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City of Bridgetown

Bridgetown, Barbados..JPG
Chamberlain Bridge spanning the Careenage, Bridgetown
City of Bridgetown, Barbados Armorial bearing.jpg
Location of Bridgetown (red star)
Barbados location map.svg
Red pog.svg
City of Bridgetown
Location on a map of Barbados parishes
Coordinates: 13°05′51″N59°37′00″W / 13.09750°N 59.61667°W / 13.09750; -59.61667 Coordinates: 13°05′51″N59°37′00″W / 13.09750°N 59.61667°W / 13.09750; -59.61667
Country Barbados
Parish Saint Michael
  Total15 sq mi (40 km2)
3 ft (1 m)
  Density7,300/sq mi (2,800/km2)
Time zone UTC−4 (AST)
Area code(s) +1 246
Official nameHistoric Bridgetown and its Garrison
Criteriaii, iii, vi
Reference no. 1376
State PartyBarbados
Region Americas

Bridgetown (UN/LOCODE: BB BGI) [2] is the capital and largest city of Barbados. Formerly The Town of Saint Michael, the Greater Bridgetown area is located within the parish of Saint Michael. Bridgetown is sometimes locally referred to as "The City", but the most common reference is simply "Town". As of 2014, its metropolitan population stands at roughly 110,000.


The Bridgetown port, found along Carlisle Bay (at 13°06′22″N59°37′55″W / 13.106°N 59.632°W / 13.106; -59.632 (Bridgetown port) ) lies on the southwestern coast of the island. Parts of the Greater Bridgetown area (as roughly defined by the Ring Road Bypass or more commonly known as the ABC Highway), [3] sit close to the borders of the neighbouring parishes Christ Church and St. James. The Grantley Adams International Airport for Barbados, is located 16 kilometres (10 mi) southeast of Bridgetown city centre, and has daily flights to major cities in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and the Caribbean. There is no longer a local municipal government, but it is a constituency of the national Parliament. During the short-lived 1950s-1960s Federation of the British West Indian Territories, Bridgetown was one of three capital cities [4] within the region being considered to be the Federal capital of region. [5] [6]

The present-day location of the city was established by English settlers in 1628; a previous settlement under the authority of Sir William Courten was at St. James Town. Bridgetown is a major West Indies tourist destination, and the city acts as an important financial, informatics, convention centre, and cruise ship port of call in the Caribbean region. On 25 June 2011, "Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison" was added as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO. [7] [8] [9]


Although the island was totally abandoned or uninhabited when the British arrived, one of the few traces of indigenous pre-existence on the island was a primitive bridge constructed over the Careenage area's swamp at the centre of Bridgetown. It was thought that this bridge was created by a people indigenous to the Caribbean known as the Tainos. Upon finding the structure, the British settlers began to call what is now the Bridgetown area Indian Bridge. Scholars widely believe that the Tainos were driven from Barbados to the neighbouring island of Saint Lucia, during an invasion by the Kalinagos, another indigenous people of the region. Eventually after 1654 when a new bridge was constructed over the Careenage by the British, the area became known as The Town of Saint Michael and later as Bridgetown, after Sir Tobias Bridge.

Bridgetown is the only city outside the present United States that George Washington visited. (George Washington House, the house where he stayed, is included within the boundaries of the Garrison Historic Area.) Two of Washington's ancestors, Jonathon and Gerrard Hawtaine, were early planters on the island. Their grandmother was Mary Washington of Sulgrave, Northamptonshire, England. In 2011, historic buildings in Bridgetown were designated as a protected area by UNESCO. [10]

Early settlement

Lord Nelson statue Bridgetown, Barbados in 1848, removed in 2020 Pg013 Title The history of Barbados by Sir Robert H. Schombourgk.jpg
Lord Nelson statue Bridgetown, Barbados in 1848, removed in 2020
Bridgetown, Barbados in 1848 Pg012 Bridgetown in Barbados.jpg
Bridgetown, Barbados in 1848

English settlement of Bridgetown began on 5 July 1628 [11] under Charles Wolverstone, who brought with him 64 settlers to these lands formally claimed by James Hay, the Earl of Carlisle. Wolverstone had been sent by a group of London merchants, headed by Sir Marmaduke Rawdon. They had been granted a lease [12] to 10,000 acres (4,000 ha) of land by the Earl of Carlisle in settlement of debts. Wolverstone granted each of the settlers 100 acres (40 ha) of land on the northern side of the Careenage waterway for the purpose of general settlement. [11] The southern shore on Needham's Point was claimed by Carlisle's agents in October 1628. In 1631, many acres of land directly facing Carlisle Bay were passed to Henry Hawley, the new Governor; but after reports of his dishonest behaviour he was arrested and forcibly returned to England in 1639. An investigation by a commission in 1640 found that much of Hawley's land transactions were legitimate and properly showed[ clarification needed ] these lands (including the town site) as being attributed to the Earl of Carlisle. Bridgetown was built with a street layout resembling early English medieval or market towns, with its narrow serpentine street and alley configuration.

From town to city

In 1824, Barbados became the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Barbados and the Leeward Islands. The St Michael's Parish Church became a cathedral, so that Bridgetown became a city. In 1842, Barbados, Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada, Saint Vincent, and Saint Lucia were split into separate dioceses by Royal Letters Patent which also decreed that the Town of Bridgetown should be called the City of Bridgetown. [13]

From 1800 until 1885, Bridgetown was the main seat of Government for the former British colonies of the Windward Islands. During this period, the resident Governor of Barbados also served as the Colonial head of the Windward Islands. After the Government of Barbados officially exited from the Windward Islands union in 1885, the seat was moved from Bridgetown to St. George's on the neighbouring island of Grenada.

The Coat of Arms of Bridgetown Bridgetown coa.gif
The Coat of Arms of Bridgetown

In December 1925, a committee sought to petition the King for a Royal Charter of Incorporation to provide local government in the city, proposed to consist of a mayor, 8 aldermen, 12 common councillors, a town clerk, a head-borough or chief constable, and such other officers as would be deemed necessary. It was proposed that the island's House of Assembly should seek to incorporate the city instead of using a Royal Charter.

This proposal did not succeed, but in 1958 the Local Government Act was passed in Barbados. This provided a separate administration for the city, with a mayor; 6 city aldermen; and 12 city councillors, four for each of the three wards in the city.

On 20 September 1960, the College of Arms in London granted arms to the City of Bridgetown. The armorial bearings were designed by the late Neville Connell, the then director of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, and H. W. Ince, the Honorary Secretary of the Society.

Local government in Barbados did not last long. In April 1967, the Local Government Councils were dissolved and replaced by an Interim Commissioner for Local Government. The Corporation of Bridgetown thus ceased to exist, and its records and paraphernalia were deposited in both the Government Department of Archives and Barbados Museum and Historical Society. [14] Today, Bridgetown and surrounding constituencies are administered by members of the Barbadian parliament.

Geography and climate


Aerial view of Bridgetown Bridgetown aerial.JPG
Aerial view of Bridgetown

As established in the early 17th century, Bridgetown's centre was originally composed of a swamp, which was quickly drained and filled-in to make way for the early development.


The earliest boundaries of Bridgetown are contained by way of an Act passed on 4 April 1660 called, "to prevent the danger which may happen by fire, in or about any of the seaport towns of the Island". [11] The southern limit was declared to be the River (Careenage), whilst the western limit was declared to be the western boundary of St. Michael's (now St. Mary's) Churchyard, and extending in a direct line to the seaside. The town's other limits consisted of properties of certain citizens' names in this statute, the location of which cannot now be determined with certainty. [11] The boundaries were not redefined until 1822.

Through Statutory Instrument (S.I) 1984 No. 141, Road Traffic Act, CAP. 295, ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATIONS, and under Schedule Sec. No. 6: The Boundaries of Bridgetown, Speightstown, Holetown and Oistin are cited as follows: 1) "City of Bridgetown" - "Bridgetown" - "The City": [15]

The area bounded by Highway 7 at the junction of Bay Street with Jemmotts Lane; thence in a north easterly and northerly direction following Jemmotts Lane, Martindales Road and Halls Road to the junction of Halls Road not including the said boundary roads; thence in a westerly direction following Tweedside Road and Roebuck Street to the junction of Country Road with Roebuck Street; thence in a northerly, westerly, and south-westerly direction following Country Road and Passage Road and Westbury Road to the junction of Westbury Road with President Kennedy Drive; thence in a southwesterly direction following President Kennedy Drive to its junction with Samuel Jackman Prescod Boulevard not including President Kennedy Drive; thence in a southerly and westerly direction following Samuel Jackman Prescod Boulevard to its junction with Princess Alice Highway not including Samuel Jackman Prescod Boulevard; thence continuing in a westerly direction to a point on the sea-coast; thence in a south-easterly direction following the sea coast to the junction of Bay Street with Jemmotts Lane.[ citation needed ]

Beyond the boundary outlined, the wider Greater Bridgetown metropolitan area technically occupies most of the parish of Saint Michael, an area which covers around 39 km2 (15 sq. mi). The above portion for the Road Traffic Act also omits much of the 90 acres of new land originally formed by completion of the Port of Bridgetown in 1961.


At the heart of Bridgetown is the Careenage and Constitution River. The Careenage can be considered a marina for boaters entering or exiting the inner basin located directly in front of the Parliament buildings of Barbados. This body of water provides the city with direct access from medium-sized yachts or small craft boats. Although moderately shallow, the Careenage slices Bridgetown into two parts. During the rainy season the Constitution River flows into the Careenage area and acts as an outflow for water from the country's interior storm drainage network. Flowing into the Carlisle Bay on the southwest coast of the island.


Bridgetown features a tropical wet and dry climate (Aw), with relatively constant temperatures throughout the course of the year. While fairly hot, Bridgetown is cooled somewhat by the trade winds that affect weather in Barbados in general. Bridgetown's record high of 33.1 °C (91.6 °F) in September 2005 and record low of 16.5 °C (61.7 °F) on 2 January 1984. [16] Bridgetown features distinct wet and dry seasons, with a relatively lengthy wet season and a shorter dry season. Its wet season is from June through January, while the dry season covers the remaining months.

Climate data for Bridgetown (Grantley Adams International Airport) 1981–2010, extremes 1944–present
Record high °C (°F)32.0
Average high °C (°F)28.8
Daily mean °C (°F)25.8
Average low °C (°F)22.9
Record low °C (°F)16.0
Average rainfall mm (inches)70.1
Average rainy days11888811151514161412140
Average relative humidity (%)77777577788081818182837979
Mean monthly sunshine hours 258.85249.45272.80259.80262.88225.00251.41263.19230.40233.74228.00257.922,993.44
Mean daily sunshine hours 8.358.838.808.668.487.508.118.497.687.547.608.328.20
Source 1: Barbados Meteorological Services [16]
Source 2: Meteo Climat (record highs and lows) [17]

The city

Bridgetown, showing Chamberlain Bridge and Parliament Building
Central Bridgetown Bridgetown1.jpg
Central Bridgetown
View from National Heroes Square, Bridgetown, Barbados, April 2007 Bridgetown, Barbados, April 2007.jpg
View from National Heroes Square, Bridgetown, Barbados, April 2007

In the centre lies the main street of Bridgetown which is Broad Street which runs directly through the centre of the city. Broad Street passes the Parliament Buildings and serves as the centre of city's shopping area.

Another major traffic artery into the city is Bay Street (which turns into Highway 7) and leads toward the South Coast of Barbados and the Parish of Christ Church. There are also other notable streets in Bridgetown, including:


Landmarks/points of interest

Parliament Building Bridgetown barbados parliament building.jpg
Parliament Building


The Bridgetown Port (or "Deep Water Harbour" as it is also known) is the major port of entry for cruise and cargo ships docking in Barbados. The Deep Water Harbour lies a short distance across Carlisle Bay northwest of the Careenage Canal. Found along the Princess Alice Highway, and west of the city's centre around Fontabelle.

The Harbour port acts as one of the major shipping and transhipment hubs from international locations for the entire Eastern Caribbean. Recently, the Bridgetown Port was dredged to allow safe access and berthing for the new league of "super cruise ships". The dredging project was completed in 2002 and the city can now host many of the largest cruise ships in the world.

The port of Bridgetown also handles goods for the domestic needs of the island. The island's main exports of mainly agricultural products also make use of the harbour facilities.

Walk along canal Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison-115167.jpg
Walk along canal

Bridgetown also has a smaller canal in the centre of the city, named the Careenage, a.k.a. "Constitution River". The Constitution River should not be confused with the Deep Water Harbour. The smaller Constitution River feeding into the west coast lies about a half kilometre south of the large harbour. The Careenage is just large enough for pleasure craft or fishing boats and has two main bridges near the city center which span the shallow Careenage.

Society and culture

Colourful Bridgetown street High street Barbados.jpg
Colourful Bridgetown street
St. Michael's Cathedral. Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison-115165.jpg
St. Michael's Cathedral.

Bridgetown serves as a principal centre of commercial activity in Barbados, as well as a central hub for the island's public transport system. Many of the ministries and departments of the island's government are located within the Greater Bridgetown area. The Public Buildings or parliament, which stand at the heart of the city directly north of Heroes Square, house the third oldest continuous parliament in the British Commonwealth. Indeed, at one point in the city's early history, Bridgetown was the most important city of all British possessions in the New World due to the city's easterly location in the Caribbean region.

The headquarters of the National Library Service of Barbados is located in Bridgetown. The main branch is found on Coleridge Street, in a coral-stone building, built in the style of the English Renaissance.

The iconic Barbados Mutual Life Assurance Society building from Broad Street. Barbados Mutual Life Assurance Society building, Bridgetown.jpg
The iconic Barbados Mutual Life Assurance Society building from Broad Street.

For a city of its size, the Greater Bridgetown area is home to several prestigious educational institutions. The city serves as the seat of one of the three campuses of the University of the West Indies in the northern suburb of Cave Hill. The campus sits on a bluff offering views of Bridgetown and its port. The Barbados Community College is located three miles (5 km) east of the Central Business District in a suburb known as "The Ivy", while the sprawling campus of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic is located just beyond the eastern limits of the city in a suburb known as "The Pine". In addition, the city houses such distinguished secondary schools as Harrison College, Combermere and The St. Michael School.

The City of Bridgetown also played host to the 1994 United Nations Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Islands States. Bridgetown has branches of some of the largest banks in the world and English-speaking Caribbean and is internationally recognised as an emerging financial domicile. The city underwent considerable redevelopment in preparation for the 2007 World Cricket Cup Finals held at the historic Kensington Oval. The stadium was renovated to a state-of-the-art sports facility accommodating 30,000 spectators. Live viewership for the 2007 event was estimated to be over 100 million people worldwide. [19]

Utilities and local services

Barbados Museum and Historical Society at the military prison at St. Ann's Garrison. Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison-115163.jpg
Barbados Museum and Historical Society at the military prison at St. Ann's Garrison.

Today, Bridgetown is a fully modern and thriving city, with access to many modern services including a piped water supply (said to be naturally among the purest in the world), electricity, natural gas supply, cutting-edge telecommunications, wireless services, internet cafes, and a good overall infrastructure. The city is also served by an impressive conference facility known as the Sherbourne Conference Centre.


Barbados' main exports are sugar, rum, and molasses. The island is also involved in other industries namely tourism and the offshore sector.

Stock exchange


Business: Banks are open 08:00–15:00, Hours: Monday to Thursday, and 08:00–17:00 on Fridays.

The main banks are:

Automatic Teller Machines are available.

Shops are open:

Payment cards are widely accepted.

Electricity: 115 volts AC, 50 cycles. Most hotels have 220 AC.

Telecommunications: the international dialing code for Barbados is +1.246 followed by seven digits. On the island, use the seven digits alone. When on the island, to call anywhere in the United States or Canada simply dial +1 (area code) + seven digit phone number.

Emergency Numbers: Police: 211 (emergency only) Fire: 311 Ambulance: 511 Coast Guard and Defense Force: +1.246.427.8819


The city has access to daily flights via the island's Airport the Sir Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) located on the ABC Highway/Highway 7 in Seawell, Christ Church. The city of Bridgetown and New York City in the United States, were the only cities in the western hemisphere to be served by regularly scheduled British Airways Concorde flights. Additionally, the GAIA has been chosen as one of only four global display sites for the retired supersonic aircraft. The Airport is in the final stages of an expansion project, which will also include the construction of an aviation museum to house the retired Concorde aircraft.

All seven of Barbados's primary Highways begin close to the City of Bridgetown, in the Parish of Saint Michael. They all fan out to the north, south and east to other parts of the island. Driving is done of the left-hand side of the road with a speed limit of 60 km/h (37 mph) in built-up areas. The speed limit on the ABC Highway is generally 80 km/h (50 mph) except in built-up areas. Water transport is regulated by the Barbados Port Authority.

Public buses

Public buses that head northward to destinations such as Holetown and Speightstown, and to some locations in St. Michael including the University of the West Indies – (Cave Hill Campus), leave from the Princess Alice Bus Terminal which lies to the west of the city centre. Buses for points east and south leave from the Fairchild Street Bus Terminal, which is on the eastern edge of the city centre, near to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).

Route taxis

Route taxis are privately owned minivans which operate as taxicabs for hire.

Diplomatic missions in Barbados

Twin and Sister cities

Bridgetown is twinned or is a sister city with the following cities:

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

Transport in Barbados

Barbados is an up-and-coming tourist country that provides reliable and safe transportation for natives and visitors alike. The country is very small with a length of 21 miles (34 km) and a width of 14 miles (23 km). Barbados has 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) of public paved roads, two active marine ports in, remnants of a railway system, and one airport; the Sir Grantley Adams International Airport, located in Christ Church.

Willemstad Capital of Curaçao

Willemstad is the capital city of Curaçao, an island in the southern Caribbean Sea that forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It was the capital of the Netherlands Antilles prior to its dissolution in 2010. The historic centre of the city consists of four quarters: the Punda and Otrobanda, which are separated by the Sint Anna Bay, an inlet that leads into the large natural harbour called the Schottegat, as well as the Scharloo and Pietermaai Smal quarters, which are across from each other on the smaller Waaigat harbour. Willemstad is home to the Curaçao synagogue, the oldest surviving synagogue in the Americas. The city centre, with its unique architecture and harbour entry, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Saint Michael, Barbados Parish in Barbados

The parish of St. Michael is one of eleven parishes of Barbados. It has a land area of 39 km2 (15 sq mi) and is found at the southwest portion of the island. Saint Michael has survived by name as one of the original six parishes created in 1629 by Governor Sir William Tufton.

Parishes of Barbados

The country of Barbados is divided into sub-regions known as parishes.

Speightstown City in Saint Peter, Barbados

Speightstown, also known as Little Bristol, is the second largest City centre of Barbados. It is situated 12 miles (19 km) north of the capital city of Bridgetown, in the northern parish of Saint Peter.

Holetown City in Saint James, Barbados

Holetown, is a small city located in the Caribbean island nation of Barbados. Holetown is located in the parish of Saint James on the sheltered west coast of the island.

Saint Peter, Barbados Parish in Barbados

The Parish of Saint Peter is one of eleven parishes in the Caribbean island country of Barbados. It is named after the Christian Apostle and patron saint, Saint Peter. It is located in the north of Barbados, and is the only parish besides Saint Lucy that extends from the east coast to the west.

Garrison Historic Area Old town

St. Ann's Garrison, or more commonly known as "The Garrison", is a small district located in the country of Barbados. This Garrison Historic Area is situated about 2 miles south of Heroes Square in the capital-city Bridgetown, and just west of the village of Hastings in the neighbouring parish of Christ Church. It is dominated by its historic horse race-track, located on the 30 acre parade ground called the Garrison Savannah. The Garrison area additionally contains many historic buildings including barracks for military personnel. The district is bisected by Highway 7, with Saint Ann's Fort, where the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) is based, lying to the west.

Index of Barbados-related articles Wikipedia list article

The following is an alphabetical list of topics related to the nation of Barbados.

Port of Bridgetown Port in Barbados

The Port of Bridgetown, is a seaport in Bridgetown on the southwest coast of Barbados. Situated at the North-Western end of Carlisle Bay, the harbour handles all of the country's international bulk ship-based trade and commerce. In addition to international-shipping the Deep Water Harbour is the port of entry for southern-Caribbean cruise ships. The port is one of three designated ports of entry in Barbados, along with the privately owned Port Saint Charles marina and the Sir Grantley Adams International Airport. The port's time zone is GMT −4, and it handles roughly 700,000 cruise passengers and 900,000 tonnes of containerised cargo per year.

Nidhe Israel Synagogue

The Nidḥe Israel Synagogue is the only synagogue in Bridgetown, Barbados. It is one of the oldest synagogues in the Western hemisphere and a Barbados National Trust property. In 2011 the synagogue and excavated mikveh were designated as UNESCO protected properties within the World Heritage Site of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison area.

ABC Highway

The ABC Highway is the main urban highway in Barbados. Opened in 1989, it is named after three famous Barbadian politicians: John Michael Geoffrey Manningham ("Tom") Adams, Errol Barrow, and Hugh Gordon Cummins. From the east, the highway stretches from the Grantley Adams International Airport in Christ Church, to the western end at Cave Hill Road and University Drive, Cave Hill Campus, University of the West Indies, in Saint Michael. It roughly encircles the Parish of Saint Michael and wider metropolitan area of Bridgetown.

The Constitution River or commonly called "The Careenage", is a river located along Carlisle Bay, on the south-western portion of Barbados. The western end of the river runs through the centre of Bridgetown in Saint Michael. The river acts as a channel for heavy rain run-off from the higher interior regions of the island. Additionally, it is a small sheltered shallow passage or yacht harbour for medium-sized yachts or small craft boats to dock in the city. It is located roughly 1 km south of the man-made Deep Water Harbour on the Princess Alice Highway.

Parliament Buildings (Barbados)

The Parliament Buildings, is the seat of the Parliament of Barbados. Built between 1870 and 1874, the buildings have been the meeting place for both chambers of Parliament since 16 June 1874, and a former site of Colonial administration of Barbados. It consists of two buildings in the neo-Gothic architectural style, and are reminiscent of the Victorian era of Great Britain.

The City of Bridgetown constituency is one of eleven (11) electoral districts in the Parish of St. Michael, and one thirty (30) nationally in Barbados. The Constituency covers a portion of the capital city Bridgetown. The district formed in 1843 is the first electoral district formed after the original eleven in the country. The first representative for the constituency was the national hero the Right Excellent Samuel Jackman Prescod. The member of parliament is Lt.Col. Jeffrey Bostic (Ret.) of the Barbados Labour Party from 2013. The seat is usually won by a slim margin.

The Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology is a technical and vocational educational institution located in Pine Hill, Bridgetown, Barbados.

University of the West Indies at Cave Hill

University of the West Indies at Cave Hill is a public research university in Cave Hill, Barbados. It is one of 5 general campuses in the University of the West Indies system.

Architecture of Barbados

The architecture of Barbados is a reflection of the country's cultural and political history. Originating from the seventeenth-century, the buildings located in Barbados can be seen as being heavily influenced by British colonial and West African architecture.


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