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Old HM Prison museum to be opened this tourist season- Premier Smith

- said record number of tourists expected this season
The old HM Prison on Main Street will be opened as a historical site and museum this tourist season, according to Premier Dr The Hon. D. Orlando Smith. Photo: VINO/File
Premier and Minister for Tourism, Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith said he expects to see a record number of cruise visitors and an increase in the overnight arrivals this tourist season. Photo: VINO/File
Premier and Minister for Tourism, Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith said he expects to see a record number of cruise visitors and an increase in the overnight arrivals this tourist season. Photo: VINO/File
The ground setting stage for the refurbishing of the Old HM Prison on Main Street to that of a museum commenced on March 6, 2013 with the voluntary service of crew members who came on board the visiting Naval Support RFA WAVE KNIGHT. Photo: VINO/File
The ground setting stage for the refurbishing of the Old HM Prison on Main Street to that of a museum commenced on March 6, 2013 with the voluntary service of crew members who came on board the visiting Naval Support RFA WAVE KNIGHT. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- With the expected rise in numbers for the new tourist season, visitors to the territory will have some additional places of interest to tour, including the old Her Majesty’s Prison on Main Street, Road Town.

Since taking office in 2011, the National Democratic Party (NDP) Government had promised to convert the old prison into a historical site and museum.

It had even received help with some ground cleaning from crew members who came on board the visiting Naval Support, RFA WAVE KNIGHT back in March 2013.

A Mr Hugh R. Whistler, who had identified himself as the Project Manager for the clean-up, renovation and setting up of the museum, had told Virgin Islands News Online that he was happy that the project was finally off the ground. He added 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 had said back in 2013.

New historical site & museum

In a statement today, November 14, 2016 marking November as Caribbean Tourism Month, Premier and Minister for Tourism Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith announced that the museum will be opened this tourist season, although he did not give a date.

“On Tortola, significant assistance has been provided for the enhancement of the St. Phillip’s Anglican Church at Kingstown which should be open to the public in time for high season. Restoration and interpretation work on the Beef Island Toll Booth has commenced and the old Her Majesty’s Prison on Main Street will be opened this season as a new historical site and museum,” Premier Smith said.

Back in 2013, Minister for Communication and Works Honourable Mark H. Vanterpool had said that a sum of $100,000 was budgeted for the exercise but had subsequently said that cost might have to be revised based on further assessment.

Though overgrown with bushes, a walk through the facility more than two years ago had 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 executions took place. The cell still had the wooden floor intact. It is said that the wooden flooring of that cell was specific to executions as the prisoners would fall through during the process.

Tourism numbers up

Meanwhile, Premier Smith in his statement today said statistics from the Central Statistics Office show that at the end of August this year, the Virgin Islands welcomed a total of 781,465 visitors, up 27.1 percent from the same period in 2015 including 465,870 cruise visitors, an increase of 47.9 percent; 301,841 overnight, an increase of 3.6 percent; 12,754 day trippers, an increase of 52.1 percent.

"This season, we expect to see a record number of cruise visitors and we expect to see an increase in the overnight arrivals. Let us welcome them and ensure that their time spent with us is memorable," Premier Smith stated.

16 Responses to “Old HM Prison museum to be opened this tourist season- Premier Smith”

  • ndp (14/11/2016, 18:30) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Clap clap clap clap
  • voter (14/11/2016, 18:39) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    RIP Mr. Whistler. Hopefully the vision will soon become a reality
  • RealPol (14/11/2016, 20:14) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    Is there a current picture that shows the progress being made, if any, for converting the old prison, one of the oldest building in Road Town if not the territory, into an attraction museum. The olde jail has a storied history. It was the place where many local characters call home. It was the place where the last hanging in the BVI took place. One wonder, if Arthur Hodge, the only slave owner hung for murdering a slave (Prosper), was hung at the olde prison. From all accounts, Arthur Hodge was a cruel, brutish, and wicked SOB.

    Moreover, the definitely needs more attractions and cleaning up to become an attractions and attractive small,top tourist destination. Tourists arrivals are supposedly up but the economy is stagnant. Is financial services, the leading money/revenue earner, on the slide? Or is there something else causing the economic stagnation?
  • Roger Burnett (14/11/2016, 20:35) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    During the early 1980’s I gave art classes at the prison. In those days there was no more than a score of inmates. Among them was a baker and it was the smell of freshly baked bread that attracted the attention of passing tourists. I was deeply touched when all the inmates and officers elected to attended my wife’s memorial service at the church next door.
  • Mark (14/11/2016, 22:59) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    Although he was unwell Mr. Whistler worked hard to get this project started and completed.I hope that a plaque is put up recognising his contribution.
  • December Tourist, MD (14/11/2016, 23:03) Like (4) Dislike (2) Reply
    This is going to be my fifth visit to the BVI, this is what we were waiting for. I hope it will be open in December when we arrive. So looking forward to visiting this historical site. Thank You.
    • dog (15/11/2016, 12:20) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
      here is testimony that people care about BVI history. We need to clean up more sites. It is important for our identity.
    • dog (16/11/2016, 12:21) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      (how can anyone "dislike" this post. It is supportive and positive. shame on you!)
  • Street Reporter. att.. Vino. (15/11/2016, 06:03) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    Vino. I've been looking for Your News on the leak salary paper for Doctors and Nurses in the BVI.. I hear anger and disappointment rampant in the service with the set of unfair disparity... Hope the Chairman didn't sensor u Vino.. All of his incompetents and unfairness has been expose... Vino hope you know no friendship in your business.
    • Boo (15/11/2016, 09:14) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      Off topic, but the place is close to meltdown due to the favouritism where salaries are concerned. Frazer needs to ask about the administrative salaries now. What a thing to tell the king!
  • dog (15/11/2016, 06:21) Like (8) Dislike (5) Reply
    not so fast as we might need to use this old prison for some new lock up of politicians
  • brain basher (15/11/2016, 11:54) Like (1) Dislike (3) Reply
    So what exactly this old PRISON will be displaying as a museum for tourist. The ways of punishment back then? Hanging? Gallows? What are we exactly selling to tourism?
    • dog (15/11/2016, 12:24) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
      history is important to help educate people and give them a better understanding how society worked and how far we have come. Old Main Street itself is important to preserve. When it used to be a two-way street and the water's edge was right behind before the land fill. Make it a pedestrian walk way with tour guides and an opportunity for small local stores.
      • Gecko (15/11/2016, 23:54) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
        yes. History is the true fabric of society where threads join together into a cloth. the more threads that are lost
        the weaker the cloth and we lose history.
  • Nice. (15/11/2016, 12:05) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    Good job. Nice idea coming to reality. But there is no parking. Perfect opportunity to have a walking tour in town instead of those safari bush Blocking up the road worst than they already do.


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