Jamaica at 60 St Ann

NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2022 7 Keisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer JAMAICA’S BAUXITE and alumina industry was launched in the hills just north of Ocho Rios, St Ann. This development started the metamorphosis of the tiny fishing village, that the town became renowned for in the early pre-independence years. At Phoenix Park near Moneague, the genesis of the bauxite industry is commemorated by a roadside plaque made from the first aluminium cast from Jamaican ore. The story goes that the alumina content of St Ann’s red dirt was discovered when the original owner, Sir Alfred d’Costa, became distressed with the poor condition of his cattle and sent abroad samples of the soil for analysis and the high bauxite content was revealed. According to the plaque, ‘Giving to Jamaica a new industry and to the countries of the free world a new resource against aggression a reference, perhaps to the extensive use of aluminium in fighter planes and missiles’. On June 5, 1952 the first shipment of bauxite was made by Reynolds Jamaica Mines from its port in Ocho Rios to the parent company’s alumina plant at Hurricane Creek, Arkansas. After that first shipment of bauxite in 1952, production increased rapidly, and by 1957 Jamaica had become the leading bauxite producer in the world, with a production capacity of nearly five million tonnes of bauxite per year, almost a quarter of all the bauxite mined in the world in that year. The Jamaican bauxite was very fine-grained and did not behave like other bauxite elsewhere in the world. All three companies – Alcan, Reynolds and Kaiser – had to develop appropriate technology to economically refine Jamaican ore into alumina and were quite successful in processing the low monohydrate hematite ore. Alcan built a second refinery at Ewarton, St Catherine, which began producing alumina in 1959. The plant’s initial design capacity called for 250,000 tonnes of alumina per year, with provision for further expansion in its design. The production of alumina increased and by 1968, Alcan had brought the capacity of its two refineries to 1.1 million tonnes a year. During the 1970s, there were important changes in the ownership of the industry and in its contribution to the Jamaican economy. Although the mineral had been owned by the State since colonial times, the companies exploiting it were wholly owned subsidiaries of North Americanbased aluminium companies. The government purchased 51 per cent of Kaiser and Reynolds, and repurchased most of the ore reserve lands formerly owned by the companies. In return, the companies were granted 40-year mining leases. In 1980, after lengthy negotiations, the Jamaican Government acquired all the land owned by Reynolds, plus 50 per cent of the company’s mining assets to create a partnership, with Reynolds continuing to manage the operation. Early in 1984, however, Reynolds announced their intention to pull out of Jamaica and by mid-1984 they were gone, an abrupt end to an important chapter of local history. To date, the Jamaican Government has been unable to find another joint venture partner or foreign investor to reopen those mines. The pier at the west of town is the only reminder of Reynolds Jamaica Mines, once the economic base of Ocho Rios. Construction of their deep-water pier began in the late 1940s. The Reynolds pier in Ocho Rios is still used to ship sugar, high-grade limestone and is more frequently used by cruise ships when there are more than two of them in port. By law, mined-out bauxite land must be restored. In theprocess, theopenpits left afterminingarebulldozed, filled, graded and covered with at least six inchesof the topsoil scrapedoffwhenminingstarted. After numerous experiments with livestock, forestry, orchards, etc, the verdict was that the landwas best suited to its traditional use – raising beef cattle. On Reynolds farms, the planting of high-protein grasses, the feedlot system and the introduction of the Santa Gertrud’s cattle produced great results. keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com How bauxite mining changed St Ann On June 5, 1952, the first shipment of bauxite was made by Reynolds Jamaica Mines Limited from its port in Ocho Rios, St Ann, to the parent company’s alumina plant at Hurricane Creek, Arkansas. PHOTO BY PAUL H. WILLIAMS jamaica at Paul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer IT IS said that Christopher Columbus came ashore Xaymaca inMay 1494 at what is now called Discovery Bay, on the north coast of present-day St Ann. There were many Taino settlements in the area. He returned on his fourth voyage in 1503, but his old, tired, and worm-infested vessels could not take him back fromwhere he had come. Hewas strandedat aplacehe called SantaGloria (SaintAnn’sBay) fromJune 1503 toJune1504.Withassistance from the Tainos, he set sailed for Cuba, and beyond, andwasnever to return to the Caribbean. Other Spaniards, including his son Diego, did however return in 1510 with the intention of colonising the islandas aSpanishpossession.The first Spanish settlement, and eventual first capital of Jamaicawas established at Sevilla la Nueva, now called Seville; the first Spanish governor was Juan de Esquivel. After theydecimated theTainopopulationbyvariousmeans, theSpaniards imported Africans through the transatlantic trade in Africa, which was perpetuated by the British. The first sugar millson the islandwereestablishedby theSpaniards in Sevilla la Nueva before 1526, and for nearly150years Spain ruled the islandnonchalantly, and complacently. While they were so doing, the British arrived, first in 1655, and wrested the island fromthe Spaniards, who did not go downwithout a fight, as lopsided as it was. They officially ceded the island to the British in 1660. St Ann was one of the six original English parishes, whichwere actually a series of church enclaves. And for 302 years Britain ruled Jamaica, which, at one time when sugar was king, was an important jewel in its crown. That jewel lost its gloss over the years, and in 1962 it finally fell out, but it is dangling by a thin thread. The Britishmonarch, represented by the governor general, is still the head of state of Jamaica. St Ann, then, can easily be regarded as the place where the colonisation of Jamaica started, and is said to be one of the island’s largest parishes; perhaps the largest. It is dotted with old plantations and other historical ruins, and is mainly an agrarian region. Tourism and bauxite mining are also major income earners. It is home to many of Jamaica’s finest hotels and other accommodations, like the world-famous Dunn’s River Falls. The popular resort town of Ocho Rios has surpassed St Ann’s Bay as the biggest andmost popular town in the parish. Other places of interest include the Our Lady of Perpetual Help walls, St Ann Parish Church, St Ann’s Bay Fort, Buxton Village, Clarksonville, Sturge Town, BromleyGreatHouse, CardiffHall Great House, Liberty Hill Great House, Mount Plenty Great House, Ramble Great House, Seville Great House, York Castle Great House, Edinburgh Castle, 32 Market Street, Seville Heritage Park, Cave Valley Chimney, Drax Hall Waterwheel,Moneague Inn, Columbus Park, Cranbrook Forest, Dolphin Cove, Fern Gully, White River, Goshen Wilderness and Irie River Blue Hole. QUESTIONS 1. What was the name Columbus gave to St Ann’s Bay? 2. Which European established St Ann as a town? 3. In what year was the first courthouse in St Ann built? 4.What is St Ann popularly known as? 5. Where in St Ann is the highest point located? 6. Which of these districts is not in St Ann – Lime Hall, Chigwell, Gibraltor or Sturge Town? 7. Which national hero was born in St Ann? 8. What are the parishes that surround St Ann. 9. True of false, Ocho Rios is the capital of St Ann? 10. Who is the mayor of St Ann’s Bay? 11. Who is the custos of St Ann? 12. What does Ocho Rios mean in Spanish? 13. Inwhich county is St Ann situated? 14. Who was the village of Drax Hall named after? 15. Which high school in St Ann won Jamaica’s first ‘Girls’ Champs’? 16. In which community is the Bob Marley Mausoleum located? 17. Travelling from south, which community would you reach first, Alexandra or Aboukir? 18. In the area of religion, what is Watt Town known for? 19. Name the place in St Ann that is widely regarded as Jamaica’s second free village. 20. Which James Bond movie was shot at Cotter’s Wharf? SEE ANSWERS ON PAGE 15 ST ANN TRIVIA JAMAICA AT 60: ST ANN