Dream Castle | lead stories
The proposed rehabilitation of Colbeck Castle in the old port, St Catherine’s, is highly anticipated by locals in the Colbeck area. They hope this will help improve the aesthetics of the area, attract tourists, and provide an opportunity for revenue generation in the community.
In an interview with the catcher Yesterday, local farmers Stacy Leslie and Hermine Lewis, who live near the castle, said they were disappointed with the structure’s current state of deterioration and were looking forward to seeing it restored to its former glory.
Although they regret not seeing any work done on the site yet, they have long heard about the proposal.
Restoration of the historic site, which has stood the test of time for more than 340 years, was requested by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in 2017 when he urged the National Housing Trust (NHT) and the Jamaican National Heritage Trust (JNHT) to collaborate to make it a reality during his remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the villages Colbeck Castle is in the first and second phases of the housing projects.
The concept is that the fort and its grounds will be transformed into a heritage park and become an ideal family-friendly destination, especially with various housing projects under development by NHT and private developers nearby, bringing more people to the area.
The vision calls for the construction of restrooms for site visitors, the installation of perimeter fencing, security posts, parking lots, storyboards with facts about the site, places to sit, and additional trees and flowers for beauty and shade.
Leslie said that newlyweds often come from far and wide, as well as from within and just outside the community, to have their wedding photos taken on-site due to the attractive appearance of the 40-foot-tall stone and brick tower, which is 40 feet high. Two-story castle ruins.
Noting that, Lewis has expressed her desire to see a museum set up on the grounds as well as concession stands for residents to use by selling food to the expected crowd of young men who will no doubt visit on weekends and holidays, similar to the setting of Devon House, a historic estate of 11 acres in Saint Andrew
As it is now, the building is devoid of roof, windows and floors. Sections of the walls are prone to collapse, and other areas of the castle are termite infested and covered with roots and weeds.
But residents will have to wait longer for the renovations to be completed because the roughly J$258 million project is still in its early stages, according to Lorna Bailey, director of public education, public relations and communications at JNHT, who spoke with the catcher yesterday.
The cooperation between JNHT and NHT will result in a three-phase project. The first phase will see the landscape, infrastructure and facilities of the heritage park developed. Phase two will involve stabilizing the castle and outbuildings, while phase three will involve developing the castle and outbuildings for adaptive reuse.
Bailey explained that the reason for the earlier delay in the progress of the project was due to the initial proposal to remove the canal and use an alternative access route. However, these issues were resolved, and the decision was taken to preserve the canal and rehabilitate the existing access road.
Currently, discussions are still underway to answer the question of who will finance the project.
Bailey stated that all proposed designs had been completed up to this point and that the public would be informed after final decisions were made.
“When the project is completed, we hope to achieve a newly renovated castle and garden in a historical space that everyone can visit and enjoy, even if children come to play in the playground, a snack area for people to buy ice cream and other delights, recreational spaces for adults to relax and have picnics and bathroom facilities.” There will be illustrated stories telling the history of the fort as well as a tour guide The space will also be available to rent for all occasions such as weddings, private parties, video shoots etc. “The site will be marketed to both locals and foreigners and will be a great addition to the heritage tourism offering in Central Jamaica.
Colbeck Castle is currently owned by JNHT. It lies in open country about two miles north of the old port and rises 500 feet above sea level.
It is adopted and designed in the Palladio architectural style after a 17th century Italian palazzo.
According to the JNHT, there is a great deal of ambiguity associated with the construction and use of the site as no one is sure if it was completed or lived in or the exact date it was built. It is thought that the building may have been intended as part of the defense of the island as a rallying point for St Dorothy’s and Clarendon’s militia. There are four outbuildings associated with the main castle. It is believed that these buildings were used for domestic purposes. Colbeck Castle became a National Monument in 1985 and was declared a National Heritage Site in 1990.
For more information, JNHT may be contacted at: 876-922-1287-8, 876-922-3990, or 876-924-9531.