Parish Profile: Westmoreland

Parish Name: Westmoreland

Capital: Savanna-la-Mar

Land Area: 785.2 sq km (303.2 sq mi)

Population: 144,817

 

History

Colonists named this parish Westmoreland in 1703, after the English took over the island from Spanish rule in 1665; it is likely that it received its name as it was the most westerly point of the island. Savanna-la-Mar, the capital, was developed as a port from which sugar was exported and dates back to around 1730. The Spanish name Savanna-la-mar means “plain by the sea” and refers to its environment. One of the first Spanish settlements was also built at present-day Bluefields in this parish.

The parish boasts rain-fed fertile soils and low relief, well suited for sugar cane. The town of Frome, located some 5 miles away from Savanna-la-Mar, is one of the few remaining sugar factories in the country. In 1938, riots at the Frome sugar estate changed the course of Jamaica’s history. In the wake of these riots, the legislature passed universal adult suffrage in 1944, as well as a new constitution, which was approved by the Crown. This act put Jamaica on the road to self government and eventually independence.

The fertility and lush vegetation of the parish is greatly maintained by the various rivers and streams that are important sources of water. The popular Great Morass, found in the parish, is a large swamp area, which covers thousands of acres. Plant and animal material have collected on this land over the centuries and is thereafter mined as peat – a great source of energy.  The wetlands, common to the parish of Westmoreland, serve as a natural sanctuary to Jamaica’s wildlife.

Geographical Location

Westmoreland, located at the west end of the island, is adjoined on the north by the parish of Hanover and on the East by St. Elizabeth and St. James. The parish has a combination of white limestone, marl, sand, gravel and coral reefs.  Lying on the Georges Plain, the parish is drained by the Cabaritta River.

Main towns

Savanna-La-Mar

The parish capital, Savanna-la-Mar is a sub regional centre, where the administrative, commercial, marketing and retail sector dominates and acts as strong influence to the growth of the town.

Bluefields

A coastal town established by the Spanish on their arrival in 1655. Presently it is a tourist attraction with white sandy public beaches.

Grange Hill

Located in western Westmoreland, the town of Grange Hill is a large farming town which consists of a cluster of small communities – Mint, Belle Isle, Top Lincoln, and Kings Valley.

Negril

Located in western Westmoreland constituency, Negril is a Tourist Resort Area, having many chains of all inclusive hotels and a 7 mile strip of white sand beach.

Bethel Town

Established as a Free Village in the 19th century, the property was initially established as a sugar plantation however, presently citrus cultivation and cattle farming dominates.

Seaford Town

This area is significant for the existence of a number of German Descendants. It is said that the Germans settled in the town on 500 acres of partially cleared woodlands in the 18th century. The town was named after the British planter Lord Seaford.