New Town Barracks in Belize City, 1920's into the 1930's
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Wednesday September 26, 2018

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Parade ground at New Town Barracks on race day, Long Ago

Newtown Club - who was there when the floor fell in? I remember going to dances there and the floor jumped like a trampoline but luckily wasn't there when it failed. Kathleen Skeen: I was not there then but remember looking towards the south and seeing fire and we all left because we are from south side. That's when slaughter house burnt down. We lived nearby.10 the September morning.

Newtown Barracks, Belize City 1927, and the old tambran tree. That same year they started to construct the sea wall at the barracks.

Newtown Barracks. Ramada (Princess) was under construction, late 80's or early 90's. Photo by Shameka White.
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New Town Barracks in Belize City, 1920's into the 1930's, also New Town Club


TOP PICTURE shows, that area in Belize City that served for so many purposes. The word BARRACKS tells us, that the Belize Military in those days, were stationed at this site. They had their Barracks and all military installations including ZIK-2 Radio Station in this area.

THEN, this site was where Charles Lindberg made his solo plane flight to Belize in 1928 in his plane "The Spirit of St Louis."

Thereafter it became our Local Plane Airfield. But likewise this was the main Football Field, Cricket Pitch, English man Rugby.

AND very important, it was the Horse Race Track called Circular Road, where some of Belize's best horses raced for the Championships.

Horses like Seige Narcus, owned by Don Salvador Espat and that became Central American Champion. Also famous horses like Ben Stuart 's -"Bring the Money " - and Rabateau's Aurora and Lucio Chief's Nylon - Edwardo Juan's famous "Robin" and other greats. Black Amber, Blue Gown for Ben Stuart, Glory Antillus, Silk Stockings for Bobby Espat and so many beautiful horse names.

BELOW the famous " TAMBRAM TREE DA BARRICKS" which served as a Lovers' Shade, BUT it produced the famous crime curative "TAMBRAN WHIP" to straighten the upstarts. This tree provided some of the rods of correction used by the authorities to correct evil doers and upstarts. Likewise it is believed that many babies were conceived on the trunk of this tree. Hurricane Hattie finally battered it to death, But the remnants were taken to the Memorial Park and erected as an Historical Fixture. There was a Belizean postal stamp with this tree, click here to see it.

The Barracks was the original Horse Race Track, - Where Marion Jones Stadium, IS BEING BUILT was called " Mammy Jeanie " ( Bird hunters' paradise and, crab catchers delight. In the early 1940's, a Horse race Stadium was built and named, as THE HONE'S PARK after Colonial Secretary Richard HONE. So the old Race Track was named CIRCULAR ROAD until Princess came to Belize in 1958, and it was renamed PRINCESS MARGARET DRIVE.

The main street to those houses was BARRACK ROAD into FREETOWN ROAD. - Barrack Road led you to QUEEN'S STREET across the Old Swing Bridge into ALBERT STREET to RACE COURSE STREET and then to QUEEN CHARLOTTE.

I remember that old tambran tree with the Barracks green before development of Hotel Ramadan and others were built there. Across from the tambran tree where MCC is now was another large grassy green field and in the back was housed the Tuberculosis hospital. That Tambran Tree fixed many rude children and even some crude adults.

I do recall the Listowel Boys correctional facility; it was first set up in Pomona Valley. I wish they would give me the Correctional Ministry, which I held in 1969. - This was Prisons and Listowel etc. - - Law and Order were respected, whether Human Rights like it or not.

Photographs by E.V. Evans, courtesy Hector Silva. Second photo of Recreation Ground, Newtown Barracks, Belize, with historic Tamarind Tree. Photo was taken sometime before 1925

Julia Perera: As kids we use bathe dah Barracks. It has white sand n coconut trees n rocks dat separate di shallow area from di deep. This place held some of my best childhood memories.

The difference between our past and present is only in our perspective

by Albert Paul Avila

I spend lots of time looking at vintage photos. So much so that I tend to think that the places depicted in the photos are a distant place. They are distant in a way, but only in time and not necessarily in space. Case in point, I was waiting for my son’s tennis practice to finish yesterday, so I decided to take a walk in The Digi Park ( The old Barracks football field). In there they have lots of panels that tells us about the history of the historic open space. If you haven’t seen the panels as yet you should stop by and take a look at them. I guarantee you will learn something new from them. I learnt that the Barrack became the Barracks in 1816. Because I know a little about Belize City’s history, it made me realize that a lot of places and structures were established around this year and time. Other establishments around this year were our first bridge 1815 or 16, our first Southside Court House 1815, Government House 1814, the Honduran Free School 1816, renaming of Front Street to Regents Street 1821, and St. John’s Cathedral 1812. The Superintendent at that time was Colonel George Arthur who came in 1814 - 1821. He must have been a busy man.

The point of this post is that as I was walking around the “Barracks” reading the various signs, somehow I felt as though I was reading about a far away historic area. I saw in one photo how the field looked in the mid 1800’s. I could see lots of people dressed in white sprinkled all over the field. I could see what looked like a road that passed through the field. However, I realized it was not a road just a path passing through the barracks made by hundreds or thousands of feet as they tried to take a short cut through the field. The path was only visible from the sky. I also saw a group of buildings that lined the Barracks; one of them was the Polo Club. As I was thinking how interesting the area was at that time and how more interesting it would be if I could somehow go back to the site in the photo, I suddenly realized that I was smack in the center of the very same site I was looking at in the photo. Somehow, while I have been looking at these vintage photos, I had become sort of disassociated with the area thinking it was a distant place. After I realized that I was actually at the Barracks, I was able to enjoy the area more because I realized that where the remnants of the Pickwick is today was where the Polo Club building was, and where I was standing was where that foot path I mentioned above would have passed through. In the same area, a hundred years ago, I would have been surrounded by those same people dressed in white, some would have been only an arms length away.

They say that there is a fine line that separates love and hate, however, I think it is the same for our past and present as well. The solution to time travel may not be a physical thing, but more in changing our perspective.

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