Photos: Ordnance Island Phased Revamping

October 22, 2020

There was an event held to celebrate the phased revamping of Ordnance Island in St George’s, which has seen has the relocation of several of the historic assets, with the Mayor noting that “this phase of the project is only the beginning.”

Statue of Sir George Somers Bermuda Oct 21 2020 (3)

Speaking at the event yesterday, St George’s Mayor George Dowling said, “Good day Corporation of St. George Councillors, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to welcome you to the World Heritage Site, the Historic Town of St. George. Today’s occasion is so befitting as it marks the 215th anniversary of a very significant date in our maritime history.

“On the afternoon of October 21st, 1805, a Bermuda built cedar sloop- HMS Pickle, the fastest ship in the British Fleet, left for London tasked to transmit the world’s most momentous news story. The Royal Navy had soundly defeated the combined French and Spanish Fleet off Cape Trafalgar, Spain; and the much-decorated Admiral Horatio Nelson and hero of the British Fleet and Nation had succumbed to wounds received in battle. For the next 100+ years the Royal Navy kept the peace in the Atlantic and around the global oceans.

“The success at Trafalgar, cleared the Caribbean and Western Atlantic of French and Spanish Navy ships, and allowed for the enormous investments in fortifications and infrastructure around St George’s, and Bermuda including the Dockyard. For over 100 years, hundreds of families benefitted financially from these construction developments. Today, they are an integral part of our landscape and culture.

“Here on Ordnance Island, Sir George Somers stands on a base which depicts the shape of the forts located on the surrounding islands of Castle Island. Although these islands are somewhat inaccessible, the base of Sir George Somers gives us a close up view of the shape of these forts, Devonshire Redoubt, specifically. The Bastion design was perfect design for an island with limited personnel to man the forts.

“Built in 1799, HMS Pickle was one of many dozens of Bermuda cedar ships launched from local shipyards during the Napoleonic Wars and provisioned in St George’s, before setting to sea and duty. In fact, for over 200 years Bermudian ships plied the Atlantic waterways bringing cargos, post and news of the world to the Caribbean and East Coast. The Bermuda ships were the “internet of their age”, according to Michael Jarvis’s book “In the Eye of All Trade”.

“These vessels were created by incredibly skilled Bermudian men and women of all nationalities and races, as well as Captained, crewed, piloted and provisioned. Arguably the very first of these ships, built from the keel up was the Deliverance in 1609/10, and her companion the Patience. With the last of the great cedar clippers launched in the 1850’s, the days of the great cedar ships began to wane as iron ships were the vessels of the new industrial age.

“Along the way, Ordnance Island has played a significant part in the development of our seafaring history and we celebrate that history with certain monuments and attractions including the replica of the Deliverance built in 1975. 45 years later, this signature exhibit of Bermuda’s seafaring culture and history needs restoration.

“Today, we stand here in celebration of the phased revamping of Ordnance Island. The project, although initially slowed by the onset of a global pandemic, has seen the relocation of several of our historic assets.

“Firstly, you will notice the repositioning of the stocks & pillory to what will become the Crime & Punishment area. The bridge is flanked with 2 canons demarking the entrance to this historic location.

“The statue of Sir George Somers has been relocated to the centre of the Ordnance Island roundabout, creating a focal point with the country flags of the nation’s most responsible for creating modern Bermudian people, society and culture today serving as a fitting backdrop to our historical journey. Namely, Bermuda, UK, Portugal, Ghana, Angola, USA and Canada. I am sure that you noticed the visual impact as you all arrived here today.

“This phase of the project is only the beginning and St. George’s is where it all began. We, at the Corporation of St. George intend on telling that story. There are many stories to be told. Our phased approach will incorporate information boards to highlight our culture and history so that Bermudians and visitors can learn our stories and embrace the history and culture that is so uniquely ours.

“The Corporation of St George in celebrating this seafaring culture and all the people that contributed to it, announce our intention to promote a Capital Campaign to not only restore the Deliverance to a first rate exhibit for students and visitors alike; but concentrate other exhibits and attractions on Ordnance Island to provide a prosperous activity location for our local vendors and interesting experiences for our visitors.

“By acknowledging all the peoples who have contributed to our past, we can and will build our futures together on the solid foundations of those before us. Together we can celebrate the mighty deeds we can achieve together in the future!

“I take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge some of the contributors of this project during this phase. Mr. Colin Campbell, OBMI; Mr. Alan Burlan, BCMMcAlphine; Mr. Thomas Harvey, Strike Force General Trucking, Excavation & Maintenance Ltd.; Bermuda Tourism Authority, Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.

“We look forward to working with the community in revamping Ordnance Island and the iconic Deliverance exhibit for future recreational and educational purposes. Thank you.”

Statue of Sir George Somers Bermuda Oct 21 2020 (1)

Statue of Sir George Somers Bermuda Oct 21 2020 (2)

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Statue of Sir George Somers Bermuda Oct 21 2020 (5)

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Statue of Sir George Somers Bermuda Oct 21 2020 (7)

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Statue of Sir George Somers Bermuda Oct 21 2020 (9)

Statue of Sir George Somers Bermuda Oct 21 2020 (10)

Statue of Sir George Somers Bermuda Oct 21 2020 (11)

Statue of Sir George Somers Bermuda Oct 21 2020 (12)

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Statue of Sir George Somers Bermuda Oct 21 2020 (14)

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Statue of Sir George Somers Bermuda Oct 21 2020 (16)

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Comments (6)

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  1. Great job Mayor Dowling! Think this move is perfect for Sir George…centre stage with all the flags. Hopefully, in due time, all the Forts and Batteries will be reclaimed from the wild and available for Tourists to visit. Since our Island [StD] is included as St. George Parish – it would be monumental to reclaim the Battery as a tourist spot. I have personally seen and heard tourists lament at how unkempt the Park is and the adjoining Battery. No doubt Fort Cunningham is in a similar state. I used to be able to see the top of it, but no longer. While I am still young, I would like to see the Battery in StD perked up. My Dad served there. We lived in one of the houses on the hill for a time. There are able volunteers in StD who share the same passion and are hoping for change too.
    Best – Sheena [Fox] Notter

    • Ladeej says:

      I concur, particularly re the St David’s Battery which is in a sad state at present. In addition, something needs to be done with the vacant buildings in the area as they are health and safety hazards.

  2. JohnBoy says:

    Moving the Stocks creates a much better photo with the Square in the background.

  3. Birdlegs says:

    The Deliverance is a sad disgrace. Just get rid of it.

  4. Good morning, why there’s no flag from BAHAMAS & TURK’S & CAICOS ? These two COUNTRYS are our HISTORY CONNECTION & should never before left out of our SALVE HISTORY. This is our problem & if we to correct our HISTORY WHY NOT START NOW. THANK U

  5. Jean Foggo Simon says:

    My father built the stocks using cedar wood many years ago. I’m delighted to see them in a position where they can be historically appreciated.