Celebrating Jamaica50 - Port Antonio

Tuesday, September 25, 2012    

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This week's Jamaica 50th feature is the town of Port Antonio. The capital of Portland, located on the north east coast of the island, is known for its lush vegetation.

It offers locals and tourists a variety of natural beauty of beaches, hidden coves and rivers. The waterfalls blend with the captivating background of the Blue Mountain range and is home to one of the most beautiful harbours in the Caribbean.

The town was originally settled by the Spaniards and got its name from an early Spanish governor who named the twin harbours Puerto de Anton and Puerto de Francisco after his two sons.

One of the most unique features of Port Antonio is its double harbour. The Titchfield Peninsula was the first place to be settled by the English, and is known as the oldest settlement of the town. This separates the East Harbour from the West Harbour and together with Navy Island The Peninsula protects the deeper west harbour from the prevailing easterly winds.

Its streets are filled with numerous legendery buildings including the neo-Romanesque Anglican stone church (1840), and the charming gingerbread DeMontevin Lodge (1881), now a popular guest house on the Titchfield Peninsula. Fort George (1729), which overlooks the harbours, has cannons pointing out to the sea.

Among the many historical areas in the parish is Fort George, which is situated in Titchfield.

In 1728, the task of building a fort was assigned which, after being built, became known as Fort George. The fort which was built to hold 22 guns and several George III cannons, has walls 10-feet thick. The fort was used during World War I. The barracks of the fort now houses classrooms for the Titchfield High School.

The Port Antonio Court House is a stone and brick building and was erected in 1895 on the direction of the Colonial Secretary. A plaque on the wall inside the building bears the message to the Governor from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated November 16, 1918, after World War I.

Another church is The St George Anglican Church, which is so named because it was once the Parish Church of the former parish of St George. In 1867, when Sir John Peter Grant (then Governor of the island), reduced the number of parishes from 22 to 14, St George became part of the parish of Portland.

Another historical aspect of this busy town is The Folly Point Lighthouse. Built in 1888, its tower is constructed of masonry and is fire proof. It flashes a white light of two seconds duration followed by eight seconds of darkness. The light is visible for a distance of 13 miles.

Port Antonio's beauty and historical sights has definitely contributed to Jamaica's rich heritage and culture.

— Compiled by Talia Soares



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