National Parks Authority to host historical awareness hike this weekend

World Heritage Site Nelson’s Dockyard (File photo)
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By Makeida Antonio

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An opportunity to receive more education on Nelson’s Dockyard National Park is ahead, with a hike of a historical site set for this weekend.

As the National Parks Authority (NPA) works tirelessly to preserve the Antigua Naval Dockyard, it continues its efforts by providing in depth information to the public and unearthing artifacts important to tell Antigua and Barbuda’s story from pre-colonial times to present.

Heritage Resources Officer with the NPA Desley Gardner told Observer that raising public awareness on the dockyard’s history is one of the main reasons behind the recent launch of its 8th March Project, geared towards celebrating those who built and lived in the Middle Ground area.

“The Middle Ground is literally the middle man, the middle protection between Fort Cuyler and Fort Berkeley; it’s the area they used to protect the entrance of English Harbour,” Gardner explained.

“Middle Ground itself, we know it as a free African community, one of the first, so it’s where the West India regiment barracks was – and that was the military regime that enlisted enslaved Africans to protect that area.

“Also, behind the barracks was the living community for all the Africans and labourers and soldiers that worked in the dockyard in the 18th century,” she added.

Thus, a commemorative ceremony will be held in remembrance of those who lived in Middle Ground during that time following a short hike from Nelson’s Dockyard on March 13 at 4pm.

On March 8 1744, during a dockyard expansion, eight African enslaved people died during an explosion. NPA researchers have been able to not only find the names of those who perished, but many more thereafter.

Due to the rich culture and history of the area, Nelson’s Dockyard was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016.

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