Fri | Jan 22, 2021

Georgian Society seeks to raise awareness, increase membership

Published:Friday | September 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Ruins of Rockfort.
Oakton House

The Georgian Society of Jamaica, established in 1967 out of concern over the destruction and neglect of buildings of this period across the country, is seeking to raise awareness and get more persons to join the organisation.

The Society, which has chapters in Kingston-St Andrew, St Ann-St Mary, Falmouth-Trelawny, and St James, aims to promote preservation of and provide information on Jamaica's Georgian architecture.

Jamaica has a very rich history, telling a story of adversity, diversity, prosperity, and resilience. Jamaica's culture has evolved from this story of plantations, slavery, sugar, conquest, colonisation, and the link between Britain, Ireland, Africa, and the Caribbean.

The Georgian period - 1714 to 1840 - taking its name from the succession of British kings named George, covers this period of Jamaica's history.

The period architecture is reflected in the houses, factories, churches, infrastructure (bridges, aqueducts, etc) and civic buildings designed by people of European origin and built by enslaved peoples of African origin, in many cases using materials found and produced in Jamaica - mahogany, cedar, limestone, and bricks.

The buildings were adapted to a Jamaican style to take account of climate conditions - heat, humidity, rain, and wind. They have withstood the ravages of hurricanes and earthquakes. The skill of the craftsmen and builders is demonstrated in the beauty and durability of the structures. Many of these buildings form major landmarks across the island.

The Georgian architecture in Falmouth (now a government declared heritage district) attracted further attention as the town was the location for the filming of scenes in the 1973 film Papillion.

The Society has maintained an interest in the development of Falmouth and has sought to assist with conservation projects at other sites across the island. Over the years, the Georgian Society has been pleased to have the support and encouragement of the Friends of the Georgian Society in Britain.

Jamaica should be endeavouring to increase heritage tourism by preserving and developing its historic sites, ensuring that their story is accurately imparted. An evolving branch of heritage tourism is genealogy research.

An increasing number of persons living in Jamaica, Britain, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are tracing their ancestry in Jamaica, whether the ancestor was a plantation owner, plantation employee, indentured labourer, enslaved worker, Maroon, merchant, member of the clergy, government official, or military personnel.

The Society is inviting persons to enrol as members and to anyone interested in establishing a chapter in Portland, St Thomas, St Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Clarendon, Hanover, Manchester, and St Catherine.

For more information contact: Georgian Society of Jamaica, Phone: 876-978-0707 (9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. weekdays).