ST JOHN’S, Antigua – An official ceremony will be taking place today to mark the 50th anniversary of opening a restored Nelson’s Dockyard.
It is one of Antigua & Barbuda’s best-known historical assets and the only fully operational dockyard from the Georgian period to be found anywhere in the world.
The ceremony, a release said, will recognise the landmark and pay tribute to several persons, who in their own way, contributed significantly to the development, upkeep and maintenance of the facility.
Governor General Dame Louise Lake Tack will lead a list of dignitaries who will be attending the ceremony, which will be held in the yard of the Copper and Lumber Store.
Dame Louise will also hand out the awards to the honourees. Other activities, which will be spread over the next few months, will be announced.
Curator of the museum Dr Reginald Murphy said a huge debt of gratitude is owed to the many persons who played a role in ensuring the facility’s upkeep over the years.
“Had it not been for them, we as Antiguans and Barbudans would not be able to so proudly boast of the fine facilities standing strongly today in and around the Nelson’s Dockyard. We now owe it to future generations to ensure that we maintain the facilities so they too can understand their past and therefore go forward into the future with some perspective about their history. That, indeed, is crucial,” Dr Murphy said.
The dockyard served the British Naval Forces well before it was decommissioned in 1890, serving as a safe harbour and repair facility for ships and a base for leading figures in the British forces in the Caribbean.
Work began on its restoration in the 1950s, around five decades after it was decommissioned. The massive project was undertaken by the Friends of English Habour with Governor of the Leeward Islands, Sir Kenneth Blackburne, and the Nicholson family playing instrumental roles.
The facility now falls under the management of the National Parks Authority and the work in maintaining one of the most sought after tourist attractions in the world has not stopped.