National Park’s annual 8th of March activities highlight African soldiers


The National Parks Authority is pleased to announce the hosting of its annual 8th of March project activities which highlight the ongoing research into the contribution of African labourers in the development of English Harbour for centuries.

The Heritage Department for the past two years has been engaged in an ambitious project to trace the ties of the existing families in the area to their 18th century roots throughout the community.

This year, special attention will be brought to the West India Regiment, which was established in Antigua in 1795.

The intriguing recent discovery of a cemetery where it appears nine of these soldiers were buried is already inspiring the Heritage Department into undertaking further research into this part of our history.

The fact that the soldiers seemed to have maintained cultural habits and important aspects of their way of life has piqued the interest of the National Park researchers.

The cemetery is located near to the Middle Ground Barracks, located in the hillside just above the Nelson’s Dockyard.

The overall activities begin next Monday and Tuesday with appearances in the local media in an effort to educate the local population about this portion of our history.

The British High Commission in Antigua and Barbuda, recognising the value of the important exercise, is funding this year’s events and is supporting upcoming upgrades in trail signage along the Middle Ground and the expansion of the 8th of March exhibit in the Dockyard Museum.

The highlight activity will take place on Sunday 13th March where a special hike will take place from the Dockyard to the Middle Ground burial site for a ceremony to which the Governor General Sir Rodney Williams, the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force and a number of other dignitary and officials have been invited.

Additional hiking tours, targeting members of the public and other stakeholders in the National Park, have been arranged for the 17th, 20th, 24th and 27th of March as part of the activities.

While the concentration on the West India Regiment this year, The 8th of March is grounded in the tragic explosion in the Dockyard on said day in 1744 that killed eight enslaved African men in the Dockyard. The discovery of their names has spurred the Heritage Department’s ancestral research and established the annual 8th of March activities.


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