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Gun Hill Signal Station - Barbados Colonial Past

Duration: Half Day

Gun Hill Signal Station - Barbados Colonial Past

Enjoy some of the most spectacular views on the island whilst learning about Barbados’s rich colonial history on this fascinating tour of Gun Hill Signal Station in the beautiful parish of St George. Not to be missed, this 19th century landmark provides a fascinating glimpse of British military life at this time.

Perched on a rural hilltop at the highest point in central Barbados, approximately 704 feet above sea level, Gun Hill is the largest and most important of all the military outposts in Barbados. Built in 1818 as part of the defense system by the British army, this strategically placed signal station enabled important news to travel across the island to other signal stations using different coloured flags and lantern codes. Any signal going from Cotton Tower to St. Ann’s Fort in Bridgetown had to be relayed via Gun Hill. This form of communication was mainly used to warn the approach of enemy ships and to signal the safe arrival of cargo ships, as well as warnings of slave rebellions on the island or even fire in the sugar cane fields.

After the decline of the signal stations, the Gun Hill buildings fell into complete disrepair. The ruins and grounds were fortunately restored and landscaped in 1982, however, by the Barbados National Trust. The restored buildings include the station with its prominent tower, a kitchen, sentry box and ruined barracks. The station also served as a convalescent station for sick soldiers, and remnants of these long ago days can still be viewed today. A cannon, guard’s bedroom and cooking stove are displayed inside, and the station also houses a fascinating collection of military memorabilia, which includes old flags and maps.

One distinct feature on the hillside below the tower is a full-size, milky-white lion, which was carved out of a single piece of coral-stone rock in 1868 by British soldier Henry Wilkinson. This striking statue is a representation of the British imperial lion, signifying the success of the British Empire throughout the world at that time.

Aside from its history, one of the main attractions of Gun Hill Signal Station is its magnificent views, which are amongst the best on the island. Not to be missed, the panoramic vistas pan over Barbados’ beautiful rolling countryside; across the rich and fertile St. George Valley to Bridgetown, Carlisle Bay and beyond. Don’t forget to bring your camera because the scenery is captivating.

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