Westmoreland boasts several special attractions ranging from the natural beauty of the sunset to the awesome attraction of historic monuments and buildings, as well as interesting communities and villages.
Originally spelt ‘Blewfields’, this name was derived from the Dutch Abraham Bleevelt, who was a seaman. Once a favourite assembling place for fleets and convoys, it was here that Henry Morgan sailed to sack Panama in 1670. Where Bluefields now stands it is believed, stood the township of Oristan, no trace of which remains today, one of the three principal early cities formed by the Spaniards.
Located ten miles eastward, Bluefields has a protected bay, with a small, pleasant white sand beach. It is a well-known attraction often enjoyed by visitors who find the clear, blue sea calm and relaxing. The atmosphere is enhanced by individuals who provide meals of fish and bammy and other local favourites.
The history of Bluefields is closely linked to the natural beauty of that location. In 1844 an English naturalist, Philip Henry Gosse spent eighteen months at Bluefields where he collected specimens of local flora and fauna. These were sent to the British Museum and also served as material for his two books, “Birds of Jamaica” and “A Naturalist’s Sojourn in Jamaica”. Bluefields, however, came into public view from as early as the seventeenth century in the battles of Henry Morgan and the militia.
Mannings High School
Mannings High School is the second oldest of its type in Jamaica. It was established in1738, twenty-eight years after Thomas Manning, a Westmoreland proprietor in 1710, left an endowment of 13 slaves, land, cattle and produce to endow a ‘free school’ in Westmoreland.
In1883 the school was refurbished to satisfy the Jamaican secondary education system that provided for a co-educational school in Westmoreland.
Savanna-la-Mar Baptist Church
Savanna-la-Mar Baptist Church stands as a monument to the anti-slavery movement of the early 19th Century when the movement was gaining momentum in the West Indies and England. Rev. Thomas Burchell, a Baptist pastor founded the church on June 7, 1829.
Negril Point Lighthouse
This historic structure was constructed in July1895 on the southwestern tip of Negril. Today it stands as a reminder of our colonial history and our colourful past.
The Fort, Savannah-la-Mar
The main road running through Savannah-la-Mar, Great George Street, bears all the hustle and bustle of the town. In fact, running at right angles to the coast, it is a striking feature of the town. At the end of this street is a historical monument – the ruins of a shipping fort, situated partly on land and mostly in the sea. The fort was never completed and so over the years, one wall has all but tumbled into the sea. Part of the structure is still intact and the inside has become filled with seawater and is often used by residents as a swimming pool.
Cast Iron Fountain
Located near the courthouse in Savannah-la-Mar, the cast iron fountain was presented to the town in 1887 by E.J. Saddler, a Westmoreland planter. Over each of the arches supporting the Dome is an elaborate plaque with a Pelican Motif, and the admonition ‘keep the pavement dry’ is repeated to the four points of the compass.
Unusual Place Names
Present day Grange Hill was once known as Morgan’s Bridge as the property was owned at one time by Sir Henry Morgan, the buccaneer who became Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica between 1674 and 1675.
Seaford Town is a property of 5,000 acres (2020 ha) in the Montpelier Mountains, donated by the Governor of Barbados Lord Seaford, for the settlement of German immigrants in Jamaica.
Frome Sugar Estate in Westmoreland was probably named after a town in Somerset, England.
Save Rent, a district near Savanna-la-Mar, seems to be the corruption of the name of a Frenchman, F.E.N. Saverent who once lived there. He owned the property between 1773 and1811 and is buried there.
Negril, the former Punta Negrilla of the Spanish, up to the early 1960s was a sleepy fishing village cut off from the rest of the south coast as there was no road leading into the town from the southern side of the island. Today it is a booming tourism centre.
Lining the approaches to the sugar capital, Frome, are raised wooden cottages with redwood louvers separated by glass, representing a sharp difference in the architectural styles.
Bicycles, bicycles and more bicycles. Just about everyone rides a bicycle in the Frome area of Westmoreland – no doubt a cheap and efficient means of transport especially on the flat lands of the region.