The Careenage

This is home to the Constitution River in Barbados, which runs through the capital Bridgetown, located on the southwest coast of the island. 

The river channels rain from higher inland areas like the parishes of St Michael and St George, through the Careenage into the Carlisle Bay where it connects. This little river is also an arm of the tidal area of the sea. 

This area was originally a smelly swamp, due to the river constantly overflowing with the spring tide. The land in this area was lower than the river bank itself, causing water to settle for long periods and hence the horrible stench and many ilnesses. Since then, in 1962 the swamp was filled in and a canal was built to chanel the water. 

The Bridgetown Careenage is located at the lower part of the Constitution River. This marina is so named because smaller vessels/schooners careened (tilted) there for repairs while larger ships used the deep water harbour.

Lightermen row their heavy boats to bring cargo out of the ships in Carlisle Bay and to ferry out local cargo.

The careening of boats was done by attaching weights to the mast and pulling the ship over to one side, at which time it was cleaned of worms, moss and barnacles. It was then turned onto the other side and the process was repeated. Other dry dock facilities were also available.

The Careenage area for (300) years had been the centre of communication and trade for the island. In recent times the modern Bridgetown Harbour overshadowed it and now it is mainly for sleek yachts, fishing boats, catamarans and other pleasure crafts to berth.

Two bridges separate the outer and inner basins; The Charles Duncan Oneal Bridge which extends from Bridge Street/Wharf Road to Fairchild Street/Independence Square and the Chamberlain Bridge which extends from Wharf Road/Heroes Square (formerly Trafalgar Square) to Independence Square/Bay Street.

Running along the part of the careenage/constitution river is the decorative Bridgetown Boardwalk, overlooked by restaurants, bars and old converted warehouses. The Bridgetown Pierhead is also located in this area.

Sometime during the early 18th century, a section of the Bridgetown waterfront was chosen for the purpose of a public wharf. It became necessary for vessels to have a clear access through the channel for careening, repairs and unloading.

At that time, the construction of a Bridgetown wharf and pier was needed because the channel was often impassable with rubbish, slit and wrecks.  


Along the Bridgetown Boardwalk

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The Careenage
St Michael

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