Built in 1806 as a wooden jail for runaway slaves, unruly seamen and other vagrants, the “Cage” is now used as a Tourist Information Centre and a small museum.
Rose Hall Great House
This most famous of Jamaican Great Houses became famous when Haitian, Annie Mary Patterson, married its owner, John Rose Palmer, and came to live there. It is said that she practised voodoo and popular legend holds that she murdered all three of her husbands and was in turn mysteriously strangled. The Rose Hall Great House has been restored to its 18th century grandeur. It was opened to the public on February 26, 1971.
Burchell Memorial Church
Built in 1824 and named for the pioneering Baptist missionary Thomas Burchell, this church was destroyed by mobs during the Christmas Rebellion of 1831. Its present structure is built upon the restorations completed in 1837.
St. James Parish Church
One of the most impressive churches in the island, this Parish Church was constructed in 1872. It is built in the shape of a Greek cross, with the bell tower located at the western end. Seriously damaged by an earthquake in 1957, the St. James Parish Church has since been completely restored. Excellent monuments of Sir Richard Westcott and Henry Westcott, done by the renowned sculptor John Bacon, are located here.
Old Slave Ring – Cotton Tree Lodge
A semi-circular structure which closely resembles an arena, prospective buyers came here to view slaves who were on parade. Located on the grounds of the Rerrie‘s house in Montego Bay, the Ring is said to have belonged to “Morishe” a slave leader.
The Creek Dome
The story of this creek goes back to the Spanish era when two little girls (one Spanish and one a slave) in pursuit of a crab that had disappeared under a stone, discovered an underground stream of water. The stream was named “El Rio de Camarones” – The River of the Crabs. Montego Bay’s sole source of drinking water for many decades, the Creek was eventually dammed and harnessed. An oval shaped building, about 20 feet (6.1 m) high and 10 feet (3.0 m) wide, was erected over the stream to protect the water which rose to the surface of the road and flowed towards the area. Popularly called “the Dome”, this structure served its purpose well until 1957, when an earthquake shifted the floor of the creek flowing under the Dome, thus changing the course of flow. There is now no water flowing at the bottom of the Dome. It stands as a historic monument reminiscent of the period of the Spanish occupancy of Jamaica.
This fort was outfitted with three old cannons and a power magazine. The original fort was located at the entrance of the town and although large, was extremely inefficient. While firing a salute to the surrender of Havana, Cuba one of the guns went off, killing a gunner. On another occasion, the guns were ostensibly fired at an enemy ship in the harbour, the ship turned out to be a British vessel.
Sugar cane is the main crop planted in St. James; bananas are next. Cattle-rearing is also done on a large scale.
- Government Forest Reserve- 2,370 hectares (5,866 acres)
- Private Woodlands- 12,191.5 hectares (30,177 acres)
Donald Sangster International Airport
Interesting Place Names
To the name first given to the waterfalls of the River Nile (Egypt) in both the French and English languages.
Originally a Scottish place name
Some of the famous persons associated with St. James include, Jimmy Cliff, Walter Fletcher, Dr. Herbert Morrison, Carmen Pringle, Tony Hart, Phillip Fraser Lightbody and Annie Palmer.
Special Attractions and Places of Interest
- Jarret Park – sporting grounds, especially used for football.
- Montego Marine Park – here can be found a variety of marine environments: mangroves, sea grass beds, and coral reefs support seabirds, fish, conch, lobster, and many other plant and animal life.
- Sam Sharpe Square – named for National Hero Sam Sharpe, the square is located in the centre of the town, and displays life-size sculptures of Sharpe and his men in action during the famous Christmas Rebellion of 1831-32.
- Greenwood Great House – originally owned by the Barretts of Wimpole Street fame, Greenwood contains antique furniture and rare musical instruments.
- Rose Hall Great House – the infamous home of Annie Palmer the “White Witch of Rose Hall”. Now fully restored after some 200 years, Rose Hall offers exciting entertainment in addition to its fascinating tour.
- Harbour Street Craft’s Market – located on Harbour Street downtown Montego Bay
- Old Fort Craft’s Market – here, in addition to the craft items on display, one can view the 18th century water wheel and armory. The Old Fort’s canon is still pointing out to sea.
- Great River – attractions include:
An evening on the Great River- boat ride, dinner, music, dancing.
Picnic on the Great River – boat ride, nature trail, fishing, swimming, outdoor games, buffet lunch and drinks.
Greenwood, Rose Hall, Coral Gardens, Ironshore, Mahoe Bay, Providence Pen, Walter Fletcher, Doctors Cave, Cornwall Beach, Montego Freeport, Spring Garden.
Most major hotels offer a variety of watersport facilities (snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, wind surfing, parasailing, water-skiing, jet skiing, sailing, and outings in glass-bottom boats), as well as tennis, horseback riding, squash and other sports for interested patrons and other persons. Some of the major sporting facilities in Montego Bay include:
Sailing- Montego Bay Yacht Club
Racquet Sports- Montego Bay Racquet Club
Golf- Half Moon Club- 18 hole, 7,400 yard, par-72 course; Tyrall Golf and Beach Club- 18 hole, 6,700 yard par-71 course; Ironshore Golf and Beach Club- 18 hole, 6,600 yard par-72 course; Wyndham Rose Hall- 18 hole, 6,665 yard par-72 course
Arts and Entertainment
- Cinemas: Multiplex (Fairview Shopping Centre)
- Theatres: Fairfield Theatre
- Discotheques: There are a number of discotheques in Montego Bay which are situated at hotels or guest houses.
St. James was one of the second group of parishes formed in Jamaica and is said to have been named by Sir Thomas Modyford in about 1655, for the Duke of York (who later became James II) and was the reigning monarch at the time. Located in this parish is “Mellila”, the site of the first town built by the Spaniards in Jamaica. It is believed that the first Jamaican migrant set sail with Colombus from “El Cabo Buen Tiempo” (Montego Bay’s original name), for life in the “Old World”. Remains of Jamaica’s original inhabitants, the Arawaks, have been located along the coastal area of St. James. These “early natives” are now affectionately referred to as the “Fairfield people”, in honour of a site near Montego Bay where characteristic examples of their pottery have been found. One of the main roadways used by the early settlers (from Oristan in Westmoreland to an area around the Martha Brae River), also passes through this parish and many legends have been handed down about supposed treasure left behind by the Spaniards. After the English conquest of the island, St. James remained somewhat sparsely settled as the interior was inhabited by the Maroons (of whom the settlers were terrified) and the parish was some distance from Spanish Town – the then seat of Government.
156,152 (STATIN, 1991)
262 per sq. km. (680 per sq. mile)
(Oct. 1993 STATIN figures)
- East- Central – Rose Hall, Somerton, Spring Mount
- North- West – Montego Bay Central, North Eastern, South Eastern, Western, North, and South Divisions
- West Central – Salt Spring, Mount Salem, Spring Garden, Grandville
- South – Cambridge, Welcome Hall, Maroon Town, Catadupa.
- Great River- 46 km (29 miles)
- Montego River- 24km (15 miles)
Stretching from St. Elizabeth, the Nassau Mountains extend diagonally across St. James, ending in hills at a point south of Montego Bay.
Hospitals and Health Centers
- Cornwall Regional Hospital
- Health Centers 22
Other main towns: Cambridge, Catadupa, Ipswitch, Anchovy and Montpelier.
The name of the most urban town in St. James has varying stories surrounding its origin. Christopher Columbus named the bay there, “El Cabo de Buen Tiempo”, or “Fairweather Gulf”, and it is said that the entire area was named for Montego de Salmanaca, an early colonizer. A more popular (and probable) idea however, is that the name “montego “was derived from the Spanish word “Manteca”, meaning lard or butter. An early map of Jamaica has the Montego Bay area listed as “Bahia de Manteca” or “Lard Bay”. This region was densely populated with wild hogs which the Spanish are said to have slaughtered in large numbers, in order to collect lard for export to Cartagena. Several parts of Montego Bay were destroyed by fires in 1795 and 1811. The town was rebuilt, only to be ravaged by one of the largest slave uprisings in Jamaica’s history – the Christmas Rebellion of 1831-32, led by Sam Sharpe. Sam Sharpe planned that after Christmas holidays of December 25 to 27, 1831 the slaves of St. James would begin a programme of passive resistance whereby they would refuse to work unless paid. The programme however, did not go as planned as a group of slaves became violent, setting fire to buildings and cane fields. This action spread from estate to estate, and was viciously quelled by the white plantation owners. Sharpe eventually turned himself in and was charged for unlawful actions and rebellion. He was hanged in Montego Bay market-place on May 23, 1832. Sharpe has been declared one of Jamaica’s National Heroes.
During the 18th century, the interior areas of St. James were virtually the sole preserve of the Maroons. When Cudjoe (Maroon leader in the western part of the island) signed a peace treaty with the British in 1739, the Maroons were given 1,500 acres of land in St. James. They named the area Trelawny Town, after the then governor, Edward Trelawny. Some fifty years later, in reaction to the flogging of a fellow Maroon who had been caught and accused of pig stealing, the Trelawny Town Maroons rebelled. Thus began the “Maroon War”, in which some 300 Maroons were pitted against almost 1,500 English soldiers. The Maroons held out for a time but eventually surrendered. They agreed to negotiate a peace settlement, but were tricked into signing by the Governor, for no sooner had they signed, than they were captured and placed on board a ship for Nova Scotia, Canada. Most of the Maroons were not able to survive the piercing cold and other hardships in this their new “home”. Those who lived eventually migrated to the township of Sierra Leone along the African coast. Not long after the Maroons were shipped from Jamaica, barracks for the British troops were built on the old site of Trelawny Town. Some of the land was also given to the Accompong Maroons, who had not been involved in the fighting. The soldiers remained in their “Trelawny Town” barracks until the middle of the 19th century. As the island became more settled, there seemed to be no more need for a military presence, so the soldiers departed and the barracks at Trelawny Town fell into ruins. Years later, people from the area began to call it “Maroon Town”, and it is still known by this name today even though it is not a Maroon settlement.
Montego Bay’s first “city status” was taken away in 1865 because of the upheaval of the Morant Bay rebellion. In spite of this setback, the town grew into an important trading centre, and by the early 20th century, Montego Bay enjoyed significant commercial activity. Sugar, rum and coffee were the main exports, but tourism has also dominated the economy of this parish since the late 40’s and early 50’s. The earliest resorts built were the Montego Bay Hotel, the Casa Blanca and the Ethelhart Hotel, as well as several guest houses, including Sunset Lodge and Beach View. The famous curative powers of the Doctor’s Cave Bathing Beach also helped to make the Montego Bay area a prime visitor attraction during this early period. The industry has since embraced surrounding plantations and canefields no longer in use, laying them bare for the construction of hotels and the resulting infrastructure needed for urban growth. Most of the resort area stretches along the coastline, from Rose Hall in the east to Great River in the west. In the early stages of planning, the Bogue Islands, a group of offshore cays, were reclaimed and merged with the town Montego Bay to form the Montego Bay Freeport which is now and important industrial centre. Tourism is a major foreign exchange earner, providing employment for hundreds of Jamaicans. Montego Bay, and one could say, the entire parish of St. James is over 80 per cent dependent on this industry for its economic survival. On May 1, 1981 (a publicly decreed holiday in St. James), Montego Bay was accorded city status. And Jamaica’s second city continues to do her country proud in this most vital area of its economy- tourism.
St. James-Location and Geography
Positioned on the north-west end of Jamaica, St. James is bounded by Trelawny to the east, St. Elizabeth to the south and Hanover and Westmoreland to the west.
Size: 595 sq. km (229.7 sq. miles)
There is move to create more jobs in St. James. The Sir Richard Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, in Bogue, Montego Bay, has welcomed its first 14 budding entrepreneurs, with a commitment to support their drive for success in business. The centre, established by British billionaire, Sir Richard Branson, at a cost of some US$3.5 million, is operated by Virgin Unite, the non-profit arm of his Virgin Group, and Virgin Holidays, will provide the entrepreneurs with a launch pad for their businesses. The centre, which is also supported by independent benefactors, including Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, is equipped with the latest computer technology. The Montego Bay-based centre is the second of its kind, globally. The first was launched by Virgin Unite in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2005. It focuses on helping entrepreneurs to develop into business leaders, by offering a network of support, mentoring, coaching and skills training.