned for viewing today.
Protected inside the Dockyard compound is a grand Georgian style building known as the Admiral’s House. Although Nelson never lived in the house, his telescope and tea caddy are on display, along with other nautical memorabilia. Today the house welcomes the Dockyard Museum which displays a variety of memorabilia from the 18th century era of pirates and battles at sea. Throughout the Dockyard are historical plaques describing the role of various buildings, and tour guides may be enlisted for a brief but informative oral history.
The National Park is also home to archeological ruins that predate Christ and features sandy beaches and tropical vegetation with many varieties of mangroves and cactus. There are five easy nature trails, with coastal views that meander through the flora and along stunning vistas. Visitors can embark on a walk that can last anywhere from 30 minutes to five hours. The dockyard and historical buildings are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism would like to remind travelers of new passport requirements: Beginning January 8, 2007, the U.S. Department of State will require all U.S. citizens traveling via air or sea to present a valid passport for travel and re-entry into the United States. For information on obtaining a U.S. passport, visit the U S Passport Services Web site: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html or contact the U.S National Passport Information Center, (877) 487-2778.
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