With just five days to go before Barbados celebrates the centennial of the Father of Independence, the Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, the leader of the party he founded has renewed calls for his St Lucy birthplace to be restored.
But Democratic Labour Party president Verla De Peiza acknowledged that while restoration is the ideal outcome for the house, “Nessfield” which lies in ruins at The Garden, St Lucy, it was certainly a complicated process as it is privately owned.
Noting that during the DLP’s decade in office, Government tried and fail to restore the building, De Peiza called for a private-public partnership to preserve a cornerstone of Barbadian history.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY De Peiza said: “This is a perennial query that is raised regardless of who is in government.
“There is a difference of opinion as to who ought to be responsible, whether it is family or the country.
“I personally hold the view that this responsibility can be shared.
“While we already have monuments in his honour, it is standard form that the birth home ought to be recognized.”
Five years ago, then opposition Barbados Labour Party caretaker for St Lucy, Peter Phillips, led a petition to have the national hero’s home restored as a heritage site.
He said then: “This has gone past a partisan issue. We believe – from a national perspective – Errol Barrow was a National Hero and therefore should be respected.
“We in St Lucy have the lone place that has a structure which housed the first Prime Minister, so we should have pride to see that the area is maintained for tourism.
“I am of the firm view it should be rebuilt and used as an attraction and a museum.
“You cannot have the birthplace of the first Prime Minister and National Hero who led us to Independence looking like that.”
Phillips would go on to unseat DLP incumbent MP Dennis Kellman in the May 2018 general election and go on to become co-minister of transport.
Since coming to power, the BLP announced plans to place a plaque at the property, but there has been no word about a possible restoration effort.
De Peiza told Barbados TODAY that with the centennial milestone being celebrated next Tuesday, the time had come to do more than just talk about the Barrow home.
She said several properties of historical significance have been erased from the Barbadian landscape, including the home of C. Van Roland Edwards, who wrote the music of the national anthem.
De Peiza said: “We appreciate that there would be a laying of a plaque on the day as part of celebrations, but in terms of the state of the property that is a matter that would be hotly debated.
“I am thinking about all of the conversation that took place around the birth home of Roland Edwards and the ultimate demise of that.
“I am thinking as well in relation to the conversation that happened around [DLP co-founder Sir James Cameron Tudor’s] property and the ultimate demise of that property.
“So again, I believe that the responsibility is one that can be shared so that this remaining piece of Barbadian heritage would not suffer the same fate.”