Got TIPS or BREAKING NEWS? Please call 1-284-442-8000 direct/can also WhatsApp same number or Email ALL news to:newsvino@outlook.com;                               ads call 1-284-440-6666

First Phase of converting Old HM Prison to museum begins

- Crew members of RFA WAVE KNIGHT delighted to assist
The ground setting stage for the refurbishing of the Old HM Prison on Main Street to that of a museum commenced today, March 6, 2013 with the voluntary service of crew members who came on board the visiting Naval Support RFA WAVE KNIGHT. Photo: VINO
Crew members of the visiting Naval Support, RFA WAVE KNIGHT during the clean-up exercise. Photo: VINO
Crew members of the visiting Naval Support, RFA WAVE KNIGHT during the clean-up exercise. Photo: VINO
Though overgrown with bushes, a walk through the Old HM Prison revealed that it was in near excellent shape with almost every cell still intact; some even had the original beds used by prisoners. Photo: VINO
Though overgrown with bushes, a walk through the Old HM Prison revealed that it was in near excellent shape with almost every cell still intact; some even had the original beds used by prisoners. Photo: VINO
The clean-up activity of the Old HM Prison commenced this morning with approximately one dozen crew members and two students of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) - Kevin Liburd and Jonathon Cruz (in Picture). At left is Mr Hugh R. Whistler. Photo: VINO
The clean-up activity of the Old HM Prison commenced this morning with approximately one dozen crew members and two students of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) - Kevin Liburd and Jonathon Cruz (in Picture). At left is Mr Hugh R. Whistler. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – The ground setting stage for the refurbishing of the Old HM Prison on Main Street to that of a museum commenced today, March 6, 2013 with the voluntary service of crew members who came on board the visiting Naval Support, RFA WAVE KNIGHT.

The clean-up activity commenced this morning with approximately one dozen crew members, who were accompanied by two students of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) - Kevin Liburd and Jonathon Cruz.

Mr Hugh R. Whistler, who identified himself as the Project Manager for the clean-up, renovation and setting up of the museum, told Virgin Islands News Online that he was happy that the project was finally off the ground. He said that for many years he was on the ‘heel’ of the authorities to have the building converted to a museum. “Yes, it was my idea which was supported by the Governor and the Premier agreed to have it done.”

Mr Whistler also noted with confidence that $100,000 was sufficient to complete the project.

“We are very happy to have the crew members come and assist with this phase as at the end of the day the entire place will be cleared away making it more accessible,” he added.

He said that following today’s exercise, the environment would be much better for persons to tour the facility and for the commencement of other phases of work to have it transformed into a museum.

Asked about the availability of artifacts to furnish the facility, Mr Whistler said there were more than sufficient items to furnish the facility and was optimistic that as the project progressed many persons wwould begin to come forward with items. He also said that one section of the compound would be used to sell produce from Her Majesty’s Prison farm in Balsum Ghut. Additionally, there would be occasions when persons would come in to tell stories to add a flare to the attractions.

He anticipated also that a small fee would be charged for tours of the facility.

CPO Simon Lay, a crew member volunteering on the site, said he was extremely pleased to return to the Virgin Islands after approximately 20 years to give service. He said that he had developed a special love for the Territory and had always wanted to return. “Coming back and this service is a big deal for me. I am always doing things like this but this one is extra special.”

Another crew member volunteer, MM1 Lee Chittenden was a ball of energy and said that he wanted to do as much as his energy and time would allow him. For him it is part of his commitment to serve and doing so in the Virgin Islands is a memorable one.

The two HLSCC students also took pride in their voluntary service. One said that he was shocked to come across one of his uncles’ name on an old document found between the rubbles as he was cleaning up. He said that he wasn’t sure of the nature of his uncle’s name being on the document, which appeared to have been a memorandum, but said that it has spurred his curiosity.

The first announcement of plans to convert the old prison to that of a museum was voiced by Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith. Since, it was also revealed by Minister for Communication and Works Honourable Mark H. Vanterpool that a sum of $100,000 was budgeted for the exercise but recently said that cost might have to be revised based on further assessment.

Hon. Vanterpool and a team from the Public Works Department recently visited the site to assess what needed to be done to convert the facility based on the instructions of the Premier. During that visit he had told media operatives that the decision for the conversion was an excellent one and would be a significant boost to the tourism sector of the Virgin Island even as Government makes efforts to have Main Street improved.

He further spoke of the nostalgia that was attached to his visit to the old prison. According to the Hon. Minister, during his young days he frequented the facility with his grandmother as part of a team that conducted church services with the prisoners and he also had the opportunity to interact and mingle with prisoners back in those days.

One of the most painful memories, Hon. Vanterpool said, was that the last person to have been executed by way of hanging was the sibling of a class mate at the time.

Though overgrown with bushes, a walk through the facility revealed that it was in near excellent shape with almost every cell still intact; some even had the original beds used by prisoners. The cell that seemed to have the interest of most persons was that where the execution took place. This was identified by Hon. Vanterpool. The cell still has the wooden floor intact. It is said that the wooded flooring of that cell was specific to executions as the prisoners would fall through during the process.

Also on the ground for the cleanup exercise today were employees of the Ministry of Communication and Works and BVI Electricity Corporation.

15 Responses to “First Phase of converting Old HM Prison to museum begins”

  • virgin gorda (06/03/2013, 16:07) Like (1) Dislike (27) Reply
    Gosh the place will be a ghost town of museum? We need shopping stores so we do not have to go to rock city so often
  • pete (06/03/2013, 18:01) Like (2) Dislike (9) Reply
    I'm glad a historical site is getting attention and one can't help but be drawn into "being there" in full body. This is an experience no picture in a book can communicate. That is why these old buildings must be preserved, like the old sugar works- to let people know what it was like.

    My question is - is Mr. Whistler a museum person, a trained historian or an ardent supporter of the history story. I would hate to see mistakes made in rennovation that changes the character of the facility. Go slow and do it right.
    • @ pete (06/03/2013, 20:42) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      You made my day.
    • Music (06/03/2013, 21:48) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      Mr Whistler renovated and set up the Old Government House museum, almost single-handedly, and then moved on to plan and start the prison museum before it was stopped, as govt wanted to use it for women prisoners for a while. So he is well versed in the requirements.
      • to lodger (07/03/2013, 13:14) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
        thank you for the back ground on Mr Whistler. We need more people like him in protecting history.
    • Bull Bud (06/03/2013, 22:53) Like (0) Dislike (4) Reply
      You are a damn nuisance,! always criticizing the best efforts to do something positive. You know so damn much! Why the h*ll you don't do something to help. if you not criticizing all development, you criticize people trying their best to work on conservation. You are a real pain in the a$$. on the other website you even showed your ignorance with all the misspelling and grammatical errors. Nothing but a would-be conservationist who knows nothing about history, urban planning, preservation or anything else.
      • white house (07/03/2013, 05:39) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
        No need to be so hostile boss relacks deman
        • pete (07/03/2013, 13:26) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
          thank you for the support. I agree that the reaction was a bit over the top for the issue at hand.
      • pete (07/03/2013, 13:25) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply

        As a matter of fact, I do know quite a bit about historic preservation and development, and I have been a member of many commissions off island. How often do you go into town and country and look at plans or read agreements...?

        what you don't take into consideration is that rarely do people ask the question BEFORE something inappropriate is done. you are the type to complain afterwards. Questions are not the enemy. They should be helpful to government or anyone doing a project. There is nothing in my statement that slams the positive efforts of individuals to do good. On the contrary, I support many people who are out initiating efforts to pick up trash, painting, cleaning brush, and protecting their family homes etc. what does get me frustrated is the half-a$$ed efforts by those who really don't do the homework before wrecking the place. That most definitely includes the ministers.
        As for my spelling and grammar- sobeit- many people make mistakes in the heat of passionate writing. Did the message get across? So what is more important at this moment and how many other bloggers are clinically illiterate? So what? when I finish my third book, you can critique me then. thank you.

  • ooooo (06/03/2013, 20:01) Like (3) Dislike (6) Reply
    look how mr whistler exposed mark....mark said the $100,000 isn't enough but mr whistler who is a qualified experienced builder, said that that money is more than sufficient....ah glad aint got enough to go around for mark and his bunch ah cronys
  • Well Sah (06/03/2013, 20:11) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
    It's a shame that outsiders had to come in for something like this to happen. What happen to our own people, Don't we have any pride in our island and where we live????
  • Windy (08/03/2013, 10:17) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Why not bring some prisoners down from B G and put them to work ?


Create a comment


Create a comment

Disclaimer: Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) welcomes your thoughts, feedback, views, bloggs and opinions. However, by posting a blogg you are agreeing to post comments or bloggs that are relevant to the topic, and that are not defamatory, liable, obscene, racist, abusive, sexist, anti-Semitic, threatening, hateful or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be excluded permanently from making contributions. Please view our declaimer above this article. We thank you in advance for complying with VINO's policy.

Weather


Follow Us On

Disclaimer: All comments posted on Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) are the sole views and opinions of the commentators and or bloggers and do not in anyway represent the views and opinions of the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of Virgin Islands News Online and its parent company.