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The Grave of William Bate, the founder of Georgetown.

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  of Georgetown (Page Three)

REGENT SQUARE.

Regent Square was the first area used for habitation following the occupation of the island. The area was described by Lt Brandreth in 1829 as; "A small town or rather village had grown up near the roadstead, which on my arrival consisted of a collection of miserable tenements, with walls put together without lime, and harbouring vermin; roofs of canvas or shingle and floors of sandstone or tarras. The hospital which occasionally received the sick of the African Squadron was placed in a hollow, and consisted of four rooms, each about 16 feet by 11 feet, and the Africans occupied wretched hovels dark and filthy. A victualling store, a tank, and a small stone tenement for the officers, were the only buildings that redeemed the settlement from the appearance of an African village." Lt Brandreth and Capt Bate the commandant decided to move the village of Georgetown slightly inland onto a raised plateau that it occupies today. Regent Square became used as an unloading area for the stores, and gradually acquired a new name, "Bunghole Square".

 

 

THE MAIN STORE

The earliest part of the store (now the Works Department) was built in 1827, and provided originally a store for food, salt beef and pork, and other items. The Main Store was begun in 1848, with foundations to a depth of 8 feet in some places. The building was completed in 1852, and its 3-foot walls and cast iron girders make it a very impressive building, that at one time was thought to be the largest structure in the southern hemispheres. The new store was used for food, and the older store for fodder and rigging. The wall at the rear was built in 1852, an addition to keep the good safe while they were unloaded. The Stores were under the control of the Naval Paymaster, and his office was situated in the building now used as the Works Department Offices. For a period from 1922, this office was used as a married quarter.

 

THE PIERHEAD

The Pierhead was built early on in the occupation of the island. It and the steps were in regular use by 1829, when Lt Brandreth visited the island. A railway ran from the Pierhead to the coal store, the main store and the turtle ponds to enable ships to be unloaded and loaded with the minimum of effort.

 

THE BANN MEMORIAL

In 1823, HMS Bann visited the island. Unfortunately some of the crew were suffering from a virulent fever, which spread to the garrison. A total of 50 people died from the garrison (a third of the complement), and 26 officers and men from the ship itself. The 26 were buried in a mass grave south of the Pierhead, and a memorial marks the spot.

 

REDPOLE MONUMENT AND CEMETERY

HMS Redpole was a Brig of War that was for a number of years on the St Helena station. The Brig first came to St Helena along with the ships HMS Peruvian and HMS Zenobia, who of course were promptly dispatched to claim Ascension Island. The monument on the hillside is said to commemorate the loss of the Redpole, thought to have been sunk in action with a pirate in 1828, off Cape Frio, which is north of Buenos Aires. In fact the monument is the grave of Captain Paisley, the then captain of the Redpole who died here in 1820. According to the church records, the area contains the graves of other crew members who died while the ship was at Ascension in 1820. Other graves also date from this period, one being of Richard Venner, Quartermaster of HMS Heron. The cemetery is probably the first official one used on Ascension Island.

 

 

ISLAND MAINTENANCE AREA

The area in front of the main store was in naval times, the Island Maintenance Area. This included small boat sheds, store sheds and even a sawyer's pit. A slip way ran alongside the pier, so that small boats could be hauled ashore. The area now occupied by "Chinatown" was at one time part of the quarry area, and the stone for the early buildings probably came from here. Later a softer stone was used from the quarry on the slopes of Cross Hill. The Lime Kiln was used to produce mortar from the "lime deposits" at South West Bay. This may refer to the calciferous lumps common on the beaches in that part of the island.

 

 

 

FORT HAYES

This fort was constructed on Goat Hill in the 1860's, on the site of a small battery that had existed there since 1835. Fort Hayes was a major defence, and by the start of WWI, mounted one six-inch gun, and two 4.7-inch guns, and was garrisoned by 38 men. The building at the base of the fort is the reserve magazine, which was designed as a temporary hospital in times of war. The fort had been the home of the Historical Society until the closure of the museum following the loss of many exhibits from damp and corrosion.

 

 

 

THE HOSPITAL

The Hospital is the building designed by Lt Brandreth to replace the hovel he described in 1829. The construction was completed in February 1833, and had been in use ever since as such. There were at one time three hospitals in Georgetown, the main hospital, the Zymotic, and the Krooman's hospital, also used as an isolation unit.

 

 

 

THE GALLOWS

On the road leaving Georgetown, can be seen the hill marked on a number of maps as Gallows Hill. Capt. Daniels, who surveyed the island in 1903, records the Gallows as being on this hill. Today a decaying post still stands on the exact site indicated by Capt. Daniels at the Gallows. Were they ever used? Given our colonial past, and the frequency with which people were hanged in St Helena; even hanging and quartering whilst still alive is recorded; (they seem to miss out the drawing bit!), it is almost inconceivable that they weren't used. Certainly a common punishment was to be flogged beneath the gallows. However, Ascension was a naval establishment, and it is possible that other extreme methods of punishment were used.

 

 

 

THE ISLANDER HOSTEL

This building was constructed between 1899 and 1903. It was originally conceived as the PO Mess, but by the time it was completed it had been designated as the offices of the Eastern Telegraph Company. The downstairs section housed the office of the Superintendent of the cable room, and the upper storey was used as his accommodation. When the permanent offices of the ETC were built, on the site of the current AIS and SAAC buildings, the hostel was converted into living accommodation. For many years the building was known as Top Flat and Bottom Flat, and housed the Historical Society Gallery, youth organisations, and the Islander Newspaper, from which the building takes its name. The St Helena Public Works Department evicted these organisations in 1989 to allow the conversion of the building into a transit hostel. It thus became Ascension's first hotel.!

 

 

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Last revised on the 1st of September 2002. For any comments or questions about the Society and its work, or this website, please e-mail us via this link in Ascension.