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Hampden opens gateway to community tourism in Trelawny

Published:Tuesday | February 14, 2017 | 2:00 AMChristopher Thomas
An old boiler on the grounds of Hampden Estate in Trelawny.
Monique Dunbar, tour guide at Hampden Estate in Trelawny, points out an old sugar grinder during a tour of the estate’s rum distillery.
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The Hampden Estate in Trelawny has been attracting increasing numbers of visitors with its Rum Fire distillery tour.

The estate had more than 200 visitors to the property in January, and according to tour manager Mosi 'Pepe' Grant, the site's popularity is guaranteed to boost community tourism for surrounding areas.

"Here at Hampden, we are interested in community tourism, so we do look to partner with the handcart man on the road, or people who have a nice river site," Grant told Western Focus following a recent visit to the historic facility. "Being a fairly new tour, its growth is going really well. With the locals, our reputation is very high, and especially for people around the community, the reputation is one of high regard with them as well."

 

HISTORIC TRADITION

 

The Hampden Estate, which is part of a historic tradition of sugar manufacturing in Jamaica, was founded in 1753 and originally owned by Scottish planter Archibald Sterling, before later being acquired by the Farquharsen family, and later by the Government of Jamaica. In 2009, the property was divested to its current operators, the Hussey family-owned Everglades Farms Limited.

Although it has downsized its operations as a sugar-growing entity, Hampden currently offers two-hour-long tours of its distillery and the grounds of the estate's great house from Mondays to Fridays, primarily to cruise ship passengers docking in Falmouth. The tours began last June, with a consistently growing number of visitors to the property on a monthly basis since.

Speaking on the facility's current tour operations, Grant said the estate collaborates with several local tour companies and other businesses in neighbouring communities in Trelawny and St James as a means of giving visitors a first-hand experience with the local landscape.

"We partner with all the tours around for Martha Brae, barbershops in Falmouth, Tastees' Restaurant, you name it ... and the community, for us, is everyone not only close by in Trelawny, but also St James," said Grant. "We have been engaged with people from Adelphi in St James, which is linked as community tourism with Hampden Tours also."

Grant added: "The people who we have gotten here so far, it is always surprising to them to find a gem in the middle of nowhere. So as far as our popularity goes, the moment people come here, they love it, and they are overwhelmed with the beauty and history of Hampden."

Marketing director at Hampden Estate, Christelle Harris, highlighted some of the tour operators with whom the estate collaborates to bring cruise ship passengers to see the Rum Fire distillery.

"On the ground, we work closely with some tour operators to facilitate our bookings; some of these are Amstar, Jaital Tours, and Island Routes," said Harris. "Other cruise passengers who are arriving seek us out and book tours independently, as other tourists sometimes do as well."