Historical Sites In Westmoreland To Be Developed

Photo: Sharon Earle Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, examines a sugar cane grinder and water wheel which are among the artefacts on the Frome Sugar Estate. Dr. McNeill led a fact-finding tour of heritage sites in Westmoreland on August 5 with representatives of stakeholder organizations, including the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), the Westmoreland Parish Development Committee (WPDC) and the Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings (SCJH). Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, Councillor Bertel Moore, is in the background.

Story Highlights

  • At least 10 historical sites in the parish of Westmoreland have been earmarked for development, as part of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment’s thrust to diversify and expand the country’s tourism product, while providing employment opportunities in the communities where they are located.
  • It has been determined that the sites held great potential to be developed into tourist attractions.
  • The Fontabelle Great House, which is located on the Frome Estate, could become the centrepiece of the development plan. An analysis of the property done by TPDCo has recommended that surrounding buildings and artefacts be developed as part of a heritage trail.

At least 10 historical sites in the parish of Westmoreland have been earmarked for development, as part of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment’s thrust to diversify and expand the country’s tourism product, while providing employment opportunities in the communities where they are located.

Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon Dr. Wykeham McNeill, who led a tour of heritage sites on August 5, said that following discussions among stakeholder organisations, including the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) and the Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings (SCJH), it has been determined that the sites held great potential to be developed into tourist attractions.

The Fontabelle Great House, which is located on the Frome Estate, could become the centrepiece of the development plan. An analysis of the property done by TPDCo has recommended that surrounding buildings and artefacts be developed as part of a heritage trail.

A number of historical points on the vast sugar plantation, including Workers Park, the site of  the 1938 Frome Estate workers riot as well as the location of the vault marking the site where Barclays Bank DCO established its first bank on the island; a water wheel, other artefacts and historical structures of a working plantation are also to be  developed. The plan also includes the upgrade of existing attractions in the parish.

“If we can get something going here at Fontabella and the other (great) houses that are in the region, and if you can link those with Roaring River …Mayfield Falls, you start to get an economy of scale where persons can go on a tour (which includes) a water attraction, a heritage attraction (and possibly) the Frome Sugar Factory,” the Minister said.

The SCJH is the largest landlord in the parish and according to Chairman, Donna Scott Motley, the holding company is now seeking investors for the management and control of the proposed development.

Member of Parliament for Central Westmoreland, Dwayne Vaz, has demonstrated his support for the initiative by offering to use a portion of  the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to underwrite some of the projects.

Meanwhile, Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, Councillor Bertel Moore, underscored the potential all the sites visited have, while Custos of Westmoreland, the Rev. Canon Hartley Perrin, said the people are looking “with great anticipation for the day when the promises become fulfilled.”

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