04 November, 2008


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Archives building about to be converted to a mess hall for members of the House of Assembly. There's been some talk on anguillatalk.com and the radio about what would become of the Forest Bay Customs House when the Conch Bay, now Fairmont, project is built. We have to pretend it's going to be built, because they claim to have sold $70 million worth of property.

On page 3 of last week's "Anguillian" there are some pictures of the proposed Blowing Point terminal that looks like it was designed by some people in Canada who don't understand hurricanes.

It also looks like something they'd build in Canada.

Do we want arriving tourists to think they're in Canada? Will putting two palm trees in front of the building change that? Is promoting traditional Anguillian design elements any of our business or should we outsource such issues to whatever loudmouth wants to use them to trash someone on a talk show?

And, now I hear that the archives building at the Court House is to be turned into a restaurant for the Members of Parliament's convenience. Is this progress or not? I suppose that we want them to be comfortable. Who cares about some old papers, anyway?

In 1980, I was walking across the Government Secretariat when I noticed Evalie Bradley burning some papers in a small bonfire. I asked her what she was doing. She said, “Col Roberts told me to burn the files from the Revolution to clear an old filing cabinet for him to use”. I went to see Ronald Webster and spoke to him about the importance of retaining Anguilla's archives for the future. He agreed and ordered the burning to stop. He appointed me Anguilla's first official archivist, on condition that it would not cost anything. Later that year, I had a line item of $1.00 inserted in the estimates for preserving the archives. I used the judicial department budget to purchase two filing cabinets. I filled them with the collection of the “Anguilla Beacon” donated by Atlin Harrigan, and other archival material. So far as I know the archives are all stored in the building in the Court House/House of Assembly complex to this day.

I fully expect they will now complete the job started, but left incomplete, by Col Roberts.

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  1. Mitch, how dare you frivolously expend 1 dollar to save irreplaceable documents! It seems that no one cares about history anymore, even if fairly recent in many Anguillian's memory. Those in power and money only remember the first "contract" they signed (or winked at). Anything after that, is just, well, history.

    - Scotty

  2. I agree that the plans for the ferry terminal are disgustingly inappropriate.

    Larger islands, which have mass tourism, have got similar-purpose buildings in a traditional Caribbean style. Anguilla is supposed to be better than them in so many ways. The tourists are our bread and butter. What will THEY think when they arrive? Initial impressions and branding are important. Many will come for the last time, so many Anguillians will end up being laid off work.

    Don't we have any architects in Anguilla or the Caribbean who can be paid for some plans? ... And sorry, Mr Goldfinger - we're talking about traditional Caribbean architecture here which might not be your forte...

    Perhaps a petition to the Gov't to scrap these plans and start afresh with Anguillian/Caribbean design is necessary


  3. Architects work for their clients, they don't simply impose designs on people. Someone in government approved the design. Someone who thinks Anguilla should look like North America, so that visitors will feel comfortable.

    If visitors want to see square glass boxes they don't have to spend a lot of money coming to Anguilla. But there are still some of us who don't seem to understand this.

  4. Then someone in Government is not thinking straight if they are arrogantly imposing their will on the electorate. And don't forget that it is the charges and taxes we pay which make anything in Government possible. They need to remember that they work for us, not the other way round.

    Has there been any market research to find out what the tourists want to see? The touruists are presently being lined up for a questionnaire/survey. Can a question about the ferry terminal design be put into it?

    If it is too late to do that, remember that the AHTA or ATB or someone did a survey of members and businesses in the tourist industry here on whether they wanted then dolphins to remain (I forget the results - I think they were mixed). Can't they do a similar survey re these designs?


  5. We don't need a survey. We need leaders who don't act like royalty.

  6. People in Bermuda are complaining today that their Archivist is unreasonably denying them access to archival material.

    They don't realize how far ahead of Anguilla they are.

  7. If Anguilla is so disinterested in their own archives, why not suggest sending them to Vicky O'Flaherty in St. Kitts or Kew in the UK for safekeeping in spite of the risk of never getting them back? I'll bet no one would even care. In a few years they will have disintegrated to such an extent that no one will be able to refer to them for legal matters in any case.

  8. What a good idea. No history, no previous generations ever existed - Anguilla without a past.

    Just pass the buck to someone who cares if the present Government isn't prepared to put their hands in their pockets for a few thousand dollars to provide safes to secure papers/documents from the elements.

    How is it that islands such as St. Kitts, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Thomas, the Netherlands Antilles to name a few have such wonderfully kept archives and yet Anguillians just aren't interested?

  9. I wonder if Anguillians realize that without adequate facilities to preserve their archival documents, in years to come there will be no official public record that any of them ever existed on this earth. Should their great grandchildren or great great grandchildren ever want to do their family tree - too bad for them. And should their descendants ever leave the island and try to return as belongers a generation or two later - too bad again. Wake up Anguilla!


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