Public Works Minister Colonel David Burch will bring forward a Motion to include all of Bermuda’s historic “fortifications from Hamilton Parish to Sandys Parish by way of a Supplemental Application to UNESCO”.
While noting that the proposed additions fall within the terms of the original designation for the designation for the Old Towne of St George’s only, he said: “All such fortifications, especially the largest at the old Royal Naval Dockyard, are related to St Georges and thus, within the terms of the original designation of our World Heritage Site.”
He also asked “the House to take note that Bermuda’s first observation of ‘Architecture Week’ occurred” last week from October 2 to Friday, October 6. Although the Department of Planning and architects do not fall under his Ministry, he said some of “the most beautiful examples of Bermuda’s architecture… are among the buildings held and administered” by his Ministry.
Those stately buildings include Government House, the Sessions House, the Cabinet Building, and Camden, the official residence of the Premier.
“I do think this is an appropriate time to ask each of us to understand the value of these buildings and their place within our society,” said Col Burch.
“Having held this post once before, I am aware that we seem to be largely unaware of the need for refurbishing our infrastructure from Dockyard to St George’s.
“Like our buses, our bridges need attention. And, as a tourist destination in this 21 Century, we must give some thought to what that means.
“Our architecture, stately old Bermuda Buildings, our bridges, our historically unique forts are all in need of care and attention. We can’t do it all at once – or, even, by ourselves. But, I think that our seniors would remind us ‘where there’s a will – there’s a way!’ There is nothing like having a challenge to respond to. So, I have been considering what ‘other way’ could we use to take care of our aging infrastructure?
“As a country, we are blessed with a rich history of fortifications built by the British and still standing today and; 17 years ago, in the year 2000, St George’s (our living 17 Century town) won the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site – Becoming one of only 1,073 such sites worldwide,” the Minister said.
- The St George’s designation reads as follows: ‘Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda’. The Town of St George, founded in 1612, is an outstanding example of the earliest English urban settlement in the New World. Its associated fortifications graphically illustrate the development of English Military engineering from the 17 to the 20 century, being adapted to take account of the development of artillery over this period.
“This designation while recognizing ‘related fortifications’ – recognized only those fortifications in the Parish of St George’s. However, in this island country, all fortifications – from St George to Somerset – are related.”
“Together,” he said, “these unparalleled groups of fortifications graphically illustrate English Military Engineering” spanning centuries.
His planned Motion seeks to have the omission rectified, to have all of the remaining fortifications fall within “the terms of the original designation”.
“This addition will help foster Bermuda’s Heritage tourism and underscore the cultural legacy and value of these built monuments to Bermuda and the world,” said Col Burch.
“Bermuda is unique in many ways – we often think that spending money on Parliament is actually spending money on the Members of Parliament – not so! We seldom think of such spending as maintaining our own architectural heritage. [I must admit – some changes are for matters of health, and therefore may benefit our MP’s],” he added.
On the recent renovations completed on the Cabinet Building, he said: “To say that the work was needed would be an understatement; but, it is not the only public building in need of attention.” Also in need of repairs is Camden, located in the Botanical Gardens in Paget.
“While the Parks Department does a wonderful job of keeping the natural beauty of the plants and flowers, Camden itself stands as an example of neglect,” he said. “This house, with it wooden upper verandah and beautiful vistas is a prime example of Bermuda’s built heritage. The building, like the Sessions House, used to be a part of our visitors’ heritage tours.
“And, the Sessions House, with its beautiful Florentine finish, should not be left to fall apart bit by bit. Located on the highest point in the City of Hamilton, and built in 1826 after the move of the Capital from St George’s to Hamilton in 1815 made its construction necessary.
“These buildings could increase our Heritage Tourism. Tourists would come to see the Jubilee Clock built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 and installed in 1893,” said Col Burch.
“While the Ministry of Public Works will continue to take care of the more urgent items, I will create an avenue of outreach to the private sector by asking them to ‘Adopt a Public Building’.”
The Minister concluded: “Architecture, like everything else that attests to our history, has a place in our lives. Like our children, they are a Bermuda treasure too, in need in care and attention.
“Who among you is willing to ‘Adopt a Public Building’? We will have a list of such properties, available for your information, on the Government website.”
Said Col Burch: “We can do anything if we all work together!”h