St. Catherine Heritage Sites

Emancipation Square, Spanish Town

Spanish Town, built by the Spanish after Sevilla Nueva (New Seville) was abandoned, dates from 1534. It was first known as Villa de la Vega, later St. Jago de la Vega and then Spanish Town. The town is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Jamaica. It was the capital of Spanish Jamaica from 1534 to 1655. When the English captured the island in 1655, Spanish Town remained the capital of the island until 1872 when this status was conferred on Kingston. Spanish Town still possesses memories of the past with its many historical buildings. The Emancipation Square is generally acclaimed to be the most impressive of its kind in the West Indies.

 

Rodney’s Memorial

This elaborate edifice was created in honour of the celebrated British Admiral Lord Rodney. The Memorial, designed by the famous English sculptor John Bacon in 1801, commemorates Rodney’s victory over a French fleet that had attempted to invade the island in 1782. Rodney is made to resemble a Roman Emperor.

This elaborate edifice was created in honour of the celebrated British Admiral Lord Rodney.

A tavern dating from the time of the Spanish occupation, which is said to have also been where the mules and horses belonging to the Governor were tethered was demolished to make way for the statue.

 

Flat Bridge

While it cannot be positively ascertained when this bridge was built, it was definitely constructed after 1724. Edward Long describes it in his History of Jamaica printed in 1774: This bridge is flat and composed of planks on frame of timberwork which rests upon two piers and two buttresses projecting from the banks, constructed with piles and braces interlaced with masonry.

When this bridge was being constructed, the sixteen plantations in the Bog Walk area were obliged to send one slave in every fifty to work on the River Road, sometimes called Sixteen Mile Walk.

When this bridge was being constructed, the sixteen plantations in the Bog Walk area were obliged to send one slave in every fifty to work on the River Road, sometimes called Sixteen Mile Walk. Gravel, marl, lime, sand and stone had to be dug. Slaves often lost their lives as they performed dangerous tasks in the Gorge. Contracts for timber and for masons to work on the bridge were authorized at vestry meetings.

Between 1881 and 1915, the floor of the bridge was washed away and later re-floored with iron girders and buckle plates taken from the original flooring of the May Pen bridge. Today, the bridge of three spans is supported by two piers and two abutments. In the 1930s it had metal handrails and later wooden ones, but these were devoured by the river at different times. Semi-circular spheres are now the only protection on the bridge itself.

The Flat Bridge is one of Jamaica’s oldest bridges.

 

Historic Cast Iron Bridge (Spanish Town)

This bridge, which spans the Rio Cobre River at the eastern end of Spanish Town, can be seen from the bridge that is currently being used. The abutment of the bridge is constructed with cut stone while the bridge is cast iron. It is about 81ft long and 15ft wide.

This bridge, erected in 1801, at a cost of four thousand pounds is the oldest bridge of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

So far the restoration of the Eastern face of the abutment wall in authentic masonry, as well as the reconstruction of the main support archway have been completed. The interior ‘skin’ of the abutment walls is now being reinforced with more stone work prior to the infilling and compacting of the cavity upon which the roadway will be built. The fixing of the roadway surface will be the final facet of the project which began in October last year.

The bridge was declared a National Monument by the JNHT and was at one time placed on the UNESCO list of endangered world sites. It was designed by British Engineer Thomas Wilson, cast in 1801 and shipped to Jamaica in prefabricated parts which were assembled and mounted on its stone abutments in 1802.

 

Sligoville 

In 1835 Rev. James Mursell Phillippo, a Baptist Minister and abolitionist, in anticipation of the abolition of the apprenticeship system, purchased land in the hills of St. Catherine. This land was then divided into lots for the former enslaved persons.

It is recorded that Henry Lunan, a former enslaved headman on the adjoining Hampstead Estate, purchased the first lot of land. The settlement was named Sligoville in honour of Howe Peter Browne, 2nd Marquis of Sligo, then Governor of Jamaica.

It was under Lord Sligo’s tenure as Governor that the proposed process of Emancipation of the enslaved persons was carried out. Sligoville, located about 10 miles north of Spanish Town, was the first Free Village in Jamaica.

 

Mount Nebo Baptist Church 

The Mount Nebo Baptist Church has the distinction of being the chapel with the steepest roof of all church buildings in Jamaica. Although the Church was founded in 1837, the present building dates from the early twentieth century.

The present Gothic-style chapel is the work of the Rev. C. M. Bennett, who was Pastor of the Church between 1898, and 1923. The chapel is architecturally designed from a plan he obtained from England, and was commenced in 1905. It is a sturdy cut stone building with basic dimensions of 77 feet long, and 45 feet wide.

 

Two Sisters Cave 

Two Sisters Cave is located in the Hellshire Hills, St. Catherine. Each cave has a large sink hole, which contains fresh water. It is possible that these reservoirs served as sources of fresh water for the Tainos. This natural cavern and the tunnel beneath are interconnected with many other caverns and tunnels over this whole limestone area which extends for miles in all directions. The cave contains a petroglyph carving of a face which is about seven hundred years old. Based on the fact that the Tainos drew effigies of themselves and their gods as a sign of their respect for their gods and that the caves contain no evidence of being the homes of any Tainos, it is believed that they were mainly used for ceremonial purposes.

 

Colbeck Castle 

Colbeck Castle is a massive stone and brick ruin with walls standing to their full original height. Colbeck Castle is situated in open country about two miles north of Old Harbour, St. Catherine. The castle, built about 1680, is currently owned by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.

The building is rectangular in shape consisting of four storied tower-like structures at each corner rising to a height of about 40 feet. Defence against the Spaniards was an important consideration for the English settlers in this early period and Colbeck Castle apparently was intended to be a key point in this defence.

Consequently the Palladio style of architecture was adopted for this building. It is solid and imposing and designed along the lines of a Seventeenth Century Italian mansion.

At present the building lies in ruins. However, the remaining walls show the grandeur of the structure. For further information contact the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.

 

Linstead Railway Station

The Linstead Railway Station boasts a very simple Jamaica/Georgian style of architecture. On either side of the timber structure are covered passages.

The Linstead Railway Station boasts a very simple Jamaica/Georgian style of architecture. On either side of the timber structure are covered passages.

The vented zinc hip roof with downward fishtail fretwork on the eaves is supported by timber posts with timber brackets. The doors used on this building are solid recessed panel timber doors with fixed louvered fanlights above.

Timber louver windows are also used throughout the building.

This Station was built around 1885.

 

Heritage Sites by Parish